When patrons exit RiverGirl Fishing Co.'s historic train depot for their aquatic kayak and tubing lessons, they're placed in the charge of the outfit's founder, Kelly McCoy. During tours of the New River, which runs north through Todd, she educates guests about the area's natural landscape.
During the winter she heads to Florida, where she leads groups out onto the calm, peaceful waters of the Choctawatchee River from access points such as the Port Washington boat ramp near Eden Garden State Park, the scenic 30-acre gulf coast, or the black creek, and then guides the flotilla into the region's untamed natural beauty. As a fisheries biologist, Kelly's passion helps visitors and locals enjoy the surrounding landscape with conservation-conscious activities.
Just off the beach, a man floats over the water, suspended in the air by streams of water jetting from his hands and feet as though he were testing an Iron Man–inspired apparatus. This back-mounted pack—called a Flyboard—works through a propulsive system that continually intakes and rapidly expels water, pushing the rider into the air or wherever he or she directs it to fly. The Flyboard, along with aqua trikes, WaveRunners, pontoon boats, kayaks, and standup paddleboards, comprise the unique rental fleet of Power Up Watersports. With these advanced watercrafts, Power Up’s team hopes to evolve Destin’s watersports scene, which includes plans to train the area’s dolphins to serve drinks.
Since driving a car on water isn't possible—yet—Destin Power Boats offers a better way to transport oneself over the tides with mint-condition vessels. Prestocked with USCG-approved safety equipment, the company's fleet features Baja and Searay boats that seat up to eight riders apiece. The fleet also revs up with supercharged seadoos, which boast 215-horsepower motors and are strong enough to carry multiple passengers or tow a small island. For customers in search of a unique thrill, Destin Power Boats also offers thrilling spins on the Flyboard—a high-tech device that propels users into the sky and under the water's surface.
S.E.A. Chase Watersports outfits oceanic explorers with kayaks and pontoon boats for leisurely exploration of Destin's waterfront. Nestled under a pontoon’s shade, instructors teach guests go over Emerald Coast boating rules. They then allow customers to set sail or kayak, cruising through the Choctawhatchee Bay to Crab Island, Noriega Point, or past Poseidon’s luxury yacht. Guests with fishing licenses and their own gear can rent the 18-foot pontoon boat, which is replete with fishing holders and a live well.
With a fleet of kayaks and standup paddleboards, Bay Paddlesports gives guests a chance to glide across the coastal waters of Destin under their own steam. The coastal company rents out 12' Bote-brand paddleboards, which offer a sturdy perch on which guests can stand as they propel their vessel through the surf. Those who wish to sit back as they roam the tides can do so in one of Bay Paddlesports' Old Town?brand kayaks.
A quartet of golf courses hug the beaches of the Choctawhatchee Bay at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, presenting oceanside fairways and greens that showcase the handiwork of some of golf's finest course designers. As the former host of two PGA Champions Tour events and recipient of multiple accolades, Raven Golf Club runs through swamps and pines, forming a 6,900-yard layout designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. His brother, Rees Jones, designed the neighboring Burnt Pine Golf Club course, which was once referred to as the "Crown Jewel of Florida Golf" by Golf Magazine. Tom Jackson designed the other two courses, using elevation changes to his advantage in the Baytowne Golf Club course and emulating the old courses of coastal Britannia with The Links Course.
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort offers more than golf at its 2,400-acre property. Players scamper and slide across three hard-courts and twelve HydroGrid clay courts at the Sandestin Tennis Center, which hosts matches day and night. Soft, white sand awaits guests at the beach, and the resort rents out chairs, umbrellas, and cabanas. Boogie boards and kayaks are available for those who want to enjoy the benefits of buoyancy without filling their bathing suit with helium.