Spend an unforgettable day sailing emerald waters, kayaking mangrove-shaded channels and snorkeling coral gardens in an unspoiled marine wilderness.
- Voyage into the Backcountry under sail on a traditional 65ft Skipjack schooner.
- Listen to a historical chart talk and learn about Key West maritime history.
- Paddle a kayak on a guided tour through the mangrove island ecosystem.
- Snorkel unspoiled waters to encounter tropical fish and exotic marine life.
- Enjoy beverages, snacks and a delicious picnic lunch afloat.
- Relax on a deserted island beach or remote sandbar.
- Celebrate happy hour in paradise with cold beer, wine and sodas.
The inhabited islands of the Florida Keys are just one small part of a 100-mile-long strip of shallow water flats, tangled channels and wild mangrove islands separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico. Much of this vast area is untouched marine wilderness preserved as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and in several wildlife refuges and national parks that lie within the Sanctuary. This is the Florida Keys Backcountry – the last remaining example of wild, untouched Florida and one of North America’s premiere ecotourism destinations. This nearly pristine environment is notable not only for its incredible variety of marine and bird life but also for the ease of access offered by its proximity to the bustling resort island of Key West. Key West visitors who love unspoiled nature will want to take advantage of the opportunity to explore the world of primal beauty and natural serenity that awaits just a short sail offshore.
Our Key West Backcountry Safari is the perfect way to do just that. You will board a custom-designed replica of a 19th century Skipjack schooner and set sail out into the Key West National Wildlife Refuge to spend a day kayaking and snorkeling in a wonderland of clear water flats, coral patch reefs and mangrove islands. The marine topography of the Backcountry makes an ideal setting for this type of expedition as it is nearly always possible to find the calm, sheltered waters and good visibility that are perfect for kayaking and snorkeling. With the schooner moored off a choice mangrove island, you will be free to paddle through the shaded channels with an expert guide, don mask and snorkel to explore patch reefs and sponge gardens or simply relax and take in the sun, scenery and silence.
Simple to use even for total novices, the modern sea kayak is perfect for poking around the shallow water domains of mangrove-canopied islands. Agile and silent, the kayak will let you approach and observe the wildlife that lives both in and above the water. Spot exotic birds both migrant and resident, small invertebrates, tropical fish, rays, sharks, sport fish and maybe even a sea turtle. If it is your first time in a kayak, a few minutes of instruction from your guide will have you paddling like an old hand. The same goes for beginner snorkelers - a bit of friendly expert help and you will be ready to enjoy this exciting yet incredibly relaxing water sport. A few flips of your fins will let you glide effortlessly through the amazing underwater world of beautiful corals, lush sponge gardens, colorful tropical fish and incredible marine life of all varieties.
After a morning in and on the water, the crew will set sail again and a delicious picnic lunch will be laid out to tempt you with artisanal breads, deli meats and cheeses, curried chicken, tuna, and pasta salads, tropical fruit and beverages including soda, wine and beer. Eat lunch on deck, and if the weather holds, your captain will take you to a deserted island beach or sugar-white sand bar where you can celebrate the day with a cold beverage and some more exploration or just pure relaxation.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience the wild side of Key West and a day full of fun on the water. Take an eco-tour into a marine environment that is world-renowned for its natural beauty and variety of life yet so easy to reach with a simple day trip. Everything is included – all you need is your swimsuit, beach bag and camera. Make your reservations now and plan an unforgettable Backcountry Safari into your Key West itinerary.
- Reservations are REQUIRED for all bookings
- Book Your Package On-Line and Receive Your Confirmation
- Departure point: Detailed check-in instructions - including address, Google map, and parking information - will be included in your final confirmation email.
- Duration: 6.5 or 4.5 hours (approx.)
- Check-in time: Please check in 30 minutes before the activity start time.
- All Equipment and Instruction
- Snorkeling Guided Kayak Tour
- Lunch of chicken, tuna, pasta salads, deli meats and cheeses, artisan breads, and a little something sweet!
- Wetsuits in the Winter Months
- Water and Sodas Unlimited Beer and Wine (after snorkeling)
What To Bring
- Confirmation Voucher (printed or mobile)
- Any required or suggested items listed on your confirmation email.
- A Smile!
