Six-time world champion. Number one in the world. Dishwasher safe. All of these phrases have been used to describe prolific water-skier Sammy Duvall. At his self-titled watersports center, Mr. Duvall helps visitors discover the aquatic activities that have defined his life. Piloting speedboats, his staff pulls tubers, wakeboarders, and water-skiers across Bay Lake. A parasail, emblazoned with a smiley-face design, elevates tandem riders over views of Florida's natural terrain and nearby theme parks. The water sport experts also lead jet-ski tours through Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Cypress trees sway in the breeze, lush tropical vegetation soaks up the sunshine, and white sandy beaches glisten nearby as Buena Vista Watersports' rental jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and pontoons tote adventurers across the spring-fed waters of Lake Bryan alongside waterskiers and wakeboarders. The Key West?style resort, located just east of Disney World, allows families and friends to glimpse local wildlife as they skim scenic shorelines and chase picturesque settings at an aquatic reservoir as vast and secluded as Bigfoot's bathtub. The resort's alighted tiki torches and palm trees that border its tiki bar and pavilion attract groups for company picnics or private events such as weddings and parties, during which revelers can partake in watersports, dance to reggae, or watch a fire-dancing show.
After spending their youths on the sea sailing, water skiing, and fishing, Cynthia and Jay realized they were in very real danger of spending their adult lives behind the desks of corporate jobs. So, when they got the chance to re-immerse themselves in the aquatic world by buying an inland marina at Lake Fairview, they jumped at it.
Today, they and their team of certified instructors lead sailing experiences on that glassy blue expanse and rent a wide assortment of seafaring vessels. They pile visitors in pontoon boats, two-person pedal boats, kayaks, and sail boats to navigate the lake for on-water picnics and fishing expeditions. Should renters get hooked on the experience, the staff can happily help them purchase new and used sailboats, fishing boats, runabouts, and ski boats. For land-based celebrations, their tiki hut-style gazebo, complete with a panoramic view of the lakeshore, accommodates guests during company retreats, birthdays, and lake monster sting operations.
In 1994, owners Chris and Margie Long established Boggy Creek Airboat Rides with a single, six-passenger vessel. Recently, their company celebrated its 20th anniversary, and their fleet has grown to more than a dozen boats, and the business has whisked more than one million passengers through Orlando's nearby wetlands. From two locations, Boggy Creek's fan-propelled watercrafts launch into the Florida Everglades, exploring the swampy habitats of gators, turtles, eagles, exotic birds, and exiled Frankensteins. Four different tours offer varied experiences, including a night ride, during which participants observe red-eyed gators prowling for prey. US Coast Guard?certified captains helm every ride, which are safe for explorers of all ages?even infants
There’s nothing like skimming across Lake Tohopekaliga’s surface, propelled by a 500hp fan. That’s the thrilling experience offered by the Wild Willy’s Airboat Tours, which drift in the gentle marsh to catch sights of great blue herons, 12-foot alligators, snails, and other native creatures. All the while, your guide will provide expert information on the lake and the surrounding terrain, plus help you spot the wildlife.
While other tour guides pack groups into 12-passenger boats, Wild Willy’s keeps it passenger numbers low to reduce weight and increase speed. Up to six guests can board one of the airboat, which sail past reeds and Spanish moss before. Afterwards, you can take pictures with resident baby gators Thunder and Half-Stripe in the visitors’ center. And safety is a major focus at Wild Willy’s—guests should arrive 15 minutes before their tour time to receive a Coast Guard-required talk about safety.
Each time Captain DJ McCabe leads a sailing lesson, a smile of familiarity crosses her face at the sight of students' widening eyes as the sails catch wind and glide the boat across Lake Monroe. In the silence of the 9,406-acre freshwater lake, sailors can catch glimpses of rare wildlife as the vessel drifts past bathing manatees, soaring herons, and bald eagles snatching each other's toupees. A range of lessons taught by United States Coast Guard captain acquaint aspiring sailors with the trusty rigs, and more advanced students can sign up for certification courses, which follow ASA teaching curriculums to instill safe and steadfast sailing skills. Stationed adjacent to Monroe Harbour Marina, U-SAIL keeps a fleet of 8 boats ranging from 18 feet to 30 feet long and lavishes sailors on land with amenities such as abundant parking, wireless Internet, showers, and laundry machines. U-SAIL is located in the historic downtown district, which boasts myriad restaurants, art galleries, and unique shops.