Shake It Up

By: Lauren Tjaden

10 water sports to spice up your time by the Florida seashore.

A beach trip offers abundant opportunities to try new adventures above, on and under the waves. Here are suggestions for – and information about – sports that are especially suited to the Sunshine State seashore.

  • Enter a tournament, book a charter, dangle your line off a pier or cast it into the surf, but definitely hook into some family-friendly fun and go fishing. Islamorada and Destin (known as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village") are two destinations famed for their plentiful, hungry underwater populations.
  • Whether you’re in Miami, Martin County or Bonita Springs, JetSkiing provides the perfect medicine for a bored beach bunny. An afternoon bouncing over the surf in one of these speedy, fun machines is guaranteed to leave you smiling. Age restrictions apply.
  • Kiteboarding is king in the Florida Keys with its abundance of shallow, flat waters and laminar winds. This wind-driven adrenaline sport is fun for the whole family, but it’s not without risk, so make sure to start with lessons from a qualified instructor or school.
  • From Key West to Pensacola to Marco Island, parasailing provides a peaceful yet exhilarating way to enjoy unsurpassed, panoramic beach views. Although not physically demanding, weight and age limits may apply. Be prepared to get wet!
  • Fresh air, water and adventure sound like your cup of sunshine? Consider sailing. If you know how to sail, you can rent a boat – but if you don’t know the bow from the stern, don’t despair. You can learn how to sail in a special course on your vacation. While the Sunshine State features a plethora of places to set sail, Charlotte Harbor and Fernandina Beach are especially sweet.
  • Beware of SCUBA diving: Try it and it may become your life’s passion. A Discover SCUBA program will let you experience a real ocean dive without being certified. Southeast Florida is the ideal location to test your fins, boasting more dive shops and dive boats than anywhere else on the planet. Age and health restrictions apply.
  • Easy, inexpensive snorkeling allows the whole family a glimpse of the wonderful and often strange underwater world. Spot rays “flying” over the ocean floor, admire colorful fish and sea turtles and watch coral and sponges swaying to the mysterious rhythms of the deep in locations such as Bahia Honda State Park or the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys.
  • Surfing’s cool, addictive – and challenging! Snagging a lesson or two will make your experience infinitely more pleasant. Besides giving you helpful hints, your instructor will ensure that you learn in a suitable spot and on suitable gear. Famed Sebastian Inlet State Park boasts the best breaks, but Cocoa Beach, with its gentle, consistent waves, is better for beginners.
  • South Beach, Islamorada and the Banana River in Merritt Island are a few of the cherry Sunshine State locations to windsurf. Invest in a lesson to learn to harness the wind, and you’ll save yourself a boatload of frustration.
  • If you have to ask what YOLO boarding is, you’re out of the loop! The new, hot sport of stand up paddleboarding is a perfect fit for destinations such as Naples, Grayton Beach State Park (between Panama City Beach and Destin) and just off Captiva Island (by Fort Myers). Where does the name come from? Its initials stand for “You Only Live Once.”

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