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kayak and boat tours

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Join our exclusive ecotour partner, Rising Tide Explorers for an adventure into the Rookery Bay Reserve!  The guides of RTE are active local biologists, certified naturalists, and certified kayaking instructors making them the most qualified guides in the region to bring you and your family on a memorable and educational adventure into the estuary. Paddle through beautiful mangrove tunnels, teeming mudflats, and intricate oyster reefs while searching for amazing wildlife like sea stars, large snails, birds, dolphin and manatee!

You can choose between a single or tandem kayak for your journey. Tandem kayaks are great for families with small children. Conditions do vary, but usually consist of calm, waist-deep water and sunshine! These tours are perfect for the first-time paddler or pro. Get out and explore the backwaters of Southwest Florida with the experts!  FREE HD photography is included with every tour!


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Mangrove Tunnels and Mudflats Tour

Duration: 2.5 - 3 hours
Location: Isle of Capri Paddlecraft Park, Naples, FL

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Sunset Bird Rookery Tour

Duration: 2 - 3 hours
Location: Shell Island Road Boat Launch, Naples, FL


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Important Notes for Trip Participants:

  • Registration is required. Customers will receive a full refund or credit with 48 hours notice of cancellation.
  • Cost is $55 - $75 (10% off for members) and includes a kayak, all equipment, paddling instruction and admission to the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center.
  • Tours offer single or tandem kayaks and accommodate children ages 3 and up. Participants ages 16-17 are not required to have a parent or guardian present on the actual tour. Weight limit: 250 pounds.
  • Wear closed-toed shoes and clothes that you do not mind getting wet.
  • Bring a hat, sunglasses, sun block, bug spray and a water bottle.
  • Leave all electronic equipment locked in your car as you will get wet.
  • In the event of severely inclement weather, your trip leader will contact you on the morning of the trip at the phone number you provide when registering and receive a full refund.
  • Meet at launch site 30 minutes prior to scheduled start time.
  • All participants must sign and hand in a waiver at the time of or before registration.
  • Duration: 2-3 hours (hours vary depending on tour)

Kayak Tour FAQs

Can I bring my camera on the kayak?

Yes, but only if you are willing to risk getting it wet. Because there are no dry storage compartments onboard we recommend keeping all valuables locked in your vehicle, and bringing a Ziploc-type bag for your keys and anything else you need with you. HOWEVER, FREE HD photography is included with every tour and is sent to you by email following your reservation.

Do I need kayaking experience to enjoy this tour?

No. General instruction is provided at the beginning of each tour to ensure the comfort level of all paddlers.

Do you have tandem kayaks?

Yes, we now have tandem kayaks available through our affiliated partners at Rising Tide Explorers. Tandem kayaks are great for children under 12 years old with an adult.

Do you rent kayaks?

Yes, there are kayak rentals available through our affiliated partners at Rising Tide Explorers. Please let them know that Rookery Bay Research Reserve referred you.

I would like to bring my own kayak – is this OK?

Our tours include all equipment and are limited to 10-12 paddlers, for the safety and quality of experience. If you would like to bring your own kayak, please call (239) 530-5972 to obtain approval from your guide and receive a discounted rate for your guided tour($50 per paddlers).

What if I get tired, lose my paddle, or get hurt?

These tours are low-intensity and intended for peaceful enjoyment and education, not competition. Beginners are welcome! Our experienced guides are ACA kayaking instructors and always come prepared for emergencies.

What is the difficulty level?

Difficulty level is beginner and moderate upper body strength is required. Tours do not encounter any rapids or dangerous crossings however in some locations kayakers will need to paddle into the current.

Where can I launch my own kayak to explore the Reserve?

We do not own or manage the launch site at the Shell Island Road launch, so whoever chooses to use it does so at their own risk. There is a new non-motorized vessel launch on the corner of Collier Boulevard and Capri Boulevard just north of Marco Island called the Isles of Capri Paddlecraft Park. It was developed by the Reserve and managed by Collier County Parks & Recreation.

Why must I wear closed-toed shoes?

Water shoes are recommended because oyster shells are among the potential hazards your toes may encounter while getting in or out of the kayak at the launch site and elsewhere in the Reserve in the unlikely event you end up in the water.

Will I get wet?

Yes, usually only from your knees down.

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