NAPLES, Fla. – Rising Tide Explorers ( won “Best Kayaking Tour” in USA Today's 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for the second year in a row, the media outlet announced Friday (

“What a way to cap our record season of kayak and boat tours,” said Ryan Young, founding owner of Rising Tide Explorers. “We are the only company in Southwest Florida hosting eco-tours led by 100% local biologists and science professionals, and it’s our amazing team that makes all the difference. We’ve spent our lives studying the ecology and wildlife of Southwest Florida, and love nothing more than sharing our knowledge and passion for the incredible wild areas of the Western Everglades. Our mission is to connect people to the landscape and help them see it through the eyes of a local scientist. Exploring the beautiful mangrove-lined estuaries while encountering wildlife like dolphin, manatee, sea turtles, giant marine snails, and many other critters is so much more rewarding and interesting when you are joined by a team of young local scientists, including wetland ecologists, herpetologists, water quality scientists, environmental educators, wildlife biologists, and estuarine ecologists.”

A marine biologist, Young founded Rising Tide Explorers six years ago and offers kayak and small boat tours to Keewaydin Island, an ancient archeological site on a remote sand dune island, through mangrove tunnels, and to watch thousands of birds return to roost on Rookery Bay’s famous Bird Rookery Island. The company also rents kayaks and standup paddleboards.

In May, Young won the Small Business Advocate Award from the Florida Gulf Coast University FSBDC and was also recently featured on HGTVs 2021 Smart Home Giveaway Special where he took hosts Ty Pennington and Carmen Johnston kayaking in Rookery Bay.

Rising Tide Explorers is the exclusive eco-tour partner for Friends of Rookery Bay, strengthening the non-profit that supports the 110,000-acre Rookery Bay Research Reserve, where the eco-tours operate.

“Friends of Rookery Bay is proud to be partners with Rising Tide Explorers and thrilled they have been recognized for the second year in a row as the Best Kayak Tour in the country,” said Athan Barkoukis, executive director for the Friends of Rookery Bay. “This past year has seen a renewed interest in being outdoors and people have valued the opportunity to explore Rookery Bay Reserve with such expert guides.”

Eco-tourism is a big part of the local economy.

“Eco adventures are must-do activities during any visit to Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades,” said Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB. “So we are very pleased that Rising Tide Explorers has been recognized for a second year as the best kayak tour in the country. This recognition helps future visitors know that when they seek the best in a vacation experience, only Paradise will do.”

Eco-tours and rentals can be booked at or, or by calling 239-530-5972.

Ryan Young

Athan Barkoukis