Seascape Kayak Tours has been offering unique, small-group interpretive sea kayaking experiences in Canada and Costa Rica for more than 15 years. The company enjoys a loyal customer following in both locations, where fully guided expeditions – from day trips to week-long adventures – focus on education, wildlife observation and sound environmental practices.
“Our goal is to offer guests the highest quality sea kayaking experience possible,” says founder and owner Bruce Smith. “Our mission is to help our clients develop a sense of place and make an authentic personal connection to the natural environment. When they do this, they become willing to help protect it.”
Seascape Kayak Tours has built its reputation on exceptional quality, extensive experience, high safety standards, personalized, friendly service, and a strong commitment to the culture, history and natural environment of each of its areas of operation. Bruce Smith and his team of guides is headquartered June through October on Deer Island, New Brunswick, in the West Isles Archipelago of eastern Canada’s Bay of Fundy. This region has been identified by scientists as a biodiversity hotspot; it attracts several types of whales, harbor seals, harbor porpoise and bald eagles, among other coastal wildlife.
For the months of November through May, Seascape transitions to the warm tropical waters of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula where, in addition to running private tours, it is under contract with U.S. tour operator Tauck, in operation since 1925, to run tours for senior adventurers. Costa Rican paddling experiences span both coasts of that country, and include lodge-based expeditions into Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Coast as well as kayaking and camping tours based in Curú Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific side, both locations offering a unique collection of Central American animal species. A new voluntourism product combines paddling on the Pacific with guest participation in a reforestation project in the Cloud Forest of Monteverde to rebuild important habitat corridors for the endangered Three-wattled Bellbird.
Multi-day tour products in both Canada and Costa Rica include a popular new KaYoga three- or five-day retreat product, combining day-long paddling with morning and evening yoga practice. Through its SeaStar Collection, Seascape also offers kayak expeditions to several other bio-diverse ocean environments, including the dramatic coastline of Newfoundland, the Sea of Cortez in Baja Mexico, and, its newest destination, the Spanish Virgin Islands of Puerto Rico.
Fluent in French, Spanish and English, the charismatic Bruce Smith is the 2010 winner of the New Brunswick Department of Environment’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a recognition for environmental leadership presented annually to individuals in that province who demonstrate exceptional leadership in the enhancement and protection of the environment. With a strong background in physical education and outdoor recreation, Smith is a certified wilderness emergency medical technician and wilderness first aid instructor with 25 years of outdoor leadership experience; he offers a host of advanced kayak safety and training courses for staff and clients each year.
In addition to creating the pioneering Seascape, Smith has spearheaded an alternative education program for at-risk Cree youth in northern Quebec involving traditional Cree land-based activities, academic upgrading and life skill development. He worked for the Mexican government to assist in the development and delivery of the Mexican Sea Kayak Guide Certification Program. He has also developed outdoor courses and adventure training for Forsgren and Associates, the Federal Government of Canada, Imperial Oil, New Brunswick Provincial Government, the University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick Special Olympics, Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Province of Ontario, and various other learning institutions and outdoor centers.
Selected as one of three finalists for the 2009 Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award, Seascape works collaboratively with the Rainforest Alliance to support best management practices in sustainable tourism and is a member of Sustainable Travel International (STI), The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), where it is focused on continuing to develop new sustainable tourism initiatives, partnerships and collaborations.
Marketing and communications efforts are supported by Frances Figart, formerly the editor of Courier, the monthly travel magazine for the National Tour Association. She launched Seascape’s re-branding initiative in 2008, developing its current logo, tag line and web site. Frances has spoken about ecotourism marketing and branding at travel industry conferences in the U.S., Canada and Europe, is a special advisor and editor for STI, and has shared her communications skills as a speaker and through committee work with TIES and as a volunteer and sponsor for ATTA. She directs social marketing initiatives for Seascape as well as for Terra Incognita Ecotours and Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality.
Seascape strictly follows these sustainable guidelines, one for each letter in its name:
Small group travel to minimize environmental impact on fragile coastal ecosystems and to allow for a more authentic and enriching personal connection to the biodiversity of the places visited.
Environmental approach to travel and waste management, including recycling, reusing and composting, purchasing items with limited packaging and using recycled paper in all promotional materials.
Assisting local conservation efforts and environmental education initiatives such as school groups participating in annual coastal cleanups, as well as partnering with numerous conservation organizations.
Sensitive wildlife observation practices that include keeping a respectful distance to minimize noise and stress and leaving habitats pristine by hauling out any items carried in, as well as any trash left by others.
Contact between visitors and native coastal people as a means of involving local communities in both the cultural and economic benefits of tourism, a critical component of ecotourism.
Advocating protection of marine as well as terrestrial ecosystems through an emphasis on interpretation of the natural and cultural history of the regions.
Purchasing locally grown food, certified organic products, and items such as coffee, tea and chocolate through fair trade wholesalers to ensure that money is returned to the local communities.
Environmental approach to energy consumption and natural resources through the use of products such as energy efficient light bulbs and biodegradable cleaning agents made with natural ingredients.