What do you get when you launch a former bike racer with a person who has never kayaked before in a pedal kayak near the Isle of Capri? A pleasant adventure.
Extrapolate this possibility to any relatively fit person combined with any neophyte on the water and that is the beauty of pedal kayaking. A person need not have the fitness of Lance Armstrong nor the arms and shoulders of Hercules to enjoy an exploratory journey out on the water.
Naples Kayak Company recently opened several new kayak launch and rental locations. It also offers guided kayak tours for two persons minimum from the beach behind the Capri Fish House on Isles of Capri, from the Glades Haven Marina in Everglades City, and from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Naples Nature Center.
The Capri Fish House Restaurant at 203 Capri Blvd. offers access to islands, beaches, mangrove tunnels, dolphins, birds, manatees, and casual waterfront dining for restoring energy upon return to shore. The private beach located next to a fire house and behind the Capri Fish House Restaurant on Johnson Bay is adjacent to Rookery Bay, a 25-minute paddle to a paddlers paradise. From this beach is where Lee McMichael, vice president of tourism and marketing for Hendry County near Lake Okeechobee, and I set out on our Hobie Mirage Oasis for two, with a map in hand and endless possibilities before us.
With the option of pedaling or paddling, we decided to pedal, paddle, and pedal again in our two-hour journey among the mangrove islands of the Gulf of Mexico. We glided our kayak by appealing mansions and modest waterfront homes on Capri, before leaving civilization behind and heading out to the peaceful mangrove islands. While birds soared, we saw a few boats motoring out for a day of scuba diving and fishing. We also saw a research vessel, no doubt testing water quality or sustainability of various species. Mostly, we reveled in the beauty and tranquility, any cares melting away, as we enjoyed nature in all its majesty.
With the directional navigation system operated by either person, it became apparent that we had the skills to keep on course and the fitness to go a fair way. We skirted close to mangroves looking for snook, redfish, crabs and bait fish and scurried when near channel markers avoiding any bigger vessels.
Redesigned for 2011, our Mirage Oasis was long, narrow and lightweight with three enclosed stowage areas and one large on-deck cargo area, and dual steering controls. It is ideal for fishing because the pedals enable hands-free kayaking; thus knot-tying, baiting of hooks, and casting are facilitated. But, McMichael and I were not willing to “work” that hard! We were merely out for a joy ride and exercise in the one-of-a-kind Evergaldes.
On our return, a few dolphins intent on feeding, arched and curled around, adding a fortunate aura to the already spectacular morning.
Rates for a three-hour rental are $30/single kayak; $45/double; full-day rentals are $45/single $55/double, and tours are $69 per person. Call 239-262-6149 for more information, or visit http://www.napleskayakcompany.com. For more information on the Hobie Mirage Oasis, visit www.hobie.com.