North Shore tubing, kayaking operators launch water recreation with safety in mind

North Shore tubing, kayaking operators launch water recreation with safety in mind

Many people are turning outdoors for recreation and escape during the challenging coronavirus crisis.

As Memorial Day weekend nears, this time of year typically kicks off a season full of water recreation for families. However, celebrating the unofficial start to summer will look a lot different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, water parks and splash pads are not included in Phase One of reopening in Louisiana, as outlined by Gov. John Bel Edwards and other parish leaders.

But there’s still hope for families looking to splash around while enjoying the outdoors. The North Shore is home to a quite few places you can go tubing, kayaking and paddleboarding on local waterways.

Several attractions and businesses specializing in water recreation resumed operations this month, offering a great way to enjoy these beautiful days on the water while staying socially distant.

Photo courtesy: Louisiana River Adventures

One popular boat rental service will help families get paddling on the Bogue Falaya River in St. Tammany Parish.

Canoe and Trail Adventures, at The Chimes restaurant in Covington, announced its resuming operations after temporarily shutting down in late March during the outbreak.

“These days are perfect for riding the river! Canoe & Trail Adventures is back on the Bogue Falaya starting Friday, May 1st,” the company announced on social media.

 

The family-owned business said it will also take safety measures to adapt to the new normal, which means guests should prepare for launching to take a little longer than usual.

In order to limit contact with customers, the company is requiring online reservations. Also, social distancing measures are in place, like blue tape along the lower boardwalk to keep parties six feet apart.

Employees will also wear masks and take steps to disinfect gear, while limiting same-day use.

Photo courtesy: Louisiana River Adventurues

Adventure seekers can also take a scenic float trip in the heart of Washington Parish along the Bogue Chitto River. At least two access points for tubing down the river have already opened this month.

Haley and Ragan Bonnette, who own Louisiana River Adventures and Tubing in the Park, started weekday operations a little earlier in the season than normal due to school closures. Haley said they were also eager to provide a safe, healthy outdoor activity for people to enjoy while social distancing.

 

“It is important for people to access outdoor and water recreation during this crisis because they are able to keep distance and remain safe, but also escape quarantine for a day,” Haley Bonnette said.

Haley said they are receiving an abundant amount of interest in tubing and kayaking services at both of their facilities. Louisiana River Adventures is located in Franklinton, La., and the team’s new Tubing in the Park location recently celebrated its grand opening inside Bogue Chitto State Park during Mother’s Day weekend.

“Thankfully, we are 99 percent entirely outdoors so it is super important for people to understand that this is a safe way to get outdoors and also enjoy a kick start to summer fun!” Haley said.

The tubing companies are also taking several precautionary measures such as cleaning and sanitizing shuttles and limiting shuttle rides to 10 or less people. Guests are also required to wear masks while on shuttles and remain six feet apart.

“Our customers health and well being are our top priority while also giving them an opportunity to escape reality and enjoy a relaxing day on the river,” Haley said. “We are taking every measure possible to ensure the safety of all persons while also providing a safe and fun outdoor water activity.”

Some swamp tours also get going again in St. Tammany waterways. Cajun Encounters Tour Co. and Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tour are among companies starting up private tours that bring guests close to nature and wildlife.

And as Louisiana state parks welcome local visitors once again, guests can finally stretch their legs on the man-made beach at Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville.

“The parks will only be able to be enjoyed by Louisiana residents,” Nungesser said during a news conference Wednesday, May 13.

Photo courtesy: Fontainebleau State Park via Facebook

As part of the reopening, Nungesser said Louisiana residents can get a special discount when booking three nights at a state park. The promo code – WELCOMEBACK – can be used at checkout go receive a fourth night free for stays through Sept. 7. You can book a stay at a state park by clicking here.

“I urge everyone in the state to take this time to be safe, but also get out and enjoy all the wonderful things right here in our backyard, like our state parks, historic sites, and state museums. The road to our recovery starts with the strong people of Louisiana,” Nungesser said.

Some other water attractions opening for business on the North Shore include Northshore Hydro Sports, Honey Island Kayak Tours and Bayou Adventure.

RELATED: Zip NOLA, the regions first swamp zip line, set to open in LaPlace this fall

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Shan Bailey

Shan Bailey

Shan Bailey is the digital content producer and on-air personality for FOX 8 Nola Weekend. Shan is a creative storyteller who is passionate about creating compelling content that connects with audiences.