A Different World Awaits in Lido Key’s Mangrove Tunnels

Things To Do

Photo Courtesy of Kayaking SRQ

For many, a chance to experience a world entirely different than their own requires a long drive or even a flight. For Sarasotans, however, adventure lies in their backyard. The mangrove tunnels off Lido Key offer a seclusion from city life and a peek into a unique ecosystem integral to the Sarasota Bay.

Local outfit Kayaking SRQ, run by Greg and Kim Gregory, gives guided kayak tours through the fascinating world of Lido Key’s mangrove tunnels. Although the outfit caters to tourists and locals alike, many Sarasotans have yet to discover this treasure. “Once they go through the tunnels the first time, (they’re) just amazed at what was actually here,” according to manager and former tour guide Justin Niemann. Inside the tunnels, interlocking arches of mangrove trees shade the pathways of shallow water from the sun, creating a complete escape from the outside world.

The 2 hour long guided tour starts at South Lido key, leisurely winding through the wide mangrove tunnels before paddling around Otter Key in search of manatees and dolphins. Along with dolphins and manatees, a diverse array of wildlife that changes around every three months can be found around the mangrove tunnels. Flying mort may jump out from beneath the water’s surface, jellyfish will bob gracefully along your paddle, and a neighborly cormorant might decide to take a ride in your kayak.

The birds alone draw people from all over the world. “I’ve got one group that comes from France every year, just to take pictures of those birds,” says Niemann. Thousands of migratory species flock to the area in the winter months, including the White Pelican, alongside native species such as cranes, heron, and osprey.

As for Niemann, he savors the connections he makes with every client and the chance to be outside every day, “I can go out on tours and see 50 dolphins and every time I see something like that, it’s like seeing it for the first time.”

 Kayaking SRQ Trailer, Ted Sperling Nature Park on Lido Key, 190 Taft Drive, Sarasota,  941- 799-1863

Photo Courtesy of Kayaking SRQ

For reservations click here

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