Oceanside Paddlesports' knowledgeable instructors—who are professional standup-paddleboard racers—hook customers up with rental equipment and teach them how to skim across the waters around Daytona Beach in standup paddleboards. The outfit also specializes in surfing, outrigger canoeing, and kayaking, offering lessons and tours with each activity. For those who want their own equipment, the shop sells gear by brands such as Piranha, Kialoa, and Boga.
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.
On father-son fishing trips, Bart Swab’s dad taught him not only how to cast his line but also how to treat the aquatic ecosystem surrounding him with respect. Now a licensed and insured guide, Swab helps other fisherman appreciate the open water’s beauty, helming kayak trips through Florida’s pristine saltwater marshes. After arming prospective kayakers with safety tips and familiarizing them with their fishing equipment, Swab guides lead paddlers into the water. They maintain a 3-inch draft that allows students in kayaks to sneak up on fish without having to glue sequins to their skin to look like scales. Kayakers can also gaze through binoculars at the diverse fauna roaming the area’s shores. Trips range from a half day to a full day, and for a more structured route, participants can opt for destination trips to seasonal hot spots, where they can search out fish such as black drum, sheepshead, and tarpon.
Amateur surfers are a lot like newborn fawns: they’re wide-eyed, full of life, and not so great at standing. That’s why head instructor and founder of Surfari Surf, Rick Gehris—along with his team of seasoned instructors—begins every first-time lesson by introducing a simple, achievable goal: stand. To increase the chances of success, Gehris and his instructors—well versed in Hawaiian, Californian, and Floridian surfing methods—hop right into the water to assist students as they cut into the waves. The instructors hang off the tails of their surfboards, stabilizing each board and repositioning students until they’re ready to take to the open water and try out their pickup lines on the nearest, cute-enough dolphin.
In addition to surf lessons and camps, instructors also show off their athletic prowess during standup-paddleboard lessons, which often are supplemented by independent board rentals.
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.
Guests are never far from the sand or surf at Hidden Treasure Tiki Bar & Grill, where American cuisine meets ocean views. Fittingly, the menu is stuffed to the gills with seafood, from wild gator-tail and crab-cake appetizers to entrees of Maine lobster, stuffed shrimp, and sea scallops. Diners can also chow down on burgers, pasta, and barbecued pork chops. The laid-back spot combines these eats with on-the-water fun by renting out hydrobikes.