Eric, Mitch, and Julie Audit head up a crew of "wannabe pirates and friends" at Island Life Charters. Their armada of kayaks are equipped with quiet electric motors, carries visitors out on self-guided excursions and tours, where they can take in views of mangrove trees teeming with birds, as well as manatees and dolphins. For a different boating experience entirely, the fleet's crown jewel is Islandicity, a 30-foot Chaparral boat that comfortably seats 12 passengers on a deck equipped with a powerful stereo system, a wet bar, and a Coast Guard-deterring scare-Poseidon.
Located right on the beach at Archibald Park, visitors to MAD Beach Rentals need only take a few steps to navigate the Gulf of Mexico's crystal-clear waters. Their rentals provide means of watery transportation?guests can hop in a kayak or grab a paddleboard to strike a pose against the ocean sunset. The gulf's abundant wildlife means you might be paddling alongside dolphins and manatee, assuming they rent out a kayak, too.
Boats dance and glide over the crisscrossing wakes carved into Tampa Bay, each craft anxiously revving toward its respective dock to arrive before closing time. All the while, a handful of boats remain on the open water, swaying atop the undulating waves as its passengers continue to enjoy the fiery sunset reflecting off the bay's surface. These select aquatic vehicles carry Lotto Boat's boat club members, who have access to a slew of exclusive perks, such as extended marina hours. Stationed at Harborage Marina, Lotto Boat's 20 rental vessels include kayaks, paddleboards, WaveRunners, and power boats equipped with GPS navigation systems. After hopping aboard a vessel, landlubbers can go jet-skiing, drift over to nearby tiki bars for dinner and live music, or take in scenic views of downtown St. Petersburg. Once patrons make their way back to one of Lotto Boat's two docks, staffers thoroughly cleanse the boat of interior debris and exterior mermaid hitchhikers to prepare for the vessel's next excursion.
Both by land and by sea, Doo’s Amazing Tours, LLC reveals St. Petersburg's historic charm and natural beauty via a diverse array of guided sightseeing jaunts. Louisa—also known as "Doo"—oversees the operation from the company's headquarters in the Historic Downtown District. Here, tour-goers can hop on a Segway and zip past the beach town's most notable landmarks. Narrated by an experienced guide, the trip mines much of the city's illustrious past, including the work of prominent citizens and several old hotels.
When guests are ready to leave dry land behind, they can swap their Segway for a kayak or stand-up paddleboards at one of four launch points: North Shore Beach, Coffee Pot Bayou, Weedon Island, or Saint Pete Beach. For example, on the Spring River trip, paddlers float over subterranean caverns covered by a layer of sparkling clear water, which in turn is surrounded by white sand beaches and tropical vegetation.
The crew at Kayak Valet has one mission: to get more people out and enjoying the local waterways and scenery via kayaks or paddleboards. Since storing, hauling, unloading, reloading, and potty training their own kayaks can deter people from boating, the team sets up shop to cancel out such deterrents. They take care of nearly every task, bringing all equipment necessary for a leisurely paddle on puddles of all sizes right to the launch site. The crew will pick up and deliver equipment to popular launch sites within Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Manatee Counties. To keep the aquatic adventure accessible, the shop rents only kayaks and standup paddleboards that can be piloted by anyone, experienced or not. Additionally, they give visitors tips on paddling and safety techniques and sell new kayaks, paddleboards, and accessories.
Jesse Nofi is most at home on the open water. An experienced fisherman since his teenage years, Jesse learned early that the richest bounties often lie in the less-traveled depths out past the shore. Now the Coast Guard–licensed charter captain of 360 Fishing Charters, Jesse shares his affinity for exploration with passengers, running fishing excursions in and around Tampa Bay. Aboard his fleet of kayaks or a 22-foot Crestliner powerboat, passengers might undertake inshore pursuits of redfish, grouper, and catfish or lead deep-water chases for snapper and grouper through waters up to nine miles offshore. When he’s not helping anglers haul in their latest catch, Jesse can also be found writing up recaps of his time on the water as a contributing writer for the websites The Online Fisherman and Florida Marine Times.