A word from founder Bruce Smith

“Welcome to Seascape Kayak Tours. This company began as an outgrowth of my passion for paddling, outdoor education and sharing special marine environments with others. I love introducing people to wild places and helping them feel comfortable and reach their potential on the water. Whether you choose to join us for a sunset paddle, a day trip or an extended expedition, you will travel with just a few others, in a safe, sensitive and environmentally sound manner.”

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Kayaking in CurúOctober 24th, 2009

Seascape will return to Costa Rica and open its southern base Nov. 16. Today’s blog is adapted from an article by Jennifer Harter of Santa Teresa, on the Nicoya Peninsula, not far from Seascape’s southern base in Tambor. She wrote the story for a local Costa Rican publication about a trip she did with us almost a year ago. If you want to know what a day trip with Seascape is like, this gives you a pretty accurate description.

Last November our friends Bruce Smith and Frances Figart from Seascape Kayak Tours invited us to have an experience of a lifetime. We met the couple about a year ago and learned that Bruce has been offering multi-day sea kayaking trips in Costa Rica during the winter months for the past 13 years, splitting his time between here and New Brunswick, Canada, where he has been guiding expeditions of the highest quality for 15 years. Several years ago, he added half-day and full-day kayaking tours to Seascape’s multi-day trip Costa Rica product. With his charismatic outdoor leadership qualities, Bruce has managed to organize trips that combine a day of fun, education, wildlife observation and conscientious environmental practices. The kayaking expeditions are all designed with beginners in mind so that anyone can share and enjoy the experience. The place that Seascape has chosen to share on their tours is Curú Wildlife Refuge, also our meeting point.


Curú is a natural haven of beautiful beaches and abundant biodiversity, the first privately owned National Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica. This place is an undiscovered treasure and a wonderful example of a very thriving sustainable development program, combining forest management, protection and sustainable agriculture. The refuge has managed to offer locals valuable job opportunities, as well as educational programs and conservation projects like the reintroduction of Scarlet Macaws and the rehabilitation of Spider Monkeys. They have also started research groups, built artificial coral reefs and studied migratory patterns of various bird species found on the land. All while offering tourists the chance to kayak, hike, horseback ride, snorkel, enjoy the beaches and see a wide variety of flora and fauna. Curú is the perfect place to spend a day of enlightening enjoyment and pleasure.

We arrived at the main gate just before 9 a.m. where the guards were already expecting us; we were greeted and instructed to drive in towards the beach where Bruce and Frances were waiting. Once the rest of the group arrived, Bruce gave us an introductory tutorial on the refuge, went over some pointers on paddling technique, told us what to expect and reviewed kayaking safety procedures. He explained the importance of staying together as a group and of respecting the environment, and encouraged us all to go at our own pace and enjoy our pristine surroundings. Once we all had gotten comfortable in our kayaks, and had paddles, spray skirts and life vests on, we proceeded to carry our boats toward the still water. One by one, we were assisted in being launched into this pool-like bay of teals and greens.


As you glide along the waters the feeling of peace is overwhelming. The coastline to your left is amazing and to your right you begin to see various islands, including Isla de Tortuga. With each stroke I began to sink into a meditative-like state of bliss. The surroundings were dreamlike and the water was perfect – and changing. As we advanced along the shoreline, the ocean began to obtain mosaic qualities. The colors began shifting from turquoise to deep blues and emerald greens, such a gorgeous contrast to the earthy tones on the beach and mountains. We glided past the beaches of Posa Colorado and Quesera to turn left around a point towards the bay of Playa Organo.

Organo Beach is a beautiful oasis of tranquil coastline with an abundant estuary filled with marine life. On the edge of the bay a wall of cliffs shoots out of the water to create an impressive and dramatic landscape. As the winds blow against the rock face, you can hear the sounds of nature’s music that resemble someone playing an organ, hence the name of Organo. Once we reached the coast here, we had been paddling for about an hour and a half at a steady yet mellow pace.  Once again, one by one we rode small waves towards the beach where Bruce assisted us to shore. Here we swam, took some photos and enjoyed the setting for about half an hour before departing towards the true highlight of the trip.

