While waiting for a group of tour participants aboard his kayak on Cape Island Creek, Bob Lubberman made a new acquaintance when a 4-foot great blue heron landed on the nose of his boat. It's not an entirely new experience for the owner of Miss Chris Kayak Rentals and Tours, as opportunities to commune with nature came often as he crabbed and fished as a child from his grandmother's dock. Now he's able to connect visitors to this ecosystem as they independently paddle rented sit-on-top kayaks or as they participate in guided kayak or boat tours.
Paddlers on kayak tours often catch close-ups of ospreys, terns, and other birds, and see diamondback terrapin turtles sunning themselves on the shore or trying to hold their own ice-cream cones. Day and sunset tours let guests explore the wildlife-rich salt marshes, and night tours led during high tide let them paddle over grassy terrain to otherwise inaccessible areas. Guests explore similar territory on tours aboard the Osprey as they watch migrating shore birds or look out on the harbor's historic buildings. Kayak tour guides include an associate naturalist and a Cape May Bird Observatory field associate, and land-based staffers maintain a touch tank on the Miss Chris mooring dock, which they temporarily fill with conches, eels, and other sea life pulled up using open-sided conservation traps.
The friendly staff of the family-owned and family-operated Pier 88 Marina aims to create an all-inclusive setting for local boaters and visiting tourists alike. Docking services accommodate boats of up to 35 feet, and a fillet table and a bait-and-tackle shop accommodate anglers who seek the area's flounder, striped bass, and yellowfin tuna. The business also rents out single and tandem kayaks for self-guided jaunts into Townsend Sound or organized tours led by nature experts.
For more than half a century, Harvey Cedars Marina has hoisted sails and sent adventurers skimming across the waves of the Barnegat and Manahawkin Bays. Today, the business’s aquatic experts have traded in the folded-newspaper sailboats of yore for modernized Hobie Wave catamarans and LaserPerformance Sunfish. It also maintains a fleet of standup paddleboards and Hobie kayaks that cruise to islands, where paddlers gaze on osprey and cormorants or cast their lines for fluke and bluefish. In addition to renting vessels and teaching how to maneuver them, the staff runs a shop to equip mariners with their own Hobie cats and kayaks or outfit them with water skis, wakeboards, and inflatable tubes to mail to annoying cousins who live in the desert.
When LBI Surfing's certified instructors hold classes on the Jersey Shore, not only do they provide the necessary boards and wetsuits, but they get all ages and skill levels up and riding in their first session. To do this, the instructors impart surfing fundamentals in a setting customized to the students' ability, touching on balance, safety, and identifying the proper waves. But they go beyond traditional surfing, too. They're also certified in stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) and teach SUP classes alongside yoga classes. This is because they believe that the two sports complement each other, since both rely on core strength, coordination, mindfulness, and a lack of rusty metal hip joints.
Operating since 1903, Beaver Dam Boat Rentals provides access to the quiet waters and plentiful wildlife of Oranokin Creek. Initially prized by the Lenape Indians for its abundance of crabs, the creek offers crabbing enthusiasts a chance to snag up to a bushel of prized blue claws. Staff can tow guests to one of the four salt ponds where the crabs are hiding and help lure them out with free subscriptions to People magazine. Beaver Dam will stop by throughout the day to tow boats to a more attractive location, and can provide all necessary supplies.
Sightseeers can also test out Oranokin Creek in an old-fashioned rowboat, or rent fiberglass boats ($50–$60) that hold five passengers or party boats that hold up to six ($70). Beaver Dam Boat Rentals also offers guided kayak tours suited to participants' experience and fitness levels, and operates a boat ramp for the start of duck-hunting season.:m]]
Sound Excursions describes their carefully curated group experiences as "field trips for adults." It's easy to see why: every outing takes groups to a new realm of Washington, whether it's the frothy shores of Puget Sound, inland forests and mountains, or tables at Seattle's thriving restaurants. The events held at these diverse locations range from culinary workshops on topics such as sushi-making and moonshine-tasting, to adventurous excursions with whitewater rafting or kayaking, to laid-back themed party cruises. For many outings, luxury transportation is provided.