Q & A with Chad Bryant, Founder, Blue Planet Kayak Tours – Key West, Florida, USA
In operation 15 years, TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner.
“Fun and nature-friendly guided kayak tours in the Florida Keys.”
URL: http://blue-planet-kayak.com Reservations: www.zerve.com
CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF BLUE PLANET KAYAK TOURS?
Sure. We’re a local business that both rents kayaks and offers kayak tours to tourists who are visiting Key West. We have three regularly scheduled tours daily – two during the day and one for sunset/early evening. These run for 2-1/2 hours each. We also book private group tours, and those can run longer. It’s a safe and fun activity for all ages, gets you out on the water, a little fresh air and exercise, and you get to see our beautiful ocean and islands up close.
There’s a lot of information on our website plus some photos and videos. We use ZERVE online for reservations and ticket purchase.
I’ve lived in Key West for 35 years. I have a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and some additional graduate-level studies in this field.
WHO ARE THE GUIDES?
There are four of us, myself and three others. Since we have 21 tours scheduled per week, no one person can do all of them!
I ASSUME THIS IS YOUR BUSY TIME OF YEAR?
Yes, definitely. We’re a year-round business, but the winter months and early spring are very busy times. Tours can fill quickly, so you should go online first and see what’s available.
DO YOU HAVE TO BE AN EXPERIENCED KAYAKER?
No, not at all. We give everyone some basic instruction and make sure everyone is comfortable in the kayaks before we head out.
WHAT SHOULD ONE WEAR?
I recommend wearing a bathing suit underneath and then a casual shirt and shorts over that. A hat is a good idea during the day, even in the winter the sun here is stronger than most people are used to. Sun rays reflect off the water surface too, you know. You don’t want to get sunburned and ruin your vacation! Sunglasses and sun-block creams really help.
Lots of differences, but they’re all good! During the day you’ll see birds like pelicans or ospreys searching for their next meal. Watching a pelican in the sky hover and then dive into the ocean with a big splash is always entertaining. Sometimes with good luck we’ll see a few dolphins or manatees. But that’s never guaranteed. In the water we’ll see a variety of fish, sea urchins, star fish, maybe some juvenile sharks or rays.
By sunset the birds are roosting so they’re not active. But in the water there are marine creatures that do feed at night, like lobsters, octopus, and squids. We give everyone a headband with a light so you can see. During the summer people tend to book the evening tours more because it’s so hot during the day.
What you’ll see on any one tour depends on the time of year. Water levels change. It also depends on the time of day and whether the tide is going in or out. There are so many variables. That’s just how nature works.
Without a doubt! There’s always something interesting going on, something new to learn. Our main goal is to have fun….but we’ll also talk about what you’re seeing as we go along. For instance, most people have no idea what mangrove trees are or their relationship to the food chain. Or that a lot of the oxygen we breathe in the air comes from the ocean. The sea grass plays an important role in all that. So we’ll talk a little bit about the dynamics of the local habitats, including the coral reefs. We’ll answer your questions about the sea creatures. Hopefully you’ll leave with a little better understanding than before you came.
DO YOU GET QUESTIONS ABOUT OCEAN CONSERVATION?
Sometimes, especially if we notice something floating in the water or caught in the mangroves like soda cans or plastic bottles. That’s why we come prepared with trash bags just in case. It’s a sad reality that does not speak too well about us humans, does it? Some of our customers are surprised when they see this, it really opens their eyes. We can all be better caretakers of our world.
Well the single best thing you can do while you’re on vacation here is just be aware. Clean up after yourself and make sure your friends don’t litter. Set an example. If you’re boating, snorkeling, or diving, stay out of the marine restricted areas. Be really careful around the corals reefs, don’t step on them! Even a careless bump by your hand or flipper can cause damage that will take years to repair.
I’ll also mention a local organization called Reef Relief because they do great work. They’re involved in reef protection and research, and they also run a summer camp for kids. www.reefrelief.org
WELL THANKS FOR THE INFORMATION, CHAD – I'LL BE SURE TO STOP BY NEXT TIME I'M DOWN THERE IN THE KEYS!
We’ll be happy to see you then.
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