April 17, 2014

Tourism and Entertainment

Trendsetters - Tourism and Entertainment

Mike Vogel | 6/1/2007

Waters Less Traveled

Ecotour guide Capt. Doug Maple's days can be filled with frolicking dolphins, bald eagles and hundreds of Arctic migratory birds. Those creatures are hard to beat but, inferring from Maple, they can be topped. "If I can tell my guests are really enjoying the trip and they're asking questions, I get excited and I try harder," he says.

Doug Maple [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]
Tidewater Tours, Owner, Cedar Key
Educator: Maple is a graduate of the Florida Master Naturalist program.
Quote: "My passion has always been the coastal marsh area."
Birders: "I do try to read my guests. The real birders are easy to spot. They've got a certain way of dressing."

Maple, 58, a retired DeKalb County, Ga., law officer, moved to Cedar Key eight years ago. "Fit me like a glove," he says. For about a year, he fished and explored the local waters. Then he took a job giving boat tours to nearby islands. "I was always one of those kids who had a collection of creepy crawly things and bugs and lizards and snakes," he says.

Five years ago, he founded Tidewater Tours. Maple provides tours to the islands in the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, his most popular trip, but added tours to the shallow marsh waters and the lower Suwannee River, his favorite haunts now after doing the island tours for so long.

For the popular islands trip, he recently acquired a 32-foot catamaran. For the backwater and Suwannee trips, he has a six-passenger boat that draws just eight inches. "What makes it appealing to me, and most of the guests that choose that trip, is we go where a lot of people don't go, the road less traveled."

His daughter, Jennifer, runs a boat, but beyond that, Maple doesn't want to grow the business. "This is all I need to do."

Tags: Dining & Travel, Trendsetters

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