by Mike Hammond
The Buck Key Mangrove Kayak Tour guided by Adventure Sea Kayak and SUP on Captiva is definitely a paddle to consider before tourist season is in full swing. A friend and I recently had the pleasure of taking the tour and had a great time. I’m usually the person checking the weather, helping people in kayaks and making sure everyone has gear…I have to admit, it was really nice having someone else do this for us. After a quick lesson on shore with a family of four, my friend, the guide and I paddled away in our kayaks and were immediately greeted by manatees. Our guide had great information to share with us, including how to ethically observe wildlife. Bonus points to the guide for teaching others to respect our marine animals.
We continued across Roosevelt Channel and into the Buck Key Mangrove Tunnel. I had mentioned this tunnel in a previous article but did not go into detail. While some other tunnels are narrow and challenging to navigate, the Buck Key Tunnel is fairly wide and had enough room for SUPs to stand through much of it. Nobody got stuck in mangrove roots or complained about spider webs. Spider web facials and “log jams” are pretty common in other tunnels. The tunnel took us to the Pine Island Sound and it was a short paddle around the northern tip of Buck Key and back to the launch at Tween Waters Inn. Along the way we saw more manatees, dolphins, mangrove crabs and many wading birds including a lone roseate spoonbill perched high above in a tree. Our guide shared the area’s history and facts about all the flora and fauna we were discovering. It was really relaxing and fun. After paddling, there are some great restaurants onsite or a short drive away. You can rinse off at the outdoor shower by the pool before dining, but I’m not sure this is necessary on Captiva.
Buck Key is definitely one of our area’s hidden gems. With Adventure Sea Kayak and SUP’s proximity to the island at nearby Tween Waters, it makes this mangrove wonderland easily accessible to everyone. Paddlers who want to take their own adventure can rent kayaks or SUPs and explore on their own. The launch at Tween Waters is private, but paddlers can bring their own vessels if they are with someone renting from Adventure Sea Kayak and SUP.