Winter kayaking on Anna Maria Island

By Scott Fais, Feature Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, February 05, 2016, 6:15 AM EST

Across Tampa Bay's Sunshine Skyway Bridge, awaits sunshine — even on a cloudy day with high wind and occasional drizzle.

"I get to experience nature at its finest on a daily basis," Rick Rix said.

It's on Anna Maria Island, where you'll discover a perfect day of exploration that doesn't need perfect weather.

"I think it's a beautiful day in paradise. Let's do it, bro,” Rix said.

Beach Bums, an Anna Maria Island store, embraces the island attitude and puts folks on the water as long as conditions are safe.

"Source of power for the day," Rix says as he hands out kayak paddles.

"I better get my paddle. That would help," Rix said after steeping down into the plastic hull of his orange kayak bobbing in the breeze.

"Besides relaxing out here, what I found is if you appreciate it, you can actually gain energy out here," Rix said.

To gain a new perspective, we cross Bimini Bay. With the wind to our back, kayaking is easier than you would think on a day like today.

"Looks like we woke up the brown-headed pelican from his nap here," Rix points out.

Kayakers with Rix will see wildlife.

"In the spring time, mothers with their pups come down here, the manatees, and the mothers teach the pups how to survive," he said.

Surviving the chop only adds to the adventure, as we abandon ship to seek burred treasure, like a mermaid necklace, also known as a lightning whelk.

"Each one of these vertebrae there could be 50 to 100 little shells," Rix points out of the shell.

Kayakers are encouraged to stretch their legs and learn about other creatures under the water's surface.

"This is our Florida state shell," Rix said. "This shell is called a 'horse conch.'"

As a rental shop with valet service, Beach Bum has several points along Anna Maria where kayaks can be pulled out and visitors can return to dry land.

"You may start a tour with a little fatigue from your trip down, but by the end of the tour, it's like getting your batteries recharged," Rix said.

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