Beyond the breakers that crash onto Florida's sandy coastlines, there's an entire watery world to discover. And Don Moorhead, the USCG?certified guide and captain behind Keystone Fishing Charters, is just the man to lead the way. Moorhead has been casting lines into inland and offshore waters since childhood, and over the years, he has developed a deep knowledge of the best fishing spots along the West Coast. Today, he shares that knowledge during chartered fishing trips aboard a 23? Shearwater bay boat equipped with features such as a GPS-controlled trolling motor and advanced Ahab-tracking system. Groups angle for speckled trout, tarpon, and other native fish using custom-made rods and other equipment. But reeling in a catch isn't the only reason to schedule an expedition?groups can also embark on sightseeing trips to encounter manatee, dolphins, and other marine life.
On Kayak Charters' guided eco tours, participants paddle through waters bustling with aquatic creatures, ranging from manatees to dolphins. The guides helm other scenic kayaking trips, too, along with fly-fishing charters. Kayak Charters complements its tours with classes on a wide array of outdoor skills, such as boating, navigation, and wilderness survival.
It only took two weeks on the picturesque shores of Tahiti and Moorea to send Craig Stewart into a tailspin. He and wife Evelyn fell in love with the South Pacific’s crystalline waters and beachy breezes, so much so that the prospect of remaining in their native Oklahoma turned gloomy. Six years after the Stewarts’ Pacific vacation, they stumbled upon Sanibel Island. With a love for the waters still coursing through their veins, they uprooted and moved there, making it home base for Adventures in Paradise. In 1986, they started out with one boat—Miss Paradise—and one tour, the sunset dolphin cruise. Today, the Stewart family maintains a much larger operation. Their tour topics range from fishing and shelling to dolphin watching to historical sightseeing on a trolley.
Father-and-son duo Captains Lance and Harry Julian founded Pure Naples in 2009 to introduce landlubbers to the pristine waterways that surround Naples. No strangers to the waters, the Julians draw on five generations of maritime business and 25 years of maritime-tourism experience to make their tours as fun and informative as possible. Together they introduce tourists to picturesque views of dolphins, bald eagles, and nature?s cutest cow, the manatee, with cruises, or they facilitate individual exploring with Jet Ski and boat rentals. They even take their boats out on regular deep-sea or bay fishing trips and private charters for the serious angler.
At the helm of Mangrove Masters is Florida native and USCG-certified Captain Jack Boutchyard, who loves to introduce visitors to the waters he calls home—specifically those surrounding Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Captain Jack brings along all gear, including fishing licenses, rods, and bait for flats fishing charters that chase trout near the grass flats and redfish when the tide goes out. For a hands-off outing, the sunset cruise charts course toward a horizon bathed in soft pinks and purples, presenting a colorful backdrop for dolphins and manatees at play. Treasure hunters can also opt to meet Captain Jack on the dock for a short jaunt to the white, sandy shores of North Captiva Island, which is only accessible by boat and teems with riches such as conch shells, sand dollars, and buried chests filled with pirate baseball-card collections.