By Lanier Laney
I’m sure you’ve seen them: the colorful groups of kayaks floating serenely together with paddlers out in the tidal creeks. Or the racks of empty kayaks being driven around town on a trailer. Kim Gundler and David Gorzynski have had this truly “mobile” business since 2002 when they started one of the first kayak companies in Northern Beaufort County. They take clients on fun, information-based kayak tours to places that give paddlers the most up close and intimate look of Beaufort’s stunning natural beauty.
And although they give tours day in and day out, all year long, Kim says, “We never get tired of it! For example, in the summer we are at Hunting Island a lot — people ask if we ever get tired of kayaking in the same place and the honest answer is NO! Each tour is different, with a kaleidoscope of people of differing abilities and interests, and each day is different. We might see the first eagle of the season, or see a dolphin in the lagoon at low tide, or find thousands man-o-wars (jellyfish) on the beach, or see the first ‘sharks eye’ sand collars of the season or discover a large wash-up of sand dollars, or see the shrimp are getting big enough to move offshore, or the painted buntings are finally back or whatever! There is so much going on out there!”
David and Kim lead the tours themselves along with a handful of helpers when they need them.
They say, “We have an awesome part-time staff, unique to Beaufort — many kayak companies use college students — we have a retired Marine, a retired Army Ranger, and a retired FBI profiler.”
They pride themselves on excellent customer service, adds Kim, “Our tours are highly interpretive — no one leaves without learning something about this unique place.”
The two met when both were working at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia. David was a keeper and Kim had just started her first job out of college working in the zoo commissary (where the animals’ diets are made). David said, “The first day I walked into the commissary to pick up the food for my animals and saw Kim there, I knew my/our destiny.” They will celebrate their 20th happy anniversary next year.
Kim has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Masters in Natural Science Education. David has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and they both are Master Naturalists. They love all things related to natural history and the outdoors and have fashioned their life and work around this.
Says Kim, “I had made my career in science and outdoor education, we both loved being outdoors and especially on the water, and David came up with the great idea of leading kayak tours for a living!”
Kim was raised in the Midlands of South Carolina, and David is from “God’s Country” — right here in the Lowcountry. He left Beaufort to finish college in Columbia because the University of South Carolina Beaufort only offered a two-year program at the time.
I asked Kim why they came back to Beaufort: “David has pluff mud in his veins — those who leave always come back. … We sailed in on a sailboat we were living on at the time for a quick visit with his parents — that was 10 years ago,” she said with a smile.
What do they love about Beaufort? David quickly lists the reasons: “Lots of water! It’s beautiful, easy on the eye, scenery, nice people, small town feel with some big town accouterments.”
As for their plans for the future, Kim says, “Beaufort Kayak Tours is here to stay! We have the best office view in town.”
They have also started a new business in Asheville, N.C., called “Active Accommodations” — it is a short-term rental house that offers mountain bikes and, of course, kayaks free with your stay (www.vrbo.com/404405). So now you know where to head when it gets too blistering down here come summer.
If you would like to find out why Beaufort has one of the most unique wetland ecosystems in the United States, then let Kim and David lead you and your party on a wonderfully informative tour that will put you “up close and personal” with some of the most stunning pristine natural sites and spectacular wildlife the Lowcountry has to offer.
Take to the Water: Contact Beaufort Kayak Tours: 843-525-0810