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Shelter Island Kayak Tours owner Jay Damuck on the water in Coecles Harbor on Thursday afternoon. (Credit: Julie Lane)

Welcome to Shelter Island at a time many would call the best of the year here — especially if kayaking is on your agenda.

As temperatures drop from summer highs and the boat traffic dwindles, the water becomes so clear so you can watch the minnows flit by as you gently paddle your kayak through the narrow marsh. Not only can you hear the sounds of birds, but if you’re quiet enough, you can move near to where they sit and gain a view you probably have only previously seen through binoculars.

That’s how Shelter Island Kayak Tours owner Jay Damuck describes this special time of year to his customers.

Never been in a kayak? It’s more stable than a canoe or rowboat and because the action of paddling involves the shoulders and upper body, it offers a more gentle ride. Kayaks are easy to maneuver, even for a first-timer, and their beauty lies in their simplicity, Damuck said. They require little maintenance and are lightweight and easily transported from site to site.

Shelter Island Kayak Tours also rents paddle boards as many families with teens find the younger generation prefers the paddle boards.

Guided tours are by appointment and tend to attract a lot of first-time kayakers.

Rules of the water are to stay out of the way of larger boats, wear a life jacket and stay off your cell phone, Damuck said. He’ll provide a waterproof case for your phone, but he wants people to come out and enjoy nature at its purest without worldly intrusions such as a call from the office.

Those who choose to rent a kayak individually rather than to go on one of Mr. Damuck’s tours often ask where the prettiest sites to launch their kayaks are. There’s nowhere that’s not beautiful, he says, but the winds and their effect on the water will dictate what he’ll recommend. Here are his top three picks to launch.

Damuck says kayaking is the best way to enjoy nature, especially as the waters clear in fall.(Credit: Julie Lane)
Damuck says kayaking is the best way to enjoy nature, especially as the waters clear in fall.(Credit: Julie Lane)

Coecles Harbor Marina and Boatyard — Accessed from the town landing at the end of Burns Road, this spot is a favorite when the winds aren’t too strong. It opens into a wide waterway and provides access to many shallow creeks where you’ll be able to get close to birds.  18 Hudson Ave.

Daniel Lord Road Ramp — This launch spot, which brings you into West Neck Bay, will allow you to paddle out to West Neck Creek and West Neck Harbor as well explore Menantic Creek, Dickerson Creek and Shell Beach. Because of its sheltered location, it’s a good place on a windy day, Damuck says. Daniel Lord Road.

Any of the town’s almost 40 landingsClick here for the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s guide. Each spot provides access for kayakers. At the same time, Damuck recommends avoiding the area near the South Ferry landing because waters are often choppy. There’s wave action from the ferries and even in the off season it is best avoided.

Weather permitting, Shelter Island Kayak Tours will be open until Halloween.

Rentals cost $30 for a single or $50 for a double kayak with a two-hour minimum. Paddle boards rent for $20 an hour.

You’ll find Damuck’s shack at 23 North Ferry Road. Shelter Island Kayak Tours can be reached at 631-749-1990.