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As someone who’s lived in Lakewood Ranch her whole life, I feel like I know all the local areas well enough to walk the streets of Sarasota with my eyes closed. However, it never occurred to me that there was a world beyond the downtown shops and restaurants.

John Sarkozy, southeast region coordinator for the American Littoral Society, has been leading quiet water kayak trips in Sarasota for 22 years in order to show locals and snowbirds alike the side of Sarasota that lives off the asphalt.

Sarkozy’s tours span across a vast variety of local areas such as Myakka State Park, Don Pedro Island, Robinson Preserve, and other waterways that can’t be explored any other way.

“Kayaking is peaceful and quiet,” Sarkozy said of why he loves leading the tours, “You can get into places powerboats can’t get.”

I went on a tour in Myakka State Park and even as a kayaking novice, was able to get the hang of it easily and enjoy the trip.

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Exploring the area on the water rather than by foot allowed me to be separated from civilization enough to fully take in the beauty of the park. I was able to see the great variety of trees and large amount of alligators that line the banks of the Myakka river in a way that, even with a group, made me feel alone with the nature and more at peace as a result.

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Although the trip is relaxing, it does take a bit of work. It requires stepping in muddy water, a few hours in the sun, and upper body strength for moving the kayak in and out of the water and rowing.

For other first-timers, I recommend being equipped with water, sunglasses, a pair of flip flops, and a lot of sunscreen.

However, the sore muscles and sunburns didn’t sway me from wanting to take another tour.

According to Sarkozy, every Littoral Society tour explores a different side of Sarasota. They show not only different areas of the town but varying seasons and weather patterns also means varying landscapes and wildlife.

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“I could be out here everyday,” Sarkozy said as we floated downstream on the Myakka river, “and everyday it would be different.”

After only one morning on the water, I’d like to do more than take his word for it.

Visit the American Littoral Society’s website for more information on reserving tickets for this spring’s trips.

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