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.
Victory Casino Cruises' four decks of maritime merriment abound with more than 600 slot machines, 30 table games, and an expansive food selection including hot entrees, meat carving and pasta station. The floating party ship sails out on five-hour morning and evening voyages that combine sweeping ocean views with the interior entertainments of casino games including craps, roulette, blackjack, and Duck Duck Goose. While testing their luck, gamers can request drinks from the Victory Girls, a roving band of waitresses who may just serve up luck alongside cocktails, beers, and tropical beverages. For extra entertainment, the ship’s Club V offers a beat-filled dance floor for celebration shimmies, and the Sportsbook Lounge houses tellers ready to take bets on football, basketball, or baseball. On the first deck, a buffet spread refuels gamers with carved meats, fresh seafood, and comfort foods.
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.
When the warm season arrives, the team at Epic Boardsports strives to get locals and visitors out and enjoying nearby tropical waterways such as Banana River lagoon. For the uninitiated as well as the experienced, knowledgeable guides lead stand-up paddleboard tours around the lagoon to share local lore and point out manatees, seabirds, and dolphins playing Jenga in their natural habitat. The team also gives paddleboard lessons at Banana River or on the ocean, and rents and sells top-flight Hawaiian Pro Designs surfboards for aquatic adventurers looking to go paddle-less. Kiteboards by brands such as the versatile Jimmy Lewis, designed to enhance every style of boarding, give wave athletes one more way to soar over the sea. Fostering a year-round passion for extreme board sports, the team can send skiers down powder-covered mountainsides in style with boards, boots, and accessories.
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.