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.
You'll board at pier 9 of the South Shore Harbour Resort on the eponymous FantaSea, a 117-foot glitz-class glamcruiser equipped with two decks, two bars, custom brasswork, 42-inch televisions, Doppler 5,000 sequin-sensing radar, and a massive, startlingly nude pink-unicorn figurehead. Also, the FantaSea has never killed a merman. See here for cruise dates and times.
Functioning as a non-profit with a mission to promote the preservation of nearby coastal marshes and endangered marine environments, Artist Boat aims to raise awareness through art and science. The team, made up of biologists and artists?all of whom are ACA certified kayak instructors?lead groups on paddles through Galveston Bay, choosing destinations with natural significance. Outings are suited to either beginner or intermediate paddlers, and all gear is provided, so kayakers only need bring along sun-block, outdoor-appropriate clothing, and portable air conditioning units.
Led by experienced captains, the staff members at Caribbean Breeze keep watch over and rent out a small fleet of fishing, pontoon, and jet boats, as well as one socially awkward sailboat. Although they don’t provide the fishing gear or water skis, they keep their boats updated with features such as iPod docks, rod holders, and electric fish finders. The captains also afford guests picturesque views of the setting sun from their 40-foot pontoon party boat during sunset cruises and help passengers find delicious bounties during fishing charters.
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.
Seasoned kayaker John Cline paddles with a local hotel concierge along the Colorado River, periodically explaining that kayaking is perfectly safe for beginners and an ideal way to savor the pleasant Texas weather. Suddenly, the sky erupts and an onslaught of rain drenches the waterborne duo. They rest their paddles on their laps, look at each other, and start laughing. Rising Phoenix Adventures' kayak and canoe trips create these unique memories so regularly that one Belgian businesswoman even makes annual trips to the area just to ride the class-1 river. Since establishing the outdoor-excursion company in 2004 with barely 10 kayaks and canoes, Cline has more than quadrupled his fleet to accommodate the ever-increasing demand. After alighting one of the trusty vessels, adventurers set off to navigate through the river's islands and beneath a scenic half-mile tree canopy, where the shores offer glimpses of wild pigs, great blue herons, and undomesticated beach umbrellas.