KEY LARGO -- Garl's Coastal Kayaking has opened a shop at the Point of View RV Resort in Key Largo.
For years, Garl Harrold has guided paddling enthusiasts into the less traveled, isolated waters of Florida Bay and Everglades National Park. Harrold's clients often encounter a staggering array of wildlife, includin dolphins, sharks, crocodiles, snakes, manatees and an assortment of birds.
"We're seeing a lot of flamingos and roseate spoonbills," Harrold said of his guided tours.
Though his new location is a bit hidden in the back of an RV park, Harrold says he is continuing to cater to locals as well as tourists.
"We're reaching out to anyone," he said. "I have my own clientele I am bringing over."
Harrold offers multiple guided trips as well as kayak and paddleboat rentals.
One of his latest excursions included a group of about two dozen young adults who traveled to the Florida Keys as part of an adventure-based environmental program. Some of his groups can be as large as 25 people, he says.
More than pure recreation, Harrold says he uses his tours to teach customers about the importance of Florida Bay, a nursery ground for many species that will eventually be commercially harvested.
In his Everglades tour, Harrold drives his customers to and from Flamingo. The tour is offered as a full- or half-day trip.
After paddling through the park, customers are offered an optional night walk. Harrold, an avid photographer, encourages customers to bring their own cameras to capture glimpses of the wildlife.
Plans are underway to teach wildlife photography on future paddling trips, he said. Fishing trips are also available.
"I want to do it the right way," Harrold said, which means catch-and-release fishing and educating people about fish.
Like most other adventure-based businesses, Harrold said he is busiest on the weekends.
"We're always ready to go," Harrold said, noting that when a customer calls or stops by, they can be in the water within minutes.
Kayak rentals start at $15 per hour with a two-hour minimum. Guided trips range from $75 on Florida Bay to $150 for trips to the Everglades.
For more information, those interested can contact Harrold at 305-393-3223 or visit www.garlscoastalkayaking.com.