Not every workday begins by throwing on board shorts and a life jacket, pushing a Jet Ski into the water, and taking off for a scenic ride around the flats of the Florida Keys. But for John Keeney at Big Kahuna Watersports, Marathon’s newest jet ski tour company, that’s just an average Monday.
Keeney grew up in Marathon and has lived on the island for most of his life, but his career as a guide began in 1994, when he began working for Dick Bowman at Wet Willy’s Watersports. The pair were some of the first to develop Jet Ski tours around the island of Marathon, blazing the trail for the multitude of watersports companies that have opened in recent years.
Keeney dabbled in several other careers throughout the next 25 years, but never relinquished his job on the water. In 2018, he realized he was ready to strike out on his own. “I worked for other people for a lot of years, and I finally decided I could start my own company. I had the knowledge and experience to do it, so why not do things my way?”
Enter Big Kahuna Watersports. Boasting five brand-new 2019 Yamaha VX-C skis with top speeds of 50 to 55 mph, the company is equipped to offer one- and two-hour tours around different areas of Marathon. Big Kahuna’s signature two-hour tour takes customers through the Gulf of Mexico, from the 7 Mile Bridge up to Tom’s Harbor, followed by a return trip in the Atlantic Ocean.
Along with the ever-changing tropical scenery and wildlife of the Florida Keys, each tour offers a chance to explore a mangrove trail with sunken boats, snag a photograph with a Caribbean sea star, and hang out at the relaxing Valhalla Sandbar off Grassy Key. Tours are customizable to each rider’s comfort level and abilities, and Keeney also offers several specialized outings, including a four-hour tour to Islamorada, daily sunset tours, and memorial services.
Why choose a Jet Ski tour over other boat rentals and other water sports in town, one might ask? For Keeney, it’s a simple answer. “With a guided jet ski tour you don’t have to know the waters. You don’t have to read a map, study where you’re going, and worry about shallow areas. You just need a vague idea of what you want to do, and our guides can customize a trip for you. Plus, you don’t have to work. All you have to do is squeeze the throttle.” When asked why residents and tourists alike should choose Big Kahuna over other tour companies in town, he doesn’t mince words. “We have the best tour guides with the lowest prices and no hidden fees. We love what we do, and we want you to have a good time.”
Want to book a tour with Big Kahuna? Stop by Captain Pip’s Marina & Hideaway, call or text 305-304-4993, or follow “Big Kahuna Watersports” on Facebook.