Kayak Long Island with guided tours
Kayaks weave through Long Island's waterways all summer long. With the ever-expanding selection of guided kayaking adventures, here are a few that set off in the early morning or later at night.
Reservations are required, and kayakers should typically arrive with water bottle in hand about 10 to 20 minutes before tours launch. Ready, set, paddle!
YOGA PADDLES Looking for an energizing, yet calming, start to the morning? Empire Kayaks in Island Park offers 45-minute paddles to Baldwin Park, where a yoga instructor teaches. You'll need to bring your own mat and towel. Back at Empire, fresh fruit, muffins, bagels and drinks await on a deck near the water -- all for $40, including kayak rental and life jacket. Some prior paddling experience suggested. Tours depart at 9 a.m. and return at noon on select Sundays through October (516-889-8300, empirekayaks.com).
KAYAK FISHING Paddle for your lunch during kayak fishing tours organized by Captain Kayak in East Quogue. The four-hour tours typically begin around 6 a.m. at Docker's Waterside Restaurant. Guides help with fishing and steering the kayaks in Shinnecock Bay, making this a novice-friendly paddle, so have no fear. Fishing pole, bait, kayak and life jacket are included in the $185 cost. And good news: Captain Kayak will fillet the keepers, no charge (631-484- 0806, captainkayak.com).
NATURE TOURS See osprey, swans and crabs on a guided excursion by Shelter Island Kayak Tours. Two-hour tours depart at 10 a.m. daily to Congdon's Creek, which is bordered by Mashomack Preserve and wetlands. In one narrow creek, patrons can see tiny shrimp and bait fish. "This basically is an area that is shallow. There's no boat traffic . . . no currents to deal with," says owner Jay Damuck. "Most of the time, it's a very mellow experience." The atmosphere makes it ideal for beginners. It's $60, $30 ages 12 and younger (631-749-1990, kayaksi.com).
SUNSET TOURS Catch the sun as it sets over the historic Northport Harbor. Guides from Glacier Bay Sports in Northport lead a 1 1/2-hour paddle at 6 p.m. every Thursday. Along the way, you'll pass Duck Island -- a federally protected bird sanctuary where red-tailed hawks and egrets swoop. "It's a nice outing for family, friends and definitely for couples," says manager Mike Covell. It's $45 for a single kayak, $55 for a double; (631-262-9116, glacierbaysports.com).
STAR TREKS full moon will light your path on this guided tour by the Dinghy Shop in Amityville. As kayakers cross the Great South Bay toward an estuary and salt marshes, "the sun is setting and the moon is rising at the same time," says manager Marguerite Koehler. Barn swallows also leave the mainland and head toward the marsh in the evening, flying around kayakers as they're paddling. The $50 tours are offered 6:30-8:30 p.m. on select nights through September (631-264-0005, dinghyshop.com).
FOR FOODIES If you're a fan of wine and cheese, up the ante with a moonlit kayaking trip. Main Beach Surf & Sport in Wainscott takes care of all the details, guiding the group to a secluded beach. There, a bonfire and tiki lamps will be set up before cheese platters are served. Bring your own wine and blankets for the alfresco dining, which concludes with s'mores. Tours, $65, run from 6 to 9 p.m. on select nights through September.
For something more elaborate, there's also a by-reservation lobster bake paddle for groups of 6 or more that includes shrimp, clams, lobster, corn on the cob, potatoes and s'mores by a bonfire. It's $175 a person, plus a $300-$500 beach set-up fee (631-537-2716, mainbeach.com).