|There are places in this world you will only "see" by "doing."|
Foley, AL --- I don't have a clue how to do that. Do you?
For the past four years BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals has offered kayaking a nice, clear, unspoiled still-water river as an easy and safe option for a fun "Thing To Do" while visiting the Gulf Shores/Alabama Gulf Coast area. We are rated by former guests Top #1 activity/amusement in Foley, AL on TripAdvisor.com
|Kayaking In Sit-On-Top-Kayaks Is The Easiest Way To Enjoy Kayaking.|
We blog about the fun adventures we have paddling the area's waterways. We Tweet. We "Facebook." We post photos and funny and beautiful videos. Our business is featured in al.com PensacolaNewsJournal (PNJ) articles and at one time on local tv throughout Gulf Shores thanks to COAST 360 "Island Tv."
Yet over and again when the question is asked on social media sites: "What to Do' in the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Foley, AL area?" "Experts" and frequent contributors to forums yell, "Lulu's," "The Hangout" "Sea-N-Suds" "Mikees" (all are local restaurants) as a "Do Not Miss" "Thing To Do."
Visiting bloggers sponsored by businesses and the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach CVB offer up "Top 5 Unique Things To Do" and suggest a visit to historic landmarks, a nature trail, (a Naval) museums, a sail or pontoon excursion.
The majority of folks on FB, travel forums and other social media scream "Do a Dolphin Tour!"
"Kayaking" is rarely mentioned.
Yet somehow when season starts, the calls come. Every year I marvel. And every year I pray a prayer of thanks because when asked what made our guests choose to kayak with us, most answers seem out of happenstance.
So I wondered: What prompted me to canoe/kayak?
I was prompted (cajoled) by a friend, a relative and/or enticed by photos on ad pages of favorite magazines like Southern Living Magazine and such.
I am not brave. In fact I'm pretty chicken when it comes to water sports. For years I never paddled without three life vests (I kid you not!). I didn't learn to swim until well past the half-century mark.
Having an adventurous spouse and children who crave active outdoor activities means mom must paddle or be left behind. I do not care to be left behind. So I paddle.
It wasn't until River Rick and I first canoed, then paddled the Bon Secour River in Foley, AL that I realized "THIS adventure is SO much less scary than canoeing down a rapid --- with boulders --- and river rock beds --- out in the middle of nowhere where no one lives --- and miles over treacherous mountains away from any civilization" --- like those river experiences we've paddled in the past!
River Rick and I have noticed the increased number of vehicles toting kayaks heading South toward Gulf Shores beaches. We make a mental note as we drive by Blue Water Ship Store when inventory goes from eight to six to finally two lonely kayaks for sale.
We've noticed (thank you, thank you, THANK YOU) the Sweet Home Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar books (pg 59) mentions kayaking back waters as an option --- and on some pages have pretty photos of happy-looking kayakers floating on a wide-open body of water.
We've noticed the increased number of kayak rental businesses that have popped up. The fact that many vacation rental homes now offer a couple of kayaks for free use with a week's rental must indicate some type of increased interest. Eco-tours on the Intra-coastal Waterway now feature kayaking as part of their package.
And yet? There are so few mentions about kayaking on blogs and forums.
So today I got motivated to go against all the advice from unsolicited solicitors about SEOs and "rank" and "sponsorships" and ad purchases and I thought to myself, "from now on we must not be fearful to speak and act from our heart --- and whatever that brings us shall be right for us."
Today River Rick and I rewrote our BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals home "About" page. We toiled over word choices. I stressed over grammatical errors. He wanted concise. I expanded. We got personal.
You may have on your "Bucket List" to kayak while vacationing in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach.
Here's the thing: YOU, as a potential guest, or first-time guest to the Alabama Gulf Coast are not going to know the difference between one kayaking adventure or another --- or of the unique "quirks" of negotiating the many waterways.
