Attention Lee County residents! Tarpon Bay Explorers will be giving a 25% discount to any Lee County resident for kayak, SUP and hobie fishing kayak rentals starting June 1 until August 31st. Tarpon Bay Explorers is the concessionaire for the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. Prior to the storm, the company offered a variety of eco-tours and rentals to experience the refuge by water and land.
The Explorers experienced severe damage to a myriad of their equipment as a result of Hurricane Ian. All five of their rental pontoons were totalled. A 49 passenger pontoon tour boat that provided visitors a way to see “Ding” Darling by water was tossed into the mangroves and destroyed. Every bike was inundated with salt water, ceased up and destroyed. The equipment that remains are kayaks, paddleboards, a couple of Hobie pedal-drive kayaks and one tram.
Sanibel is still gravely feeling the effects of Hurricane Ian, but progress is being made everyday. The Explorers family wants to not only support the community, but also let the community know they are still operating. “We want people to experience the refuge and all its beauty”, explained managing partner, Wendy Schnapp. “The bay is a new version of beautiful. Though the mangroves are not as lush, the trail is peaceful, clear and fully accessible. We still see great wildlife on a daily basis. Manatees are regularly in our harbor. We hope locals take advantage of the discount and support us, the refuge and the island in general, said Schnapp.
The Explorers family had to reduce staff from 35 to 3. As a result, Tarpon Bay Explorers is only open four days of the week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8am to 5pm. Rentals stop at 3pm. A Kayak Tour is offered on Wednesdays at 10am where reservations are recommended (no discount). Tram Tours are also offered on Thursdays at 10am & 1pm (reservations recommended, no discount). Tarpon Bay Explorers also hosts a wonderful nature-themed gift shop which was not affected by the storm. Items range from home decor, kitchenware, children’s toys and apparel to fishing tackle. The gift shop is also open those four days from 8am-5pm. For more information visit their website at www.tarponbayexplorers.com or call the gift shop at 239-472-8900.