By Caitlin Erramouspe | Reporter
As the weather warms up and Wacoans get the urge to go outside and enjoy the sunshine, two companies in Waco gear up to get locals on the river. Waco Paddle Company and Pura Vida Paddle are two paddle companies that specialize in getting Wacoans on the water with equipment rentals and guidance for all levels.
Beth and Ross Harris, the founders of Waco Paddle Company, wanted to give Wacoans a chance to see historic sites from the water and established the company back in 2016. Sarah Raley joined the team in 2017.
“My advice for Wacoans going out on the Brazos River for the first time is to enjoy it! Paddling is a fun activity that can be as active or relaxing as you want it to be,” Raley said. “If you are concerned about falling in, kayaks are very easy to maneuver and very hard to flip by accident.”
In April of 2020, Waco Paddle Company was able to reopen following COVID-19 guidelines.
“Thankfully, social distancing while paddling on the Brazos River happens naturally,” Raley said. “We were grateful to stay open and provide people with a safe activity during the summer.”
Located at 200 S. University Parks Drive, locals and tourists can visit the Waco Paddle Company’s rental truck.
“We are open weekends only in the spring and fall and every day in the summer. We rent single and double kayaks, paddleboards and canoes,” Raley said.
Pura Vida Paddle opened in March 2017 after Erin Ward fell in love with paddling. She said she convinced her husband Blake that it was something they needed to bring to Waco.
“At first, Blake thought I was crazy, but then overnight, the Lord really moved in him,” Ward said. “The following morning, he came to me and said he thought we could do it.”
Ward said this new season brings hope after the shelter in place went into effect early last spring.
“After the quarantine was lifted, we offered equipment to go. People were really wanting to get out, so I took a bunch of equipment to our house and had them pick up from our yard, so no social interaction was needed,” Ward said. “I was really happy to see how it lifted people’s spirits.”
The storefront boutique is located at 3332 Franklin Ave., and it provides both retail and rental options. Later this season, Wacoans will also be able to go to their Brazos Park East location and jump into the water there. For now, equipment pick-up for kayaks and paddleboards is at their storefront.
“Enjoy it,” Ward said. “Most importantly, just let the beauty and sound of the water soak in and give [you] peace.”