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FCO Aquatic Preserve Ecotours

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Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves (Miami) Kayak and Snorkel Tours

Sunrise Kayak to Bird Key

Join experienced guides from the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves on a kayaking eco-experience to Bird Key at sunrise the best time to observe wildlife! This tour will provide guests an opportunity to see wildlife such as bottlenose dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, nurse sharks and a variety of birds and tropical fish.

Three kayaks on the waterBird Key, one of the few bird nesting islands in northern Biscayne Bay, is home to brown pelicans, double-crested cormorants, white ibis, the great blue heron, great egrets, magnificent frigate birds and many other species. Kayakers will enjoy the peace and quiet of the tropical sunrise as they observe the birds early morning routines while leisurely paddling through the mangroves and shallow waters of the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves. On the southern tip of the island, the group will visit a shallow seagrass basin for an optional snorkeling trip; guests are responsible for bringing their own snorkeling gear.

Tour Time:
6:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Tour Dates: Tours run on the weekends, year round! Space is limited. Reservations required and can be made up to 30 days in advance. Deadline to register is by noon the Thursday before the tour to ensure that the kayaks are reserved.

Tour Departure Point: The tour will depart from the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves office, just east of Biscayne Boulevard and NE 79th Street. Detailed instructions will be sent when registration is complete. The tour is led by biologists with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Tour Rates:
Adult: $50 | Child: $25 | Student: $40 (with valid ID)

What Should I Bring with Me on the Tour?

Bring plenty of water, protection from the sun including sun block with a high SPF (15 or higher), hats, sunglasses, and bug spray. Bathing suits or other non-cotton outdoor wear are suggested, along with a change of clothes and a towel. Complimentary refreshments (non-alcoholic) and snacks are provided. Guests are responsible for bringing snorkel gear if they want to participate in the optional snorkeling opportunity.
 

Sunrise Kayak Tour to Bird Key
TOUR DAY

Oleta River and Sandspur Island Kayak Tour

Guests will be in awe of the remarkable beauty of Biscayne Bay on this kayak tour down the Oleta River, a natural river system once travelled by the Tequesta people. This tour will provide guests an opportunity to see wildlife such as bottlenose dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, seahorses, nurse sharks, spotted eagle rays, and a variety of birds and tropical fish!

Paddlers will be surrounded by mangroves, which are the world's only salt water trees, with impenetrable root systems that help to keep Biscayne Bay's waters clean and provides shelter and protection for a host of marine organisms. Guests have the opportunity to see bird species such as brown pelican, osprey, and great blue heron perched on the mangrove branches and can choose to snorkel in the water near Sandspur Island to explore the surrounding seagrass beds and along the rocks, which are teeming with a variety of species of fish and other marine life. Guests can explore the island and will have time to relax under the shade trees for lunch.

Tour Time:
9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Tour Dates:
Tours run on the weekends, year round! Space is limited. Reservations required and can be made up to 30 days in advance. Deadline to register is by noon the Thursday before the tour to ensure that the kayaks are reserved.

Tour Departure Point:
The kayak tour will depart from Oleta River State Park. Detailed instructions will be sent when registration is complete. The tour is led by biologists with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Tour Rates:
Adult: $50 | Child: $25 | Student: $40 (with valid ID)

What Should I Bring with Me on the Tour?
Bring plenty of water, protection from the sun including sun block with a high SPF (15 or higher), hats, sunglasses, bug spray, and a lunch, if desired. Bathing suits or other non-cotton outdoor wear are suggested, along with a change of clothes and a towel. Lunch is not provided, but complimentary refreshments (non-alcoholic) and snacks are provided. Guests are responsible for bringing snorkel gear if they want to participate in the optional snorkeling opportunity.
 

Oleta River & Sandspur Island Kayak
TOUR DAY

Chicken Key and Deering Estate Kayak Tourlady wearing  snorkeling gear

This kayak tour encompasses both nature and history in a delightful blend of unique natural vistas and historic landmarks! Guests will depart from Deering Point and paddle out towards Chicken Key, a seven-acre mangrove island and bird nesting area surrounded by sand bars, tidal flats, and seagrass beds. It's one of South Florida's best spots for bird watching! This tour will provide guests an opportunity to see wildlife such as bottlenose dolphins, manatees, loggerhead sea turtles, seahorses, juvenile blacktip sharks, sting rays, spotted eagle rays, and a variety of birds and tropical fish!

Paddlers will have a great view of the Charles Deering Estate from the water as they travel through a maze of exotic mangrove tunnels that lead into the seagrass flats. As guests paddle lazily through the mangroves, a variety of bird species can be observed, such as like brown pelicans, ospreys, cormorants, and great blue herons. Guests also have the opportunity to snorkel and explore the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay.

Tour Time:
9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Tour Dates:
Tours run on the weekends, year round! Space is limited. Reservations required and can be made up to 30 days in advance. Deadline to register is by noon the Thursday before the tour to ensure that the kayaks are reserved.

