Frequently Asked Questions

common questions about our SUP and kayak tours & rentals

General Questions

Absolutely! Paddling with an expert instructor for your first kayak or SUP adventure is a great idea. Your guide will make sure you are safe and comfortable and will answer any questions you may have throughout your tour. Our guides paddle almost every day and have a tremendous amount of knowledge about where to paddle and where to spot wildlife. They’ll also share loads of information about the history and ecology of the paddling area. You can check out each of our guides here.

To ensure that we have the proper equipment and staff for your adventure, reservations are required for all paddleboard and kayak tours & rentals. You can reserve securely here on our website or you can contact us directly if you’d like help setting up your reservation. Reservations are taken up to 12 hours before the scheduled launch time.

When booking SUP or kayak tours & rentals, each participant will have the option of either a single or tandem kayak. Single kayaks offer more independence, where each person can really learn how to move their own kayak around. Tandem kayaks offer more of a team adventure, where the two people have to work together to move (a bonding experience! – ha ha). If someone is prone to getting tired easily (such as a child), they could buddy up with a stronger paddler in a tandem kayak. Whichever you decide, we will have you feeling very comfortable out on the water – we are well trained and have newbies out with us all the time!

Weather in the coastal zone can be unpredictable. If the forecast is calling for stormy or windy conditions, we often wait until just before the scheduled tour departure to make a final call to delay or cancel a tour. Safety is paramount on any excursion. In the event of a cancellation made at our discretion, all participants will have the choice to reschedule their excursion or receive a full refund. You can read our full cancellation policy here.

Kids can certainly join in the fun! While every child is unique, we’ve found that kiddos aged 5+ do best on the tours. Whether they want to hold a paddle and actually join in the paddling or not can be determined before we depart. The Coastal Island Tour and Mangrove Kayak Tour are the best choices for keeping those little paddlers happy because they seem to move at just the right pace and offer plenty of fun things to see!

What to expect

All SUP and kayak tours & rentals include the vessel, paddle(s), U.S. Coast Guard Approved life vest(s), and dry storage containers. Tour participants will receive an introductory paddling lesson and a professional guide. Tour guides provide marine ecosystem expertise, historical anecdotes, and paddling tips throughout the tour. Folks who choose to rent kayaks or paddleboards will receive a brief paddling safety orientation and a map of the paddling area before launching. Certain specialty tours include additional gear as needed to make sure all paddlers are safe and happy on the water!

Dress to get wet and be sure to bring sunscreen and clothes that provide sun protection, like a season-appropriate long sleeve shirt, hat, and sunglasses. Wear comfy shoes that you don’t mind getting wet (like flip flops). Bring any medications that you might need, as well as drinks and snacks (we are committed to reducing plastic pollution, so skip the single-use plastics if you can!). We’ll provide dry storage boxes or bags for your phone, keys, and other small items that you’d like to bring. We definitely recommend bringing protective cases for any cameras and devices that are near and dear to your heart!

In this beautiful corner of the world, we may see Bottlenose Dolphins and Florida Manatees. Nothing compares to seeing these friendly creatures in their natural habitat and being in kayaks right on the water with them is an experience of a lifetime! As always, our guides are very respectful of the wildlife, and in turn, manatees and dolphins are usually very relaxed around our small group of paddlers, letting us watch and learn from them as they go about their busy day. The fun doesn’t stop with the manatees and dolphins though… we’re always on the lookout for smaller, but sometimes even more fascinating creatures like fishes, sea horses, sea stars, conchs, and crabs, along with an enormous diversity of birds. There are no alligators in the marine habitats we explore – only in the freshwater ecosystems farther inland.

Not necessarily, but you should expect to get some refreshing splashes here and there. Especially in the summertime, you’ll want to get wet! Tipping is very uncommon – if it does happen, it’s not a big deal and we’ll just help you back into your kayak and carry on with the fun!

Our tours often have a mixed group of paddlers and this is usually one of the highlights of the tour. We have a maximum group size of 10 so that each individual is sure to get plenty of attention from their guide. Larger groups can easily be accommodated for families, special events, and company groups – just contact us to schedule your adventure. Private tours may be available if a more intimate excursion is what you’re after.

Logistics

Paddleboard and kayak tours & rentals launch from several locations on Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Sarasota, and Bradenton depending on the conditions and wildlife trending at each area. Each place has its own unique quality and we pride ourselves on knowing them all very well! We’re not present at each location on a daily basis and reservations are required for all tours and rentals, with exact departure location confirmed at time of booking. Please check out our launch locations and don’t hesitate to contact us with any specific questions.

We’ve been guiding trips for many years now and we’re pretty good at setting a pace that all are comfortable with. While the exact route we follow depends on conditions and what we see while on the water, most trips take us around three miles from start to finish, lasting about 2.5-3 hours.

The rental period for kayaks and paddleboards is in 4-hour increments, allowing plenty of time to explore the waters, take breaks, and stop for lunch or drinks before heading back to shore. We currently have two regular rental locations (Longboat Pass and Bayfront Park on Longboat Key). Launch times are generally scheduled for the morning but vary at each location. Please check availability and schedule your adventure here.

There are so many excellent restaurants and cafes near our launch locations. These places are usually casual, which makes it perfect for an apres paddle stop to fill your belly after a morning on the water! A few of our favorites are Mar Vista Restaurant, the Cortez Kitchen, and the Longbeach Cafe.

Still have questions?

Let us know how we can make your adventure as happy as possible and we will do our very best to make it so. We encourage you to ask us anything and to express any specific expectations that you may have regarding your trip. Hope to see you on the water soon!

Send us a message:

info@happypaddler.com