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Rising Tide Explorers receives local awards and recognition as Southwest Florida’s only biologist owned and operated eco-tour company

a group of people riding on the back of a boat

Celebrating their 4th year in business, Rising Tide Explorers is recognized as one of the preeminent eco-tour operations in Southwest Florida in recent months after receiving various local awards, recognition, and media coverage.  After hearing their unique story and mission, one can see why.  This is not your average group of tour guides.



In 2020, Rising Tide Explorers won “Best Kayaking Tour” in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards.   RTE was featured as one of the Best Adventure Tour Companies in the country along side a variety of other adventure activities including biking tours, rafting, boat tours, scenic train rides, and more.


Founded in 2016 by a group of local biologists looking to raise the bar of the ecotourism industry in Southwest Florida, Rising Tide Explorers has grown into one of most unique local experience and environmental education providers in the region.  Their mission is to connect the visitors and residents of Naples and Marco Island to our unique local environment through science education-based excursions and adventures.  Exploring our local ecosystems by kayak, boat, and on foot, Rising Tide Explorers strives to place the most qualified guides in the region, consisting of active local biologist and ecologists, in front of as many people as they can so they can experience the knowledge and passion of this fun crew.

“Getting out there with actual local scientists who have spent their lives and careers studying these areas is a completely unique experience in Southwest Florida.  To have the opportunity to be curious, ask any question that comes to mind, and feel confident that you are getting the most up to date and accurate information about this amazing place from working scientists is what makes Rising Tide the most unique ecotour company in Naples and Marco Island,” says Ryan Young, founder and lead explorer of Rising Tide Explorers. “There are many opportunities to participate in similar excursions in the area, but none that can boast a guide staff of 100% local biologist and environmental scientists.”a person riding on the back of a boat in a body of water

Rising Tide Explorers is currently working to begin their own independent research in the Rookery Bay Reserve monitoring the populations of the giant Horse Conch Snail, one of the largest marine snails in the world, that call Southwest Florida home.  This study will be conducted while their biologist guides lead kayaking excursions into the mangrove tunnels, allowing their guests to participate in actual local research and see what it feels like to be a scientist for the day.

a man standing next to a body of water

In recent months RTE has received recognition from several local news sources and award programs.  Holding their place as the #1 Tour in Naples, Florida on TripAdvisor for the last 2 years in a row, this comes as no surprise.

The Marco Eagle, a USA Today publication, published a fantastic article dubbed, “Science in the Swamp: Exploring the biology of estuaries via kayak”, where local correspondent Lance Shearer joined several of Rising Tide Explorer’s biologist guides on a guided kayaking trip into the mangrove tunnels of Marco Island.  Read the article here.  Encountering a plethora of local wildlife, Lance highlighted how the paddlers on the tour came to see this amazing natural area much differently after having the opportunity to explore it with real local biologists.

You may have even recently caught Rising Tide Explorers on the local news when they were joined by ABC7 Southwest Florida’s Kirsten Clarke for a segment of More Explorers during the “More in the Morning” segment, see the video here.  Kristen joined several of RTE’s biologist guides to see their to tour boat, Tringa, and their newest pontoon boat, Dinodays, that will be used to launch their upcoming biologist captained boat tours through their new partnership with the Friends of Rookery Bay and the Rookery Bay Reserve as their exclusive ecotour partners. She also helped to conduct a herpetology survey with RTE’s herpetologist Matt Metcalf, and came kayaking in the Rookery Bay with lead explorer Ryan Young.a bird standing next to a body of water

In addition to the media coverage, Rising Tide Explorers has received multiple awards in the last few months including the Best of the Gulfshore, a local award given by Gulfshore Life Magazine, and the Best of Naples, an award put on the USA Today and the Naples Daily News.  As a finalist for the categories of Boat Rentals and Sightseeing Tour and a winner for the categories of Family Fun Activity and Watersports, this was the second year in a row that Rising Tide received multiple awards for the Best of the Gulfshore .  They were recognized as silver mentalists for Environmental Education Resource and Watersports Rental for the Best of Naples competition, also for the second year in a row.

a man rowing a boat in a body of waterAnother honor was given to Rising Tide Explorers recently when founder and lead explorer, Ryan Young was awarded a spot in Gulfshore Business’s 40-Under-40 article featuring Rising Stars of Southwest Florida.  This program honors young professionals who are making Southwest Florida thrive through innovation and vision for our growing community.  Chosen from about 160 nominations, this year’s winners represent a variety of individuals whose talents are highlighted through professional accomplishments, volunteer work and other accolades throughout their lives and careers.  Ryan is honored to be featured in this publication which was released in September of 2019.

You may have also seen our guide Ryan featured in the PBS documentary released this April, Southwest Florida’s Mangrove Coast, highlighting the history or the Rookery Bay Reserve and how it supports our local community.   Another recent film featuring Ryan was Facebook’s recent video series highlighting the Facebook group Swamp Hikers.  Ryan is an administrator of the group and was filmed exploring local swamps in the Big Cypress with some fellow Swamp Hikers including local photographer Joey Waves and Marco Island resident and active community member, Mark Melvin.  You can find this video here, and on Facebook’s Facebook page which has over 250 Million followers.

a group of clouds in the sky over a body of waterMoving into another season here in Southwest Florida, the entire staff is excited to continue building and developing the most unique and robust tour programming the area has to offer.  Whether you are a visitor, seasonal, or full-time resident you get explore Southwest Florida’s unique natural environment with the most qualified guides in the region on one of their many tour and rental programs that are offered.  Kayak into the mangrove tunnels on their Mangrove Tunnels and Mudflats kayak tour, Heart of the Rookery Bay Kayak Tour, or Sunset Bird Rookery Kayak Tour with the only biologist guides in Naples and Marco Island.  Free HD photography of you and your family is also included with every guided tour sent to you in an album via email after your adventure.

Want to get out on your own?  Kayak rentals are available by the hour or for multiple days with free deliver to most homes, condos, and parks in South Naples and Marco Island.  When renting you can enjoy the use of the only digital kayaking map in Southwest Florida allowing you to navigate the mangroves with ease on your mobile device.

a group of people sitting in a boat on a body of water Don’t feel like paddling?  Get out on Rising Tide Explorers’ new biologist captained boat tours including the Essence of the Estuary Boat Tour, Life’s a Beach – Barrier Island Beach Combing and Shelling Boat Tour, or High Points – Ancient Coastal Scrub Boat Tour offered in partnership with the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Why settle for an average kayak tour or excursion when on vacation in Naples or Marco Island?  Join the only biologist guided adventures in the Southwest Florida for an experience you’ll never forget with Rising Tide Explorers.

Visit for more information or to book online.  Call (239)734-3231 to reserve via phone.

Keep up with us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to see all the latest discoveries and adventures!

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