provided to The Santiva Chronicle
Tarpon Bay Explorers is offering a 25 percent discount to any Lee County resident for kayak, stand-up paddleboard and Hobie fishing kayak rentals from June 1 to Aug. 31.
TBE, the concessionaire for J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, experienced severe damage to a myriad of their equipment from Hurricane Ian, which made landfall on Sept. 28, 2022. The company offered a variety of eco-tours and rentals before the storm. But all five of the rental pontoons were totaled and a 49-passenger pontoon boat used for touring “Ding” Darling was tossed into the mangroves. Plus, every bicycle was inundated with salt water, causing them to cease up.
The surviving equipment includes kayaks, paddleboards, a couple of Hobie pedal-drive kayaks and one tram.
Sanibel is still gravely feeling the effects of Ian, but progress is being made everyday. The Explorers family wants to support the community and let everyone know they are still operating.
“We want people to experience the refuge and all its beauty,” said TBE Managing Partner Wendy Schnapp. “The bay is a new version of beautiful. Though the mangroves are not as lush, the trail is peaceful, clear and full accessible. We still see great wildlife on a daily basis. Manatees are regularly in our harbor.”
“We hope locals take advantage of the discount and support us, the refuge and the island in general,” Schnapp said.
TBE staff has been reduced from 35 to three and, as a result, is only open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Rentals stop at 3 p.m.
A kayak tour is offered at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays, and reservations are recommended. Discount does not apply to this tour. Tram tours are available at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursdays. Reservations are recommended for the tram and the discount does not apply.
TBE has a wonderful nature-themed gift shop, which was not effected by the storm. Items range from home decor, kitchenwater, children’s toys and apparel to fishing tackle. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
For more information, visit the Tarpon Bay Explorers website here or call the gift shop at 239-472-8900.