“It has been a while, around 140 days or so,” said General Manager & part owner of Tarpon Bay Explorers, Wendy Schnapp. Due to COVID-19, Tarpon Bay Explorers has not provided a tram tour along Wildlife Drive of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge for visitors since March 17th. Tarpon Bay Explorers is happy to announce that Tram Tours will tentatively resume starting August 4th every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday. Fee collecting for Wildlife Drive will also resume that week on Monday, August 3rd.
“Tram tours are a great way for people to be introduced to the Refuge,” explained Schnapp. Our naturalists do an excellent job providing the lay of the land for those who are new to the island, but also have a depth of knowledge for those looking to continue to learn about the Refuge and wildlife,” said Schnapp. The Refuge’s Education Center will remain closed, but Tarpon Bay Explorers also staffs the Fee booth at the entrance of Wildlife Drive. These staff members will further help visitors by providing information and selling entry passes for federal lands.
Tram Tours will look slightly different this time around. To insure the safety of Tarpon Bay employees and visitors, protective measures will be taken. Tram Tours will only operate at 50% capacity (i.e. 18 people max). Social Distancing will be observed throughout all trips. Masks will be worn by Tarpon Bay employees while in proximity with visitors (i.e. during boarding, unloading etc.). Tram tours will also be starting earlier at 8:30am, but also at 11am & 1:30pm. Visitors can join the Tram Tour either at Tarpon Bay Explorer’s primary location at 900 Tarpon Bay Rd or at the Tram Booth located in the middle of the parking lot next to the Education Center at 1 Wildlife Drive.
“Our drivers and fee booth workers are excited to get back to work,” said Schnapp. “No one likes to be furloughed so we are happy we were able to finally give them some good news,” elated Schnapp. With the addition to the Tram Tours, Tarpon Bay Explorers will now have tour availability every day! Kayak tours, Nature & Sealife Cruises, SUP tours are offered throughout the week. Pontoon Rentals, Fishing Charters, Kayak, SUP & Bike rentals are available throughout the week as well.
Tarpon Bay Explorers is the concession for the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The company provides all of the recreational and tour opportunities for the Refuge. Reservations are recommended for any guided tour like the Tram Tour. For any additional information or reservations, call their nature-themed gift shop at 239-472-8900 or visit their website at www.tarponbayexplorers.com