Likely To Sell Out
Spaces are extremely limited this time of year so book early to ensure the date you want.
Voucher Confirmation Info
This tour accepts both printed and electronic vouchers (e-vouchers). You can either print the voucher and present a paper copy on the day of travel. Or, if you travel with a mobile device, simply show your Photo ID and present your voucher on your Smartphone or tablet on the day of travel.
Local Operator Information
Complete operator information, including local telephone number, will be included on your Confirmation Voucher.
You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.
- For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
- If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
- Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
- Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
- This tour requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.
Frequently Asked QuestionsFAQ
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given to travelers by the Key West Water Sports customer support team.
Is kayaking a safe activity?
Your safety is Key West Water Sports‘s number one concern. In general, sea kayaking is safer than most other outdoor pursuits, even bicycling.
How stable are the kayaks and do they ever tip over?
The tandem kayaks Key West Water Sports used on Key West Backcountry Safari comfortably hold two paddlers and are extremely stable, much more than solo kayaks. It’s actually quite difficult to tip a tandem kayak over. Capsizes happen to fewer than 1 out of 100 participants. Nearly all capsizes are a result of water fights and other sorts of goofing around.
How long is each activity on the Key West Backcountry Safari?
On Key West Backcountry Safari guests will enjoy 45 minutes of sailing to Key West National Wildlife Refuge, a 60 minute guided kayak tour and 60 minutes of reef snorkeling.
Do you provide wetsuits?
Yes, upon request.
Will I get seasick on Key West Backcountry Safari?
If you have any doubts about becoming seasick on the water, we recommend taking a Dramamine® Motion Sickness Relief tablet the night before your trip. Some people recommend taking it the night before your cruise and then again that morning so you will not feel so drowsy.
What is the age limit for snorkeling?
There are no legal age limits for snorkeling. We have found that age 5 or 6 is a good age to learn the basics of snorkeling, however, it’s entirely up to individuals to make the best choice for their family.
I've never snorkeled before, will I be OK?
First-time snorkelers can be assured of one-on-one instruction and assistance. We find introducing folks to our world very rewarding!
Do I need kayaking experience or will you teach me?
No experience is necessary! Beginners are welcome on all of our kayak tours. Most of our guests have never been in a sea kayak before. Anyone in average physical condition may join a kayak tour. If you can hike or bike, you can paddle our sea kayaks. You do not need any swimming skills either.
The only prerequisite is a healthy spirit of curiosity and adventure.
Regardless of age or skill level you will find that our expeditions offer enough flexibility to make your experience with us safe and rewarding. We will show you proper sea kayaking technique and water safety before leaving the beach. And your expert guides will be with you throughout the adventure to give you pointers and improve your skills.
Can we use our own snorkeling gear?
The snorkel gear we use on Key West Water Sports tours is high quality and for your protection, the equipment is sanitized after each use. However, if you feel more comfortable using your own snorkeling equipment, feel free to bring it on the tour. Please note, there is no discount for providing your own equipment and we can’t be responsible for any lost or damaged items.
Can I go snorkeling if I cannot swim?
Yes, this is possible, as long as you are comfortable going into the water. All Key West Water Sports snorkeling tours adhere to strict safety regulations and have been designed to be enjoyed by all.
Your safety is our #1 priority, which is why:
- You will be wearing a flotation device at all times.
- On many tours, there is a stairway from the boat into the water so you won’t have to “jump” in!
- There are trained staff in the water and watching from the boat at all times.
For these reasons, we believe that even non-swimmers can have a wonderful time on our snorkeling trips, however, the final judgment call is yours to make. Please note we do not give refunds if you decide not to snorkel on the trip.
Are there any weight restrictions for kayaking?
The maximum capacity for kayaking on Key West Backcountry Safari is 340 lbs.
Where is the meeting point for this activity?
Detailed check-in instructions – including meeting point address, Google map, and parking information – for Key West Backcountry Safari will be included in your confirmation email from Key West Water Sports. Please be sure to double and triple check your email address is correct at checkout so this important email makes its way to you!
Where can I park my car?
If required, parking instructions for the Key West Backcountry Safari will be included in your confirmation email.
What is the weather cancellation policy?
If the Key West Backcountry Safari must be canceled due to bad weather, and you cannot go on another day or time, you will be issued a refund by Key West Water Sports.
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