(Kayak Fishing FAQs are below)
Why don't you use airboats for your ECO tours? Everglades Area Tours.com operates directly in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. All out experiences are based on fun and ethical experiential outdoor education. In fact, we are only the second tour operator certified by the Florida Society for Ethical EcoTourism. Our most common and popular experiences last about a half of a day. All tours are conducted by professional educators and Florida Master Naturalists and it is out intend that you thoroughly enjoy your experience, but also learn and come away with a greater understanding of the this very special place.
While the airboat is a "neat" piece of equipment, it is NOT a mechanism for ecotourism and education. Most rides last 45-50 minutes and are designed for thrills and screams. They are loud and require hearing protection and are simply too loud for anyone to hear an interpretive guide. As well, their noise has an big impact on the wildlife. So much so that they are NOT ALLOWED in Everglades National Park where we operate
Why use kayaks and canoes for ECO tours? Our tours are not the typical canned tours where raccoons, acclimated to humans ,are hand fed. We venture deep into the natural environment. The wildlife there is just that ... wild. They shy from large boats and loud noises. We use the kayak transport boat to get us near an area and then deploy the kayaks to quietly get close. So, there are no long aggressive paddles ... just the opposite. The kayaks, along with being very stable and easy to paddle, are quiet, stealthy and unobtrusive to most wildlife. They allow you to get as close as possible to the wading birds for example. Further, these tours are an educational experience. The kayaks are an excellent tool for this as we can get you up close to things. Close enough to touch. We can actually pick up the "ball of oysters" and see the crabs and critters that live in the small eco-system. The experience is much more intimate.
What if I do not want to paddle far? You do not need to. The long distances are coved in the transport boat. We only deploy the kayaks once we arrive. We sometimes have some guests that choose to stay in the boat or roam the beaches while others are on the paddle tour. We do encourage you to join the paddle part of the trip, however. Your Everglades Experience will be much more complete if you do.
What is the difference between the 3 hour and the 6 hour tour. The three hour tour, obviously, lasts approximately three hours. Most importantly, however, it is designed to be an educational ECO tour led by a naturalist. We make sure that the pace is slow and we take the needed time to stop, observe and explain. The six hour tour is much more of a true sea kayaking paddle to tour - a full day trip. We cover much more water and distance. While there is plenty of ECO interpretation on the tour, that is not the primary intent.
What can I realistically expect to see? It is nature and it is wild. Every trip is different. Some days, we are fortunate to see a lot of wildlife, some days less. That is up to Mother Nature. However, all our guides are experienced outdoors men and women, naturalists and educators. We will have a handle on where the wildlife is on a any given day, but we can view only what is there. Most days, you can see ospreys, various breeds of herons and egrets, pelicans, numerous species of shorebirds and raccoons. Most every tour,in the warmer months, manatees are typically spotted from the transport boat. However, our guests also commonly see dolphibns, rosette spoonbills, bald eagles, various hawks, white pelicans, owls, sea turtles, kites and black vultures. We have seen wild hogs, bobcats, white-tail deer and even black bear on some occasions from the kayaks. We really never know until we are there.
What do I Need to Bring? Please bring wharever you wish to eat or drink. We do suggest plenty of water, but please adhere to our "Leave No Trace" policy. Clothing should be appropriate for the season and the day's weather. The transport boat is open and we travel swiftly. A light jacket is needed on most trips. Sun protection is always a good idea ...hats, sun block, etc. Along the beaches, you may wish to get out of the kayaks and walk in the water or you may wish to take a bit of time on the beach by yourself. Protective footwear, that you do not mind getting wet, is a good recommendation. Bring a camera (in a plastic zip lock bag if it is not waterproof). Binoculars and field glasses are also a good idea. You will also need to complete a Kayak Rental Release Form (PDF).
