Today, Sun Kind of Living is whipping up a magical potion of salty seawater, sunshine, twisted tunnels and a dash or two of locals. Add a couple of plastic vessels and some paddles and stir up some fun. All of these Florida ingredients put together in a natural setting become Eco-Tour Kayaking.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to try something new? How about that goal that you keep telling yourself of becoming more active?
Let’s not waste anymore time and explore this exciting, yet relaxing activity that is eco-tour kayaking.
First and foremost you need to locate a couple of places in Florida that have shallow, clear, warm water, that include mangrove tunnels. Make sure the location is nestled in a natural setting and not overrun with tourists. Find guides that are local and have a passion for not only the tours they offer but for the environment in general. If this sounds like a lot of work, you’re in luck because Sun Kind of Living loves kayaking and has already done the research for you.
LOCATE A SPOT.
Siesta Key and Lido Key are very popular kayaking spots in Florida. The reason is because of the clear, warm, protected waters they contain that are shallow and full of mangrove tunnels. The combination of all of these things allows both residents and visitors to experience an incredibly diverse ecosystem. Some sea life that can be found on a two hour guided eco tour are manatees, dolphins, great blue heron, pelicans, white egrets, and of course the fun-loving cormorants. There are all kinds of creatures residing in the warm, soothing waters below so make sure to keep your eyes open for jellyfish, starfish and a sea cucumber or two. These living beings are free to come and go as they please so there is no guarantee who will choose to come swim or scoot alongside your kayak each day.
DO YOU WANT TO SEE A SEA COW?
Manatees, also known as sea cows, peacefully inhabit the waters around Sarasota Bay between May and October. The reason they are called sea cows is due to their cow-like eating habits. These gentle giants are herbivores. They love to graze on sea grass and other aquatic plants. Manatees are one of the highlights of taking a kayak tour and Sun Kind of Living just can’t get enough of them!
CHOOSE A LOCAL GUIDE.
Don’t try to go the cheap route. Pay the extra money to take a two hour tour with a local guide. You will not regret it. These guides are professional, informative and passionate about wildlife. They know the area. It proves to be a way more relaxing experience when you don’t constantly have to focus on lugging a rental kayak around, figuring out where you’re supposed to be paddling and if you’re getting lost, all while attempting to identify creatures along the way. Experienced guides know what they’re looking for. They know where they’re going and most of all, they enjoy teaching people about kayaking and appreciating the intricate ecosystem around them.
OUR TWO SENSE AND TWO RECOMMENDATIONS.
Overcrowding in the Lido Key area is a real problem. Too many people are simply choosing to rent kayaks, paddle boards and anything else that seems to float on their own and are crowding the precious mangrove areas. This is why Sun Kind of Living’s favorite kayak tour company, Adventure Kayak Outfitters, is choosing to no longer give tours in the area, so we had to move on to two new recommendations.
Our first recommendation is Kayaking SRQ. They are two local guides that give tours through Sarasota Bay and are passionate about what they do. The couple even won Traveler’s Choice Best of the Best on TripAdvisor in 2020. Kayaking SRQ was ranked #1 out of 158 tours in Sarasota. With that notch on their belt they must be doing something right. Their two hour mangrove tours in either Lido Key or Siesta Key cost $59.00 for adults and $49.00 for ages twelve and under. They also offer two hour private tours for $85.00 a person. If you’re looking to explore the mangroves in this area their website is linked below.
Sun Kind of Living’s next choice is a little more off the beaten path. This company chooses to steer away from crowded public places and into a more quiet and serene location where local wildlife resides unbothered by loads of tourists. Desoto Kayak Tours comes highly recommended by Adventure Kayak Outfitters and is definitely worth the drive. Desoto Kayak Tours is a family-owned business that has local guides that are native to Anna Maria Island. They launch at Emerson Point Preserve in Palmetto Florida which is approximately a 45 minute drive from Sarasota. This company charges $55.00 for adults and $45.00 for ages six and under for a two hour guided tour. Visit their website, linked below, to find out more info.
DRESS FOR KAYAK TOUR SUCCESS.
Come prepared people! You are gliding on top of salty water and are positioned in a relatively small vessel with paddles on both sides of you. You will probably get a bit wet. Expect it! Sun Kind of Living highly recommends purchasing a dry bag if you don’t have one already. These decent-sized waterproof inventions are designed to keep your valuables dry and your mood pleasant. It is not fun to constantly be worrying about whether there is wet sand jammed in your camera lens or salt water in your iPhone. Buy the bag!
Another item Sun Kind of Living recommends you bring along is a pair of water shoes. Even though you’re inside of a kayak you are paddling, your shoes will get wet. Your tennis shoes and sandals will thank you. No need to break a hip because you slipped on something getting into your kayak.
Next on our list of must-brings is sunscreen. Not all sunscreen is the same. Please do your research and choose a sunscreen that is free of ingredients that can harm coral reefs. Sun Kind of Living’s recommendation is Alba Botanica Broad Spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen (linked below). It is not only reef friendly, but smells like coconuts and that my friends is a beautiful thing.
Cameras are always important. I mean, does your guided kayak tour even count if it hasn’t been documented on social media for all to see? Bring a camera or an iPhone but don’t get so caught up in getting the perfect picture that you miss out on the truly incredible experience.
Never forget your sunglasses. A cool pair of crisp aviators is always a classic choice and always seems to photograph well, but to each his own. The sun can be glaring off of those beautiful waterways. Make sure you protect your eyes.
Last but definitely not least, don’t forget some drinking water. We all know from numerous reality shows and documentaries that drinking saltwater is a very bad idea. Bring a water bottle but make sure the water bottle goes home with you and not into our beautiful oceans.
IT’S SUNNY WITH A CHANCE OF A GREAT GUIDED ECO-TOUR.
Plan an adventure. Try something new. A guided kayaking eco-tour will be a great choice for you! There is no experience required and every age is a great age to explore all that kayaking has to offer. Help these local businesses keep their passion for the diverse ecosystem that is incorporated into these mangroves alive while having fun and creating memories. Here’s to a new year with new adventures! Cheers to kayaking in 2022!