By Lily Belcher
Latitudes Tours, a five-star-rated company owned by Nancy and Dave Lopez in Ruskin, offers locals and tourists private, guided tours of the Tampa Bay area. Its tours include kayak tours and boat tours that take guests around the Tampa Bay Estuary and into protected areas to see sea life and the nature surrounding the bay.
“Our kayak tours are led by our lifeguard, CPR and first aid-certified kayak guide Hailey. She’ll share her extensive knowledge through an immersive experience as you glide through the water on your own kayak. You’ll take an up-close and personal journey through Tampa Bay Estuary where you will see and interact with the animals and nature you encounter,” said Nancy Lopez.
Guests can also ride their tour bus that will take them to various land attractions, including E.G. Simmons Regional Park and shops at St. Armands Cir.
Dave started the company with his wife in October of 2018 after being inspired by their own experience with boat tours on vacation. They purchased a 36-foot boat, The Island Vibes, to carry 24 passengers on fully narrated tours led by Captain Dave.
The Island Vibes includes a sound system and cushioned seating, among other amenities offered on the boat. Guests will get to see wildlife, including dolphins and manatees, on most tours aboard kayaks and The Island Vibes.
“Your tour begins with a relaxing guided cruise into the Little Manatee River, which is part of the Tampa Bay Estuary which is teeming with diverse wildlife dependent on the area,” explained Lopez. “You’ll also learn about our local history. Soon, the sun sinks over the horizon of the Gulf of Mexico, and you are treated to an unforgettable painted sky. You may even see dolphins frolicking alongside the boat.”
Latitudes Tours offers lunch and sunset cruises that are perfect for birthday parties, anniversaries, or small wedding parties. In February, its boat tour will be focused on couples with smaller rides of about 16 people for the two-and-a-half-hour ride. Its Valentine’s Day tours feature love songs, chocolate-covered strawberries and other small desserts and a sunset at the end of the tour.