Gulf Coast Kayak sits on the edge of Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve, a scenic sprawl of estuaries, back bays, and mangrove tunnels roofed by the interlaced branches of waterside trees. Their single and tandem kayaks give paddlers a way to drink up this scenery, instead of waiting on the shore, thumbs-outstretched, hoping to catch a ride from a passing mermaid. Alternatively, paddlers can opt for a guided tour, such as the Sunset Birding Tour, which can afford birdwatchers glimpses of osprey, herons, and spoonbills. For those who cannot make it to their storefront, Gulf Coast Kayak is able to deliver kayaks anywhere in Matlacha or Pine Island for a fee.
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.
From a distance, the manatees, dolphins, and bald eagles that populate Estero Island make quite an impression. But the staff at Holiday Water Sports of Fort Myers Beach believes up-close encounters are not only the sole way to determine if the animals can talk, but also the best way to enjoy them. To that end, they guide tours and rent out myriad watercraft, from Yamaha 4 waverunners and 10-passenger pontoon boats to paddle bikes, which resemble oversized tricycles as they surge through nimbuses of sea foam. The staff hoists parasailers over their water-bound peers, letting out up to 1,200 feet of slack and allowing riders to plunge into free falls with houses and piers blurring into a cubist painting beneath them. Captains certified by the United States Coast Guard guide the ships back toward the sun-bleached sands, where the company’s rental umbrellas rustle in the breeze above lounge chairs.
The gentle clap of paddles against the water and the tenor thrumming of jet-ski motors drift from Adventure Water Sports. On waverunners, diminutive sailboats, and kayaks, patrons spread out across the surf and around Estero Island, their eyes peeled for dolphins and other fauna at all times. The shoreline falls back in quiet bays and estuaries, where little fish dart among tangled knots of mangrove roots. Instructors certified by the United States Coast Guard demonstrate the operation of vessels, lead tours, and knock down sand castles lacking proper fire exits.
It only takes a few minutes for FMB FlyBoard's certified instructors to teach beginners how to flyboard, using jetpacks that attach to the feet. Flyboarders can soar as high as 30 feet in the air and dive, dolphin-like, through the water. Groups of up to six depart from the Getaway Marina on San Carlos Boulevard in a private flyboard charter.
Manatee Guides' conservation-minded experts escort kayakers throughout Southwestern Florida's waterways to observe manatees and other native species in their natural environments. During nature tours, guides lead guests throughout Estero Bay and the Orange River, scouring the crystalline waters for a sight of the peaceful animals. Guides point out local flora and fauna along the way, sharing interesting facts about their life cycles, social patterns, and affinity for fast food cheese-barnacles. Manatee Guides' owners and operators adhere to a strict conservation policy, leaving no trace of their journey in the wild. Up to 12 people venture out on each tour, and the guides encourage ample sunscreen and protective apparel such as a hat, shoes, and clothes that can get wet without melting.