As soon as everyone was geared up and in the water, we all began to paddle back towards Playa Quesera, our next destination. After a short crossing of about 20 minutes, we were once again beached in another awe inspiring heaven. Playa Quesera, is definitely amongst the most unspoiled beaches I’ve visited in Costa Rica, creating a surreal castaway feel. This place is a true gem, a small cove of white sand and the most intensely toned waters, surrounded by yellowish stone walls and remarkable rock formations. As Frances and Bruce set up our picnic, we were free to help, explore, photograph or swim. I couldn’t believe we were on the Pacific Coast; I felt like we had just arrived on a secluded Caribbean cove.

Only one downside: since these beaches are facing the Gulf of Nicoya and so many rivers end up here, sadly lots of trash washes up along these shores every rainy season. After surveying the damage, we all sat together under some beautiful almond trees to enjoy a delicious and healthy picnic in the shade. Over lunch we all talked about the experience so far and got to know each other and our guides better. Everyone expressed their pleasure in the kayaking, and their dismay that such a beautiful place could be violated by ocean pollution and garbage. After eating, we packed up our things and were each handed plastic garbage bags so that we could all help to clean up the beach. We all agreed it is the responsibility of environmentally conscious people who visit these places to lend a helping hand by cleaning up the beach and taking debris back to a place where it will be recycled. What a great way to educate visitors as well as local people on waste management and the importance and value of protecting rivers and oceans.


We packed up again and started launching the kayaks into the water. As we headed back to the Bay of Curú, I felt intense gratitude for the occurrence of the day. Bruce and Frances shared a unique escapade with us to treasure forever. This tour stands out in greatness and is a must if you are visiting the Nicoya Peninsula area. Kayaking in Curú is a very different and special tour in comparison to all the ones I’ve tried in the area and even in Costa Rica. The opportunity to learn, experience and enjoy is a treat for foreigners and locals alike. I highly recommend contacting Seascape Kayak Tours to plan a visit to Curú Wildlife Refuge while it is still, for the most part, a pristine place.

Jenny Harter is an outdoor enthusiast, photographer, beach lover and bookworm who is opening a new book shop inside the Holistic Clinic at the shopping center at the crossroads between Malpais and Santa Teresa. View her surf and wedding photography at www.blissphotocr.com and www.soulsistasurfphotography.com

Winds of changeOctober 7th, 2009

As always, the busy summer just past is a blur at this time of year. The quiet, peace and solitude have returned to the Bay.

The trees are glowing red and yellow. The cool winds from the north have started to blow across the water. Bonaparte gulls, terns and cormorants have congregated in the harbor to find protection from the open bay and to feed on abundant herring. The marine life has been extraordinary on the bay this summer, a true testament to how special this marine ecosystem is.


As a part of the community here on Deer Island, I feel it is important to connect with local folks on the working waterfront whenever there is an opportunity. While guiding, I often stop to chat with local fishermen. On one such occasion this summer, I paddled over to a fellow working the weir off Dinner Island. The paddling group was eagerly following the guide in the lead boat, so I made an executive decision to lag behind and strike up a conversation.

“Beautiful day,” says I.

“Shore is,” says he.

Weirs have been the topic of previous blog posts. We always share with our groups that these somewhat haunting structures made from poles, brush and nets are a traditional method for catching herring traced to the ancient Passamaquoddy Tribe. As I bobbed up and down in my kayak on this sunny afternoon, the fisherman shed new light on weir fishing.

“You know, we often get porpoise following fish into these weirs,” he said. I replied that I knew about this and had helped release several harbor porpoise from the Iris weir in the front of Seascape’s base.



“At first this pissed me off, you know,” he continued. “Lots of extra work to get these fellas out of the nets. Then one time I grabbed one innocently by the tail and all of a sudden the porpoise went limp. This made it very easy to release the porpoise from the weir.”

Was the porpoise trusting the fisherman? I wondered.

