Books by Bill & Mary Burnham. Click cover to order on Amazon

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Historic Pigeon Key Free Family Fun Day Jan. 14, 2012

Historic Pigeon KeyBill & Mary Burnham, authors of the “Florida Keys Paddling Atlas,” will lead a free paddling trip from Knight’s Key, under the Seven Mile Bridges, out to historic Pigeon Key for the Marathon Flagler Centennial Celebration on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. 

Bring your kayak to Knight’s Key Campground for the 9 a.m. launch. Burnham Guides will be providing some for free: Call 305-240-0650 or email to reserve one. Enjoy the Family Fun Day, from 10 a.m. -4 p.m., featuring reenactments, free kayaking, demonstrations, period games, dancing, music and food. Dress 1900s-style for the 1 p.m. costume contest! The Burnhams will give a slide show and book-signing at 11 a.m.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gift the Gift of Adventure

Give the adventurer-seeker on your list a truly unique experience on a "Paddle with the Authors" kayak camping trip in the Florida Keys or Everglades.

We make your shopping easy: We'll send a personalized gift certificate, wrapped up with a signed copy of our "Florida Keys Paddling Atlas" or "Kayaking for Everyone" included. 

Short on time? We can email the certificate right to their in-box up until Christmas Eve.

From an easy Keys overnight to our new 8-day Everglades' Wilderness Waterway, we have a trip for every skill level. Visit for details. Email or give us a call at 305-240-0650 to place your order. 

-2-5 day Florida Keys: mid-January through early April, 2012 Group lower keys
-8-day Everglades' Wilderness Waterway: Feb. 16-23 

-10-day Key Largo to Key West: March 13-22
-No expiration date  
-Pricing is easy at $175 per day: Includes kayak, camping gear, all meals, and instruction.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New: Everglades Wilderness Waterway

We've added a brand new offering to Burnham Guides' fully-outfitted kayak camping trips: 8-days on the 100-mile Wilderness Waterway trail through the Everglades.

Experienced guides take paddlers through the mangrove maze of Everglades National Park on a 100-mile expedition between Flamingo and Everglades City. We'll go both inside, where camping is on chickees and ground sites, and outside, on palm tree beaches.

Dates: Feb. 16-23, 2012

Difficulty: This is a strenuous trip, for experienced paddlers able to kayak up to 15 miles per day.
Cost: $1400 per person includes sea kayaks, camping gear, meals, camping fees & shuttle back to start. 20% discount for bringing own sea kayak and camping gear. Limited to 6 people.

Closest Airport: Miami

Call 305-240-0650 or E-mail for more information.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Florida Paddling Trails Association: Why join?

Florida Paddling Trails
A few days ago I realized that we had inadvertently let our Burnham Guides membership with the Florida Paddling Trails Association (FPTA) lapse. I quickly and easily renewed online and was soon enjoying the benefits once again!

As a kayak guide business we get great exposure on their website, which is visited by thousands of paddlers on a regular basis. Individual or family memberships have many benefits as well (including 10% off or our Florida Keys trips!), and help the greater Florida paddling community.

Bill and I are most familiar with the Florida Keys Overseas Paddling Trail, which we've been working with since 2003. It's now part of a network of water trails around the entire state known as the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. Then there are all the river trails, like the Suwannee. FPTA is the official steward of ALL paddling trails in Florida. It takes a huge network of volunteers to make this work.

So take a look at their website, consider joining and maybe even becoming a Trailkeeper in your region. Anyone who goes on our trips is encouraged to do a beach clean-up along the way, making you an automatic volunteer!

The major missions of the FPTA are:
  • Develop water trails
  • Protect the environment along the trails
  • A resource and voice for paddlers

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Paddling Perks

Burnham Guides' Florida Keys winter trips include all the basics for a multi-day paddling adventure: kayaks, gear, camping gear, all food and water, and even the toilet!

Christine, Licensed Massage Therapist
But in addition to necessities, we like to provide little treats and luxuries at the end of the paddling day. As soon as our boats hit the sand, we are pulling out the appetizers for an al fresco spread.

You work pretty hard on our 100-mile Key Largo to Key West trip, so we schedule in a rest day with optional massages in camp!

We like to eat well in the outdoors and figure you do to. People often ask, don't we have to resort to pre-packaged, dried food on our multi-day trips in the backcountry. The answer is a resounding NO!

Apps on the Beach
Over nearly 20 years backpacking and kayak camping ourselves, we've learned some tricks of the trade for bringing the freshest food possible. The first night of a trip usually features some fresh Florida seafood, like mahi mahi or flounder, sauteed or in a taco with lots of key lime juice and cilantro.

