Despite the fact that he’s only been doing this for about five years, Dale Simmons is one of the most recognizable figures in the flatwater inflatable paddling world. Thanks almost entirely to YouTube.
After retiring from a 45-year career as a photographer and videographer and relocating to Florida, he was initially interested in photographing wildlife. The problem? He couldn’t get close enough standing on shore, and he needed a quiet, maneuverable, yet stable and safe way to reach them. That’s when he began experimenting with kayaking. But he needed something that was gator proof and large enough to haul and work with as many as 10 cameras at all times. He began testing out all different types of inflatable kayaks, and finally settled on what he says are the best out there for the job: Advanced Elements.
As his process evolved, he began documenting more than just the wildlife in his new home state. He was reviewing boats and waterways as well, and quickly grew into a known resource for people looking to purchase an IK and also for people looking to go paddling, especially in Florida’s many state parks, estuaries, fresh water springs and brackish waterways. By some estimations he’s helped sell more IKs than anyone else in the U.S., and unlike many “influencers,” he doesn’t take any money for his work.
He launched his website Paddling Places Florida and his YouTube channel as outlets for his passions and to help others get out on the water, and they’ve somehow grown into a global sensation. The site is dedicated to exposing unique paddling locations in Florida with a focus on fun experiences. Reviews contain detailed videos with narration and information such as suggested experience level, ease of use, amenities, camping, conditions and more.
If you’re looking to purchase a new boat, or looking for an awesome place to paddle, or maybe even some photography tips, it might behoove you to give him a follow.