Finding Adventure Is Her Way of Life
June 2022 Issue
By Cynthia Robinson
Photography by Mike Force Photography
For Tasha Williams and her family, finding and pursuing adventures is just a part of everyday life.
The family’s business, Turtle Tide Outfitters, offers families and groups kayak rentals and tours, as well as standup paddleboarding (SUP) rentals and instruction, along with surfing lessons and rentals on St. Simons and Jekyll islands. “There are so many great places to launch on Jekyll and St. Simons,” said Tasha, who also mentions that she really enjoys taking clients to Shark Tooth Beach on Jekyll. “We’ve done thousands of tours and they are all different. With kayaking, you can go out with no experience. We provide the instructions and make sure everyone is safe—we really stress how to stay safe on the water and go over safety. We take anyone out, from novice to expert. Now SUP is a totally different story,” she said, laughing. “That requires balance and a strong core.”
While she pursues all types of adventures, Tasha said she has always gravitated to the water. “Growing up in Brunswick and on St. Simons, I always had to be on the water. I’ve always loved to surf, kayak and fish, but I owe a lot to my husband, Rob, who got me into being more adventurous. With Turtle Tides, Rob was the man with the plan,” said Tasha, about him establishing the business 10 years ago after he retired from FLETC. She also said he showed her how to SUP, something she now loves doing and teaching to others. “I also would have never tried Jiu Jitsu without Rob, and now I’m a brown belt!” Tasha said, adding that she now teaches women the martial art.
While she did grow up in the Golden Isles, her first adventure in life began shortly after her birth in Guatemala, when she was adopted by a local couple, David and Valencia O’Neal. Tasha said her parents encouraged her and big brother, David, and little sister, Bethany, to stay active. “I used to race my father. He was a cop and at one time headed up EMS. He was in tip-top shape,” she said.
After growing up and going into the service industry, she was looking for some way to help others through fitness and fun. That’s when Rob came in. After five years of dating and running the business, the two decided to marry five years ago and join their families, including his son Declan, now a college student, and her son, Ethan, now a student at Glynn Middle School.
“We meant to elope, but family and friends followed us,” she said, with a laugh. “We married in Estes Park (Colorado), and we stayed in cabins by a stream. It
It’s not surprising that “out west” got in their blood. Every summer the family packs up their van and heads West for a two-week-long vacation. “Since we have one son in middle school, we can’t get away during the school year, but one day I think it would be great to be a camp site host for a few months at one of our favorite places, like Bryce Canyon in Utah. For now, we have our two weeks every summer. We are lucky to have lots of friends we can visit along the way. We have a built-out Dodge Pro-Master van with a giant turtle on the side,” she said, laughing again. “It has a full-size bed and is our home on wheels. Last summer, Rob built a deck on top, and we are really enjoying that. We always bring Thom along,” she said, referring to the dog the family adopted two years ago. “This summer, we’re heading to Montana.”
While Tasha said the pandemic didn’t impact their business negatively like many in the hospitality industry, “since people were looking for more ways to get outside, we were fortunate and had to buy more kayaks,” she found herself wanting to do more to promote wellness and fitness to others, as well as ensure her own family stayed healthy. “I learned how to grow organic micro greens for our family and ended up turning it into a business, Cuisine Green,” she said. The business now delivers healthy produce to local businesses, such as Uncle Don’s Healthy Market, as well as Del Sur and Palmer’s restaurants.
If that wasn’t enough to take on with their already busy guide business, Tasha said she decided to pursue another one of her dreams—becoming a personal fitness trainer. “I studied online during the pandemic and became a certified personal fitness trainer. I teach fitness classes at my home gym (in Marshes of McKay), and I also work part-time teaching at Pulse on St. Simons.” Her instructions include kettle bell and HIT training. The day of our interview, Tasha said she “got up at 4 a.m. to teach a functional fitness class at 5:30.”
While her life is hectic, Tasha said she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I want to pass along how important it is to get healthy and how to live well, while exploring and having fun.”
Education: Graduated from Glynn Academy. Certified in teaching SUP and kayaking, as well as administering CPR. She is also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
Travel Bucket List: “I love visiting places across our own country, but New Zealand is on my travel bucket list—they have such a strong culture there. I’ve also not been back to Guatemala since I was a baby, so that is on my travel list, too.”
Family Destinations: Her mother remarried after her father’s passing and lives in Waynesville, North Carolina, a small resort town located between the Smoky and Blue Ridge mountains. “We love going up there. Maggie Valley (a small town adjacent to Waynesville) is where I learned to snow board.” She is also excited about her sister’s latest move. “They just bought a house in Helen (Georgia), and I’m so excited to be able to visit them.”
Music Moves Her: Tasha loves to dance and loves the local music scene. “I’m a DeFunk girl!” Tasha said, referring to the popular local band.
Community Cheerleader: “We love to support our community and locally-owned businesses. Tramici (she used to work there) is one of our favorite date night places.” Other local favorites include Palm Coast, Palmer’s and Frederica Café on St. Simons and Blue Bay (Mexican restaurant) in Darien.”