Biscayne Bay Kayaking and Paddle Boarding Program takes off

A program that once began with only two kayaks, the FIU Biscayne Bay campus Kayaking and Paddle Boarding tours have evolved into a highly-talked about recreational excursion.

The Kayaking and Paddle Boarding tours director Jonathan Torrey, discussed how when the program first began six-years ago, the program was limited on resources.

“Originally we weren’t even set up to host tours”, said Torrey. “However the other directors and myself had a meeting and from that meeting it was decided to provide the students of FIU with this luxury”. “With the bay being right here for the students, we looked at it as a perfect program to run”.

From this started the accumulation of multiple kayaks, the once tiny fleet of kayaks turned into a ten-kayak tour. With the necessary amount of kayaks to hold the tours, Torrey began to focus on establishing an expert staff that would be able to demonstrate the necessary actions while on the tours.

With the program starting to make shape, the next step was building exposure for the tours. Torrey explained that originally it was just setting up and handing out flyers to students at campus.

“At first we were just handing and putting up flyers, it was pretty simplistic at first” said Torrey. “Even though it was pretty simple, we were still able to attract tons of students to the tours”. “It would get to the point that we would fill up every slot and tell the rest of students waiting in line to come back another day”.

Eventually, the tours became so popular that Torrey and his staff had to set up a registration system so they could have the students register online for the tours.

“Registration at first started off as me manually receiving phone calls and registering your name through that process”, explained Torrey. “This quickly became outdated however, so we switched to program called Active, that manually set the registrations for us online”.

With the program now afloat, Torrey wanted to add a dimension to the Biscayne Bay kayaking tours that other kayaking programs offer. He began to collaborate on how he would be able to set up a nighttime kayaking tour and add their own twist to the tours.

“My staff and I started to see what the other kayaking tours in the area were doing”, explained Torrey. “We found out many of these kayaking programs feature nighttime tours, so from there we started planning out how we could offer this but with our own style”. “We used to have just navigation lights for the nighttime trips, but then we had a company install LED lights into the kayaks so it would brighter and also different”.

After setting up the nighttime tours at the Biscayne Bay campus, the night kayaking has become the most popular recreational program at the campus. Torrey discussed how he added an additional tour each month because of the growing popularity of the tours.

“Since we’ve added the nighttime kayaking, it has been by far the most popular program”, said Torrey. “The tours are continuously selling out”.

Currently, the daytime kayak tours feature two tour times, Session One from 10 AM to 11:30 AM and Session Two from 12PM to 1:30 PM. The nighttime tours are twice every month and run from 7PM to 9PM. The staff led group excursion travel around the mangrove trails of the Oleta State Park, the Biscayne Bay Sandbar and also Sand Spur Island.

The next upcoming night tours are July 6th, July 20th, and August 10th, while the upcoming daytime tours are August 5th and September 2nd. For enrolled FIU students the cost of the tours is $7.00 per person.

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