Get Up And Go Kayaking started as a small idea in the summer of 2016 while sitting in a car pulled off on the side of the road because a spring had reached its capacity. With so many people looking to enjoy a day at the natural springs here in Central Florida, it was no doubt that guests would love experiencing them in a completely clear kayak! Owner Justin Buzzi and his girlfriend, Tia, set out to start the first clear kayak tour company in all of Florida (which actually ended up being the first in all of the USA)!
The company launched at the end of summer 2016 with 3 primary locations: Winter Park, Rock Springs, and Bioluminescence in Titusville. At the time, Justin was working a full-time corporate job at GolfNow (as a pricing analyst) and Tia was a full-time student at UCF. The first year was full of learning opportunities (aka a few failures) and working on building a following. Justin also designed the entire website, which turned out to be quite the task. During the first bioluminescent season, Justin would often work until 3-4am, then be up the next morning for his corporate job at 8am, then repeat, for about 3-4 months. As you can imagine, this got a little tiring.
In September of 2017, Justin decided to leave his full time job and take on kayaking full time – then Hurricane Irma came to visit! The whole first year of running Get Up And Go Kayaking was as hands-on as it gets, from putting clear kayaks together in a 2-bedroom apartment, to spending hours exploring waterways. Up to this point, we had tried to take as many photos/videos as we could, and Tia spent many hours reaching out to viral media sites trying to get our content placed.
In October of 2017 we finally had our big break! The viral news outlet, Insider, reached out to ask if they could use some of our content on their Instagram, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. This began a domino effect – media outlets were reaching out left and right, people from all over the world were reaching out to book a tour, and our inboxes were flooded with emails were pouring in. We soon realized this small idea was turning into something bigger than we could have imagined. Everyone wanted to experience this new sensation.
This is when Justin hired his first couple tour guides and ‘retired’ from giving tours himself. His first hire, Alex McKeeman, reached out on Instagram letting him know of his love for anything water and adventure. After having Alex on the team for a few months, he tragically passed away while free diving in a cave system on one of his days off. We now hold an Alex McKeeman Memorial Day once a year, where 100% of the reservations go directly to a charity of Alex’s family’s choice. While this was a very difficult time, it helped us realize exactly how important the land and waterways that we use as our workplace are. This is a big reason we choose to give back a portion of all of our reservations to conserving land in Florida.
Now over 300,000,000 views on Facebook and social media, the company has surpassed expectations and continues to expand. With tourists and locals wanting to experience this unique way to adventure, we’ve expanded our tours to other locations and share some of our success with those closest to us. This is when the Get Up And Go Kayaking franchise was born (May of 2018)! One of Justin’s Rock Springs tour guides, Austin, opened the first franchised location in Crystal River. Shortly after, Mario + Sam (who were old coworkers of Justin’s) joined in and opened their own location too at Rainbow Springs!
Today, most of our other locations are owned by family and close friends! Get Up And Go Kayaking is now the first clear kayak tour company in the entire world to be a franchise – and the fastest growing kayak tour company! With 19 different locations showcasing unique wildlife, marine life, and nature – we hope to never be too far away for an adventure.
As we continue to expand, we’re always looking for fun and exciting new places to offer guests our premium experiences. We’re super thankful we’ve been able to grow the Get Up And Go Kayaking family, and look forward to providing even more unforgettable memories to all of our guests. Life’s too short to not just get up and go!