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“Great time on the water”

Florida Bay Outfitters - Day Tours
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: A Specialty Paddling store providing kayak, canoe and paddleboard eco-tours and rentals in the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park since 1991. Our waterfront location allows our customers to demo top brand boats and paddling equipment from Hobie, Current Designs, Wilderness Systems, Ocean Kayak, Wenonah, Hurricane, Old Town and more... We also offer paddling instruction and repairs.
Clermont, FL
Level Contributor
47 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Great time on the water”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 April 2013

This has become our kayak/paddle boarding stop in Key Largo with each visit. I never thought to write a tripadvisor review on an activity. I then realized, this is a must as this place does it right. They are quick to get you setup and will answer any questions you have. The products they rent are top of the line. The paddle boards are in excellent condition. Much better than other places we rented from. They will deliver to your location as well. In fact, they pretty much will deliver where ever you want the kayak or boards. For me, I am happy just paddling right in their back yard. My advise is paddle at their base location if you are a first timer. Once you are confident, have them drop off in Pennekamp so you can enjoy the miles and miles of mangroves. The water is crystal clear to the bottom. You will see lots of fish and lots of birds. I actually do both. I do trips through the mangroves, and trips at their location just to burn calories so I can eat more.

Randy

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank rtorres21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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56 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Leominster, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
316 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 118 helpful votes
“Excellent Kayak Tour”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 February 2013

Whenever we kayak in an area for the first time we like to use a guided tour and Florida Bay Outfitters (MM 104) were top rate. Our tour guide, Cynthia, took us on an enjoyable kayak tour starting in Garden Cove and winding through several mangroves and across the bay. She was a great guide, very informative on the wildlife, mangroves, and history of the area. She made sure that everyone felt safe and had a great time. The 3 hour tour went by quickly and was well paced (we never got tired but never were bored). They provided water and an energy bar (and time to take water/snack breaks). We got to see a stingray, nurse shack, jellyfish, barracuda, and several birds. It was really peaceful gliding amongst the mangroves (it felt like you were in the middle of nowhere but you were just a short distance from shore). Overall, I could not think of a better way to spend the afternoon in Key Largo.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank sdavi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Clarkdale, Arizona
Level Contributor
136 reviews
40 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 207 helpful votes
“Reliably Great Equipment, Information and Expertise”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 January 2013

We have been customers of Florida Bay Outfitters since the 1990s.
Renting kayaks from FBO is a tradition and always a highlight of our visit to Key Largo.
We have never done an organized tour, but have always gotten great, detailed information and suggestions from the staff on paddling routes and best techniques to use for whatever equipment we are renting. They will also deliver/pick up equipment if you'd like to begin your journey elsewhere on the island. (24 hour rentals get free delivery.)

In past visits we have rented streamlined sea-kayaks for distance and camping out on the Everglades island of Short Key as well as exploring other smaller islands in Florida Bay. In recent years we've not been as ambitious, and instead have rented more casual, less athletic kayaks and sit-on-tops so our dog could easily come along with us.
On our most recent visit I chose a small sit-on-top kayak and my husband tried a stand up paddleboard (SUP) for the first time. With a little bit of advice from the FBO crew he was able to quickly master the SUP. It also helped the weather was perfect, calm and Florida Bay was laying down as flat as glass.

For those unfamiliar with Key Largo and its boundless back country and saltwater flats, Florida Bay Outfitters is an excellent resource for great information and exceptional equipment. I'd recommend them to everyone. They are the real deal and kayaking is a fantastic way to see the Keys as they were meant to be seen.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
Thank GhiaGirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
67 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
“Fine for kayaks, tricky location for SUP”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 January 2013

I've visited Florida Bay Outfitters before, when a friend bought a kayak years ago. They really know kayaks. They are serious about kayaks and have a good selection. They are also very friendly and nice!

We rented paddleboards with our child. We were told to stay close to shore, because the wind was coming from the east. So we stayed close to shore...but then when we turned around, to start back, we started getting blown out. Away. From shore. With our kid. (She was especially blown out, farthest.) To put this in perspective, she's done this twice before, but in calm water with no wind. Meanwhile, another paddler -- with her child on a separate board -- was taken much farther out than we were by the wind. And the child was also struggling to get in.

