Growing up, Butch Finnigan frequented the Atlantic Ocean with his father and grandfather, reveling in the rush of netting a big catch. Matt Riley found similar solace atop the ocean's seemingly endless bounty, where he and his family enjoyed each other's company as they fished. More than two decades later, the veteran anglers have become captains and co-founders of Xtreme Saltwater Angler. They assemble all necessary components for fishing excursions into the big blue, including signature lures and apparel, portable lighthouses, and the expertise needed to guide fishing charters and eco-tours.
The captains and their staff switch up their charters from brief inshore jaunts into the famed Mosquito Lagoon, Canaveral National Seashore, and Indian River Lagoon system to lengthier saltwater fishing trips into the Atlantic. Close to shore, anglers snap up species such as red and black drum, sea trout, and famished free divers, while deeper waters teem with cobia, kingfish, grouper, and yellowfin tuna. The sailors also nurture relationships with nature on eco-tours that explore more than 2,100 plant species and 2,200 animal species, including some of the U.S.'s most diverse flocks of birds.
An area native, Captain Ron Hatcher cast his line for the first time at the tender age of 7 and never looked back. Fifty years later, he knows the Halifax River and Ponce Inlet area like the back of his hand, and shares his knowledge with those who head out with him during chartered fishing trips. Providing rods, reels, and bait, Capt. Ron's fishing adventures are suited for curious beginners and more experienced passengers alike.
Once a support vessel that transported oil-rig workers around the Gulf of Mexico, the 100-foot-long Pastime Princess now takes up to 100 anglers on deep-sea fishing trips between 11 and 23 miles off shore. Beyond transporting fishermen into these Atlantic waters, the Pastime Princess maintains guests' comfort with air conditioning, bathrooms cleaned daily, and a galley where chefs prepare a menu of grilled fare. The boat's crew supplies anglers of all skills levels with necessary gear, including bait, and furnishes passengers with fishing licenses. They also clean catches, which guests can tote home or have cooked at Dolphin View Seafood Restaurant upon returning to land. To enhance revelry aboard the boat, hands organize a winner-take-all jackpot for whoever catches the largest edible fish or still-useable mattress. A FAQ page anticipates common questions and lists some recommendations, such as advising anglers to arrive 45 minutes before departure and to bring coolers no larger than 20 inches.
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.
The waters off Florida's Atlantic coast teem with fish whose bright, sometimes breath-taking colors belie their fierceness. Take a blue marlin unfurling its cobalt sail as it strips line off a fisherman's reel, or a mahi-mahi flashing its chartreuse sides before bolting away at up to 50 miles per hour. At Sea Spirit Fishing, Captain Mike Mulholland and his crew supply anglers with all necessary tackle for hooking these trophies, welcoming passengers aboard the US Coast Guard–licensed Sea Spirit. Rated for up to 65 passengers, this 65-foot, custom-built party boat quickly motors out to the deep sea thanks to its twin 650-seahorsepower engines. After showing passengers how to land piscine prizes, Sea Spirit's crew also cleans the catches so anglers can make their own seafood stews at home without adding Goldfish crackers, for once.
It would be hard for Ormond Beach Kayak Center to have a better location. To its east stretches the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, and to its west lies the Tomoka River. Trees overhang the river's waters, and the marsh offers opportunities to spy birds, deer, deer dressed like giant birds, and other wildlife. Ormond Beach Kayak Center makes use of its scenery with fishing, surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. The team leads tours and lessons, and they also ferry rental gear to and from the ocean or river.