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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lower Keys Kayak Trips

Click for slide show of Lower Keys kayaking

Join us, kayak guides and authors of the Florida Keys Paddling Atlas, as we leave the highway sounds of Route 1 behind and delve into a world where fish school through shallow flats and stingrays, sponges and starfish lie silent at the bottom of turquoise

blue channels.

The islands of the Lower Keys spread out into the Gulf of Mexico, appearing on a map as if someone smeared them across shallow waters. Islands are oriented northwest-to-southeast, divided by long, wide channels. Soft corals and sponges predominate in nearshore hardbottom environments. The channels, by contrast, are carpeted with turtle and manatee grass. As the tide goes out, sparkling white sandbars appear, a perfect spot to get out of our kayaks for a lunch or rest break.

More than 200,000 acres of water and small islands make up the Backcountry. Birding is phenomenal in this vital nesting habitat for the namesake of the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge. Royal terns group on a sandbar near the Contents, intermingled with laughing gulls and the odd oystercatcher. Near the Mud Keys, osprey soaring high overhead issue their signature sharp-pitched whistle as they scan the water for prey. White and brown pelicans, Little Blue herons, Tri-colored herons, Great egrets, Snowy egrets, and a host of wading birds work swampy mangrove flats from Cutoe Key to Cayo Agua.

A string of islands start at the Content Keys and run southwest to include the Sawyers, Barracudas, Marvin, Snipe Point, Mud Keys and Lower Harbor Keys. A small reef abruptly marks the boundary between the Keys’ shallow waters and the deeper Gulf of Mexico.

A trip out to the "edge of the nearshore waters," is not soon forgotten.

We offer backcountry trips at three levels. Our family-friendly excursion feature an average of seven miles daily, leaving plenty of time to explore winding creeks and shallow coves. For adventure seekers, we extend the distances (an average of 10 miles daily) and cover more ground in order to reach some truly remote areas. Our third option is a once-in-a-lifetime traverse of the entire Lower Keys Backcountry on a five-night expedition. Contact us to discuss which option fits your group's goals and abilities.

Offered every week, Jan. 26 through March 2010. Call 305-240-3298 or email for availability. Trips details at

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