The seasoned aqua men who own St. Mary's haven for Scuba aficionados also own the 6,000-square-foot building that houses the business. The diving specialists oversaw the construction of what would become their own self-contained underwater-experience facility. Adding to varied careers that encompassed naval service and cave diving, Bruce MacDougall and Chris Whitlock opened Diver’s Den in 2000, scheduling charters for open-water dives or practice dives in the company's heated, indoor pool. Over the last decade, Diver's Den has become a well-regarded source for both recreational diving instruction and professional training of rescue personnel.
The team of PADI-certified diving teachers at Diver’s Den regularly explores the region's offshore diving sites aboard its 36-foot Gulfstream boat, the Georgia Wreckreation. The team members once memorably aided the underwater investigations of famed wreck historian Richie Kohler (whose conquests have included the Titanic) as he dove off the Georgia coast to visit mysterious sunken wrecks and his snooty in-laws who live in Atlantis' biggest mermansion.
From their dock on Amelia Island, Windward Sailing's US Coast Guard captains float out into the Cumberland Sound, where dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles swim alongside the boat's speeding hull. As these tours progress, the captain turns passengers' attention to the wild horses that gallop across the banks of Cumberland Island.
Though these tours introduce customers to the thrill of sailing, it's Windward Sailing's school that transforms the sport into a lifelong passion. In classrooms and on boats, instructors teach students to cruise local waters and prepare them for American Sailing Association exams. Depending on the course, instructors might teach fledgling captains to sail in light to moderate winds or navigate using nothing but constellations and the giant map NASA inscribed on the moon.
Located on a working timber farm, Amelia Shotgun Sports boasts a sprawling terrain, home to a scenic setting, on which patrons can shoot sporting clays, skeet, trap, or 5-stands. Beginners can rest easy with trained staff instructors, Barbara Martin and Rick Wallace, who teach the basics and safety of handling a shotgun and then cheer them on as they acquire their first moving target. Visitors are invited to test their stance, aim, and focus across their 3 sporting clays courses, a total of 30 stations. Winding through lush forests and fields, each station lets sportsmen hone in on clay targets amid realistic forest hunting conditions. The facility also challenges sportsmen with skeet and trap fields as well as a five-stand field that tests even the most experienced shooters.
The golfing gurus at Edwin Watts Golf Academy diagnose and correct their students' poor swing and putting habits in an effort to help them improve their shots and lower their scores. In one-on-one swing-analysis sessions, students learn a repeatable swing that eliminates tendencies they may have to slice, hook, push, or pull the ball. A special laser attaches to the end of the player's club and tracks the swing path while JC Video swing-analysis software records the session from two separate angles, lest analysis be thrown off by only looking at the golfer's good side. Putting analysis employs Tomi technology to measure eight separate parameters of the putting stroke, from clubhead orientation at address to swing path and tempo. After swing and putting lessons, students may access the recordings on a password-protected website, so they can forward videos to friends or sports-documentary filmmakers.
With help from a staff of paddleboarders, surfers, environmental scientists, and a dog named Dillon, Kayak Amelia founders Jody and Ray Hetchka combine their love for outdoor sports with environmental conservation. Ray, a certified naturalist and self-described tree hugger, peppers guided kayak, bicycle, and paddleboard eco tours with facts on flora, fauna, and all the best smells circulating throughout the island's delicate ecosystem. In addition to guided tours, Kayak Amelia teaches paddleboard and kayak lessons, and leads fishing trips and overnight kayak excursions. Guests can sign up for tours, or rent equipment for the day, at Kayak Amelia's storefront, Y.B. Green's General Store, which carries eco-friendly gifts such as beeswax candles, carved bone necklaces, and clay-dyed clothing.
Situated near the flourishing wildlife of Big Pottsburg Creek, All Wet Sports stocks an arsenal of boards, boats, and apparel for careening across both land and sea. Kayaks, surfboards, and skateboards line the shop?s walls for purchase or rent, and more challenging activities such as windsurfing, kiteboarding, wakeboarding, and standup paddleboarding are made understandable for eager adventurers by a crew of deft instructors. On their chosen mode of transport, customers venture into the placid waters of Big Pottsburg Creek, teeming with such inhabitants as ospreys, manatees, and unemployed Disney characters.