“You know, then I made an observation,” said the fisherman. “If there were porpoise in the weir, no seals would enter the weir.” Seals will feed indiscriminately in weirs and can damage nets, unlike porpoise, who often find their own way out of the weir. “So I says to myself, ‘Self, why don’t you leave the porpoise in the weir and only help them out if they need it?’ ”

The kayak group was a distance away enjoying an interaction with a pod of porpoise. We made our farewells and I paddled over to join the group.


But I continued to reflect on the conversation I’d just had with the fisherman. Through his vast experience on the water, he had learned an important lesson about coexisting with the many animals that come to the Quoddy region to compete for food. This lesson was a reminder to me that connections on the water are not just about people. If we look beneath the surface, we can see that our connections to marine life are just as vital as our connections to one another.

Seascape has a number of trips left to run this fall from our northern base, but the season is almost over. Fall is settling into the region and the winds have shifted. I will miss the Bay of Fundy as I travel to Costa Rica for the winter. However, I take comfort in knowing that I will be back to assist guests in making meaningful connections to this special place next summer.


Ebb and FlowSeptember 21st, 2009

Today’s blog and accompanying photography are by Laurice D. Nemetz, who works as a yoga teacher and dance/movement therapist throughout Westchester County in New York. Lauri was the instructor on El Espiritu del Mar, Seacape’s pilot yoga and paddling trip in Costa Rica, and on Ebb and Flow, the first yoga/kayak combo on Deer Island in the Bay of Fundy. We are planning yoga and sea kayaking trips with her for 2010: January 9-17 and May 14-22 in Costa Rica, and August 6-9 in New Brunswick.

Held in the lovely waters off of Deer Island earlier this summer, the Ebb and Flow trip was our second yoga and sea kayaking collaboration, the first having been El Espiritu del Mar, set in Costa Rica. Our summer group consisted of an Ossining, New York contingent that I pulled up to Canada (Beth, Steve, Tony and Eve) and a return yoga and kayak participant, Wendy, from Lakeland, Ontario. For those of you familiar with Bruce’s shop, the space was opened up even more to allow us to use it as a yoga studio morning and night.

The Seascape shop converts into a lovely yoga space.


Our weather brought some challenges as we had a cool and wet beginning of the trip, much like our past spring up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Our Friday evening began with many of the group happily eating the wonderful local food, but wondering where the island began or finished in the thick, wet fog. A leap of faith to come to a new place and to trust the environment around.

I began each morning sweeping the floors meticulously in the shop (we are barefoot!) and laying out yoga straps and mats. As everyone arrived I guided each of the group in working through the tightness of travel, and returning at the end of the day to balance paddling muscles.

Our first paddle was assisted by the ever lovely Guy who, like Bruce, instills a sense of calm on the waters. We layered in wool hats, fisherman rain hats, fleece layers, more waterproof layers and then organized ourselves into the kayaks in the pouring rain.

Paddling with a partner in a stable tandem kayak makes for a relaxing trip, even in fog or rain.


Bruce thinks I bring rain to the island, but truly, all my paddles around Deer Island have been 50/50 – either misty rain or glowing sunshine. I like the contrast quite a bit, as there is something so magical about approaching the zen-like scribbles of the fishing weirs as they rise up like calligraphy out of the fog and the rain. It is truly about letting go. Although Guy and Bruce know exactly where we are, and I’m gaining a sense of direction around the Bay of Fundy, in fog there is both sensory quiet and heightened awareness all at the same time.

In our final relaxation in yoga, in savasana, we experience quite the same thing.  It is active relaxation – letting go of thoughts, worries and of all concerns, but being awake to the present moment. I think that is why so many of us found yoga or “yuj” – the sense of union – whether on the water or in a yoga pose. When we are connected, we are aware of the environment around us and our “regular” concerns become small.

The first Ebb and Flow group enjoying the Bay of Fundy sunshine.


Sunday, appropriately named, did bring in brilliant sunshine, and we saw this magical world again in a different way with the vast expanses of land and sea around us. We discussed the concept of “santosha” or contentment, of riding the waves of everything. Like a paddle over rough waters, we do quite a lot better when we let ourselves be content; it isn’t about denying our ups and downs, but being at one with the ride. When we respond thoughtfully to the world around us, the paddle is indeed sweet.