Meet the owners and guides at Island Kayak Tours, Scott and Karissa
Our conversation with David Garcia from Voyage Tampa Magazine, published February 28, 2023
Hi Scott & Karissa, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about Island Kayak Tours’ story?
It’s a classic tale of Florida boy meets Midwest girl. He grew up right here in Pinellas County and has saltwater in his veins, and she has a love for all things science and nature. It was a perfect match. Raising and homeschooling our three kids really helped both of us develop a love for teaching and lifelong learning. Creating a family business centered around being on the water, in nature, and teaching others about its importance just came naturally.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Anyone who’s planned an outdoor event in Florida knows that Mother Nature can be a fierce adversary, so we expected to have our share of bad weather days. However, we weren’t as prepared for the tremendously negative impact we humans have on our environment.
We all know that red tide exists naturally at low levels, but overgrowth blooms are typically caused by human pollution. Industrial waste from agriculture & mining, human waste from aging & overloaded sewage systems, and runoff from lawn pesticides & fertilizers cause the algae to grow out of control, killing fish and marine life and even killing precious seagrass. Bloom lengths and intensity have been increasing over recent years, causing significant damage to our waterways and, at times, effectively shutting down our kayaks tours. Sadly, it is one the most unpredictable yet preventable obstacles we encounter.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Island Kayak Tours, LLC?
Anyone can put you in a kayak and lead you around. However, the best experiences happen when you’re with a true local, someone who has a lifetime of experience in the area, who’s lived through the area’s history, and has first-hand stories to share. And, of course, the best customer service comes from owner-operators who are invested in the success of the company and are active & knowledgeable in every aspect of the business. That’s us. We’re a local, family-owned and operated kayak company who strives to give each guest the experience we would want to have ourselves.
With that in mind, there are some things we do differently than most other companies. Both of us are on each tour. This allows one person to guide the group and keep the faster paddlers moving while the other gives slower or less experienced paddlers all the attention they deserve without ever feeling left behind. Additionally, having raised three kids with an age difference of 7 years, we welcome families with children as young as 3 years old. We also offer some tandems with an optional third seat for young children to accommodate families where the kids outnumber the parents.
Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
The experience we provide to others is the most important part of what we do. We have met people from every demographic and every walk of life who all just want to get out in nature and experience Florida’s beauty & wildlife. It didn’t take long to realize that paying it forward by keeping our tours affordable for anyone who wants to join us matters most. We may not get rich, but seeing the joy on our guests’ faces is so much more valuable to us.