Whether renting a buccaneer deck boat, manning a fishing boat, or taking a kayak out for a spin, customers utilize the Belle Harbour Marina's extensive fleet to explore Anclote River, close to Tarpon Springs' Sponge Docks. Boaters can follow boating area charts or cut their own path, careening across the surface of the water as they look out for manatees, dolphins, and notes in a bottle they regret sending. They can also rent a stereo and drop anchor to lie out on Anclote Key's sand bars and islands, or they can rent tackle and ice boxes to search for the flats' sea trout, redfish, and snook.
Located in the shadow of the Marriott hotel, Clearwater Jet Ski and Parasail outfits beachgoers with the equipment to safely speed across or sail above the waves. Its three-seater jet skis kick up massive wakes as they roar over the sapphire surface of the water, and tandem kayaks trundle along. Staff-operated speedboats tow parasails behind them, passengers getting a seagull’s view of the waves and a firm understanding of how silly the dog paddle looks from a distance.
"We've got more canoes and kayaks than fingers and toes to count them," Captain Wendy explains. "Also, three sailboats, eleven pontoons––all rentable. The funny thing is, this business came from a big accident." She's referring to the company’s inception in 2002, when a devastating hurricane led a friend to sign his company’s single sailboat over to Wendy and her husband, Bruce. "We were in marketing––then, suddenly, we were in boating." More than 10 years later, Windsong Charters has flourished under the duo’s stewardship. The company now performs 200 weddings each year and equips a wide range of patrons to revel in the breathless joy of cutting through playful zephyrs and out across the water. Wendy and Bruce encourage fishing, drinking, and bringing pets on boating voyages, and the two share stories to delight guests or calm champagne bottles propped next to brand-new yachts. As propellers hum to life and paddles make a gentle kissing sound against the surf, visitors scan the horizon for the variety of wildlife that slips along just below the surf's surface or comes wheeling out of tufts of cumulonimbus. "I wish the animals would give us their schedules,” Wendy says, “but, on a given day, you could see manatees, dolphins, stingrays, and lots of birds."
Bill Jackson's Shop for Adventure is a full-service outfitter providing adventure apparel and instruction to outdoor enthusiasts. With this deal, Grouponers can choose between a lesson in recreational or sea kayaking to fulfill their nautical needs. The four-hour sea-kayaking lesson is broken into two two-hour sessions during which ocean-bound students will learn rescue skills, fundamental techniques, and canoe insults. In the 3-hour recreational lesson, aspiring aqua navigators will practice entries, reentries, rescues, and paddle techniques. To avoid insidious dolphin pranks, lessons are held in the heated indoor pool and the on-site lake.
Sweetwater Kayak’s self-guided kayak tours give seafarers a quiet look at the ecosystems of Weedon Island without the clamor and commotion of a motorboat or secret-service motorcade. Paddling patrons can wind along the 4-mile marked trail, across crystalline lagoons and under mangrove tunnels in hopes of seeing a resident bird, dolphin, or manatee. Each floating foray lasts up to four hours and provides a panorama of pristine environments and a glimpse into the life of Blackbeard. Sweetwater Kayaks will provide the necessary vessels, paddles, life vests, and trail maps, and Groupon holders can check here for a list of other supplies they need to bring (which can be purchased at Sweetwater Kayaks if they forget).
Helmed by Captain Charles Davis, Flatmasters Fishing Adventures offers guided, all-inclusive fishing trips to anglers of all levels. For any of the company's half- or full-day excursions, clients climb into a kayak already loaded with necessary equipment, including rods, reels, and live or artificial bait. Out on the water, instructors divulge tips for reeling in catches and working around irked fish who sit and tap their "No Soliciting" signs. The company's educational opportunities stretch beyond fishing, too, with basic kayaking lessons.
The state of Florida was once entirely underwater—and Florida Eco-Adventures’ tours explore the parts that still are. Founders Mac and Suzanne McCormick lead adventurers through waters such as Kings Bay that, thanks to its 72-degree waters, is a wintertime refuge for West Indian Manatees. The Silver River, meanwhile, hosts a more eclectic array of wildlife, ranging from gators—although they’re too shy and skittish for regular sightings—to sunfish and rhesus monkeys.