If you look for AWOL Adventure Sports on Trip Advisor, be prepared to encounter an extreme number of exclamation points:
AWOL is so awesome! I highly recommend this place if you are looking for something fun to do in Twin!! This was so much fun!!!!
After kayaking to the base of Shoshone Falls, exploring Pillar Falls, or zip lining through the Snake River Canyon, it’s easy to understand the enthusiasm behind these reviews. AWOL Adventure Sports facilitates outdoor activities to help Magic Valley locals and visitors experience everything the unique Southern Idaho landscape has to offer.
Paddleboards, Pontoons and Kayaks, Oh My!
When AWOL founders Paul and Krysta Melni earned the bid to manage 40 craft rentals at Centennial Park, they didn’t anticipate the amount of success that awaited them. Within a year, AWOL expanded to a total of 60 kayaks and paddleboards and opened a 700-square-foot retail shop. Although the business continued to grow, Paul said AWOL didn’t reach its full potential until the company obtained an outfitters license a few years later.
“With that license in hand, we were finally playing with the big dogs and today, in our sixth year, we’re adding guided pontoon tours and kayaking trips to our portfolio.”
Now housed in a 4,000-square-foot facility and up more than 7,000 reservations in 2020 from the previous year, Paul said the COVID-19 pandemic created an unexpected boost in business as folks looked for safe ways to get their family out of the house.
“You can’t get more socially distant than to be in the center of a 10-and-a-half-foot kayak in the middle of a river,” he said.
In addition to kayaking, paddle boarding and pontoon tours, AWOL is home to scenic zip line tours and a full-service scuba shop and certification facility.
“People are surprised to hear that part of our business revolves around scuba diving, especially considering we’re in a land-locked state,” Paul said. “Idaho certainly isn’t a scuba diving mecca, but we do have mountain lakes with incredible sights below the surface, including remnants of old mining towns.”
For those interested in underwater exploration beyond nearby locations like Dierkes Lake, AWOL hosts international dive trips to destinations including Belize, Fiji, Micronesia and more.
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
Although the AWOL staff hosts customers from dozens of countries, Paul said much of their business comes from nearby residents seeking entertainment for their out-of-town guests, or from those who are eager to explore their own backyard.
“Nearly every other day during the summer we host someone who is seeing Pillar or Shoshone Falls for the first time, and many of them are lifelong Magic Valley residents,” he said. “It’s humbling to know they choose to spend their money with us. We take pride in helping to sustain their happiness and promote exploration.”
The gratitude and admiration Paul holds for the Twin Falls community extends beyond the pool of AWOL customers to local businesses. As the city balances its small-town charm with inevitable expansion, he is confident the business community will remain tight knit.
“Businesses in Twin Falls are incredibly supportive,” he said. “Even during COVID, companies in the area were buying kayaks and classes from us to share with the community. It’s a group that’s always looking for new ways to give back and uplift one another.”
To learn more about AWOL Adventure Sports or book an excursion, visit www.awoladventuresports.com. Explore their full-service dive and kayak shop at 701 2nd Avenue South, Twin Falls, Idaho.