The Floridian sun sparkles off rolling waves, reflecting dancing patterns of light onto the white-and-red hull of Aquaworld Miami’s excursion vessel, the Caribbean Spirit . The double-masted catamaran catches the gulf’s gusty winds in its twin sails to journey to a shallow sandbar for a day of watersports, offloading jet skis, banana boats, and a parasailing-equipped speed boat into the knee-deep water. On Atlantic Ocean excursions, the 78-foot vessel parks over a shallow water shipwreck for guests equipped with snorkels to explore. The rhythmic thump of the waves combines with Calypso music that constantly drifts from the boat’s speakers, offering the only method of sonar capable of identifying an undersea dance party.
Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
Miami Golf pairs a technologically refined training center and a vast selection of golf gear to help golfers hone their game year-round. Rather than attempting to craft their own wedges by taping doorstops to the end of fishing poles, golfers can visit the retail section, which sells clubs, clothing, and equipment from top brands such as Adidas, Ben Hogan, Momentus Golf, and TaylorMade. Miami Golf's practice studio offers game-grooming lessons and services that enlist swing-tracking technology, video swing analysis, and launch monitors, which use Doppler technology to record variables such as spin, ball speed, and the likelihood of indoor thunderstorms. Students can further enhance their swings with custom club-fitting services, which measure swing profile and body dimensions to pair players with their optimal set of clubs. Club technicians also provide repairs and adjustments for broken shafts or players who need an experimental grip to start putting with their feet.
Thanks to its warm climate and ocean-affronting locale, Miami offers many opportunities for great snorkeling and scuba diving. There are some 57 dive locations in and around the metro area, though far fewer dive shops that cater to experts and novices alike. Thankfully, Grove Scuba exists, and can certify you for dives before outfitting you with the proper gear. Often considered one of Miami’s best dive shops, Grove Scuba can even provide classes Spanish, with both beginner certifications and instructor training available. In addition to classes and its retail operation – outfitted with the latest and best products – the store offers daily dive and snorkel trips in Miami and Key Biscayne.
TriJungle suits athletes up with an extensive stock of cycling gear, running clothes, swimsuits, and performance-enhancing nutritional supplements. Staffer Magui boasts experience as a triathlete, marathon runner, and spin instructor, an impressive resumé that she taps to help customers select the right gear. She can also guide shoppers through the store's aisles of nutritional supplements, athlete-strength sunscreen, and ear-drying aids to use in the event they're squirted with the water gun that traditionally announces the start of a race.
H2O Dive Center—located in North Miami Beach—facilitates safe diving experiences with a staff of SSI–certified instructors, who oversee informative ocean-exploration courses and quality equipment rentals. During dips in the center's pool, professional scuba divers prep beginners for open-water dives, demonstrating properly using the equipment and techniques for luring sea turtles into pulling you ashore. Seasoned divers can further their studies during advanced diving courses or a three-part open-water certification course.