It only took two weeks on the picturesque shores of Tahiti and Moorea to send Craig Stewart into a tailspin. He and wife Evelyn fell in love with the South Pacific’s crystalline waters and beachy breezes, so much so that the prospect of remaining in their native Oklahoma turned gloomy. Six years after the Stewarts’ Pacific vacation, they stumbled upon Sanibel Island. With a love for the waters still coursing through their veins, they uprooted and moved there, making it home base for Adventures in Paradise. In 1986, they started out with one boat—Miss Paradise—and one tour, the sunset dolphin cruise. Today, the Stewart family maintains a much larger operation. Their tour topics range from fishing and shelling to dolphin watching to historical sightseeing on a trolley.
What services does your business offer and what makes your business stand out from the competition?
We are a mobile company that delivers in the Ft. Myers and surrounding areas. We drop off SUP boards to your location, giving a brief lesson, and picking up when done. Also have the option of taking equipment with you daily, weekly, or longer. The only one in area with the mega board.
What is the experience customers can expect?
Great time on the water with chance of seeing manatees, dolphins, and other south Florida wildlife. Easy to paddle boards, even for the beginner. On time and friendly service.
What was the inspiration to start or run this business?
We love spending our time on the water and there is no better way than on a SUP. This business is for everyone from beginner to pro who wants to get out and paddle.
What do you love most about your job?
Love meeting people from all over. I get to do what I love every day.
At the helm of Mangrove Masters is Florida native and USCG-certified Captain Jack Boutchyard, who loves to introduce visitors to the waters he calls home—specifically those surrounding Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Captain Jack brings along all gear, including fishing licenses, rods, and bait for flats fishing charters that chase trout near the grass flats and redfish when the tide goes out. For a hands-off outing, the sunset cruise charts course toward a horizon bathed in soft pinks and purples, presenting a colorful backdrop for dolphins and manatees at play. Treasure hunters can also opt to meet Captain Jack on the dock for a short jaunt to the white, sandy shores of North Captiva Island, which is only accessible by boat and teems with riches such as conch shells, sand dollars, and buried chests filled with pirate baseball-card collections.
Salty Sam's Waterfront Adventures anchors the boating scene in Southwest Florida with award-winning marina services and a friendly team of boating experts. Here, customers can rent USCG-equipped boats for up to a week at a time while exploring the mangrove estuaries and shorelines along the Great Calusa Blueway.
In addition to boat and kayak rentals, Salty Sam's also provides charters for fishing and sightseeing excursions, as well as state-of-the-art storage facilities so boats don't have to find their own apartments. A colorful gift shop also stocks an array of souvenirs and boating accessories, and two on-site restaurants ensure customers don't have to go far to capsize their hunger.
Captain Larry Conley has been fishing since he was young boy, angling with his grandpop and friends on New Jersey's Barnegat Bay. At the age of 20, he bought his first boat and began competing in largemouth-bass and saltwater tournaments, earning a name for himself in the world of competitive fishing. Today, he imparts his insights and know-how to budding fishermen and tourists alike through Reel-Ality Sportfishing Charters, plying the waves of the Gulf of Mexico on chartered inshore and offshore fishing trips. From his sleek 28-foot, diesel-powered vessel, up to six visitors cast off for tropical creatures such as barracuda, mahi-mahi, tarpon, and even sharks. Below deck, passengers enjoy the comforts of a bathroom with running water, a fridge, and a television playing Jaws on an endless loop.
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