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.
On Biscayne Bay, halfway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, a wild wonderland awaits. Oleta River State Park is Florida's largest urban park, brimming with bike paths, native wildlife, and a river that practically beckons to boaters and manatees in disguise. Luckily, the Blue Moon Outdoor Center lends adventurers the right tools for exploring the park's untamed beauty. The store's bike, canoe, kayak, and board rentals offer several different ways to travel, and the nearby Blue Marlin Fish House?once featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives?helps visitors to recharge after a day of trekking.
Although he earned his fortunes as a businessman, Charles Deering's true passion was for art and culture. He filled his home with sculptures, drawings, paintings, and other works?some of which he created himself. After he passed away in 1927, The Deering Estate at Cutler has kept his spirit alive; his former home and its surrounding natural landscapes now operate as a cultural meeting place for the community?one that hosts art festivals, artist lectures, and The Living Artist Concert Series.
Hirooka Surf and Sport's water sports instructors love the unpredictability of the ocean?it's part of the thrill of surfing and standup paddleboarding, after all. But they also know the potential danger this unpredictability brings. That's why employees temper their enthusiasm for the sea with a reverence for its power, and safety always comes first when they splash into the water with students. Students can work on balance, strength, and stamina while gliding across Miami Beach's calm waters on a standup paddle board. Lessons, rentals, and tours are available for groups, or individuals can opt for private lessons.
The type of student depends on the season. In the fall and spring, winds flow across the Miami waters at a pace steadier than weight gain during the holidays, making the waves perfect for kite-surfing. And when it dies down a bit during summer months, standup paddleboarding rises to prominence. Of course, if the elements aren't conducive to either, pupils can always partake in a wakeboarding lesson or session or have a staring contest with their reflection in a puddle.
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.