HAMPTON—Shored Up Eco Tours wants to provide visitors to the area with a unique opportunity to see the side of Hampton many people don’t get to embrace.
“Hampton has a really unique story to tell when it comes to our natural resources—not just oysters, but crabs and other wildlife,” said Claire Neubert, who co-owns the company with her friend Linda Hamm. “I think people often underestimate Hampton because their experience of the area is sitting on the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel in traffic. And that’s not a very positive representation of Hampton. So, it’s really fun to show people the other side of things here.”
As the name implies, Shored Up Eco Tours provides nature tours of the area that are part history lesson, part narrated education, part exercise, and a whole lot of fun. They offer walking and kayak tours, and they provide both public and private adventures. As a bonus, their tours normally end at the docks in front of Bull Island Brewing Company, so an after-paddle pint is not out of the question—sort of like the 19th hole on a golf course.
“I started oyster gardening in 2006 for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and just found that the oysters were a tangible way to connect me with the 300 different species that rely on them, including us,” said Neubert. “Linda and I lived in the same neighborhood, so I got her involved in oyster gardening, then we did a lot of work together volunteering, and doing all kinds of things that revolved around the environment and our oysters. We both became certified eco tour guides, then the next thing you know, we’re thinking, ‘maybe we could start an eco-tour business as a way to reach out to people and get them connected to the environment in a fun way.’”
They have a limited number of kayaks available to rent but paddlers can bring their own if they prefer. They’ve even had some standup paddle boarders join the group. Shored Up tries to limit tour group sizes to keep the experience more intimate. You do not need to be an experienced kayaker to participate.
“We’re always trying to look for what makes us unique and what really makes us local,” said Hamm. “Somebody coming here is going to feel like they really visited a unique place. It’s not just a visit to a strip mall or fast-food restaurant. It’s an event and they leave with a souvenir experience that’s unlike any they could get anywhere else.”
Upcoming public events include:
- Saturday, August 28—Hampton Paddle & Pint Tour
- Saturday, September 11—Hampton Paddle & Pint Tour
- Friday, September 24—Happy Hour Nature Paddle
- Saturday, October 23—Walk, Talk, Taste: Enjoying Hampton’s Local Nature, Local History, Local Flavor (walking tour)
- Saturday, November 20—The BIG Little Oyster Tour (land-based)
If an event needs to be cancelled for any reason, a full refund will be provided.
To schedule a private tour, or to learn more about the company, interested parties can visit www.shoredupva.com.