Circumnavigating

Two of our guides circumnavigated Amelia Island. Fun Fact! Circumnavigating Amelia Island takes 36,000+ kayak strokes. Check out the pics on our Facebook. Also, thank you to Tarah Coastal for the fun blog!.

31 miles in 10 hours fueled solely on chocolate donuts, chocolate milk, and beef jerky. Well, partially. I met with Aaron and Nick two days before their Amelia Island circumnavigation journey to get the low-down on what this adventure was all about.

Aaron, pushing his Zaxby’s chicken tender basket to the side, unfolded an impressively large and important looking map (Amelia Island Waters map available at Wal-Mart), ushering us into the AIKE (Amelia Island Kayak Excursions) Amelia circumnavigation war room. “We plan to put in here (pointing to the boat ramp at the Harbor Marina) at 5:00am”. The day and times for the trip were chosen based on the tide cycle and hours of daylight available this time of year. Due to the shallow waters at several points of the journey, planning around high and low tides is necessary to avoid getting stranded on a sandbar. The most concerning part of the trip was the 13 miles of ocean as the water conditions are more precarious than the river stretch. As the guys pointed out, if the currents were not in their favor, the ocean could actually push them backwards if they stopped paddling for any length of time.

Aaron has paddled the waters of Amelia Island for over 10 years and is a Master Naturalist and guide for the family business and has entertained the idea of circumnavigating the island on a kayak for as long as we have been friends. Nick is an island native and also serves as a guide with Amelia Island Kayak Excursions. He is entering the Air Force this fall so this trip was, in part, a goodbye to his home.

Supplies for this trip included all Coast Guard equipment requirements, water and Glacier Freeze Gatorade, a cooler of sandwiches, beef jerky, flashlights, headlamps, a GoPro, and camera, along with standard kayaking equipment. A 21 foot ocean tandem touring kayak was their vessel of choice. Amelia Island Kayak Excursion t-shirts were their chosen attire to shamelessly promote the business during the trip. It was decided that I would meet the guys at the Salty Pelican after for a debriefing.

Wednesday, 3:30pm: A thunderstorm with severe lightening, heavy rain and winds snuck up on the island quickly as afternoon rainstorms in Florida often do. I texted our mutual friend, Alberto, to voice my concern and to see if he had heard from them. He had not. I assumed that meant that nothing good was happening and went about my business, disappointed that I would not be having tuna nachos at the Pelican. Not really, I had faith in their outdoorsmanship. At around 5:00pm I received a text from Alberto saying that they had made it back to the Marina. Tuna nachos after all!

I was expecting a much less enthusiastic attitude from the typically high-energy Aaron which was not the case. Spirits were still incredibly high in he and Nick despite the storm that they had just endured. Their trip summary included bits about the ocean being a bit more tedious than they would have liked, a sea turtle boosting their morale when they were hitting a rough spot, Nick’s bald spot, annoyance at the seemingly endless Omni property, regretful breakfast choices, a close encounter with a yacht, and the nasty lightening.

My follow up questions included whether or not they would do anything differently (leave earlier, go to bed earlier the night before, and avoid donuts and milk. Note that it was only Nick who made this regretful breakfast selection). The conversation over dinner was no different that our normal interactions but I realized so profoundly how much I enjoy the adventurous and upbeat spirit of these guys. They take the planning and safety of their craft seriously, but never so seriously that they fail to laugh at themselves when needed and enjoy the ride. They did not just tackle this endeavor for self-serving purposes but to share their love of the outdoors and this island with others.

My original trip down Lofton Creek with Aaron as my guide sparked a love of kayaking in me that led to owning my own kayak. The nature on the waters surrounding Amelia provide beauty and peacefulness beyond any place that I have been in this area. This obvious love of the natural aspects of the island are exactly what I love about the guides at AIKE and why they are always my first recommendation to visitors to this area.

At our first meeting Aaron commented “as far as I am concerned we’ll do this again”. To which I replied jokingly that I was writing that quote down to revisit after the trip, skeptical that the outlook would be nearly that rosy after a 31 mile trip. Sitting at Salty Pelican, with the guys looking a few shades darker, tired, and still trying to dry out from the rain, I asked, “So would you do this again”? To which they both replied, “Absolutely”.

Visit their website www.ameliaislandkayak.com for all of the pictures and video from their adventure as well as to find more information on taking your own kayak trip! Tarah Coastal @ Tarahcoastal.com

Amelia Island Kayak Excursions

Yeah AIKE!

Amelia Island Kayak Excursions

Fort Clinch at Sunrise

Amelia Island Kayak Excursions

Water Water Everywhere

Amelia Island Kayak Excursions

South End Of The Island

Amelia Island Kayak Excursions

Our Route