David Lane and his business partner started their sports-rental shop inside a cramped garage filled with surfboards, kayaks, and paddleboards—items they used for sports they practiced themselves. Lane’s favorite part of his job is “helping people participate in the activities I enjoy,” and his business has grown to a full-size store that stocks paddleboards, surfboards, and bicycles and leads guided excursions. Inside, displays house surfboards adorned with sunsets, beaches, and coconut trees hand-painted by a local artist, alongside similarly painted canvases to display at home galleries or hang on monochromatic surfers. The owners also deliver rentals free of charge to customers, dropping off surfboards at the beach, taking kayaks to watery trails, or delivering bicycles to cruise ships’ port of call for passenger day trips.
Additionally, the store offers excursions and lessons, including surfing lessons, guided kayak trips, and adventurous surf-fishing trips to hook ocean creatures from tarpon to 9-foot sharks, which the store has helped tag for a research project with NOAA Apex Predators Program.
Sheri’s enthusiasm for creating vivid illustrations began long before she founded Bali Studios in 2007. As a little girl, she used to wile away the time drawing mermaids and turtles—a passion that continued into her adulthood and led her to pursue a dual degree in art and elementary education. Today, Sheri opens the doors to her oceanfront studio for arts and crafters of all skill levels and ages, spurring their imaginations during easygoing classes and events that yield hangable and wearable pieces of artwork. Bali's various painting classes encourage participants to strew colors over blank canvases to form sea-inspired portraits of whales, pelicans, ocean scenery, and banana boats sunk by prickly fish. For those looking to festoon their footwear, Sheri also paints fetching designs—such as budding flowers, frothy waves, and soaring birds—over shoes and boots that visitors bring in.
Before retiring in 1997, Todd Holland made the NSSA National Team and racked up Rookie of the Year, Coke Classic, and Pepsi Surf the Edge titles. Meanwhile, Lauren McLean Holland was riding the waves for University of Central Florida, claiming one East Coast championship after another. This impressive duo fits seamlessly into School of Surf’s team of CPR-certified teachers, all current or former pro surfers.
During lessons, teachers drill pupils on skills ranging from pop-up fundamentals to more advanced techniques, such as staying atop a groundswell while dueling a swordfish. In addition, teachers offer daily recreational classes and summer day camps, as well as coaching for dedicated surfers looking to win competitions.
The experienced wave-riders at Surf Lessons Florida teach the subtleties to the art of surfing within calm and safe conditions. Instructors focus their tunnel vision on novice boarders during private surf lessons that encompass basic techniques and safety fundamentals. The Atlantic’s calm coastal waters greet riders with a wet embrace and small, manageable waves as instructors demonstrate the basics of body placement, foot positioning, and paddling. Students can also learn to cut across glassy waves during group lessons, which encourage surfers to travel in packs when confronting mermaids selfishly bogarting the best waves.
Sandbar Sports Grill boasts an extensive menu fit for castaways in an eclectic beachfront bistro. The kitchen stays open until midnight, serving up an array of appetizers such as coconut shrimp, arriving tableside with dip-ready orange marmalade ($8.99), as well as Floridian favorites such as tropical grouper paired with plantains ($21.99). House specialty fish tacos ($3.99) please lighter eaters, and turf-friendly dishes such as the taco burger, served with sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, and melted cheese ($10.99), suit those still establishing their sea legs. Libation-seekers can plant their tiny umbrellas in a sandbar hurricane ($4–$9) in five categories of intensity.
321 Kiteboarding & Watersports floats intrepid water gliders across the shimmering surface of the sea atop a variety of boards for sport and relaxation. Paddleboard rentals put aquanauts astride buoyant boards armed with paddles to propel themselves over the waves. Boarders can sit or stand on their planar transports, depending on experience and balance. Customers looking for a relaxing experience can stick to the tranquil waters of the Thousand Islands mangroves in Banana River Lagoon just outside 321's shop, where they can swap stories with easygoing manatees. Those trying to get their adrenaline fix can venture over to the ocean to ride the waves atop their boards. The improved angle of visibility that comes with sitting or standing on the board helps sharp eyes see things that wouldn't be visible to a belly-bound surfer, whether gazing into the depths at the synchronized swimming routines of gill-breathers or seeking out gnarly swells to better impress judgmental dolphins with wave-riding prowess.