Business

By land or by sea, Kitsap’s got to be seen

Jean and Jim Boyle, owners of Kitsap Tours stand in front of their 14-passenger bus at their Suquamish home. - Leila Arciero/Staff Photo
Jean and Jim Boyle, owners of Kitsap Tours stand in front of their 14-passenger bus at their Suquamish home.
— image credit: Leila Arciero/Staff Photo

SUQUAMISH — Jean and Jim Boyle found a house in Suquamish 15 years ago they simply had to have. Within a month, they’d purchased the house, packed up their belongings and made the move from Mukilteo. As their love for their new home deepened, they wanted to share North Kitsap with the world. Now they do, through Kitsap Tours, which began operating its 14-passenger bus May 1.

“It really hasn’t been done,” Jean Boyle said. “It’s just finding out if there is really a need or a demand for what I think there is.”

Inspired by Seattle’s tours, she decided it was time Kitsap had its own version. And, like many business owners, the Boyles tired of working intense jobs for many years. The move to Suquamish was meant to slow things down. For three and a half years Jean Boyle continued to commute to her senior management job across the sound, but landed a position with the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau as the director of tourism development, ending her commuting days.

Jim Boyle was a U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Virginia and was then transferred to Washington. After semi-retiring in 1992 to start his own international security consulting company, he fully retired five years ago on the shores of Suquamish.

When Jean Boyle left the Visitor and Convention Bureau after eight years, in September 2009, she began work on Kitsap Tours.

“She has so much energy about it. I love this area and I like to talk about it and Jean does too,” Jim Boyle said.

Once Jean Boyle started to put out feelers for interest, the response was a positive one.

To promote the business, she created brochures and strategically placed them in areas where she thought tourists would notice, with a strong focus on the ferry terminals.

The Boyles welcome visitors to North Kitsap at the Bainbridge ferry terminal and can shuttle up to 12 people on full- or half-day tours of North Kitsap. The tours offer the history and heritage of Bainbridge Island, Suquamish, Poulsbo and Port Gamble. Visitors can choose between three scheduled tours, specialty tours or custom tours with a wide range of activities, including a two-hour tour of the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge or an electric boat tour or kayaking in Poulsbo.

“I think almost any tour is going to have an element of Poulsbo ... because Poulsbo’s unique, it’s authentic, it’s healthy,” Jean Boyle said.

The specialty tours can revolve around a variety of themes: photo safaris, artists’ studios, culinary, agricultural, military or Native American history, to name a few.

“I want people to experience things,” Jean Boyle said.

While the tours will always start at the Bainbridge ferry, they have optional endings decided on by the participants. Visitors can end the day at Suquamish’s Clearwater Casino, in the town of Winslow (a short walk to the ferry) or be returned to the ferry in time for evening activities in Seattle. No matter where the tours end, the Boyles have vowed to ensure people get back to the ferry, Jean Boyle said.

“The planning worked, people have worked,” Jean Boyle said. “Everything’s been good and we provide the umbrellas.”

For reservations, call (877) 877-1950 or visit www.kitsaptours.com.

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