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Kayaking on Tarpon Bay at Sanibel Island

After 14 years of vacationing on Sanibel Island, we finally did something we have never done before: Kayaking. We should have done this years ago, Fred and I had such a great time. Our adventure began at the Tarpon Bay Explorers Nature Tours and Rentals. The facility is located in the heart of the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

We arrived early in the morning (8:15 am) and got checked in for our tour. We had made reservations the day before. It's best to reserve your spot ahead of time. There were about 20 people in our group with a naturalist as our tour guide. Fred and I have never kayaked before but we found it very easy. I was afraid we would tip over a lot (bad memories from canoeing years ago) but that was not to be the case. I felt very secure.

Fred and I paddled to a rendezvous point in the middle of the back bay and our guide explained about what we would be doing and what we would see. The tour lasted 2 hours and it was fun. We saw many species of wildlife and paddled through thick mangroves that were like a secret trail. Since this was our first time we did go with the group and did the tour. But if we did it again, I think we would just rent a kayak and explore on our own.

Because it was summer we did choose the early morning time for our trip. I would recommend this as the afternoons during the summer can be brutally hot and you are more likely to see sudden strong thunderstorms pop up.

I did bring a waterproof disposable camera rather than my digital camera just in case of an accident. Fred chose not to bring the camcorder. We did bring a bottle of water to drink, sunglasses and wore tennis shoes and sandals. We both wore our bathing suits with T-shirts and applied sunscreen before the trip. It got hot later in the morning so I was glad I had my bathing suit on. We weren't required to wear a lifevest, for which I was very glad. Be prepared to get wet during the trip from splashing the oars incorrectly or maybe your kayak mate may just want to splash you!

We followed our guide through the mangrove trails along the Commodore Creek and she told us about the area and the eco-systems. Everyone could still see the damage from Hurricane Charlie in 2003. Our guide told us they had to clear the trail after the hurricane because it was impassable. Mangroves are a special tree that can grow in salt water. We saw a lot of fish jumping out of the water and at times the bay area was so shallow we could see the bottom! It was very interesting and our group had a fun time. Fred and I got to know the people we were kayaking with and discovered a few of our new acquaintances were from Georgia too!

Our guided kayak trip cost $30 per person for 2 hours. The cost for a child is $20 for the guided tour. We were told though we could kayak for as long as we wanted after the guided tour, we did not feel any pressure to get right back at the two hour mark. The price is lower if you just rent a kayak and do your own exploring. Call the number below for times and schedules. Pricing does not include sales tax. All rates are subject to change without notice, so please call for the most current information.

Tarpon Bay Explorers also has a Gift and Nature Shop to browse through which contains many unique gifts and souvenirs for the choosing. It is also a great place for film, drinks and a bathroom break before your trip.

The Tarpon Bay Explorers Nature Tours and Rentals is located at 900 Tarpon Bay Road on Sanibel Island (located off Sanibel-Captiva Road). To make reservations or to call for pricing, please call 239-472-8900.

Tarpon Bay is one of the top 10 places to paddle in the nation according to Canoe and Kayak Magazine. It was so beautiful and peaceful. It's great activity to do while on Sanibel Island.

The Tarpon Bay Explorers Nature Tour and Rentals offers many other things to do besides kayaking. They have a Nature and Sea Life Cruise, Boat Rentals, Fishing Guides and Rentals, Bike Rentals, Captain Porky's Fishing Center, Breakfast Cruises and Sunset Tours. Wow! These activities could keep you busy for weeks.

Sanibel Island Activities

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