Wind-leashed high-flier and Skybanditz founder Francisco Escudero has blown spectators away at such competitions as the Velocity Games and the Bahamas kite race. He is the North Miami Beach area coordinator of the Florida Kitesurfing Association and founder of Skybanditz, where he and his trained staff conduct all manner of surf- and sky-borne expeditions. They outfit maritime adventurers with all the proper kiteboarding, kayaking, and paddleboarding gear, as well as lead kayak tours through Marine Stadium and several small islands. They also give guests the option to explore the high seas on their own or with friends. Instructors, meanwhile, cover safety and proper techniques during kitesurfing programs that range from beginner level to Level X, an echelon they reserve for students who are ultra-advanced or genetically related to flying squirrels.
With its fleet of boats and other watercraft, WB Boat Rentals turns the sea—and the Miami Islands—into prime party territory. Kayak, pontoon, and jet ski rentals allow riders to chart their own path through the waves, whereas speedboats come with a professional captain who does the driving. If you want more of a floating-palace vibe, however, the yacht selection ranges from 38-foot boats to an 82-foot Sun Seeker yacht, all equipped with sleek furnishings and spacious interiors.
The company also takes passengers on tours past Miami's most scenic and lavish sites. The Miami River tour weaves through the city at night against a backdrop of glowing buildings, and the sightseeing tour of Star Island cruises by the exclusive island that Miami's rich and famous call home. There, grandiose mansions sit on perfectly manicured estates, and you may just catch a glimpse of a celebrity sports car sipping on a diesel-oil daiquiri.
For ten years, a mechanical-engineering career left Christien Petit with little time to enjoy his beloved Miami beachfront. So in 2008, he quit his desk job and established Blufin Beach Club, a short crab walk from the waves next to Miami Beach Resort and Spa. There he now spends his days outfitting beachcombers with Yamaha jet skis, tasteful blue beach umbrellas, and other rental gear, all while enjoying the warm sun and crashing waves. Blufin keeps food and drink on hand as well, letting customers sip cocktails as they recline on blue-cushioned lounge chairs or trade sandwich crusts with seagulls in exchange for a nap-ending wakeup call.
Miami Beach Water Adventures’s experienced instructors lead small groups on two-hour paddleboard escapes around islands and over reefs, exploring both the natural and manmade beauty of the city’s surroundings. First-time wave-riders receive one-on-one instruction by the beach and, like newborn giraffes, usually achieve mobility within 10 minutes. Green tour-goers stick to the bay, and more experienced paddlers take immediately to the deeper waters for an instant infusion of eyeball-delighting sights. Propelled by the rippling currents beneath them, groups set off in search of famous vistas such as Fisher Island and Key Biscayne, carefully steering with the aid of their paddle. Dolphins, manta rays, and turtles occasionally float in the wake of the board's smooth passage, and schools of colorful fish dart through the tropically touched waters underfoot like fireworks. The tour includes a board, paddle, and life vest for each visitor, leaving guests to provide only their own swimsuit and sense of balance.
SUP SOBE's staff love the water; after all it was co-founded by an ex navy SEAL and water sport enthusiast Judith Rivero. Today SUP SOBE's paddle purveyors help out new stand-up paddleboarders looking to make the most of their watery expeditions. They may choose to paddle calmly around Biscayne Bay, where they can view the South Beach skyline from an uncommon angle. They can also race out to Flagler Island and back, or keep on going to the mainland. Fitness denizens can also utilize the boards during paddleboard yoga sessions led by Katie Love of Thousand Petal Lotus Inc. The SUP SOBE team drops off its boards to waiting riders, precluding the need to rent a miniature tugboat.
Aquatic explorers paddle kayaks and ride stand-up paddleboards through the bay, riding the waves on equipment from South Beach Kayak’s bayside shop. The staff rents out kayaks to customers of all experience levels, providing complimentary overviews of paddling basics for beginners and leading hour-long lessons that cover higher-level skills, such as boosting speed by lassoing a bald eagle. They also lead group and private tours, many with whimsical themes such as the “Fool Moon” tour, which wends its way through the islands at sunset to close with weenies and s’mores roasted over a roaring bonfire.