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kayak and boat tours

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Two- to three-hour guided kayak tours of Rookery Bay and surroundings provide an up-close and personal experience of this irreplaceable national treasure. Paddle lazily through the shallows and mazelike mangrove tunnels while learning about your surroundings from an experienced guide and naturalist. Tours are offered from November - May. 

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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 $69 (10% off for members) and includes a kayak, all equipment, paddling instruction and admission to the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center.
  • Paddlers must be 12 or older.  
  • Weight limit: 250 pounds.
  • Wear closed-toed shoes and clothes that you do not mind getting wet.
  • Bring a hat, sunglasses, sun block, 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.
  • Meet at launch site 30 minutes prior to scheduled start time.

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.

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. 

Do you rent kayaks?

Yes, there are kayak rentals available through our affiliated partners at Rising Tide Explorers. Please let them know that we 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.

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 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.


Randy McCormick, your captain and guide, has worked at the Reserve for many years and knows the area intimately. He is a Certified Interpretive Guide, an instructor in the Florida Master Naturalist program and a fifth generation Floridian.

Rising Tide Explorers

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Rising Tide Explorers was founded in 2016 by a group of local biologists looking to raise the bar of the outdoor industry in Southwest Florida and share their passion for Florida’s unique ecological landscape.


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