The guides at Black Water, Blue Water Tours tailor their kayaking trips to the crew accompanying them. Wildlife tours, sunset tours, island-picnic tours, or even journeys under the full moon introduce kayakers to South Florida's Myakka River, mangrove tunnels, and canals laden with wildlife such as manatees. If visitors have specific sightseeing locales in mind, the guides can create an entirely new tour to fit their parameters.
Captain Will Olds is an aquatic Renaissance man. The U.S. Coast Guard master mariner has dedicated his life to the water—from time spent piloting charter boats across Lake Superior to his days teaching boat safety at the Chapman School of Seamanship—and to his passion for history and the natural world. The multitalented skipper translates his many skills into a daily roster of eco-tours and excursions that whisk visitors along the fluvial highways of southern Florida.
From behind the wheel of his trusted ship, the Calusa Queen, the captain delivers entertaining and educational anecdotes along with views of Charlotte Harbor Estuary and Cape Haze. While not included in this offer, the Matlacha Art Community cruise features stops on terra firma to visit local galleries, and the Peace River Eco-Tour and Cruise wends through a nature preserve for a peek at manatees, alligators, and dolphins. Named for the Native American peoples of Florida’s southwest coast, the ship is inspected and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard and can hold up to 28 passengers along with their spare sets of sea legs.
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.
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.
Since 1955, Mote has been working to explore, understand and unlock the mysteries of the sea to ensure that ocean resources are available for generations to come. Mote Aquarium features touch pools, shark, dolphin, manatee and sea turtle exhibits and more than 100 other species of marine life.