Ocean City’s DAKS Kayaks Offers Relaxation in Nature

first_imgDAKS Kayaks and Paddleboards in Ocean City offers sunset tours, which people seem to love. (Courtesy Alene Hartman) By Maddy VitaleAlene Hartman and her husband Dave used to rent kayaks, then they bought a few to go out and enjoy their love of the water.When the opportunity arose to open a store that sells kayaks and paddleboards, the two jumped at the notion.That was six years ago, and at that time they opened DAKS Kayaks & Paddleboards at 1101 Asbury Ave. in Ocean City.Since then, the Ocean City couple made their venture a family affair. Their daughters, Caroline, 25, and Allison, 27, who are also water bugs, help out every summer.DAKS features everything a watersport enthusiast, whether novice or expert, would want when they head to the ocean or bay. There are plenty of top-of-the-line paddleboards, kayaks, oars and other necessities to navigate the channels. The business also sells a wide selection of beach essentials, from summer attire to flip flops, life vests and other gear and accessories.Co-owner of the family-owned business, Alene Hartman, speaks with William McCullough, of Abington, Pa., about sunset tours.Aside from the warm welcome when entering DAKS and quality merchandise that fills the shelves, knowledgeable staff members are on hand to schedule tours and answer questions people may have when thinking about hopping in a kayak or atop a paddleboard.Liz Kilcourse, 26, of Egg Harbor Township, has been a tour guide with DAKS for five years. The yoga instructor with AtlantiCare also takes customers out on paddleboard yoga adventures.“Everyone is afraid of paddleboarding at first, but it is easier than you think,” Kilcourse explained. “At first, people are very nervous and want to make sure everything is perfect. And in time, they are happy and paddling along.”Liz Kilcourse, 26, of Egg Harbor Township, has been a DAKS tour guide for five years.DAKS currently offers three types of guided tours throughout the summer through Labor Day and on weekends through the first week of October.Each tour is with skilled guides, who explain the sights and history of Ocean City’s waterways.The sunset tours offer a relaxing experience for people to watch the sunset over the bay, Hartman said.William McCullough and his son, Finn, 8, of Abington, Pa., stopped in to find out about the sunset tours and scheduled a tour.Hartman was quick to oblige. She explained the tours, and McCullough set up a trip.DAKS offers guided tours, including sunset and eco-tours. (Courtesy Alene Hartman)DAKS also offers eco-tours. Customers get to view the marshes and back bays surrounding Ocean City by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. The tours are led by trained naturalists who know the local ecosystem and wildlife.There is also the stand-up paddleboard yoga tour. Kilcourse takes front and center in that one as it is her specialty. People are treated to a scenic tour of the back bays of Ocean City, where they settle on a spot to find their ZEN.Through the years, staffers have met some really interesting customers, they said. People from age three to 80 have taken the tours. Hartman recalled one of her favorite stories about one in particular.“We had a woman who came with a friend for her birthday. She turned 80 and kayaking was on her bucket list,” Hartman said. “The two friends each went out in kayaks along with tour guides and had a great time.”Larger groups with as many as 35 people also book tours, Hartman said.Some of those groups take lengthy excursions. A recent group went from Brigantine to Galloway Township in a 13-mile paddle, Hartman said.Harrison Hepding and Adam King, both 2018 OCHS graduates of Upper Township, are DAKS employees (Courtesy Alene Hartman)“We deliver the kayaks,” Hartman said, adding most of the customers go out in the Ocean City area. “We are mobile. We will deliver kayaks to the beach and to the bay. We will make it as convenient as possible. We do the set-up. All you have to do is get on and paddle.”But most of the time, families are paddling around the bay for about an hour and a half, she explained.Something Hartman and Kilcourse stressed was that safety is paramount. On DAKS website www.dakskayaks.com there is a map of the waterways offering navigation tools and tips. People may also call the store for advice, Hartman said.“We suggest safe and scenic areas to go to,” Hartman said.Alene Hartman with tour guide, Liz Kilcourse, outside of DAKSKilcourse, and the other 16 employees at Daks, keep a close watch on the tide charts and the moon.“New and full moons mean high tides are a lot higher,” Kilcourse noted.But for anyone who is fearful, the team always carries a tow rope to bring someone in to safety.“She has pulled in men, children and women,” Hartman said.And people aren’t the only ones who enjoy a good paddle along the bay.Alene Hartman displays a dog life vest.“Dogs go out, too,” Hartman said, adding that DAKS sells life jackets for dogs.Hartman, a history teacher in the Egg Harbor Township School District, said just as the school year ends, DAKS gets busy, making it a perfect way to spend her summers with her family.The success of her business comes from the help of her family and staff, she said. “Everybody chips in,” Hartman said.And even the boss gets to spend time out on the water.She makes sure to go on the sunset tours.“It is such a beautiful time watching the sunset over the bay,” Hartman said. “There is nothing like it.”DAKS Kayaks is open weekdays and weekends through Labor Day and then weekends only through the first week of October. DAKS staff is available to do tours and rentals with a 24-hour notice, by calling or dropping into the store to make a reservation. A list of prices for all of the amenities are on the website at www.dakskayaks.com or call (609) 938-1185.last_img read more