In a unique event to promote nature-based tourism on Florida's waterways, up to 100 nature-loving kayakers are to embark on a four-day Florida Keys Challenge set for Friday through Monday, Jan. 18-21, 2013.
Starting at Long Key State Park between Islamorada and Marathon, the Keys Challenge is suited for paddlers of all skill levels and includes overnight stays throughout the island chain. Daily paddles average 10-11 miles in both protected and open-water environments.
Highlights of the itinerary include visits and stopovers at Florida state parks including Curry Hammock and the Lower Keys Bahia Honda State Park.
Paddlers also can explore areas around Marathon such as Sombrero Beach and tour the restored buildings and museum on Pigeon Key, located just two miles off Knights Key, one of the tours overnight stops.
Evening entertainment also is featured including an informal talk on Over-Sea Railroad baron Henry Flagler and the Florida Keys bridges, presented by Florida state parks representative Monica Woll, and music by singer/songwriter Rod MacDonald.
On day four, the tour departs the Knights Key Campground for a 10.8-mile paddle with a lunch stop at the beautiful private island of Molasses Key and a farewell barbecue at the journeys end, Bahia Honda State Park.
Registration for the four-day trip is $400 per person including overnight accommodations and meals. Paddlers also can join on a daily basis for $100 per day including meals.
Participants must bring camping gear, kayak and paddle(s) and a personal flotation device. Interested paddlers can rent gear at the start of the journey in Key Largo from Florida Bay Outfitters, located at 104050 Overseas Highway, mile marker 104 bayside. Contact 305-451-3018 or visit www.kayakfloridakeys.com/.
Limited spaces remain and all interested paddlers must be registered no later than two weeks before departure.
For event information visit: paddleflorida.org/keys13/keys.htm or call 352-377-8342.
Florida Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com or 800-FLA-KEYS (352-5397)
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