By Diana Colson
A tropical adventure awaits at ISLAND JET SKI TOURS AND RENTALS. Here thrill seekers can find top-of-the-line Jet Skis to soar across the inland waters of the Bay and out to the open Gulf. Kayaks are also available, as are Paddleboards and Pontoon Boats. There’s something to fit everyone’s inner daredevil, be it laid-back or bold.
Located by Casey Key Fish House at 801 Blackburn Pt Rd. in Osprey, ISLAND JET SKI is but a 10-minute drive from Stickney Point Bridge. Their well-maintained equipment is available for hourly and daily rates, and extraordinary tours are offered which include sightings of dolphins, manatees, ospreys, and exotic seabirds, to say nothing of high-drama sunsets!
I was fortunate to go on the Dolphin Tour—my first time ever on a jet ski. After donning life jackets and given instruction, our flotilla of 7-persons-aboard- 4-crafts took off at 6 pm in the wake of our intrepid leader, Capt. Brian King. We pulled out from the Fish House dock, ducked beneath Blackburn bridge, and headed north up the inland waterway. Midway past Casey Key, we cut the engines to admire an Osprey nest built high atop a marker post. One tall, stately parent-bird stood glaring at us with glitter-eyes.
Nearing the southern tip of Siesta Key, we slalomed along at a white-knuckled clip riding each other’s wake. Brian motioned us to throttle down and move slowly as we passed a small muffin-shaped island to watch as a vast collection of birds settled in for the night. I saw pelicans, cranes, blue herons, and redstarts, while roseate spoonbills added a spectacular splash of color.
We passed beneath Stickney Point Bridge and flew like motorbike riders across a wide stretch of the bay before slowing through narrow waters near Siesta Key’s east side—water inhabited by manatees. We drifted past beautiful homes at rocking-chair speed, waving at people drinking margaritas on their docks.
Ducking beneath Siesta Key Bridge we headed for Big Pass, our small flotilla racing through choppy waters. We circled the tip of Siesta and entered the open Gulf, whereupon sighting a group of dolphins, we turned off the engines to watch them play.
After cutting across the pass, we pulled our wave runners onto the sands of Lido Park, where we took turns riding solo for a cell-phone-video moment. The Johnson family of four from Richmond hammed it up for the camera, as did my son, Kevin, and I. Captain Brian King served as the experienced beachside videographer.
Now it was home-again-home-again through the bay to the northern tip of Casey Key, where we abandoned the crafts and ran up the dunes to witness a world-class sunset. (Another photo-op!)
Returning to the Casey Key Fish House dock at about 8 pm, we signed up for a table and headed for their Tiki Bar to wait. The Fish House lived up to its reputation, and the meal proved superb! What a way to end a perfect day!
Capt. Brian King is the man behind the adventure. He and his wife, Sharon, started the business in 1993, after watching a guy run an incredible jet ski business in Ft. Meyers Beach. Brian had been into Motor Cross, engines, and going fast, so jet skis were a perfect fit. The King’s built a floating deck, bought 4 brand new jet skis with an assortment of life jackets, got a credit card machine, and opened at Fisherman’s Wharf in Venice. Brian knew he had found his niche: from the very first day, the business was successful,
They opened a second location in 1995 in Englewood where they were the only game in town. They sold Englewood in 2016. Says Brian, “The new guy in doing fantastic! I trained him well!” Today, both the Englewood and Casey Key sites can be booked on line at www.IslandJetSki.com.
In March of 2013, the King’s left Fisherman’s Wharf in Venice in and moved to Casey Key Fish House, just in time for Spring Break. They started with wave runners, kayaks, and paddle boards, and eventually moved into pontoon boats. (They now have a fleet of four.) These boats are good for up to 12 people, while their jet skis will hold up to 3. “We never charge per passenger,” says Brian. “We only charge for the boat.” Prices are available on their website.
Island Jet Ski is located by Casey Key Fish House at 801 Blackburn Pt. Rd in Osprey. Phone: 941-474-1168. www.islandjetski.com.