Tour Departure Point:
The kayak tour will depart from a location adjacent to the Deering Estate. Detailed instructions will be sent when registration is complete. The tour is led by biologists with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Tour Rates:
Adult: $50 | Child: $25 | Student: $40 (with valid ID)

What Should I Bring with Me on the Tour?
Bring plenty of water, protection from the sun including sun block with a high SPF (15 or higher), hats, sunglasses and bug spray are important. We suggest a bathing suit or other non-cotton outdoor wear, a change of clothes, and a towel. Complimentary refreshments (non-alcoholic) and snacks are provided. Guests are responsible for bringing snorkel gear.

CHICKEN KEY & DEERING ESTATE KAYAK 9:30am - 12:30pm
TOUR DAY
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Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves (Miami) Catamaran Cruises and Snorkel Tours

adult with children snorkelingOleta River and Sandspur Island Cruise

Guests will enjoy the sights and sounds of nature as the hustle and bustle of the city fades away while on this catamaran cruise of the Oleta River, a natural river system once travelled by the Tequesta people. This tour will provide guests an opportunity to see wildlife such as bottlenose dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, seahorses, nurse sharks, spotted eagle rays, and a variety of birds and tropical fish!

The remarkable beauty of Biscayne Bay will surround guests as the comfortable catamaran sails through the oldest and tallest mangrove forest in Miami-Dade County and allow guests the opportunity to see bird species such as brown pelican, osprey, and great blue heron perched on the mangrove branches. Guests can also choose to snorkel in the water near Sandspur Island to explore the surrounding seagrass beds and explore the island with time to relax under the shade trees for lunch.

Tour Time:
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Tour Dates:
Please call 305-795-1256 or email biscayne.bay@dep.state.fl.us to book; minimum of 20 people required. Available for conferences, big groups, parties, and reunions.

Tour Departure Point:
The tour will depart from the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves office, just east of Biscayne Boulevard and NE 79th Street. Detailed instructions will be sent when registration is complete. The tour is led by biologists with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the boat is operated by a United States Coast Guard licensed captain.

Tour Rates:
Adult: $60 | Child: $25 | Student: $40 (with valid ID)

What Should I Bring with Me on the Tour?
Bring plenty of water, protection from the sun including sun block with a high SPF (15 or higher), hats, sunglasses, bug spray, and a lunch, if desired. Bathing suits or other non-cotton outdoor wear are suggested, along with a change of clothes and a towel. Lunch is not provided, but complimentary refreshments (non-alcoholic) and snacks are provided. Guests are responsible for bringing snorkel gear if they want to participate in the optional snorkeling opportunity.

Sunset Cruise to Bird Key

Guests on this catamaran cruise will be dazzled by Miami's skyline as they watch the sun slowly set over the horizon while sailing along Bird Key. This cruise will navigate along the Miami River while experienced guides point out the seabirds settling in to the treetops for the night and teach passengers about the history of the area and its first inhabitants. As night falls, cruise passengers will view three of Miami's popular historic and cultural gems: Vizcaya - James Deering's estate and villa located right on the bay, Miami Circle - an archeological site of the native Tequesta people, and the Bill Baggs Cape Florida Lighthouse - the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County.

Tour Time:
4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Tour Dates:
Please call 305-795-1227 or email biscayne.bay@dep.state.fl.us to book; minimum of 20 people required. Available for conferences, big groups, parties, and reunions.

Tour Departure Point:
The tour will depart from the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves office, just east of Biscayne Boulevard and NE 79th Street. Detailed instructions will be sent when registration is complete. The tour is led by biologists with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the boat is operated by a United States Coast Guard licensed captain.

Tour Rates:
Adult: $60 | Child: $25 | Student: $40 (with valid ID)

What Should I Bring with Me on the Tour?
Bring plenty of water, protection from the sun including sun block with a high SPF (15 or higher), hats, sunglasses, and bug spray. Complimentary (non-alcoholic) refreshments and snacks are provided.


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Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve (Fort Myers Beach) Wading Trips


Participants will take a refreshing journey into the waters of the bay, wading into mudflats and seagrass beds at low tide to find many of the plants and animals that call this estuary home. Dip and seine nets will be provided for participants to collect organisms such as fish, shrimp, crabs and snails. The organisms will be placed in buckets or magnifiers for attendees to take a closer look and learn how each living creature plays an important role in the ecosystem. girl on beach

Tour Time:
9:00 a.m. - 11: 00 a.m.

Tour Dates:
Please visit this link for trip dates.

Tour Departure Point:
Detailed instructions will be sent when registration is complete. The wading trips are led by biologists with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Tour Rates:
Free, but registration is required by calling 239-530-1004.

What Should I Bring with Me on the Tour?
Participants are required to wear closed-toed shoes that can get wet, such as old tennis shoes or diving booties, and a swimsuit or shorts. Participants are encouraged to bring plenty of water, protection from the sun including sun block with a high SPF (15 or higher), hats, sunglasses, and bug spray.


