A kayak. Clear, mostly shallow water. And nature.
Throw in a rising full moon, and a sunset not long after.
Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours in the Keys.
And the next opportunity is coming right up, on Monday, Jan. 29.
That’s when the Florida Keys Wildlife Society will host its monthly Full Moon Kayak Tour between Big Pine Key and No Name Key.
That day, the moon will rise (“behind” No Name Key, as the kayakers will see it) at 4:23 p.m. The sun will set in front of the kayakers paddling back as the tour is coming to a close.
“It’s a really neat opportunity to get a little bit of exercise and paddle out there,” said Nancy Chatelaine, one of the guides for the final full moon tour of 2017, on New Year’s Eve. “It’s calm and it’s quiet; you can hear yourself think.”
Though this isn’t the fullest the moon will get – that will be the morning of Jan. 31 – the timing works well for the kayak tour, and there’s a bonus: this is the second full moon of January, and a supermoon, to boot.
The wildlife society – formerly known by the acronym FAVOR – sponsors these trips as a fundraiser to benefit the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges. The cost is $25, which includes a kayak and gear and experienced guides. Participants are asked to being a flashlight and urged to bring a refillable water bottle and a camera (in a dry bag). If the excursion on New Year’s Eve was any indication, some bug spray wouldn’t hurt, either.
The trip starts at a former marina just before the bridge to No Name Key, with volunteers helping participants into their kayaks. One guide will head out at the start of the group – there were a dozen or so, in single and tandem kayaks, on the New Year’s Eve tour – and the second guide stays at the rear of the group.
The water for most of the trip is shallow and clear enough to see the sand or seaweed at the bottom. The kayaks pass under the No Name Key bridge and head toward the mangrove shoreline. Guests chatter individually or from one kayak to the next. There is no pressure to keep together, and the New Year’s Eve group was fairly spread out by the halfway point.
Before you know it, you’re near the point of No Name Key and there is the full moon. It will slowly climb above the treeline as the kayaks turn back toward Big Pine for the return trip.
There is perhaps another hour of kayak time remaining, and on the return trip, the paddlers will be perfectly situated for one of the best shows in the Keys: the sunset.
Full moon kayak tours
Monday, Jan. 29, 4 to 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 27, 5 to 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 29, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Friday, April 27, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 27, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 26, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Reservations: Call or text 305-872-7474.
Directions: From U.S.1 at Big Pine Key, follow the signs toward No Name Key. Shortly after you pass No Name Pub on your left, the launching area will be to the right, just before the bridge to No Name Key. You should arrive a half-hour before the tour is scheduled to leave.
By Mike Howie