Believe me you will not have enough time in a day to do what it takes to compare rates, terms, conditions, locations and the like to make a qualified decision --- and this after trying to choose lodging, restaurants and deciding on what clothes and shoes to bring.
You may read blogs, pick up rack cards, look at pretty photos --- and even get recommendations from folks (who may-or-may-not-kayak-but-see-others-do-it and make a recommendation) but have no clue whether you will be paddling out in the hot blazing sun dodging adrenaline-pumped teens on skeedos (ditto party boats, giant yachts and Pirate ships shooting off loud cannons), or with stiff undercurrents (yes, Ole River, the Intra-Coastal Waterway at the Pass are prone to stiff undercurrents), strong and never-ending winds prevalent on large bays or lakes --- or even waters teeming with alligators (read: 5 Rivers Delta area, Lake Shelby at the State Park and in the Little Lagoon. This fact we know by first-hand paddling, scary, close-encounters-of-the-alligator kind experiences. Never. Again).
We may not be experts in paddling, but I can assure you: if you are out on a giant lake or body of water without a hat and water and without sunscreen applied in the middle of an Alabama Gulf Coast summer afternoon, you will not think kayaking is so fun after about one half of an hour of it.
(And if you don't think your first kayaking experience "fun" you are most likely not going to want to "try" another ... right? )
Neither might you think it fun if your first-and-only experience to kayaking is to hop into a bus or onto the back of a vehicle or ride along in a boat with 49 of your closest strangers who smoke, curse and whoop-and-holler about every living thing imaginable, then plop into a double Sit-Inside Kayak to follow a guide you will not be able to hear --- especially if you fall behind, your paddles smack the kayak repeatedly and the wind blows in the opposite direction of earshot.
I've kayaked in the Gulf. It was FUN!
But I wore a life vest and never paddled further than the first wave break. I call the experience "kayak surfing." I didn't try to paddle anywhere, I just "rode" the waves. I lasted all of 1/2 hour. I'd recommended this type of Gulf-kayaking for those who really do have abs of steel and whose arms are not jellified.
Would we recommend kayaking the Gulf for a "first-time" kayaking experience? Not. At. All.
But then, we close our Summer Self-Guided Kayak Tours when temps get too intensely hot, the water is not optimal (especially after torrential rains) and cancel Off-Season Guided Kayak Tours if winds are greater than 10 mph and temps are lower than 60 degrees.
Why do we cancel when others don't, you ask?
Because we learned the hard way that no matter how wonderful the experience we think the adventure, if guests get wet and cold and they have to paddle hard to get to a destination, it is the antithesis of what we want to be known for: a comfortable and tranquil way to enjoy the water.
We want you, our guests, to have the very best of all possible kayaking experiences --- first-timers or not.
After four years of "experimentation," interactions with guests and listening to their feedback, we have come to realize the best way we can facilitate a good paddling experience is to employ these tactics:
1) We "help" you to have the best possible kayaking experience by requiring you and all your kayaking guests familiarize yourselves with our adventure PRIOR to making a reservation (hence there are few "surprises");
2) We limit our "put-in" hours to ensure our guests enjoy the coolest temps and safest time to paddle during hot summers (early a.m. --- this way you can return prior to almost daily afternoon storms);
3) For your added comfort and safety, and to differentiate our experience from other kayak rentals, we enforce non-negotiable "rules" (we want to be good stewards of our river and not pollute with noise or with trash).
Here's the thing: We live on the body of water we put our guests in. We chose to live on this body of water because we especially love it and want to preserve the unique treasure that it is. We feel we must be a responsible gateway to allow only those folks who are as conscientious as we are access through our property.
So here is our new home page. It speaks to you personally. River Rick and I hope that you will feel our sincerest desire for you to understand where we come from.
We hope you will make a decision to "DO" this kayaking thing --- with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals of course!
|The water under this bridge connecting to a private island is yours to enjoy by kayak --- respectfully, to pass through.|