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Rookery Bay Reserve (Naples) Kayak and Boat Tours

Kayak Tours

Two-hour guided kayak tours allow guests to paddle lazily through backwater bays and mangrove forests with an experienced guide and naturalist. Tours provide opportunities to see wildlife such as wading birds, osprey, fish, and dolphins.

Tour Time:
Tours are two hours long. Click here for more details.

Tour Dates:
Kayak tours are offered seasonally November - May. Click here for tour dates. Registration is required.

Tour Departure Point:
split image of people on motor boat and people in kayaksDetailed instructions will be sent when registration is complete. The kayak trips are led by experienced guides and staff with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Participants are required to meet at the launch site 30 minutes prior to scheduled start time.

Tour Rates:
Prices may vary, click here for details.

What Should I Bring with Me on the Tour?
Participants are required to wear closed-toed shoes. Participants are encouraged to wear clothes that they do not mind getting wet and to bring a towel, bottled water, sunscreen, and hat. Paddlers must be 12 or older. Weight limit: 250 pounds. Participants are also encouraged to leave all electronic equipment locked in their vehicles, as you may get wet.

Boat Tours

Three-hour boat tours allow guests to explore the unique ecosystem of Rookery Bay through a relaxed small-group cruise. With a maximum of six passengers, these on-the-water adventures are the only Rookery Bay boat tours conducted by Reserve staff. There are several different boat tours, all providing a chance to see a diversity of native wildlife and offering a comfortable platform for photography. All boat tours include free admission to the Environmental Learning Center on the day of the trip.

Tour Time:
Tours are three hours long. Click here for more details.

Tour Dates:
Tours are offered seasonally from November through April. Click here for tour dates. Registration is required.

Tour Departure Point:
Detailed instructions will be sent when registration is complete.

Tour Rates:
Tours vary in price. Click here for details.

What Should I Bring with Me on the Tour?
Participants are encouraged to wear closed-toed shoes and bring a hat, sunglasses, camera, sunscreen, binoculars, and water bottle. Guests are also encouraged to check the weather forecast in advance so they are properly prepared. The temperature is often much cooler out on the water, so a light jacket is always a wise choice.


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Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve (Punta Gorda) Snorkel Trips and Nature Tours by Boat

Snorkel Trips

Snorkelers can explore the estuarine environment of Lemon Bay, Gasparilla Sound, and aquatic preserve waters during these two-hour trips led by environmental specialists from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Participants will explore firsthand the seagrass beds and other habitats that marine creatures call home. Sea urchins, a variety of fish, sea stars, whelks, and other animals can be discovered in their underwater environment as experienced guides assist in the collection and identification of these animals, as well as discuss the importance of aquatic preserves and the species that depend on these estuarine habitats. woman underwater snorkeling

Tour Dates and Times:
Sep 1 (1:30 - 3:30 pm), Sep 15 (12:30 - 2:30 pm), Sep 16 (1 - 3 pm)

Tour Departure Point:
The group will meet at the Gasparilla Marina, 1500 Gasparilla Road, Placida, FL 33946. Detailed instructions will be sent when registration is complete. Participants are required to pay the $5 parking fee at Marina office prior to boarding the boat, and must be on board at time of scheduled departure.

Tour Rates:
$25. Register here.

What Should I Bring with Me on the Tour?
Participants are encouraged to wear a bathing suit and bring snorkel gear if they have their own (otherwise gear will be provided). Participants are also encouraged to bring a towel, bottled water, sunscreen, and hat. Cooler space will be available onboard the boat for participants drinks and snacks (no private coolers allowed).

Aquatic Preserve Nature Tour by Boat

The Aquatic Preserve boat tour is a 1 hour boat tour aboard the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves' 25' Triumph Windsorcraft. Your Guide will be an Environmental Specialist on staff at CHAP. In addition to viewing wildlife such as dolphin, wading, diving and shorebirds, you will learn about the aquatic preserves and CHAP programs, all in a comfortable setting with only 6 guests. You will have plenty of opportunity to ask questions, and room to use your binoculars to view wildlife in the wild. Be sure to bring binoculars, sunscreen, water, hat.

Tour Dates and Times:
Sep 1 (11:30 am - 12:30 pm), Sep 15 (10:30 - 11:30 am), Sep 16 (11 am - 12 pm)

Tour Departure Point:
The group will meet at the Gasparilla Marina, 1500 Gasparilla Road, Placida, FL 33946. Detailed instructions will be sent when registration is complete. Participants are required to pay the $5 parking fee at Marina office prior to boarding the boat, and must be on board at time of scheduled departure.

Tour Rates:
$30. Register here.

What Should I Bring with Me on the Tour?
Be sure to bring binoculars, sunscreen, water, hat. Cooler space will be available onboard the boat for participants drinks and snacks (no private coolers allowed).


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Last updated: August 29, 2016

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