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Times of the Islands Magazine

Captiva's New Wave Eco Charters Aims to Navigate Waters as 'Stewards of the Sea'

Jul 03, 2017 11:25PM ● Published by Kevin

Photo courtesy of Stephen Plein.

Gallery: New Wave Eco Charters - June 2017 [8 Images] Click any image to expand.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Plein.

Founded in 2016, New Wave Eco Charters is slowly, but surely, growing and expanding. Owner and founder Stephen Plein said when the business started, he was still working for a another kayak company on Captiva; however, after doing many group tours, he decided to offer private kayak tours on his own, mirroring the private nature of New Wave's boat charters. 

New Wave specializes in sustainable charters and eco-tourism practices. "We make it our personal mission to act as an usher to each and every client to lead them across the channel from the commonplace everyday and into the very unique, serene sense of wonder that our local estuary and its surrounding Gulf waters can bring," the company's mission statement says. 

Plein said the idea for the company spawned from a childhood of living on and loving the coast.

"From my earliest days I can remember tromping around in the mangroves behind my parents house feeling the mud between my toes," he said. "I was hooked."

Since then, Plein said he's been looking for ways to explore further into his surrounding estuarine environment.

"So many of our guests are looking for something more than the ordinary 'tourist-trap' options that so many coastal areas have grown accustomed to," he explained. "That’s where I saw an opening. New Wave specifies in individualized charters and tours that are immersive for our guests. It’s simply not enough for me to count someone as a 'number' and send them on their way.

"To me, the best part about guiding people to these up close and personal experiences is that they are many times reflecting on nature in a private, more personalized way than they have experienced in years. To me it’s about reconnecting guests with the natural connection that they’ve been looking for. That’s the greatest reward in doing what I do on a daily basis."

Photo courtesy of Stephen Plein.

Plein takes the smiles on grown adults' faces as good of a reward as any monetary tip, he said. "I take solace in knowing that if even for a brief moment, that client just caught a glimpse into what it’s like to be a child again, seeing things for the first time in such a magical light to where they can hit reset and carry that experience back home with them and transfer it into their daily lives." 

As a charter company, New Wave has the privilege and the right to use the local waters for enjoyment and for fun. With that in mind, Plein believes he has an even greater responsibility to care for and nourish the local waters.

"The Hawaiians have a word for this: Kuleana," the mission statement says. "Or simply put, a marriage between right and responsibility. It is our responsibility as daily water-dwellers to act as stewards of the sea in order to help eliminate the mental disconnect that the hustle-and-bustle that the inevitable pace of life inflicts upon us.

"It is our goal to help you unwind, unplug, and unearth the yearning for the natural world that you've been longing for."

Plein does most of the tours on his own. New Wave was almost never born, had Plein went the traditional route of following his academic studies. He attended University of Miami, studying photo journalism and creative writing. Headed down the path of becoming a copywriter in the big city, Plein quickly realized that after five years of traffic and the fast-paced city life, he needed to return home and get back to his roots.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Plein.

As for the future, Plein sees the continual "slow but sure" method of growth.

"I see New Wave Eco Charters [being] successful, yet focused on individualization," he said. "We will always offer private charter and tour options along with the possibility of land based excursions into areas unique to our locale."  

He also reported he's in the beginning stages of starting an island-based nonprofit that will be known as the New Wave Marine Foundation. The model for growth and development for the nonprofit sector will mirror that of the for-profit charter company. He plans to focus strictly on individualized attention toward area students, instead of focusing on serving as many students as possible. The program will be donation-based and will be small in scale.

For more information about New Wave, visit nwecocharters.com, or call 239-671-7447.
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