Owner and operator Shawn can trace his family's roots in the local waterways back seven generations. His deep love of the water led him to launch Native Rentals, which conducts eco-friendly paddle tours, and create the Surfer Bus, a renovated school bus that brims with kayaks, surfboards, and any equipment needed for tours on the go. His eco-tours explore the Robinson Preserve, Neal Preserve, and the Anna Maria Sound aboard single or tandem kayaks, standup paddleboards, and bikes, all of which let guests test their muscles without the exorbitant fees of going through Poseidon's booking agent.
Yamaha VX110 Deluxe waverunners zip through the glittering waves of Sarasota Bay, Anna Maria Sound, and the intracoastal waterways. The speedy and maneuverable vessels are ideal for adventurous types, although the expansive rental fleet at H2O Watersportz accommodates boaters who prefer all different paces. Compact CraigCat catamarans allow pairs to recline as they coast over ripples, and pontoon boats that seat up to 14 come equipped with gear such as radios and nautical maps that identify where to find the bay of Kool Aid. For more structured journeys, clients can opt for chartered fishing trips helmed by expert guides or tours of the local waterways, with stops at landmarks such as Egmont Key and dolphin and manatee gathering places.
Mark Toomey once helmed his own recruitment firm in Nottingham, England, on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest, but a disdain for damp winters led him to the sun-drenched beaches of Siesta Key. Since opening Robin Hood Rentals in 2009, Mark has persevered through what he calls "Florida's harshest winter in 30 years," during which temperatures teetered near the freezing mark. He equips visitors with rental land-based and aquatic craft that let them explore the area without having to saddle a horse or propose to a dolphin.
From its perch near the Jim Neville Marine Preserve, the company fits cyclists with a range of beach, mountain, and tandem bicycles; matches riders to a fleet of two-seat 49cc automatic scooters; and trains visitors to venture off on newer-model i2 LeanSteer Segways. They also let kayakers explore the local waterways from sunrise into the nighttime.
Sarasota Wind and Water Adventures gives adventurers the vessels and knowledge to plunge boldly into the surf, providing paddleboard, kayak, and waterski rentals as well as lessons. Fishing trips set sail for open water with a Coast Guard-certified captain and all of the tackle necessary to hunt for kingfish, triggerfish, and the vengeful ghosts of scuba divers, while sunset cruises let passengers experience the wonder of voyaging directly into the heart of the sun.
With backgrounds in marine science and conservation, Sea Life Kayak Adventures’ guides tailor their tours to highlight the Sarasota coastline's natural splendor. They limit their expeditions to no more than 10 kayakers at a time, allowing groups to glide quietly through bays and mangrove islands without disturbing nesting herons, ambling manatees, or staring contests between sea cucumbers. Additionally, their vast knowledge of the region’s best bird-watching islands and sea-life feeding grounds empowers guides to customize tours to suit each group’s wildlife-watching ambitions. Dedicated to giving back to the waters that support their passions and livelihoods, Sea Life Kayak Adventures' owners and guides are members and volunteers at organizations including the Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center Inc., Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, and the Save the Manatees Foundation.
Liquid Blue Outfitters's knowledgeable guides unveil Florida's natural marine beauty and untamed wildlife during kayak tours through the Mangrove Tunnels and the beautiful calm waters of Sarasota Bay. As paddlers propel themselves over the sparkling water, they find themselves sharing the splendor of the Gulf Coast with fauna such as dolphins, manatees, and great blue herons. Those who may have already taken a guided trip or prefer to chart their own course can rent a kayak instead and go out for a self-guided spin.