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“AVOID BIG TOHO AIRBOAT RIDES LIKE THE PLAGUE”

Big Toho Airboat Tours
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Attraction details
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed October 2, 2013

I bought two Groupon discount vouchers, one for me and my wife, and one as a gift for friends so we could all go together on this airboat ride. When I tried to book a day and time the man on the phone said I was not observing the rules and could only use one Groupon voucher per day. I pointed out that I was using one voucher and my friend was using one and I couldn’t understand his problem because he would get paid by Groupon whenever they were used and he then said he only got paid about half the value of the voucher and it wasn’t worth his time.

He told me to phone Groupon and get a refund and then he would let me go with my friend for the same price as long as I paid cash. When I said that it was against Groupon rules he said that if I continued “using that tone of voice” he would hang up on me! He said he would honor both vouchers but not together so we would have to go on separate rides!

I booked my friend on the 11am ride and phoned Groupon for a refund and they confirmed that what he was proposing was against the rules and refused. I then got my wife to phone the man and try to book for the 11am ride which he said he would do until she said it was a Groupon voucher and he obviously realised it was for me and suddenly changed his mind and said we’d have to go on the next one at 1pm. This guy is completely barking mad and quite vindictive as well.

On the day of the ride we took our friends to the meeting point at 10.15am as requested. This was outside a liquor store on US192 and all seemed a bit odd. The boat driver, calling himself Captain Joe, turned up about 15 minutes later in a pickup truck pulling a small airboat which would seat about 8-10 people.

My friend asked Joe if there was room for 2 more as his friends (me and my wife) wanted to go, He said yes until my friend said it would be paid for by a Groupon voucher at which point he said no because we would be a “group” and we would have to go on the next ride at 1pm. How any sane person can make sense of that I do not know. Clearly it was more vindictiveness because I had challenged him on the phone about Groupon rules.

Another car then turned up with 4 people who checked in with Joe and paid with 2 Groupon vouchers. My friend then challenged him as to why he was letting them travel as a “group” and he said that he wasn’t prepared to discuss it with him.

We were then told to follow his pickup in our cars. We had no idea where we were going but clearly it wasn’t Lake Toho because 35 miles and 55 minutes later at 11.40am we arrived at Lake Jackson where the ride was to take place. The journey was over a number of back roads and when the ride was over we had trouble finding our way home because no instructions were provided.

My wife and I waited in our car while our friends went on the airboat ride, 45 minutes late at 11.45am, despite the fact that there were spare seats on the boat which we could have sat on!
The ride finished 50 minutes later (despite being advertised as an hour ride) presumably because he was running late. We then drove home having driven a total of 70 miles more than we expected running low on gas and unable to find a gas station on the back roads. The whole unpleasant experience door to door from our house took 4 hours.

I have a vacation home in Florida and have personally been on many airboat rides and in all cases we arrived at the boat to start the ride and were not asked to follow a pickup truck without any idea where we were going. We also recommend various activities to our guests and this will not be one of them.

These people are clearly very unprofessional and my advice is to stay well clear of them.

Postscript… I subsequently reported this incident to Groupon who refunded my money without question.

19  Thank Geoffers1817
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
bigtoho1, Owner at Big Toho Airboat Tours, responded to this reviewResponded November 18, 2013

Really this person has a problem following directions. The only people who complain come from groupon all the directions on using groupon is written it says 1 voucher per day not per person. You did not follow the rules as of now we have more than 3000 satisfied customers from groupon . Everything was explained the phone the meeting place is inside the liquor stop I have a desk inside nothing sketchy . As our phone conversation we are located in a wildlife management refuge we can't have a store there.

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124 - 128 of 154 reviews

Reviewed September 4, 2013

This airboat ride is a great experience for all who take it. The guide was wonderful. We tried to find the liquor store where you need to meet and our GPS lead us in the wrong direction so we missed the 90 minute ride and went on the 60 minute, which actually lasted about 90 minutes for a better price. The "captain" was a little gruff and not friendly when we were late but the guide and captain of the airboat was wonderful. The alligator that you can hold is a small one, about 2 feet long with a taped snout so it's not a big deal nor is it worth the extra $5. Be sure to wear sunscreen. We did see a few alligators in the swamp but not many and the ones we saw were small or floated away from us. The airboat itself is comfortable and a lot of fun when they go fast. There is a handwritten map so follow it closely to get the 30 miles from the liquor store to the airboat location.

1  Thank Verlia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 27, 2013

We decided to book this tour after seeing a Groupon (great value!) and we weren't disappointed! It seemed a little shady at first, meeting someone in a liquor store to follow them to a wildlife preserve, but the nature was spectacular and untouched. We were the only boat on the water and we got to get up close and personal with all the scenery. Our guide was beyond friendly and was always checking in with us to see if we were enjoying ourselves. Well worth it!

Thank galindariel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2013 via mobile

Saw loads of alligators in the wild. Small boat so you can go up the creeks the bigger boats can't. A really knowledgeable guide who loves the Everglades and works really hard to get you as close to the action as possible. I can't fault it as I prefer a more authentic safari/ conservation style than mass tourist experience

Thank Dazeyduke76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2013

They were wonderful people. It was a great ride, and a must do experience. It was a little weird to be meeting them to get a map then try to follow a hand written map, but once we got there it was a blast, and great people. Saw so many wonderful things, and even the boat is fun just to ride in. A must do!

Thank Btips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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