Fresh vegetables and fruit that travel well are always available. We might have some pre-cooked Stone Crab along the way, or even Florida lobster, if we can get it.

That said, we don't eat seafood all the time. There's chicken, meat and tofu meals and we can accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets as long as you let us know ahead of time.

Coffee lovers will not have to do without. We get it brewing before you get out of your tent. Mary is known for her camp coffee, and may offer your choice of drip, espresso, or even Cuban coffee (cafe con leche), her personal favorite.

Enjoying a Florida Stone Crab spread in the woods!
But an unbiased customer review probably means way more than anything we say here. So check out Wendy's blog from last year's trip, where she describes the menu so much better than we can!

For trip details, go to

Monday, August 8, 2011

Early Booking Discount

Click for Slide Show
We've just updated with the details on our 2012 "Paddle with the Authors" Florida Keys trips, ranging from 2 to 10 days mid-January through March, 2012.

And for the first time ever, we are offering a sweet deal to encourage early bookings: A 15% discount on trips booked by Sept. 30, 2011.

Mid-January through March, we are again offering 2-3 night trips in the Lower Keys Backcountry (click on the photo for a glimpse into this sublime experience), Seven Mile Bridge overnights, and the bucket-list trip of a lifetime, our annual 100-mile, 10-day Key Largo to Key West, scheduled for March 13-22, 2012.
The 2012 Centennial of Henry Flagler's famous railroad from Miami to Key West will make it a very special year for paddling beneath these scenic bridges. The KL2KW "Century" trip will include some special historic stops and events. We're keeping the group small and we expect the KL2KW to fill up like last year's.  

If you book early, you will not only get a discount, but will have a good chance of getting the dates that work best for you. So if you are at all tempted, shoot us an EMAIL, give us a call at 305-240-0650, or check out

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Florida Keys Road Trip

Many of our customers end up flying into Ft. Lauderdale or Miami since the fares are often less than Key West. If so, you can take the Keys Shuttle, Greyhound bus, or rent a car and drive down. We've had requests for sights to see along the way, so we thought we'd post some of our favorites.

You’ll want to leave plenty of time driving down the 100-mile Route 1 Overseas Highway that island-hops the Florida Keys to Key West, the southernmost point in the Continental US. For one, it’s a gorgeous drive, recently named a Great American Road. For another, the speed limit is 45 to 55 with plenty of speed traps!

Historic Route 1 sign
Once you get off the Florida Turnpike in Homestead, you have a choice: the 18-mile recently redone “Stretch” or Card Sound Road, a toll road that costs all of a buck. If you take the Stretch, stop in at Gilbert’s tiki bar; if Card Sound, pull into Alabama Jack’s, a funky watering hole amid the mangroves. Keep your eyes fixed on the creek below for colorful fish and a manatee may even glide silently by.

Key Largo
You’ll start to notice numbered small green signs on the side of the road. These milemarkers start on the Stretch, around 112, and go down to 0 in Key West. It’s a great way to give directions in the Keys. There’s ‘bayside’ for Florida Bay, on your right if heading south, and ‘oceanside’ on your left, referring to the Atlantic Ocean.

At mm104 bayside is the famous Caribbean Club bar where portions of the Bogey and Bacall film Key Largo were filmed. Despite it’s claim to fame, it’s refreshingly un-touristy and family-owned for nearly a half-century. There’s usually some Harleys parked outside, dogs are welcome, and there’s a flock of wild parrots that perch above the waterfront picnic tables.

Pop into Florida Bay Outfitters next door, a really neat kayak shop that sells our “Florida Keys Paddling Atlas.” Tell them Mary and Bill sent you!

North America’s only living coral barrier reef draws divers and snorkelers from all over the world to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park at mm 102.5 oceanside. Even if you don’t take the boat out to the reef, the park is a great introduction to the flora and fauna of the Keys, with nature walks and kayaks trails through mangrove tunnels, a small aquarium, and two beaches.

Islamorada (pronouned eye-la-mor-ada)
While fishing is legendary throughout the Keys, Islamorada is the ultimate destination for a deep-sea sailfish adventure, fly-fishing for tarpon in the nearby Everglades or flats fishing for bonefish. World Wide Sportsman at mm 81.5 bayside is a fun place whether you fish or not. It’s one of the more unique in the BassPro Shop chains, where you can step aboard the "Pilar," sister ship to Hemingway's famous fishing boat, or dine at the elegant Zane Grey Lounge overlooking the marina.

Robbie’s Marina, mm 77 bayside, is the jumping off point for a boat or kayak trip to Indian Key, the island ruins of the first seat of Dade County. A visit to the Keys isn’t complete until you feed the giant tarpon that wait off Robbie’s dock.

