We live in a paradise of natural Florida beauty. And we’re not just talking about the beaches. A little more inland we have lush wooded landscapes, miles of marshes teeming with life, and beautifully expansive waterways. But exploring all this on your own might not be so easy. You might not have the skills or equipment to navigate on your own or maybe you just want a guide to give you a little more information as you go. Whatever the reason, one of the best ways to go on a little outdoor adventuring is by taking a tour. So if you’re game for hopping in a kayak or scouting around on foot, these seven local tours can steer you in the right direction.
RIPPLE EFFECT ECO TOURS
Kayak and Boat Tours
Having recently partnered with Marineland Dolphin Adventure and the Whitney Lab, Ripple Effect offers highly educational tours and unique access to the southern boundary of the GTM Research Reserve. The guides, certified by the University of Florida, will guide kayaks around the biologically-rich area and show off some of the most pristine Florida habitats. If you want a more leisurely tour, hope on the vegetable oil-powered boat for a fascinating (and eco-friendly) ride. Kayak tours are $55 for adults and $45 for children 6-15. Boat tours are $50 per adult and $40 for children 15 and under.
LET’S GO STANDUP
Stand Up Paddleboard Tours
If you’re in the mood for a full body workout and a chance to try the trendiest way to get around on the water, then hop on board…a standup paddleboard, that is. The Let’s Go Standup tour offers first a basic training in using a paddleboard – how to use the paddle, how to stand up, proper posture, paddling stroke, board positioning, and paddle board water etiquette – so that you feel completely comfortable as you take a tour of the nearby waterways. The tour is $65 per person or $55 per person with a group of two or more.
ACTION KAYAK ADVENTURES
Kayak Fishing Tours
Immerse yourself in the beautiful nature preserves of St Augustine on a fishing expedition unlike any other. No noisy motors, no crowds, just a peaceful journey into the marshes and lake beds inaccessible to other boats, but ready and waiting for kayakers and fishing rods. Not into fishing? Bart, who is a certified Master Naturalist, can lead you on an informative guided eco-tour and show you some of Florida’s undisturbed flora and fauna. Kayaks, coolers, life jackets, fishing rods, bait, and other essential equipment is included with the purchase of any trip. A half day fishing trip is $185, a 3/4 day trip is $250, and a full day trip is $350. The guided eco-tours are $75.
ST. AUGUSTINE ECO TOURS
Boating, Kayaking, & Sailing Tours
You can get a little bit of everything with St. Augustine Eco Tours. Head out on the boat for a Dolphin & Nature tour with a certified naturalist to explore the rivers and creeks surrounding St. Augustine and combine dolphin and bird watching with marine ecology and historic sights. There are also photography tours and beachcombing tours. If you’re in the market for something a little more active, you can opt for a Salt Marsh Kayak Trip where you’ll go under the Bridge of Lions, past the Fort, and through the saltwater marshes of the historic mission. Or you can relax on a sailboat and take in the sun as you’re guided through the habitats of dolphins and wading birds.
SEA SERPENT TOURS
Airboat and Hydrobike Tours
Take a fast and furious tour of the Matanzas River, St. Johns River, Tolomato River, and the surrounding tidal creeks in the Sea Serpent Airboat. You’ll see the waterways of St. Augustine from a whole new perspective and get a chance to enjoy the unmatched natural beauty of Florida. You can take a tour of the St. Johns River and learn about its unique ecosystem or opt for the stunning sunset tour and take in the beautiful colors of the sky from the water. If you’re looking for something a little different, you can try out a hydrobike tour – a floating bicycle that’s equal parts active and fun. A guided tour on the hydrobike is $50 per hour. The sunset tour is $89.95 and the Airboat tour is $74.95.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY PARKS AND RECREATION
Walking and Kayaking Tours
Sometimes there’s nothing better than getting outside and having an adventure. And if you team up with the St. Johns County Park Naturalists, that’s more fun than ever. Throughout the year the Parks & Recreation Department hosts free kayak tours, lectures, and nature walks for curious minds to do some exploring. You can learn all about wild edibles and how to find them in nature. Take a walk as the sun sets and do some dolphin spotting. Paddle your kayak along the marsh and join in a beach cleanup. Park Naturalists, Kelly and AyoLane, guide each program and make sure they’re both informative and fun. A full schedule of when each tour is offered can be found online.
OLD CITY TOURS
If you’re just dying to see dolphins or you’re looking for something a little more spooky, Old City Tours might just be the way to go. The Dolphin Safari explores the wetlands to view Florida wildlife in its natural habitat. And here’s the catch – if you don’t see any dolphins on this tour, you’ll get a to take another tour for free. But if dolphins just aren’t spooky enough for you, you can take the Ghost Boat, a 21+ tour around the Matanzas Bay to see if you can catch sight of some of the many spirits that wander.
Featured image by Mark Pariani Productions