Our Golden Isles Birding Tours are birdwatching tours designed with serious birders in mind, but they can easily be adjusted for beginners and casual hobbyists. The islands and marshes of coastal Georgia host a breathtaking variety of birds, many of which favor the marshes and tidal creeks. Getting to see these birds can be difficult, but our kayaks and paddleboards provide the perfect way to approach these animals in their natural habitat without spooking them or causing them undue stress. The watercraft are small, easy to manage, and quiet. In most cases, we are able to guide you so close to the birds that you don’t need scopes or binoculars. Then we let you observe these fascinating animals for as long as you want.
If you’re searching for Jekyll Island birding, St. Simons birding, or other coastal birding excursions, you’re in the right place. The purpose of this page is provide information about our birding ecotours throughout the Golden Isles, which includes both Jekyll and Saint Simons.
All Golden Isles Birding Tours are paddling excursions that are also birdwatching tours. This fact means that you will be using a kayak or paddleboard to move through the tidal creeks and marshes to explore local habitats and view animals.
The birds you will see are wild, and we have no control over their movements. Consequently, birds may be difficult to find, they may flee as we approach, or they may hide. As a birder, you’re used to this idea. That said, we do things to maximize your probability of viewing target species. For example, we intentionally use kayaks and paddleboards that are small, maneuverable, and quiet. We also help you by doing our homework. We talk to other birders, both in person and online. These conversations are augmented by our own research; we consult expert resources such as the bird guides authored by David Sibley. Thus, we combine location, opportunity, method, and expert knowledge to provide you with a premier product.
All of our ecotours are carefully designed with you in mind. This idea applies at the general level, when we find a “big idea” for a package, as well as the detailed level, when we reach out to you to learn about your desires, limitation, etc. Once we know more about you, we consult tide tables, weather forecasts, and birding guides to maximize the likelihood of showing you birds you want to see. Although we can never guarantee that you will see certain animals, we know how to plan birdwatching tours so that your chances of seeing a particular species are very good. Conversely, we also know our limits. We will not hesitate to tell you honestly when viewing one of your life list species is unlikely. Customer satisfaction is our top priority, and that is especially true of our Golden Isles Birding Tours, one our flagship products.
Anyone! We welcome participants of all ages and skill levels. We will teach you what you need to know, and we even offer a “Paddle For You Service.” Our Paddle For You Service is perfect for anyone who wants or needs to ride without paddling – children, elderly, handicapped, etc. This service is also perfect for photographers and others who want to hold their cameras or binoculars instead of a paddle.
There is one caveat: Successful bird watching requires participants to be still and relatively quiet for prolonged periods. Therefore, this activity is not well suited for the more fidgety or talkative members of your family. Also, while we love dogs and welcome them on other tours, we request that you leave your dog at home for this trip.
All of our Golden Isles Birding Tours are led by Dr. Norman Leonard. He has a doctorate in Conservation Biology, 16 years of teaching experience, and is a life-long outdoorsman and wildlife enthusiast. He even keeps a life list of his own. This tour package is one of his favorites, and he takes great pride in the birdwatching tours. Consequently, Norm is one of the best ecotour guides you will ever have!
Birdwatching tours will begin with a warm smile, friendly handshake, and introductions. Then our guide – Dr. Norman Leonard – will show you the equipment, discuss safety, and review a little bit of birding etiquette. After that introduction, which usually takes 5 to 10 minutes, you’ll be on the water. Your guide will then lead you to spots that we believe are good for viewing birds and other wildlife and share information about the habitat you’re observing. Finally, you will be led back to the landing area, and your tour will conclude.
Saint Simons Paddleboard & Kayak is a concierge business that meets the customer on their terms whenever possible. So the time, place, and duration of your tour are all adjustable. In the case of our Golden Isles Birding Tours, we sacrifice some flexibility. The simple fact is that not all locations are equally suitable, and not all tour times/dates are good for bird watching. Therefore, we will make specific recommendations that we hope you will follow.
Each of our Golden Isles Birding Tours is different, based on the weather, tides, season, and your requests. We have a handful of launch/landing areas that we frequent, but we can plan trips anywhere in the Golden Isles. The Golden Isles include St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and Brunswick. Most of our birding ecotours are on St. Simons and Jekyll islands.
For a little extra, we will also lead birdwatching tours to destinations such as Sapelo Island, the Okefenokee Swamp, and Cumberland Island. These additional locations require a larger time commitment from you, and they cost more because we have to travel farther, make more complex logistical plans, and do a little extra research. Nevertheless, we welcome the opportunity, and we love to check out places that we might not visit otherwise. You can learn more about these options by calling us at 912-230-4323 or emailing Norm.
All of our tour times are flexible, including the times for our Golden Isles Birding Tours. We recommend booking birdwatching tours in the morning or around low tide in most cases. That said, there are circumstances when paddling at high tide can be advantageous. Therefore, we encourage you to communicate with us regarding your schedule and your goals for the trip. You can call us at 912-230-4323 or email Norm.
Each of our birdwatching tours that we lead includes all of the necessary equipment. We provide your watercraft, paddle, and any necessary safety gear such as a life jacket and leash (for paddleboards only). Beyond these basic supplies, you must request any additional amenities. We are happy to provide light snacks, bottles of water, and loaner binoculars at no extra charge. Please be sure to request these things in advance!