The world, and the many places within it, offers people a fascinating array of biological diversity for anyone willing to explore and discover it. By understanding the region-specific wildlife in an area you may find yourself traveling in, you will create a deeper connection in yourself to the local environment and those animals and people residing within it.
SUP offers an added layer of intrigue when traveling to parts unknown by immersing the paddler in the aquatic environment and allowing participants the opportunity to break through a layer of separation when standing on the water.
The ability to see far into the horizon allows paddlers to become familiar with a foreign coast and the capacity to stand on the water and peer down into the depths of the sea brings the underworld of water to life. It is a total immersion experience.
Which is why Perfect Paddles always recommends participating in a Wildlife Tour if given the opportunity. And as we inch closer to warmer weather across the globe, one of the best places to expand your knowledge of wildlife happens to be on the East Coast, in the Washington D.C. and Maryland areas.
Multiple companies in these places have implemented immersion experiences for paddlers to allow them to connect with the natural world they luckily find themselves in. While these areas may lack the flair found in tropical regions, they hold a few surprises we believe the novice and avid paddler will find exciting and worth a trip! These are the Top 5 Wildlife Tours in the Washington D.C. and Maryland areas!
Capital SUP Adventures
Each year, the team at Capital SUP provides their clientele with a group meetup where they transport their customers boards outside of their familiar spot in Annapolis to a new location for the entire group to explore and see.
Recently, Capital SUP took an adventure out to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Just south of Cambridge, MD, Blackwater is over 20,000 acres of open land for public recreation where visitors are welcome to hike, camp, and explore the many waterways by SUP.
Refuge to many land and water species, participants can expect to see white tailed deer, eastern cottontail rabbits, woodchucks and hopefully a bald eagle or two on land, and river otters, great blue herons, and skates and stingrays in the water- all native to the region and paddling favorites.
The team and Capital SUP will guide paddlers through the extensive waterways which make up Blackwater, pointing out interesting species and other landmarks, as you enjoy a relaxing afternoon seeing the sites under a warm sun.
And as a bonus, the team at Cap SUP will host a meetup at a local bar after the paddling has taken place in order to relax with their fellow paddlers, share a few drinks and even more laughs.
To find out more about Capital SUP Adventures and where the team will lead you next, be sure to check out their website here.
Capital SUP also offers a Buddy Deal on Perfect Paddles where they give clients 10% off rentals!
Potomac Paddle Sports
Bordering near the D.C. Metro area, the Potomac is one of the most famous landmarks of the region. Known for its dark colors due to it being exceptionally deep (in spots it can be over 100’ deep!) the Potomac is home to a large array of wildlife and aquatic species.
While it can be difficult to see most of the water born species due to its dark, coffee-like appearance, the most popular forms of fish found in the Potomac include bass, muskellunge, pike, walleye as well as many types of sunfish are also present in the river and its headwaters.
Outside of these aquatic creatures, Potomac Paddle Sports will also provide new paddlers with an in depth lesson as well as help guide participants in seeing bald eagles, certain species of deer, and of course the calming, serene landscape dotted with green trees that makes up the narrow passageways of the river.
Along with the natural sights, participants will receive a history lesson about the river and certain landmarks, including the C&O Canal, or the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Steeped in history of the earliest parts of the formation of the United States, paddlers will see certain historical landmarks along the river to get a clearer picture of what the area was like during the time of settlement and growth.
Potomac Paddle Sports offers a great wildlife tour with a history lesson wrapped inside for paddlers interested in the Potomac River and all it came to be during the period of growth for the United States as well as the present. To see more information, please visit their page on Perfect Paddles here.
48th St. Water Sports (Ocean City, MD)
Across the famous Bay Bridge lies the outdoor sportsman’s dream of Ocean City, MD. Making your way into the small but busy town of OC provides vacationers with a bevy of options to eat, stay, beach, and of course paddleboard.
