Bayou City Outdoors' hundreds of members didn't join just for the myriad events, though it would be understandable if they did. The site's events calendar buckles under the weight of a packed schedule, with activities from bike rides and kayaking trips to art gallery openings and nights of dancing. But the outings are only the beginning of the member perks. The team at Bayou City plug their members into a buddy system that puts enthusiasts in touch with other members. Buddies can share outdoor gear with each other, or meet up for group outings. Members also get opportunities to learn about cutting-edge equipment through free demos, and enjoy discounts at outdoors-oriented local stores like REI and Urban Bike Gallery.
The paddling aficionados at Austin Canoe & Kayak maintain a stable of masterfully maintained vessels for outfitting all levels of aquatic explorers. Solitary river riders can transport single rental kayaks from the store's waterless location and drop into any body of water they choose, avoiding crowded routes and groups of largemouth bass that blab everyone's best-kept secrets. Adventurous couples can romantically float down Mother Nature's own tunnel of love in a spacious tandem kayak while fairytale marine life sings melodies to set the mood. Single-person boats such as the Wilderness Systems sit-inside Pungo 120 can best the currents of the Brazos River, and a Malibu 2XL from Ocean Kayak can ferry two-person teams seaward on salty jaunts in the Gulf of Mexico.
Sugar Land Dive Center’s store boasts scuba gear from brands such as Atomic, Oceanic and Sea Life, but their signature product is an intangible: a sense of confidence underwater. The PADI five-star dive center’s courses impart just that. After classroom-based instruction, the center’s open water instructors teach divers to breathe underwater and handle their complex gear by practicing in a pool. The program then culminates in a series of real open water dives, which result in open water certification more useful than its earlier incarnation, certification to open water that’s in an aluminum can.
Sugar Land Dive Center also teaches more specialized courses that can transform open water-certified divers into future rescue divers and PADI instructors. For a fusion of dive practice and vacation, students can also travel the world on international scuba trips, which whisk participants to locales such as Cozumel and Fiji.
Weekend cruises along the lake. The occasional night fishing trip. While many people would like to own a boat for those reasons, the expenses of maintaining and storing a boat year-round can be daunting. Carefree Boat Rental eliminates the tedious bits of boat ownership by lending its well-maintained fleet to members by the hour. Inspected weekly by a dock staff using a 50-point checklist, each boat is also equipped with US Coast Guard-required safety equipment such as flares, approved flotation devices, and an emergency stash of Cheetos. The crew also takes care of regular maintenance, such as oil changes, hull cleaning, and annual bottom painting.
Nestled at the southern point of Lake Conroe, Nauti-Dayz Boat Rentals facilitates fun with a fleet of nautical vessels. Outfitted with 90-horsepower Honda motors, pontoon boats welcome passengers for low-speed floats around the lake’s placid waters. MerCruiser motors send ski boats ripping across the waves, towing skiers, tubers, and wakeboarders in their frothy wakes. The shop also rents waverunners that seat up to two passengers and reproduce the high-speed thrill of riding a motorcycle across a full swimming pool. All rentals include complimentary fuel and life jackets.
Waterpoint Marina is part of a 17-acre entertainment complex that sits on the edge of Lake Conroe. Guests of the marina can explore local waterways by renting a boat slip or boat, including a 42' open air yacht that holds up to 35 guests and an 80' party barge known as the Little Palm. The posh vessel can hold up to 80 partygoers and is set up with sound systems and portable heaters to keep guests and airborne dolphins warm on the upper deck terrace. Next to the harbor is a boardwalk lined with souvenir shops, seafood restaurants, and fishing spots.