Tour the ecosystem for free at Jockey's Ridge

Posted July 17, 2009 4:36 p.m. EDT
Updated July 17, 2009 7:59 p.m. EDT

Jockey's Ridge State Park has an answer for North Carolinians who want to travel to the beach but can't afford to do much once they get there.

Face east in the park, and you can enjoy the sun, sand and waves. Then turn your back to the Atlantic Ocean, and you'll find the calm, shallow waters of the Roanoke Sound.

Park Ranger Ann Wunderly helps anyone hit the water in a kayak tour along soundside shore.

"As a park ranger, I feel it's my duty, it's my job, it's our mission to educate the public," Wunderly said.

And tourists quickly learn one of the best things about the kayak tour is the price.

"They are surprised to find out it's a free trip we offer here at Jockey's Ridge, and they can't believe it sometimes," Wunderly said.

Rangers use the tour to teach tourists about their surroundings. They point out natural features such as shrubs on dunes and birds like a great white egret.

Sixteen-year-old Michelle Marin and her extended family of nautical novices used the chance to learn how to kayak, explore the local ecosystem and spend some time together.

"I feel like we've gotten closer," Michelle said. "We have a huge family. We're all crazy, and it's really fun when we all get together."