This throwback comes at you from 2009 on one of my summer trips to Florida. This trip was to Anna Maria Island on the gulf side in a chain of islands right off the coast of Tampa. We took a chance and found the local kayaking company and dropped about $55 on a 2 hour kayaking tour through the mangroves.
It was a great time! The kayaks and oars were good ones that were maintained well. Our guide was well versed in the area, wildlife, and environment. He knew where to find all of the cool sea sponges, urchins, slugs, etc and how to handle them so we may pick them up. I posted a few of those pics in the slideshow below!
I absolutely love kayaking. Especially in the open ocean. For wimps like me that aren’t confident enough to attempt surfing, kayaking is a good alternative. (Just gotta know how to do your rolls!) And if you want to take a tour of the area, but don’t want to be stuck on a tour bus or walking around with a bunch of shoobies wearing fanny packs I definitely recommend an alternative type tour such as a kayaking tour.
Not many people are attracted to these because they feel that you have to have previous experience kayaking to do so. Out of our tour group of 10, I was the only one who had previous kayaking experience… but the guide goes through what a kayak/oar is, how to use the oar, how to turn/slow down/ etc, and what to do if you tip over. They of course go through all of the safety procedures and remind everyone to wear sunscreen!
Beside the point, this is one of the best ‘touristy’ tours I’ve ever done. It wasn’t cheesy or too uncreative. In fact, it was quite different than any other tour I’ve taken. It was much more laid back and things were kind of on the fly. The tour was dependent on what creatures and such we wanted to see – of course every tour goes through the mangroves.
Like many other nature tours, the companies focus on wildlife conservation within their tours. This tour wasn’t too in your face about conservation, but it definitely got its point across. They explained how the mangroves effected the environment (delaying erosion) and the wildlife (home for crabs, bugs, and keeps mosquitos at bay) and other important factors that were all well observed whilst on the tour. It was a much needed passive approach to conservation education that I honestly appreciated.