The summer tourist season on Monhegan Island has officially begun with the start of summer, and local businesses like Monhegan Kayak Rentals are preparing for an uptick in visitors.
Fisherman and year-round Monhegan resident Mathew Thomson took over the rental business in 2015, about a year and a half into its existence.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Thomson said of the island. “Each year (kayaking) gets a little more popular.”
Tristan and Ola Vis manage the rental shop on Fish Beach. It is the only kayak rental business on the island.
“I’ve known Tristan for 20 years,” Thomson said. He said “it was a natural fit” for the married couple to run the business in the summer.
The couple lives on Monhegan from the end of June to September or October, and in New York the rest of the year.
Tristan Vis has been kayaking around Monhegan since he was 15 years old, and visiting the island his whole life.
“It’s a magical place,” he said.
One thing Monhegan was lacking was a place to rent kayaks, as kayaking is a popular activity on the island, according to Tristan Vis.
“It was a niche to be filled. There’s always been a demand for kayak rentals on the island,” he said.
The business has 10 standard kayaks for rent, including two tandem kayaks. They also have around six children’s kayaks for rent, as well as fishing poles.
“You don’t need to have any certain skill level. It’s really easy,” Ola Vis said of kayaking.
Kayakers can explore the entire west side of Monhegan, and circle neighboring Manana Island and Nigh Duck Island.
“It’s easier to actually kayak to Pebble Beach to go swimming than it is to walk there. It’s shorter and much faster,” Tristan Vis said. Pebble Beach is on the northern tip of the island, and can also be accessed by a hiking trail.
Rental prices are by the hour, and most customers kayak for one to three hours at a time. Kayaks cost $25 to rent for an hour or $60 to rent for three hours. Those are the most popular options, but the shop offers other time spans.
“You have a totally different perspective of the island,” Tristan Vis said of exploring by kayak.
The shop does not have set hours, and when kayaks are available for rent depends on the weather. However, on nice days the shop is usually open for much of the day. It’s open by appointment the rest of the time, such as for sunset or sunrise kayaking.
“You get out there and it’s just quiet … the sunsets and the sunrises are just spectacular. The water changes from a whole range of reds and oranges and purples, to once it finally sets, it turns very silver and turquoise,” Tristan Vis said.
“It’s nice for people to experience the island in a different way,” Ola Vis said.