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.
Cocoa Beach locals know that it's rare to spot Bill Kowalik on dry land. The Puerto Rico–born seafarer is at home on the water, constantly surfing, kayaking, or leading tours across the Florida Space Coast. Bill’s as passionate about the environment as he is about watersports, enthusiastically exploring the area's diverse waterways while taking pains to leave the least impact on the protected waters. Along with his team of trained instructors, he leads individuals, groups, and families on kayak tours through lush mangroves and island channels, pointing out dolphins, manatees, and exotic birds.
While leisurely paddling along the Indian River, dolphins and manatees swim beside a kayak as a guide points out some of the 300 species of native birds soaring overhead. This is the kind of memorable experience that many customers have had during Island Time Kayaking’s two- to four-hour tours of Cocoa Beach’s waterways. The experienced team at Island Time Kayaking instructs future kayak captains on the basics before launching, so even those brand new to kayaking can partake in laid-back jaunts, which include stops at remote islands where guests can dip their toes in the sand and put seashells to their ears. Kayaking equipment and mermaid repellent are included, and sunset tours are also available.
At Daytona Beach Parasail, flightless humans can highlight day trips to Daytona Beach with a parasail adventure. After taking off from the flight deck of a boat piloted by a USCG-licensed captain, customers soar 2,000 feet in the air, which is the perfect height for catching scenic glimpses of the world-famous shoreline. No previous knowledge of parasailing is required. The entire excursion takes about 45 minutes, which includes the boat trip out and back. Single flights last about 8 minutes; customers can team up with Groupon-bearing friends for a tandem flight, which will keep them floating for 14–16 minutes. Pack your camera if you want a friend to snap pictures of your airborne antics. Ferry customers receive free shuttle service to and from the boat.
Perched on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway, Paddleboard New Smyrna Beach populates Florida’s placid waves with professional-grade standup paddleboards and kayaks cared for by expert guides. Whether leading beginners’ lessons in a protected lagoon or explaining the nuances of vehicle control before sending guests on a free-wheeling rental, the team prepares guests for jaunts around the waterway’s palm-lined shores. Pushing off from the center’s North Causeway dock, two-hour tours find the guides in their natural element, shepherding guests toward wildlife areas saturated with manatees, dolphins, and wrestlers practicing for the alligator bonus round at the next big meet.
Drawing from experience in activities such as surfing, kiteboarding, snowboarding, and wakeboarding, the staff at Sandy Point Progressive Sports pour all of their energy into instructing others in outdoor extreme sports. They helm one-on-one lessons on kitesurfing and standup paddleboarding throughout central Florida’s waters, as well as kayak and standup paddleboard eco tours, during which guides point out native plants and wildlife while helping paddlers navigate wetlands, rivers, and inlets. As part of their involvement in the local community, they also conduct free kayaking and standup-paddleboarding demonstrations, where representatives of popular brands arrive with new equipment to test and then sacrifice to Poseidon in exchange for fair waters. In addition to lessons, staffers rent and sell up-to-date gear such as backpacks for hiking and camping, canoes and kayaks, and kiteboards and snowboards.