If you've never experienced the pristine and unspoiled Rookery Bay on Florida's Gulf Coast, you're missing out.

But there's good news: I'm going to tell you about a great way to get acquainted with Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is home to 150 species of birds and countless other wild animals.

Rising Tide Explorers invite you to explore the diverse backwaters of Southwest Florida with them on a guided kayak tour of the bay and mangrove tunnels. The group was founded in 2016 by a group of local biologists looking to raise the bar of the outdoor industry in Southwest Florida and share their passion for Florida’s unique ecological landscape. In 2019, Friends of Rookery Bay partnered with Rising Tide Explorers to continue providing memorable and educational boat and kayak adventures in Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Proceeds support education, research and conservation.

Trips are led by active local biologists, certified naturalists, and certified kayaking instructors. Paddle through calm, beautiful mangrove tunnels, teeming mudflats, and intricate oyster reefs while searching for amazing wildlife, including sea stars, large snails, birds, dolphin and manatee. These tours are perfect for the first-time paddler or pro. Proceeds support Rookery Bay Research Reserve.

Visit www.rookerybay.org/visitor-use/naturalist-guided-tours for information on kayak and other tours.