In case readers think we're inexperienced tourists: To put this in perspective, my husband and I grew up in Jamaica and Florida, respectively, are strong swimmers, have kayaked, canoed, boated, etc. all our lives. We had previously paddleboarded with our child. And our child is a great swimmer and pretty strong and tall for her age. We live in Miami and get out on the water all the time.

Why all this information? Because, while I would happily rent KAYAKS from Florida Bay, or buy equipment, I would not take a child out from this location in the Keys to paddle board again. We were warned about the wind-- absolutely. But our child was (a) swept out the moment we turned around and (b) literally could not get her board pointed toward shore. In other words, we wouldn't have gone out with a child, in those conditions, had we known the reality, once you pass a certain point (20 minutes from the shop, next to shore, going east/heading right).

Since the other paddler was extremely experienced, and even her child got taken out (much further), I don't think this was simply a question of overconfident people setting out on a foolhardy adventure. I can see the store staff writing back, "yes, but we said, and yes, but you chose to let her use an adult board," and all that is true.

Nevertheless, I'm fairly certain our rental dudes on Key Biscayne (Sailboards Miami) would have either strongly discouraged us from taking our child out in those conditions or simply refused to rent to us that day...because...they go out and windsurf or paddle and get a feel for the water and the wind. And they really know the strength of a child versus the strength of an adult, on SUP. Because they give lessons, etc.

So, I'm giving a 3 star rating because it's a good shop and they're great for kayaking. But next time I do SUP in the Keys, I'm going to an SUP outfit, that offers tours in a protected inlet or on canals. Incidents on the water can get dangerous pretty fast, and I was sort of surprised that the staff seemed unconcerned about our difficulties afterwards.

To be perfectly fair, we allowed our child to go on a somewhat longer board. She tested it, and it seemed fine. But the wind conditions were tough even for adults. Despite the water looking perfectly calm with just a few ripples.

We learned: On an SUP when you're standing you offer a lot of wind resistance, like a sail, while in a kayak you offer much less since you're close to the surface of the water. If you get into trouble, sit down and paddle. (Incidentally, our child did this and the wind was still too strong for her to make progress.) For now, we will stick to paddle boarding off Key Biscayne in Miami, and next time we visit the Keys will head down to Rock Harbor to take out paddle boards in a protected inlet.

Safety first. I'm writing this review not because I want to criticize this shop, but because I think that other parents, without much experience on the water, could get into real danger with their children SUP-ing from this location. Even when the water appears pretty calm. We learned our lesson, and I am just passing it on. No disrespect to Florida Bay Outfitters. They gave us advice, but unfortunately our 8 year old could not overcome the wind and current to keep from being blown out into Florida Bay, which gave us all a serious scare. It happened very fast. We may have needed to abandon the board if a good samaritan had not come to our rescue. She put my kid's paddle board on hers and paddled it in. We were very lucky.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank FlaTravlers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Williamsburg, Virginia
Level Contributor
225 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 102 helpful votes
“Mixed experience for overnight”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 December 2012

I struggled a bit before writing this review because there were both good things and bad things about the experience of an overnight kayak, and camp. First the very good: our guide David Williams was excellent. He was well trained and knew a lot about the local ecology, fauna, flora, etc. , as well as local history. He was also careful with our safety, he arranged and prepared excellent food. We had great meals of pan grilled fish, rice, and beans for dinner with wine. Breakfast was French toast. There were ample portions to the point we couldn't finish it all. Our camp was on Short Key a 2+ hour paddle from the launch point through some nice mangrove islands. It was buggy in the evening but not an issue the rest of the time.
So what was the bad? Well we had really wanted to encounter some critters and stated that in arranging the trip. We asked that they choose a place where that would be good. There were few at this location. The one notable exception was a pod of dolphin which approached on our way back in. The second and more serious issue were the equipment shortcomings. Most of the family was fine but my boat had the wrong size skirt which was unusable and the rudder pedals were nearly inoperative they were so far out of adjustment. We headed back in the second day into 20 knot winds and whitecaps. A less experienced paddler could have been in significant trouble. Dave helped but he shouldn't have been put in this position in the first place. For an experience having such issues I can't really recommend this. They are probably better on the day trips from what I read in the other reviews.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank Lasrman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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