Our Story

Established in 2020, Tampa Bay Backwater Tours and Rentals was brought to life by two college friends – Bogan Stitzel and Steven Wallace. As lifelong outdoorsmen, they were very aware of the problem litter was causing in our local waterways. Looking for a sustainable way to help combat the problem, while sharing their knowledge of  the local ecosystem, Tampa Bay Backwater Tours and Rentals was born.

Owned and operated by local Florida natives with a passion for the outdoors and environment; Tampa Backwater aims to provide high quality, entertaining, and educational tours and quality rentals to our customers while furthering our mission to clean up Tampa’s beautiful estuary. 



We want to help people learn an understanding and appreciation for the wildlife around them.


We want to nurture the health of Tampa bay and leave our waterways cleaner than we found them.


We want you to have FUN! You will leave with a smile on your face, a new fact in your head, and a story you will tell for a lifetime!


How Big is The Problem?

What are We Doing to Help?

How You Can Help

  • A recent study in 2019, performed by the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, and Eckerd College, estimated that nearly 4 billion pieces of microplastics contaminate Tampa Bay.
  • The largest source of microplastics in Tampa Bay comes from tiny threads found in fishing line, nets, and synthetic clothing.
  • The next largest source comes from the breakdown of larger plastics – bottles, bags, and more.
  • Microplastics are ingested by filter feeders, such as Oysters, Barnacles, Scallops, and Fish. 
  • Plastic enters the food chain and causes cellular damage or death in fish, birds, and other marine life.
  • Tampa Bay Backwater plans to host one Bay Cleanup event every month.
  • Kayaks and trash collection materials will be provided to volunteers.
  • Volunteers will use the kayaks at no charge to clean debris such as plastic water bottles, styrofoam, and fishing line from the Bay. The use of the kayak will be free for the remainder of the day.
  •  Trash will be recorded, sorted, and disposed of in a proper manner.
  • The microplastics issue is a large and existential threat to marine and human life, but there are some behaviors individuals can focus on to help with the problem:
  • Avoid purchasing plastic water bottles
    – Use reusable containers
  •  Avoid the use of shampoos and other soaps that contain plastics – watch out for labels that promote “Microbeads” 
  • Pick up plastics and other garbage on your morning walk. Even if you live in an inland area, plastics can still make their way to the ocean
  • Donate to local non-profits! Tampa Bay Watch and Coastal Conservation Association (CCA Florida)

Trash Removed from Tampa Bay

Bags of trash collected in our home

Goal: 100 Bags 20%


Most frequent questions and answers

Plan for a beach day! You should bring a towel, sunscreen, sunglasses(polarized), hat, water shoes, water bottle, a small snack, etc.

We request that all participants arrive at the launch zone 45 minutes to one hour before the start of their scheduled tour time. It is your responsibility to notify us if you are running late or will not be able to make your tour. With proper notice, a raincheck will be given. After the departure of your scheduled tour, cancelations or late arrivals will not be refunded

Renters must be18 years old or have a valid driver’s license. With adult supervision, children 12+ are welcomed.

Florida storms are normally short and followed by beautiful sunsets and bright blue skies. We will wait out the rain for up to 60 minutes before issuing you a rain check to come back on another day.

With 24+ hour notice full refund will be given. For cancelations, under 24 hours rain check will be given. After the departure of your scheduled tour, cancelations or late arrivals will not be refunded.

While we love Fido and Kitty just as much as you do, they can scare away the natural wildlife we are looking to find. Because of this and for the safety of our other guests as well as yourself and your animal, we do not permit pets to participate on the guided trips.


Whether it’s our premium private guided tour or a private rental, we are here to help you find the perfect adventure in the heart of Tampa Bay. We can cultivate the ultimate Florida experience by showing you the “local side of town” (paddling through the backwaters of the estuary) all while leaving Tampa Bay healthier and cleaner than we found it.



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