By Danielle Charbonneau
Some of the best advice I was ever given is,
“If you live like a tourist in your own town, you’ll never get bored.”
I have found this advice to be remarkably true. As an adventurer by heart and a columnist covering fun things to do in South Florida, I’ve spent the last several years exploring and experimenting. From kite boarding to scuba diving, wake boarding to cooking classes, sensory deprivation to turtle watching, indoor skydiving to high-speed go-carts — I have now tried at least four dozen of South Florida’s most entertaining activities. I have compiled a guide for your summer bucket list, broken into by category.
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Rick, the founder of Pompano Kiteboarding, remembers the first time he saw a kiteboarder. He was sitting on the beach at dusk when suddenly he saw a young man being effortlessly dragged through the waves attached to a neon kite. Rick watched as the kite pulled the man’s body along the shoreline for miles, as far as Rick’s eyes could see. Rick imagined the exhilaration — the sense of freedom and weightlessness of being pulled through the water by the wind.
While Rick had been a water sports enthusiast since the day he moved to Florida at the age of 19, he had never seen anything like kiteboarding. He didn’t even know what it was called. He went home and started researching. At the time, the sport was so new he couldn’t find anything about it, but he knew he wanted to try it. A whole year passed before he finally learned of the sport. When he tried it for the first time in 2001, there were only about 100,000 people in the world kiteboarding. Now Rick has been kiteboarding for 18 years and teaching the sport for ten.
“I was instantly hooked,” he said. “Since then I’ve never looked back. Most people try it and are hooked for life.”
You, too, can get hooked on kiteboarding. You’ll meet Rick, an ever-patient, expert and kind teacher, behind the Pompano Beach Marriott hotel. On your first lesson, Rick will put out three kites on the sand, each a different size. Step one is to get the kite in the air. Step two is to learn how to steer the kite. Step three is to test your kiting skills in the water, with a board on your feet.
Contrary to popular belief, operating the kite doesn’t take Herculean strength. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Flying the kite (at least at first) takes very little strain. The wind does the work, not your muscles. To demonstrate this, Rick will show you how to steer the kite with just two fingers. There is a softness and subtlety to the motion.
After some time with the smallest kite, Rick will progress you to the second, larger kite. Soon, you’ll progress to the largest kite. Now this third kite has real power. You’ll wear a harness around your waist and let the kite easily drag your heels through the sand, learning the motion of being dragged in order to work your way to the water.
It’s important to know, kiteboarding is not something you learn in one session. Like snowboarding or skiing or any other extreme sport, you have to commit to learning and progressing. Having a certified instructor like Rick is key.
Rick is an International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO) certified instructor. IKO instructors are trained in the latest and safest way to teach kitesurfing. To learn more, visit pompanokiteboarding.com.
FIND YOUR SUPERPOWERS: Try Flyboarding
Have you ever dreamed of having your own rocket pack? Then you most definitely should try flyboarding. With most companies, you’ll be taken by boat to an open bay where you’ll slip on flyboarding boots, which are attached to a large hose. That hose is connected to the exhaust on a jetski, which pushes a powerful hydro-stream to the boots where it shoots out underneath your feet, propelling you out of the water and into the air as if you had two aqua-boosters built into your heels.
First you will learn to master balancing atop these hydro-streams. Your instructor/jetski operator will control the power of the hydro-streams, pushing you higher and higher out of the water until you are comfortable standing. Once you have mastered balancing, you can learn tricks like spinning, dipping, turning, dolphin dives, or for the real experts, backflips.
Invented in 2012 by a French water-craft rider, Franky Zapata, Flyboarding is a fairly new adventure water sport. In under ten years, however, it has gained major traction internationally. Flyboarding World Championships have been held in Doha, Qatar (2013), Dubai (2014-15), Naples, Florida (2016) and Cavalaire-Sur-Mer, France (2017-18). The 2019 championships will be held in Naples October 25-27.
If you’re worried about having two left feet, an alternate setup allows flyers to wear a jetpack on their back. This method really makes one look like a superhero, but I’m told it can be rather uncomfortable.
