A tall ship kayak and snorkel adventure.
This is the Bugeye Backcountry Eco-Tour
Get set for three great Key West adventures rolled into one day: a Key West schooner sail; a guided kayak tour of mangrove islands; and a snorkel tour of backcountry patch reefs. This is a diverse, awe-inspiring ecosystem in Key West’s backcountry, and we can’t wait for you to experience it for yourself.
This tour is limited to 20 passengers, to provide everyone with ample seating, room to spread out, and a truly personal experience. Your relaxing day on Key West’s tropical waters starts when our 65’ bugeye schooner, Appledore Star, departs the Historic Seaport. Our excursion to the backcountry begins when we unfurl her billowing sails for a truly authentic Key West maritime experience. Let your inner sailor come out to play on this singular tall masted wooden ship by helping to raise the sails, then take your turn at the wheel.
Then we start exploring the uninhabited—at least by humans—mangrove islands in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. And this is the perfect ship for your eco-adventure, as the shallow-drafted Appledore Star is a historic bugeye schooners that dragged for oysters in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. There is so much marine wildlife that call this refuge home, keep an eye out for dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays and many other species. Our captains know where the dolphins prefer to play and will let you know if they spot any in the area.
Also, several hundred species of birds call these mangroves home and on any given day, you may see ospreys, frigates, blue herons, bald eagles and even roseate spoonbills. In the water, look for sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays and tropical fish.
Once we reach the mangrove islands, your crew will drop the schooner’s anchor and the in-water fun begins! Your day is divided between a guided kayaking tour and a guided snorkeling tour.
For kayaking, your crew will help you into your sea kayak and provide paddling instructions. Don’t worry if you aren’t used to paddling—the warm, shallow water is calm and sheltered by the mangroves which makes this some of the best kayaking in Key West.
While kayaking, the crew will tell you all about the mangroves and their important role as nurseries to the sea. Learn how mangrove trees survive in salt water and about the varied marine life that inhabit this unique, delicate ecosystem.
Ready to get in the water? Perfect! Now it’s time for a guided snorkel tour. Before getting started, you’ll receive professional instruction from our experienced crew along with information on the sponge gardens. Don’t worry if you’ve never snorkeled, our crew is here to answer all of your questions. Before you know it you’ll be snorkeling your way through the calm, shallow waters of the sponge gardens. Look around and you’ll see a lot of the different species that call the gardens home, including tropical fish, sponges, and marine wildlife. And if you’re new to the water, or would just prefer to float, grab a noodle, lean back and watch the clouds drift by.
It’s true that tide and weather conditions throughout the different areas of the mangrove islands can vary. At Sebago, we pride ourselves on providing our guests with the best experiences possible. Your captain will use his years of expertise to chart a course that will deliver you to the best possible kayaking and snorkeling locations.
After your tours, come back aboard and ditch the salt with our fresh water rinse. Find a comfortable spot to relax on deck and choose from plenty of complimentary cold drinks—frosty beers, wine, Sebago’s homemade sangria, chilled sodas and filtered water. When it comes to laid-back island living, we’re happy to show you how it’s done.
An all-you-can-eat, fresh lunch buffet feast is also served while you’re aboard. shrimp cocktail, pulled pork sliders, coleslaw, Caesar salad, veggie & hummus wraps, bean salad, and chocolate chip cookies. Available on the Appledore Star lunch only.
As the day begins to wind down, we pull up the anchor and say goodbye to the magical mangrove islands. Cap off your day with another refreshing beverage, including our tropical homemade sangria, and indulge in an afternoon snack of freshly made chocolate chip cookies; chips and dip; and seasonal fruits. This is the finest Key West has to offer, and we’re happy to share it with you.
Reboarding the schooner after snorkeling and kayaking requires you to climb aboard a platform secured to the boat just below the waterline. From there you climb a ladder back aboard the schooner. This activity requires a certain amount of physical ability. If you have questions or concerns about this, please contact us before booking.
You will be sailing on Sebago's Appledore Star, a 2-masted, 65’ shallow-drafted bugeye schooner featuring:
- Wide decks with room to walk around
- Limited number of passengers for an intimate tour
- A marine head (bathroom)
What To Bring
Grab your towel, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, swim suit, camera and love of exploration.
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Boarding starts 1/2 hour before departure. Please bring a valid, government-issued photo ID. Some activities and enjoying alcoholic beverages require that we verify your age. All prices do not include Florida sales tax.
Sebago’s Bugeye Backcountry Adventure includes:
- Guided snorkeling of patch reefs and a mangrove island kayak tour with equipment and professional instruction
- Full buffet lunch
- Soft drinks and filtered water throughout the day
- Homemade sangria, premium beer and boutique wine after snorkeling