A Sustainable Learning Holiday
Join us as we explore the backcountry of the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park under sail. Glide over calm bays, paddle through overhung tunnels, snorkel the fringes of the mangroves and marvel at the underwater forests that are as enchanting and haunting as those in any fairy tale. When the cold fronts make exploring the Atlantic Ocean reefs impossible, we can enjoy the calm waters of the backcountry. Help with fish population research by learning how to identify the many species of local fish and participating in a fish count. Your captain will explain why mangroves, grasses and hardpan are all vital to the health of the local ecosystems. We want to share all the beauty this area has to offer and show how we can be good stewards of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, preserving its unique habitats for generations to come. And most importantly, we can have a blast doing it!
Departing from Blackwater Sound in Key Largo, we tailor our itinerary to the prevailing winds. Using the timeless technology of sail, we slip by the rustling mangroves and quietly slide through the waters of Florida Bay, in harmony with the wind and the water as the earliest residents were when they paddled through these waters hundreds of years ago. We will explore the lower reaches of Everglades National Park, watching for exotic birds, dolphins, manatees, and very rarely, the American Saltwater Crocodile. (They really are quite shy!)
Our sailboats are run by captains with U.S. Coast Guard licences. They have a lot experience teaching about the ecosystems in the area and are happy to share their knowledge with you. Our boats are inspected by the Coast Guard and have all the required safety equipment. They are insured and have permits to sail in Everglades National Park. Most of our boats generate their electrical power from solar panels and we use our diesel engines as little as possible. Most of our captains are American Sailing Association instructors. If you would like to learn to sail, please visit our sister company Island Dreamer Sailing School.
In order to more closely explore the mangrove forests, we supply kayaks and paddles. Snorkeling gear is available in a limited supply; so for the best fit, please bring your own gear if you have it. We have a library of relevant books on board that includes fish and invertebrate identification books. And in order to investigate the region’s smaller inhabitants, we use a plankton trawl net and microscope. Our boats are rigged with shade, but there are also additional areas where you can relax in the sun. We have full galleys and showers on board for your comfort.
What Customers have to say…
Your ability to educate and teach is incredible. Thank you for a lifelong memory . . . Again, thank you for the great adventure last week. We all had a great time and spent the entire return flight talking about our adventure. It really was an experience we will never forget.—David C., Kansas City, Kansas
What an inspiration for our boys–the snorkeling was great and the company was wonderful. Thanks so much for the memories!–Dan T.
Your gift of teaching and providing a positive example . . . was a blessing. Thank you both for the enlightening experience. We wish you the best in life and happiness.–David C., MN
Great kayaking, great diving, awesome sailing. A fantastic learning experience. Captain created a great atmosphere for our group.–Warren S., Colorado Springs, CO
Day Trips and Sunset Sails
Your boat tour includes a U.S. Coast Guard licensed crew, an inspected vessel and up to 6 guests. Soft drinks are provided (BYOB) and a custom box lunch or an hors d’oeuvres tray can be ordered. Day sails are 6 hours and sunset sails are 3 hours. However, a combination of the two is a special value that allows us to explore further into the backcountry. When you combine both trips, there is more time to get really comfortable with this unique and relaxing part of the world. Please contact us to arrange custom times and days that fit your schedule. Let us know how we can make your visit special.
Rates and Hours
We are happy to accept Paypal, all major credit cards and cash. Please call or email for reservations. Same day trips may be possible, but most of our trips require one day’s notice. We are required to collect 7.5% Florida sales tax on the prices listed below.
- Spend a full day and stay for our sunset sail with a combination trip. We start at 10AM and end after the sun goes down. The cost is $288 per person with a minimum of 2 people, or $788 for the boat with a maximum of 6 people. Custom box lunches can be provided for $25 per person and an hors d’oeuvres tray is also available for $50. Both of these offerings require advance notice. Fresh Florida Keys Stone Crab Claws is available when in season at market price.
Backcountry of the Florida Keys
The gulf side of the keys is dotted with remote, mangrove islands and is a shallow-water nursery for young plant and animal life. The subtropical climate and simple beauty of the Florida Keys make this both an American ecological treasure and a great sailing destination that should not be overlooked.
Sailing the gulf side of the Keys gives us access to areas that are seldom visited. There are remote anchorages where city lights and highways are not always visible. The calm waters in the backcountry make for smooth sailing while boats on the Atlantic side can’t get out due to the waves and wind.
Kayaking the Mangroves
There are hundreds of thousands of acres of islands and water in the Florida Keys and the Biscayne and Everglades National Parks. Once you sail just a few miles from the Overseas Highway, you are transported to a tropical marine environment that is like no other place in the United States or the world. It is a special privilege to kayak in these waters, where you can enjoy beautiful vistas with amazing wildlife in mother nature’s nursery.
Tom Schroder of the Washington Post Talks about finding protection in the mangroves on a windy day:
Peter caught up, and we sheltered in a small cove in the lee of the mangroves. As we caught our breath, we stared mesmerized into the universe of arcing roots. They rose above the inflowing waves like so many twisting stilts, merging into thick grey trunks that slanted skyward, holding a crown of green above our heads. After the tempest, it was a haven we weren’t eager to abandon.
Join us for your own exploration of one of natures treasures.
Wildlife Under Water and in Air
Snorkel the underwater world of Florida Bay. The mangroves, sea grasses and hardpan are full of life. Did you know that 70% of sport fish caught on the reefs spend some part of their life in the bay? And even if you don’t get into the water, enjoy the view anyway since many species of fish can be seen directly from the boat.
Call Harold Ochstein now to make your reservation. We will be happy to answer your questions or provide any other information you need. If we happen to be out sailing, your call will be returned as quickly as possible. We also accept text messages.
Mobile Number: 561.281.2689
Copyright © 2014 Eco Sail.