IF YOU’D LIKE TO TRY FLYBOARDING LOCALLY, THERE ARE TWO GREAT OPTIONS:
FLYBOARD SOUTH FLORIDA
2621 N. Riverside Dr., Pompano Beach, 954-297-1007, flyboardsouthflorida.com
GLIDE ON WATER: SKI RIXEN
If you are into extreme water sports, Ski Rixen in Deerfield Beach is calling you. Novice or pro — either way, there is a place for you on Ski Rixen’s cable-propelled water skiing and wakeboarding lake. Classes, private lessons and a summer camp are available. Gear is included and Ski Rixen’s staff are quick to give you pointers to get you up and gliding.
401 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach, skirixenusa.com, 954 429-0215
FLOAT ON AIR: Indoor Sky Diving at iFly
Free fall from 13,000 feet – without jumping out of a plane. The latest immersive experience from iFLY combines virtual reality technology with the real rush of skydiving over some of the world’s most incredible bucket-list destinations. This indoor simulation of sky diving has participants floating on a giant air bubble. The price is: $79.95 per person for two flights; $101.95 per person for three flights; $127.95 per person for four flights or $149.95 per person for five flights.
11690 West State Road 84, Davie, iflyworld.com/fort-lauderdale/, 954-280-4349
GET AN AERIAL VIEW: Helicopter Rides
Get to know the South Florida from the sky. Hop in a helicopter for a scenic ride over Miami, Coconut Grove, Fairchild Gardens, Biscayne Bay and the Golden Beaches.
There are several providers for helicopter rides, but we recommend taking Florida Helicopter because they fly out of Pompano Beach Airpark and hold a 100 percent safety record for 10 years, offer flight training and scenic tours.
Florida Helicopters, 901 NE 10th St., Pompano Beach, 954-938-5386
CRUISE BY AIRBOAT: Everglades Holiday Park
Hop on board an airboat to cruise around the Florida everglades looking for alligators. You’ll boat deep into the wetlands with an expert captain who will narrate your tour and show you some of Florida’s most exotic birds, fish and amphibians. Afterwards, watch the “alligator wrestling” show — a live alligator presentation with the charismatic Gator Boys. You’ll learn about alligators, watch them get fed and do a few tricks. You might even get to pet a baby alligator.
Everglades Holiday Park is located at 21940 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33332, 954-271-3828, evergladesholidaypark.com
While there’s lots to do at Xtreme Action Sports — including roller skating, bowling, a massive arcade, escape rooms, laser tag, roller derby games and a ropes course — by far the most adrenaline-pushing activity is the racetrack. Xtreme Action Sports has a fleet of European Race Karts including three different models — the Biz Kart Junior Cadet, Biz Kart EVO3 Pro and Bowman Arrow Super. The cadet and pro karts can reach 45mph on the straightaways and the Supers 65mph. The racetrack has 48,000 square feet of track space (a half mile in distance) and 10 fast-paced turns, including one hairpin curve. The track is professionally timed. The experience is probably the closest an amateur will get to being a race car driver.
The Cadet race sessions are $10 per race. The Pro race sessions are $20 per race; $50 for three; or $80 for five. And the Super race sessions are $25 per race; $65 for three; or $125 for six. All gear is included.
Extreme Action Sports is located at 5300 Powerline Road, Fort Lauderdale, 954-491-6265, xtremeactionpark.com
THIS SUMMER ADVENTURE GUIDE IS A SIX-PART SERIES…
Click below to find more great activities to add to your summer bucket list:
PART ONE: GAMES & PLAY | This part of our summer adventure series has adventures to bring out your inner child, challenge your mind and free you to play.
PART TWO: EXPERIENCE NATURE | This part of our summer adventure guide will get you in touch with nature.
PART THREE: ADRENALINE JUNKIES | This part of our summer adventure series has adventures for adrenaline junkies.
PART FOUR: CREATE & LEARN | This part of our summer adventure series has adventures that will get you learning and inspire your creativity.
PART FIVE: RELAX |This part of our summer adventure series has relaxing activities to rejuvenate your mind, body & soul
PART SIX: ROAD TRIPS, DAY TRIPS & BEYOND | This part of our summer adventure series has day trips, road trips and a few travel ideas.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]