One of the premiere places to explore the bayside of OC is at 48th St. Water Sports. Providing paddlers with a beginner lesson, participants also have the option to enroll in a one and a half hour guided tour through the bay’s tributaries to spot native wildlife.
Expect to see diamondback terrapins, Maryland blue crabs, ospreys, egrets, horseshoe crabs, and jellyfish- all native to the Eastern Shore bay. Much of the tour takes place on the open bay dramatically increasing the chances of paddlers spotting and coming into close contact with these species.
For a truly Maryland experience, be sure to check out a guided tour with 48th St. Water Sports in Ocean City, MD!
Check out more information about their tours here.
OC SUP and Fitness (Ocean City, MD)
Owned and operated by Dawn Ehman, OC SUP and Fitness runs their tours out of world famous Fager’s Island bar and restaurant in downtown Ocean City, MD.
Similar to 48th St. Water Sports tour, OC SUP and Fitness takes participants into the Assawoman Bay of OC for a beginner lesson and paddling period of an hour and a half in order to see ospreys, egrets, blue claw crabs, and because the bay is more shallow in this area, possibly skates and stingrays as well.
What makes this tour unique is the experience and knowledge Dawn and her instructors bring to the area of Ocean City as well as the activity of paddling. Novices will be at ease as Dawn teaches and in-depth lesson on paddling technique in order to create an immense level of comfort before heading out into the windy bay.
From there she guides tours through the many tributaries of the bay in order to see the vast array of natural wildlife as well as additional spots to eat, drink, and explore in Ocean City.
In addition to the extensive wildlife see in the bay, the tour ends back at Fager’s Island where participants are encouraged to grab some excellent food and a drink or two out on the deck of the restaurant, enjoying the views and the warm sunshine.
To see more information about OC SUP and Fitness as well as their tour options, visit Perfect Paddles here.
Walk on Water SUP (Ocean City, MD)
Last on our list for Wildlife Tours in the DC and Maryland area is Walk on Water’s excursion to Assateague Island!
Clocking in at over 2 hours in time, paddlers will meet the tour guide at the shop on Rt. 611, on the way to National Park of Assateague Island. From there, participants are guided through an in-depth paddling lesson making sure they are comfortable with paddling long distances as well as being able to withstand the conditions of the island- namely being wind.
From there, the group will make their way into the shallow, warm waters of the bay where they will successfully stand on the boards and begin paddling deeper into the park. Once inside, paddlers are expected to see osprey, egrets, stingrays, skates, and the main attraction- wild ponies!
Completely wild and roaming free on the island, the ponies are often spotted on the grassy shores eating, sleeping, and running. From the water, paddlers can get close to the families of ponies, taking pictures of them form the safety of the shallow waters, and observing them in their now natural habitat of the island.
Tour guides are experienced in finding the pony locations as well as bringing along with them a phone to snap pictures for paddlers while they are on the water and when they spot the ponies on shore.
Due to the long nature of the tour and the array of animals to see, guides will often pack water and a few snacks to enjoy while taking a break underneath the shade of trees in a tributary or natural outcropping. Frequent stops are also key to rest, replenish and explore otherwise unattainable parts of the island.
This wholly unique, fun, and interesting tour is only available through Walk on Water! To find out more information, feel free to check out their Perfect Paddles page here.
Every place on this beautiful Earth has an adventure waiting to happen.
Through the unique perspective offered by SUP, participants can explore the water in addition to the land along the coasts of every continent. In the DC and Maryland area, companies are beginning to focus on the wildlife tour aspect of the activity, providing exciting ways to dive into the local environment they find themselves in.
Whether you want to see the historic Potomac or the wandering bands of wild ponies on Assateague Island, paddling is the best way to do so.
Just make sure to check Perfect Paddles before you book your next vacation in order to learn about an area and take advantage of the Buddy Deals available to you! And as always, we cannot wait to see you on the water as well as all the pictures captured through these unique tours!