Local Company Touts Over Two Decades in Eco-Tourism and Explores the Unique Wildlife of Remote Waterways by Kayak, Sailboat and Paddleboard
by Grace Silipigni
When Jenifer Adams-Mitchell says Coastal Kayak is the most experienced non-motorized watercraft rental company in the area, she’s not kidding. Training and expertise are at the crux of all duties performed by Jenifer, her husband, Mitch Mitchell, and their Coastal Kayak staff, and have been since the company’s conception in 1997. Jenifer explains that all staff must take a full-day kayak class, as well as paddleboard and sailing lessons. Training continues for lead guides with a four-day certification course covering paddling techniques, towing, self and assisted rescues and group management. Once completed, they learn the wildlife, routes and history of Coastal Kayak’s acclaimed eco-tours. “It’s a lot for a short season,” says Jenifer, “but we want our customers to feel at ease on the water and the best way to do that is to have professionals helping them.”
The water is, after all, what brings visitors to the Delaware Beaches. Coastal Kayak’s eco-tours and rentals offer a more tranquil water experience than the tourist-clad beachfronts. With over 150 kayaks and 60 paddleboards available for hourly to weekly rentals, guided tours, and beginner to advanced instruction options available, they cater to the experience levels of nearly every visitor, from novice to enthusiast.
Before starting Coastal Kayak, Jenifer and Mitch spent years exploring the outdoors. “We were nature enthusiasts prior to kayak enthusiasts, actually. Kayaking seemed like the perfect way to get closer to nature; sitting low in the water, it’s almost as if you become part of the eco-system. It’s the perfect vantage point for observing,” says Jenifer. “The interconnectedness of our coastal eco-system constantly amazes us. When you believe in the importance of something, you naturally want to share that knowledge and appreciation with others.” Thus, Coastal Kayak was born.
The Cypress Tour, Little Assawoman Back Bay Tour and Burton’s Island Tour launched as Coastal Kayak’s original three with the Assateague Island Pony Tour following soon after. Rentals and lessons became natural additions, with sailboat tours added most recently. In true Coastal Kayak fashion, Mitch worked to become an expert in each of the company’s new offerings, ultimately becoming one of the country’s first American Canoe Association-certified paddleboard instructors in 2011 and earning his USCG Captain’s license in 2019 to offer sailing tours.
Coastal Kayak works hard to provide visitors a relaxed, one-of-a-kind Delaware experience. The Mitchell’s goal is to broaden customers’ awareness of the local ecosystem by introducing them to the intricacies of cypress swamps and salt marshes, and explaining little-known sea life facts such as how to tell the age of a Diamondback terrapin or the pharmaceutical contributions of horseshoe crabs. “Most importantly, we hope [customers] have fun,” Jenifer says. “We hope they learn something—maybe about themselves or about the animals and plants that make their home in the bays.”
36840 Coastal Hwy
Fenwick Island, DE