Will I get wet? The kayaks that we use for the ECO tours are state-of-the-art. You actually sit on a comfortable cushioned seat with very good back support. You simply sit down in the seat just as you would sit in a chair. You do not crawl into these kayak as with other types. They are sealed and will not fill with water or sink. They are dry, very easy to paddle and very stable. However, as you paddle, drops of water can run down the paddle shaft. This paddle drizzle can get on your legs. Many wear shorts or light fast drying pants (like nylon fishing clothing) when on these trips ... some bring the pants from their rain suits ... others swimming suits.
How long are the boat assisted tours? The total tour is 3 1/2 hours but we request that you allot 4 hours of your day. There is a 1/2 to3/4 hour interpretive boat tour each way; the paddling part of the trip is about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. If we do a beach walk,the paddle time is broken up with the walk and we sometimes do not paddle as long. Many tell us the boat trip alone is "worth the price of admission". These trips are not canned, so the times can vary depending on the day. If you have a time constraint, please let us know at the beginning of the tour.
Are the kayaks stable? Yes, very much so, and they are very easy to paddle. Many actually use the kayaks as fishing platforms and some fishermen even standup to fish while in the kayaks.
What about the alligators? The Everglades Area is famous for alligators. However, the alligators are not a problem for our guests. They keep a safe distance away and so do we. They are fond of fish and fowl. A person in a kayak simply does not resemble anything close to a wading bird!
During the rainy season (June through September) we can see them on our Boat Assisted Kayak Eco Tours. However, on the Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Eco Tours we see them on most every tour throughout the year.
Where do you suggest for lodging?
Parkway Motel and Marina http://www.evergladesparkwaymotelandmarina.com/index.html
Port of the Islands http://www.poiresort.com/
Chokoloskee Island Park http://www.chokoloskee.com/Fishing.html
The Everglades City Motel http://www.evergladescitymotel.com/
The Captains Table http://www.captainstablehotel.com/
River Wilderness http://www.river-wilderness.com/
Outdoor Resorts http://www.outdoor-resorts.com/ci/
Rod and Gun Club http://www.evergladesrodandgun.com/
The Ivey House http://www.iveyhouse.com/
What about cancellations? Everglades Area Tours requires a credit card with a deposit to secure your reservation, Once confirmed, we will send you a confirming email with all the needed details. As a matter of convenience, we will charge the balance of your trip to your card the day of the trip. If your experience is booked within 21 days of the departure date, we will collect the entire fare. We do offer a 5% cash discount. Should you wish to pay with cash, please let us know at the time of your reservation.
Fortunately, we are in an area where weather rarely forces us to cancel a tour. We have many choices and options in this wonderful area. However, the captain and guide has the ultimate responsibility for your safety and will make all "GO" or "NO-GO" decision. In the case of a "NO-GO" decision, you will have an option to re-schedule, receive a full refund or join another tour that is not affected.
During the months of June through September, South Florida becomes a tropical/sub-tropical paradise. The heating of the land mass triggers afternoon thunderstorms and convective sea breezes, so we encourage guests to book our experiences in the mornings during these months. The mangrove tunnel tours are rarely affected by the breezes and the warm rain showers can be pleasant. We will conduct the tours in the afternoons if desired by our guests. If the tour departs and we must return due to bad weather, we will a refund prorated up to 50% of the tour value.
Everglades Area Tours.com (EAT) wants you enjoy our tours and have a great time so you can tell others!!! All our tours are reserved in advance. However, we realize that situations occur that alter travel schedules and plans. If you cancel your tour prior to 14 days from the schedule tour date, your deposit will be completely refunded. If you cancel the tour within 14 days prior to the tour date, you will be offered an option to re-schedule the tour to another date. However, if the tour cannot be rescheduled, the deposit amounts may be forfeited or a gift certificate issued for the deposited amount at EATs sole discretion. If a tour date is cancelled within three days of the tour date, the complete tour booking fees may be forfeited or the trip re-scheduled at the sole discretion of EAT.