Kayak the Key, and set yourself free

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By Jane Bartnett

“Kayaking around Siesta Key is a must-do for any visitor to the Key,” says William Scott, owner of Siesta Key Bike & Kayak. Better known as Scotty, he has been traveling local waters for more than 20 years and knows the shoreline well.
Being away from the land but within a short distance of the shoreline in a kayak, while paddling along peaceful calm waters and taking in the beauty of the water and land that surrounds it, offers a new perspective on the wonders of nature.
“You can feel as though you’re out in the middle of nowhere but glance over and there’s Siesta Key,” he said.
Indeed, kayaking in a single or tandem kayak built for two offers a bird’s or dolphin’s view of the pristine waters and shores.
For the beginner or the veteran kayaker, Scotty recommends launching from Turtle Beach at Neville Preserve.
“It’s calm and there’s no boat traffic. It’s so neat to see all of the beautiful beach birds, the pink roseate spoonbills, osprey, pelicans and so many more,” he said.

Paddling among the manatees is common on the Intracoastal Waterway. (submitted photo)

For an itinerary, Scotty suggests heading out past the Midnight Pass beach (between Siesta Key and Casey Key) through the canal. “Stop at the Old Shark Pit where Mote (Marine) used to do their research.”
Mote, he noted, moved its shark research facility many years ago. “There are no longer any sharks there,” he said.
The next stop, he suggests, is the old Midnight Pass beach, just to the south.
“Stop there for some shelling and head on to Casey Key near (author) Steven King’s home before coming back to Turtle Beach,” Scotty said.
He also recommends taking the time to explore the many small coves along the way.
The sights and sounds on the water vary during different seasons, he reports.
“At different times of the year you can spot tons of bird life. Beginning in late April when the waters are warmer, there can be up to 20 manatees. They like the water to be about 72 degrees,” Scotty said.
Before heading out on the water, kayakers receive an overview lesson, a laminated map and a dry bag to store their keys, cell phones and suntan lotion, as well as lightweight paddles and comfortable backrests. Sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks are available. Up to 10 kayaks can be rented at the same time for a three-hour period. Kayak rentals can also be arranged for seven and 24-hour periods.
“We deliver to Neville Preserve on Turtle Beach and to resorts on Siesta Key that are on the water,” Scotty said.
The business is located at 1224 Old Stickney Point Rd. in Captain Curt’s Village. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Kayak reservations can be made online at siestakeybikeandkayak.com or by calling (941) 346-0891.

Kayaking alongside the Siesta Key mangroves. (submitted photo)
Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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