Our Story

Mission:  Happiness (completely possible!)

Family picture of Shane, Holly and Maverick at the beach The story of Happy Paddler Kayak Tours is all about chasing happiness! We are Shane and Holly and forever grateful to have been born and raised in beautiful Florida. We’ve spent our days jumping off docks into Sarasota Bay, watching coquinas bury themselves into lumps of beach sand, and (of course!) paddling the gorgeous waters of Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island.

Adventures on the water have always been part of our daily lives growing up on the barrier islands of Sarasota Bay. When we migrated to the Florida Keys in 2006, we spent most of our days SCUBA diving, kayaking, and snorkeling. Both of us had dream jobs while living in the Keys… Holly worked as marine fisheries biologist and Shane was a sea turtle veterinary assistant at the Turtle Hospital. We took every opportunity to mix in some kayak time throughout each work day. In fact, our “professional” life behind the paddle really took off in the Florida Keys. We paddled countless miles around the patch reefs, mangrove islands, and seagrass flats… life was good!

Shane holding a sea turtle hatchling in the Florida Keys with Turtle Hospital

Trouble in paradise…

As much fun as we were having, we couldn’t ignore the environmental issues that plagued our beloved waters. Threats to marine ecosystems such as overfishing, climate change, red tides, and pollution are tough to ignore when you live so close to the impact zone. Eager to learn about ways to help our salty paradise, we sought out educational and volunteer opportunities throughout Florida. Moving back to our home waters on the Gulf Coast was at the top of our list. We pursued careers in marine science and sought any excuse to be adventuring on the water in our native waters and across the globe.

Working in places like Iceland, the Baltic Sea, and the U.S. western seaboard taught us a lot about the state of our seas. Visiting these places gave inspiration for helping address some of the environmental issues in our home waters. Moreover, as we explored marine ecosystems around the world, we made a simple discovery. Spending time in nature always left us feeling… happy! Eureka! It was on a circumnavigational trip around Iceland that we decided the best way to do and protect what we love was to merge our passions for marine science and adventure… and to share the happiness with others!

Making the world a happier place… one paddler at a time!

Group of happy kayak guides from Happy Paddler Kayak

We launched Happy Paddler Kayak Tours in 2013 to share our love for Florida while maximizing the fun we can have in the days given to us! Since then, we have grown into a hub for environmental stewardship and citizen science projects. We’re proud to contribute anything we can to making our waters better for all, here and around the world. Working with such an amazing team that so fully appreciates the joy of life on the water makes this the happiest, most fulfilling job ever. Sharing Florida’s treasures with others is our true passion in life, and paddling is our favorite way to do it!

Come out and join us!!