It’s almost impossible to go 10 miles in Florida without coming across some kind of water-borne activity, whether it’s on the seas or a river or lake. This is water-sports territory par excellence.
Kayaking, canoeing and boating are almost universal in both areas, and the ability to rent any kind of boat or paddling contraption go hand in hand with the water. It’s hard to point out specific areas where you might want to give any of them a try, but the St Johns River is hugely popular with kayakers, as is Crystal River, Kissimmee, Weedon Island Preserve, the Daytona Beach area and throughout the Keys.
By the same token, if there is a bit of beach to be found, the chances are there will be somebody offering boating, parasailing, kayaking or jet-skiing (or wave-runners, as they should properly be called). At Clearwater Beach, there are a couple of opportunities to go out in a powerful speedboat to ride the waves at high speed, as well as indulge in several dolphin-watching tours, which are popular along the intracoastal waterway that lines much of the state.
If you want to go sailing, there are marinas all along the Gold Coast that specialise in various types of yachting. Or how about ballooning? Central Florida is great territory for an early-morning balloon ride, and you will find several companies offering this exciting activity, notably Orlando Balloon Rides.
Surfing, Diving & Water-skiing
The Atlantic coast can also be surprisingly good for surfing, with regular events – and lessons – in places like St Augustine, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Cocoa Beach, Sebastian Inlet and Boynton Beach. The Gulf Coast tends to be calmer, and also offers the rare chance to scalloping – diving for scallops – in Homosassa Springs and Crystal River from July to September. Crystal River is also the only place in America where it is legal to swim with manatees, which makes for another amazing opportunity.
Scuba-diving is yet another major activity off both coasts but is particularly prevalent in the Keys, where there are extensive coral and man-made reefs to explore, and the marine life is spectacular. Look out for this opportunity especially at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo.
Water-skiing devotees, and for those keen to learn, will find the Orlando Watersports Complex the perfect place to try their hand, as well as the chance to try wake-boarding and knee-boarding.