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Kayaking tours on historic Bayou St. John and Bayou Bienvenue through New Orleans
Capture New Orleans from a different perspective. Kayak our beautiful bayous as we guide you along our historic waterways. We’ll keep with the pace of the city—nice and easy, taking in the southern scenery, hospitality and weather.
We offer three tours of different levels of physical demand and kayaking experience. Two take place in Bayou St. John, more urban paddles, and one in Bayou Bienvenue, a much more wild experience.
Bayou St. John itself was a key component in establishing our city. The Native Americans showed early explorers (uh uh hem, Iberville and his brother, Bienville) the bayou as a way to access, at the time, a potential future city from the Gulf of Mexico without having to fight the Mississippi River’s strong currents. While kayaking, you will see some of the older city structures, like the Spanish Custom House and the Pitot House, both built in the late 1700’s. You might hear and catch a glimpse of the happenings at Fair Grounds Race Course, one of the oldest horse tracks in the United States, as well as the site of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. You will be paddling alongside beautiful City Park, which houses centuries-old live oak trees. You’ll see New Orleans Museum of Art as you pass the grand entrance of the park. St. Louis Cemetery #3 will be visible from your kayak. The elaborate above-ground tombs are spectacular.
There is a bit of wildlife to observe. It isn’t uncommon to spot a blue heron perched on an old piling or a pelican diving into the water after a fish. At sunrise or dusk you might notice one or 15 of the notorious nocturnal nutria venturing out for a swim and a snack.
Bayou St. John flows through many thriving neighborhoods. You’ll have the opportunity to observe (and maybe interact with) the other wildlife. Folks do all sorts of things on the banks of the bayou—exercise, fish, play, picnic, etc. The locals living along the bayou build colorful festive gardens that can be seen while touring as well. You’ll certainly get a feel for New Orleans through the local community.
Bayou Bienvenue was made famous by the British. O yes, do you remember the War of 1812 from history class? There was a famous Battle of New Orleans in Chalmette; the British thought they be sneaky and surprise Americans through southern Louisiana. Thank goodness they were unprepared for the treacherous environment, otherwise we’d all have funny (funnier) accents down here!
Accessible from the 9th Ward, an area including two neighborhoods truly devastated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, you’ll paddle through the boneyard of a dead cypress forest killed by questionable decisions during fairly recent industrialization into a lush bayou seemingly untouched by man. O boy, is there wildlife?! You’ll see reptiles of unusual size camouflaged in the scenery, birds of all varieties feeding, fish just beneath the surface, and plants indigenous to Louisiana swamps. We will also have the opportunity to paddle the edge of a salt marsh. We will quietly paddle through this natural environment as observers, touching nothing and leaving no trace.
The neat thing about this bayou, in the midst of all the things mentioned above, we’ll remain a short distance from the city. In fact, from some perspectives you can see the skyline in the distance!
This experience will bring balance to many things: You’ll find nature in an urban setting, visit history in the present, have a few active hours among several decadent ones, and feel local while vacationing.