Learn about the ecosystem near and around Florida’s Gulf Coast. With departures out of Little Harbor in Ruskin, Latitude Tours offers Eco Tours, Sunset Dinner Tours, Private Charters and much more.

Latitudes Tours Owner and Captain Dave Lopez is a Florida native who loves being on the water. He grew up fishing and boating locally.

Deciding to share his passion with others, he recently started Latitudes Tours, and, with the help of his wife Nancy, offers a variety of adventures for those looking to explore the Tampa Bay Estuary and the Little Manatee River. Latitudes Tours offers daily eco tours, sunset cruises and more.

The Island Vibes, a brand-new 2018 35 ft. custom catamaran tour boat, is equipped with all required safety equipment. Amenities onboard include a restroom, sound system, restaurant seating, open deck in front, beach boarding ramp and cushioned seating.

Eco tours are offered daily at 10 a.m. and 12 Noon and last between one and a half and two hours. The eco tour alone costs $25 per person. For the noon sailing, there is a lunch option that costs $35.

While Captain Dave commands the wheel, his first mate, Melissa Hildebrand, a Naturalist, narrates the tours. While onboard, she will talk about the unique marine life, animals and a bit of history. This is a great way to learn about the ecosystem near and around Florida’s Gulf Coast while you are out enjoying its beauty.

According to Nancy, “There are not a lot of eco tours out there.”

Captain Dave noted, “Dolphins are seen on about eight out of 10 trips taken. Once the weather and water temperature warms, manatees can be seen, too.”

Sunset Dinner Cruises depart about an hour and a half before sunset. It includes dinner brought in from Texas Roadhouse Grill or BubbaQues and includes one soft drink or adult beverage. Food is provided ‘at cost’ and the total for the trip is $40 per person; a great deal.

You can book a private charter to hold a birthday party, celebrate an anniversary or just about any other occasion. Looking for a perfect place to propose to your loved one? According to Captain Dave, there has been a proposal on board. He will work with you to help you set up that special moment. The boat holds up to 24 people.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Latitudes Tours is also offering a Sweetheart Cruise. For just $99 per couple, you will enjoy a romantic one-of-a-kind dolphin eco tour, including a catered meal with a choice of dinner options, along with wine or champagne. After dinner, you will enjoy dessert while you cruise through the estuary and enjoy the sunset. There are just a few spots remaining for Thursday, February 14. The Sweetheart cruise will also be available on Friday, February 15 to Sunday, February 17 at 4:45 p.m.

You can party like a Leprechaun on Saturday, March 16 and Sunday, March 17. The St. Patty’s Day Cruise is $99 per couple and includes the same dinner options as the sweetheat cruise.

The boat is also handicapped accessible with room for four wheelchairs.

Latitudes Tours is located in The Village Marina at Little Harbor, just behind Harborside Suites at Slip F10. The address is 580 Bahia Beach Blvd. in Ruskin. Visit www.latitudestours.com for more information or call 641-1311.

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Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.