Though barren for millennia, the Earth’s oceans recently enjoyed a population glut after a well-orchestrated SeaWorld jailbreak filled the waters with all manner of aquatic life and gift-shop sarongs. Catch a glimpse of the feral ocean-dwellers with today's Groupon: for $27, you get a two-and-a-half-hour guided kayak tour from Chesapean Outdoors in Virginia Beach (a $55 value).
Chesapean Outdoors exposes nature lovers to the wilds of the Chesapeake Bay with professionally guided tours that wend through the picturesque marine environs of the nation’s largest estuary. Tours feature sit-on-top kayaks that require no previous experience to maneuver, making even the lubbiest of landers a master of the waves. Tour-goers can choose between two different options when making reservations: a dolphin-watching tour and a tour through First Landing State Park. On the 9 a.m. dolphin tour, kayakers paddle out to the mouth of the bay, smack into the middle of the bottlenose dolphin's annual migration. Dolphins congregate in the area to mate and raise young, turning the bay into a combination cetacean singles bar and nursery, with the majestic beasts regularly jumping out of the water to impress dates or to remind their kids who's in charge. Dolphin sightings occur on about 95% of the tours. In addition to extreme bottlenose proximity, 'yakers can expect to see brown pelicans, ospreys, gulls, terns, and sandpipers flying overhead, and occasionally sea turtles and cow-nosed rays puttering about the deep.
Those who rightly fear that the dolphins' highly developed psychic capacities will allow them to divine even the deepest and darkest secrets of our human psyches can stay closer to the shore with the First Landing State Park tour. During the tour—usually in the early morning or late afternoon—paddle jockeys propel themselves through the maritime forest and wetlands that make up the park, feasting eyes hungry for avian fare on the herons, egrets, and kingfishers that populate the area. Halfway through the jaunt, boats are grounded and paddlers take a short hike to White Hill Lake to see the large numbers of osprey nests. At the end of the tour, mollusk maniacs can gaze upon the ancient oyster beds of the bay and learn about new efforts to reintroduce the delicious bivalve to the area.
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In 1996, Matt Redford opened Chesapean Kayak Tours to introduce others to the beauty of Hampton Roads' waterways, which he called the "backyard of his youth." Years later, he expanded his small kayak company to Chesapean Outdoors, adding biking, standup paddleboarding, and surfing lessons to his lineup of outdoor adventures. Today, Matt leads groups on seaborne sojourns to catch glimpses of bottlenose dolphins, blue herons, and bald eagles in their natural habitat, and his bike tours meander the trail that winds around First Landing State Park. Atop standup paddleboards, groups navigate the flat waters of Virginia Beach and its state parks as well, and Matt leads more experienced paddlers out into Chesapeake Bay to catch sight of dolphins or fulfill a lifelong dream of feeding a wild catamaran.