Lower Keys
Once you cross the spectacular 7 Mile Bridge from Marathon, you've entered the Lower Keys. This is where we do our Backcountry kayak trips, and where you can see the endangered Key Deer. Stop in at the Key Deer Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on Big Pine Key to learn more.
Key West
Cats jumping through flaming hoops, fire-eaters, clothing-optional bars. There’s no place quite as “ultimate” as the southernmost city in America, from the nightly Mallory Square sunset celebration to the Duval Street “pub crawl”.

Sloppy Joe’s is one of the more popular tourist bars, with lots of Hemingway claims to fame. Some of our favorite bars are the Green Parrot, Schooner Wharf Bar, and the Bull and Thistle (there’s a clothing-optional bar on the roof if you are so inclined!)

Wherever you choose to stop on your Florida Keys road trip, shoes are optional and the sunset lingers.

For more information visit Florida Keys Tourism

Monday, February 21, 2011

Getting to the Keys: a Tip to Save on Flights

There’s still room on some of our March trips, but if you are checking airfares into Key West, you may get sticker shock! They were fairly low in January and early February, but now that Spring Break has kicked in, the fares have gone way up.

Here’s a tip that may help: Fly into Ft. Lauderdale, rent a car and drive down the Keys, and save up to half on your airfare. For example, we just did a quick search on and SouthWest Airlines, and round-trip flights from Washington Dulles to Key West in March are over $500. Dulles to Ft. Lauderdale round-trip flights are starting at about $230 (plus taxes and fees, of course).

US 1 is a recent designee as a Great All American Road and a spectacular drive across historic railroad bridges and Caribbean-blue waters. Leave enough time, as the speed limit is 45 most of the way, and you’ll want to stop off at some famous—and quirky—places, like the Caribbean Club in Key Largo and Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada, home of the giant tarpon. Our Lower Keys kayak trips start around milemarker 25 in the Big Pine Key area.

In a future blog post, we’ll list some of our favorites stops on a Road Trip to Paradise!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Backcountry Camping in the Lower Keys

Check out our slide show of backcountry kayak camping in the Florida Keys. We do it in style!

Also, here's a blog post from a customer on this trip. She did a great journal of words and photos: blow-by-blow of wildlife sightings, paddling routes and even menus!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Paddling in Paradise: 3-day trip

Warm and gentle winds from the south and east have caressed the Florida Keys these last few weeks and served as a good omen for the first BurnhamGuide trip of 2011 through the wide open waters of the Lower Keys Backcountry. 

When traveling by kayak, a tail wind is always appreciated; this one helped push our kayaks northwest for our nine-mile Day One journey.

At Snipe Point, low tide exposed sand flats as far as the eye could see. It seemed entirely possible to walk to nearby Marvin Key across a watery desert. Far from barren, the flats at low tide reveal hidden wonders: marine worms, whelks, Florida fighting conchs. 

Then the tide rolls back in and the sun melts like a ball of yellow candy into a dark horizon. A billion stars emerged as we sat around the fire, soaking in the moonless sky. 

Come morning, a reddish egret chased minnows in a shallow pool in front of our tent. For three days we immersed ourselves, paddling along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, making time to indulge our passions, be it yoga, journaling, photography, or just sitting on a beach where you felt like the only humans alive on the planet. 

Always close to our minds were encounters of the wild kind. At the Inner Passage, a three-foot sand shark approached, it’s camouflaged tan body blending perfectly with the bottom. It same me and with a "swoosh" it was gone. We bid it adieu and dug in our paddles for another gorgeous day of paddling in paradise.

If you'd like to join us, BurnhamGuides still has room left on several trips in February and early March, 2011. Email or call 305-240-0650 for availability.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Florida Keys VolunTourism

Mary after an island clean-up
Kayaking across warm tropical waters by day and setting up camp on island beaches at night is a privilege we don’t take lightly. That’s why we try to incorporate at least one beach clean-up on our multi-day kayak trips in the Florida Keys.

If you choose to participate in a clean-up, we’ll log your volunteer hours with the Florida Keys Overseas Paddling Trail. This makes you trail volunteers and VolunTourists!

Trash is not only unsightly, it can be hazardous to marine life. While paddling through the mangroves, you may see Bill or I pull over to the side, flip open a jackknife and cut away some fishing line hanging from the branches. Birds can become entangled in the line, and animals may choke on hooks. The line can be deposited in monofilament recycling containers located at many of the public boat ramps in the Keys.

If you want to volunteer further, consider joining the Florida Paddling Trails Association, which covers all the water trails throughout the state. 

Visit to see our 2011 trip details.

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