Local Company Touts Over Two Decades in Eco-Tourism and Explores the Area’s Unique Waterways by Kayak, Sailboat, and Paddleboard
by Grace Silipigni
In 1997, Mitch Mitchell and Jenifer Adams-Mitchell guided their first customers through the salt marshes near Bethany Beach. Back then, the kayaks were skinny and tippy; no one had cell phones; and summer ended on Labor Day. A lot has changed in the twenty-five years since they started Coastal Kayak. But one thing hasn’t.
“Customer service,” says Jenifer. “Creating a great customer experience from beginning to end has always been our motivating force.”
Because they’ve learned no two vacation styles, or families, are the same, they offer a variety of activities. Sailing for the adrenaline junkies; paddle boarding for the adventurous; and kayaking for those wanting to experience wildlife at eye-level; guided and self-guided tours, hourly and multi-day rentals, group and private lessons—Coastal Kayak wants to keep everyone in the family happy.
Recently, multi-day rentals have become popular. Vacationers staying in waterfront properties recognize the value of having a kayak or paddle board available to them at any time of day. So Coastal Kayak delivers the equipment right to their home, many times without charging a delivery fee.
“The kids can take it fishing, Mom and Dad can go for a sunset paddle, the birder can go out at dawn. It makes the water accessible for all family members,” says Mitch. “Many times we’ll drop off one kayak or paddle board and then a day later, the family calls to order two or three more.”
They’ve also learned how important flexibility is to vacationing families. Coastal Kayak’s impressive fleet—over 150 kayaks and 60 paddleboards—means that customers don’t need to make reservations for hourly rentals, or to commit to a set amount of time on the water. Folks can show up whenever and paddle for as long as they’d like.
“When you’re at the beach, you shouldn’t have to stress about getting the whole family out the door by a certain time,” says Mitch.
The largest behind-the-scenes contributor to a great customer experience is Coastal Kayak’s focus on staff training and water safety. All staff members go through extensive skills and rescue training. Additionally, guides must pass an intensive three to four day certification process where they learn group management and paddling skills. But they’re not guides until they thoroughly learn the routes, nature, and history of the area.
“It’s a lot for a short season,” says Jenifer, “but it’s important that our customers feel at ease on the water. The best way to do that is to send them out with professionals.”
But customers can’t relax on the water if their back hurts or they feel like they’re going to capsize. So Coastal Kayak uses only the most stable, comfortable equipment on the market. With adjustable foot braces, rigid back rests, and efficient bottom shapes, these kayaks allow the customer to forget about the vessel and focus on the experience.
Mitch and Jen were nature lovers before they were kayakers. For them, sharing that appreciation and respect has always been an integral part of their business. “When someone holds a horseshoe crab for the first time and learns how important this animal is to our ecosystem, they have a deeper, more meaningful connection to our area,” says Mitch. “Most people have heard about them. But meeting this prehistoric creature face to face makes the abstract personal.”
Coastal Kayak believes that if they’ve done their job, their customers are relaxed and open to new experiences.
“Then we leave it to the water, the wildlife, and the scenery,” says Jenifer. “They work their magic every time.”
36840 Coastal Hwy
Fenwick Island, DE