By John Morton
Since when can you learn a thing or two at a tiki-bar party?
Low Tide Tours sees to it with its relaxing and educational pontoon trips through Siesta Key’s Intracoastal Waterway, hosting outings both in the day (four passenger minimum) and at sunset (six passenger minimum). The boat holds a maximum of 12 and can be booked for either private or public tours.
Located across from Turtle Beach at Bayfront Marina, 8865 Midnight Pass Rd., the business debuted in January of last year but was waylaid a bit by the pandemic. Now, it’s full-float ahead for a unique business that gives customers a close-up view of nature like few others.
“Our boat only drafts a few inches, which is much lower than most, so you’ll feel like you’re part of the water,” owner Jason Kobza said. “You’ll be right on top of the dolphins and manatees. And we can get closer to the birds and mangroves than other boats. The wildlife on our trips make it special.”
Kobza said a dolphin is spotted on his trips nine out of 10 times. But that hardly makes it a routine event for him.
“I’ve lived here 10 years and no matter what, each time I see a dolphin I feel giddy, like it’s the first time.
“I love the look on people’s faces when they spot one.”
Among his favorite stops along the tour, which lasts either 2 or 4.5 hours, is Midnight Pass (located between Siesta and Casey keys).
“Most people can only get there by kayak, and oftentimes at sunset we’ll have the area to ourselves. You see unobstructed 360-degree views that are stunning.”
A certified captain escorts each trip, with the addition of a first mate for groups of seven or more.
Soda, water and snacks are served. Customers of age are allowed to bring their own alcoholic beverages.
Pick-up from local canal docks is an option, Kobza said, but there must be enough access to accommodate the boat’s 14-foot diameter.
Passengers can also request a stop at Spearfish Grille near the South Bridge for takeout orders.
Julie Schaefer, an Ohio snowbird who resides part-time on the Key, has taken six voyages with Low Tide Tours.
“You’d think we’d get sick of it, but no way. Every trip has been different,” she said. “And they know the hot spots for seeing dolphins. It’s like they call them to come out.
“We’ve taken both family and friends, young and old, and we think it’s the best thing to do on Siesta Key. Everyone has been impressed.
“I mean, I’ve never seen a floating tiki boat before. It’s such a unique thing.”
To book a tour, call (941) 405-0045 or visit lowtidetours.com.