The Best in America (We Think)
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Florida is predominantly water. We might be “The Sunshine State,” but whoever wrote that slogan was standing on a beach when they did.
We’re not just about the ocean though; we’ve got lakes, rivers, swamps and lagoons, too.
So what do we do with all of this water and sunshine? We get into and out of it in every conceivable way, and maybe a few you didn’t realize. We’re an industrious lot here; give us a paddle, or a motor, and something that floats, and we’ll make an activity out of it. SpaceCoast LIVING stood up from our beach chairs long enough to have a look around
at the state of water sports in the area. What follows isn’t a directory, but more a drop in the bucket of what’s available to the very adventurous and the much less so. So grab a towel and some sunscreen, you’re going to get wet!
Let’s start with boating. Many of us own boats, or have friends who ask us out in theirs, but if you don’t have access to either and want a boat for a day or weekend, there are numerous places to rent. A quick search engine hunt finds no less than 20 from rowboat rentals to charter fishing trips. You just pick the size of the boat you’d like and drop a dime. With vessels from 10’ to 100’, the fish don’t stand a chance! You’ll be able to charter a boat, or rent a boat fully equipped to head out on your own. Some of the fishing boats have three or four motors and more horsepower than all of the SUVs in your neighborhood combined. We count about 68 fishing charter companies in Brevard, and there are likely more. From Bag’em, Captain Michah and Orlando Fishing Charters in Titusville, to Sea Leveler, OFishal Business and Fired Up Charters in Cape Canaveral, to those in the central part of the county like All Water Adventures, Florida’s Adventures in Paradise, Cast Away, and Fin & Fly Charters closer to Cocoa Beach, and a school of others in southern Brevard like Sebastian Gypsy, or the Big Easy Sportfishing Charter, you’re more than likely to catch fish and a tan. Most of these are five- star rated on the popular travel sites; we just can’t guarantee fish will jump on your hook.
If you want to access boats on a more ready basis, consider 321 Boat Club which offers daily and weekly access on a variety of boat styles for a set fee + initiation. More about them in our story on page 49.
We get the attraction of jumping on a well-equipped powerful fishing boat and letting the crew handle your every fishing need, but we’d not be doing Brevard justice if we
didn’t tell you that a kayak on the Indian River Lagoon, a fishing rod, and some bait is a completely sublime experience. There is just something about being eight inches from the water, and seeing the flora and fauna (and the manatees) up close. Of course, you don’t have to like fishing; sometimes a relaxing paddle is enough to fill your day, and we get that, too. SpaceCoast Living found about 20 shops from eco-tours to fishing rentals.
There is one special attraction we’d like you to make note of though. During the warmer summer months, many of the kayak/canoe/paddleboard tour companies in central Brevard offer “Bioluminescent Moonlight Tours.” These can start as early as May, and typically run through the summer. Besides a paddle, you’ll get a glow stick, a whistle (to keep you from paddling into another kayak), and a guide to help you get the best of this natural wonder. Prepare to be utterly amazed because “Sea Blinkies” or microscopic organisms called, “dinoflagellates” rule the night, and light up the water around you with each stroke of a paddle. You can find photos of this phenomenon online, but trust us the photos don’t do it justice. You NEED to see this, and it will change you. You can rent a kayak in many places in the country, but nowhere else can match our biodiversity and beauty. Try it, and we guarantee you’ll be the one hooked.
If you’ve been near any body of water in Brevard in the past couple of years, you’ve seen a paddleboard.
Keep an eye open and you’ll even see yoga classes on paddleboards! You might see them referred to as SUPs or Stand Up Paddleboards, but they are all basically the same. Consider it a longboard that’s made to be a bit more stable to stand on, and a little less of a surfboard. Some have small compartments for snacks and electronics.
You can buy into this one to get started, and while it is cheaper than a boat, paddleboards can still run from $500 to $1000. Paddleboarding has become quite popular with local surfers and families as well as tourists. There is a brief start-up period to get your legs under you, but then the rivers, lagoons, lakes, and even the ocean offer a constant variety of paddling adventures.
Because of this, dozens of paddleboard rental companies have sprung up, and many of the boat rental places mentioned earlier have added paddleboards to their fleet. Indialantic world-famous Longboard House opened its Paddleboard House at a time when the sport was just getting started and is a great place to stir your interest. Epic Boardsports and Wild Life Watersports in Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Stand Up Paddleboard Company, and SoBe Surf & Paddle in Merritt Island are a few more of the highly- rated local companies that can get your feet wet on a paddleboard as well. To go beyond renting a board, try SUP EcoAdventures in Melbourne Beach, to enjoy wildlife tours that might include manatees, dolphins, turtles, countless fish, and many other birds and animals. And those SUP yoga classes? Try Infinity Yoga and Wellness of Cocoa Beach…Namaste.
If yoga on a paddleboard isn’t your idea of extreme, let’s look into our Brevard County mixed bag of water sports and find something special for you. Okay, here it is, and you’d better be ready. Take a short trip to Cocoa Beach and as you’re crossing the last causeway headed east, watch for people flying around on jet packs.
Yes, we said, “jet packs!” East Coast Jet Pack lets you channel your innermost Tony Stark and fly around the cove off of Rt. 520 on what they call a “flyboard,” You’ll need a little bit of training by their expert staff, but soon you’ll be 50’ in the air with jets of water blowing out of your boots. They’ll even send you a video of your flight, because you know friends won’t believe you did it.
Prefer your water sport to not leave the surface of the water? Brevard offers a half-dozen or so jet-ski rental companies as well. You’ll still go fast, but you’ll cover more distance and take off on your own adventures. Check out Hayley’s Jet Ski and Boat Rental in Melbourne, and Surf & Ski Water Sports or Dolphin Jet Ski Rentals in Merritt Island as local favorites. Surf & Ski and Dolphin both also arrange tours by jet ski.
Try an airboat ride at Loughman Lake Lodge in ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Mims, or maybe at Twister Airboat Rides at Lone Cabbage Fish Camp in Cocoa. Airboats are a Florida tradition and a good way to get close to the gators while still being able to outrun them. A Saturday airboat ride from one of these tour providers is a safe, fun time for the whole family.
Snorkeling and Diving
We’ve explored water sports in the air and on the surface, fast and slow, but what lies below is also quite intriguing in Brevard’s waters. While Sebastian Inlet State Park boasts salt-water fishing including mackerel, snook and bluefish, and is a totally radical surfing spot, snorkeling and scuba diving are popular as well. The local dive shops in our area, Hatt’s Diving Headquarters in Melbourne, Dixie Divers in Palm Bay, and American Divers International in Merritt Island are the most popular and offer regularly planned trips. The Fishing & Diving Center in Cape Canaveral offers classes teaching nitrox certification all the way up to dive master and instructor. Combine your freediving with spearfishing in the Indian River Lagoon, and you’ll likely meet a few others with the same interest. You can motor to and from your chosen spot, but you can’t spearfish under power.
Respect the Water’s Space
We hope you try many of these activities with your friends and families often, but do so safely and with respect to the environment and wildlife you’ll encounter.
Boats, paddleboards, diving, snorkeling and jet packs are all certainly fun and
offer unique ways to enjoy all the water we enjoy on the Space Coast, but never underestimate the simple joy of just walking to the edge of the ocean. We have some of the best beaches in the world, and the only gear you’ll need to appreciate them is a blanket and some sunscreen.