The newly opened True Blue Water Sports on Tamiami Trail North brings aquatic gear, water-sports lessons, and peaceful paddle tours to the Naples area. Kiteboarding advocate and co-owner David Peterson opened up his laid-back shop to pique the interest of out-of-town water-sports seekers, and his two-hour eco tour does just that with its personalized instruction and open-water demonstrations. Paddlers mount buoyant boards and glide through the Gulf Coast’s resplendent waters, learning about the mangroves that surround them and avoiding the urge to give up all worldly possessions and set up shop as a backwater soothsayer. Instructors demonstrate the mechanics of the stand-up paddle tour before and during the tranquil ride, giving guests ample time to reacquaint themselves with their estranged centers of gravity.
Quinn Boards’ founders, Scott Quinn and Doug Kelly, and their staff of enthusiastic standup paddlers equip riders with a Quinn Board water skimmer perfect for their size before giving them a brief lesson on how to properly glide over sparkling azure fields. After learning proper wave-wrangling techniques, boarders propel themselves through open salt waters in search of traveling schools of fish, dolphins at play, and octopi studying World Cup teams. Standup-paddleboard sessions can also tighten cores, strengthen arms, and tone legs, all while granting surfers lofty views of Naples's pristine white sands.
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Average Duration of Services: 2?4 hours
Parking: Parking lot
Brands Used: Ocean Kayak, Native Watercraft, Cannon Paddles, PFD's
Recommended Age Group: All ages
Pro Tip: Bring water, hats, sunglasses, and sunscrean
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: 2.5 hour kayak trip
The warm, sunny climes of Marco Island entice visitors to paddle through the waters no matter what time of year it is. The guides say one of the best views the island has to offer, though, can only be seen on warm summer nights beneath a new moon. As the waters grow warmer, they provide a home for single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates, and larger comb jellyfish. Both creatures naturally emit light, a phenomenon known as bioluminescence. When ambient light is low enough and the water warm enough, the combined presence of the two glowing critters becomes so bright, it can even cast shadows. Guides only offer these tours during the appropriate months and lunar phases, but they conduct plenty of other excursions during daylight hours. They take groups by kayak to the Barrier Islands for a picnic, show off sunsets from watery perches, and even provide the opportunity to paddle alongside manatees?sometimes called sea cows because, like land cows, they often say, "Cowabunga!"
Naples Paddleboard fixes customers up with standup paddleboards and kayaks and sends them skimming over waters surrounding such exotic destinations as Naples Bay, Rookery Bay, and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. The company offers rentals, lessons, and even tours of these verdant locales, giving participants not only a taste of the local surroundings but also a good workout. As paddlers cruise pass the 35-acre Clam Pass, they'll see the park's signature sand dunes and mangrove forest, whereas a coastal paddle-by of the 166-acre Delnor-Wiggins Park reveals its gleaming white-sand beaches.
Manatees glide at a slow, easy pace. Heron splash and peck their way through the water. Osprey keep watch from their perches overhead. These critters and other wildlife surround kayakers when they embark on one of Captain Joe's Everglades Kayak Adventures. That's not even taking into account the mangrove trees, whose spindly roots twist over the water like mermaids doing backbends on a sandbar. The seasoned, friendly guides help kayakers explore it all on two- or four-hour tours on the waves.
After plans were revealed to build a road through Rookery Bay in 1964, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida formed to protect the region's environmental interests. This small group of concerned citizens mobilized the community to halt the project, protecting the land, water, and wildlife that makes southwest Florida beautiful. Today, the group continues that work on a larger scale, promoting clean water in the Everglades, treating and releasing injured animals, and protecting sea turtle hatchlings.