Photograph by Steven Martine, National Geographic Travel

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A kiteboarder prepares to enter the ocean in South Florida's Delray Beach.

Photograph by Steven Martine, National Geographic Travel

Florida by Water: Ride the Wind

Specially designed kites and sails take wakeboarding and surfing to the next level on Florida's windiest waters.

Specially designed kites and sails take wakeboarding and surfing to the next level on Florida's windiest lakes, bays, and stretches of open ocean. And with the proper gear, conditions, and instruction, most anyone can harness the power of the wind. Raise your sail or fly your kite—and hold on tight—to skim across the water's surface on an exhilarating ride.

Sailboards Miami Windsurfing, Key Biscayne

Biscayne Bay's warm water and steady breeze create an ideal outdoor classroom for windsurfing lessons, says Karen DeLeon, vice president of watersports outfitter Sailboards Miami. "Our location in an isolated cove in the bay is a safe distance from any boat traffic and is free of ocean currents," she adds. "We'll have you windsurfing on a stable beginner board with a small sail in less than two hours." Once you master the basics, capture a little more speed and experience the freedom of riding the wind out to the Twin Sisters Sandbar. At low tide, you can hang out on the sandbar to take in the Miami skyline and watch for egrets, ibises, cormorants, and dolphins.

New Wave Kiteboarding, Delray Beach

Kiteboarding combines aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, paragliding, and aerial gymnastics to create one extreme—and extremely fun—sport. If you can swim, stand upright, and are up for adventure, Jeremy Lund, owner and lead instructor at New Wave Kiteboarding, can teach you to lift and control a power kite, and take one heck of a wild ride. Beginner lessons start with land-based instruction on a sandbar, followed by hands-on experience in warm, flat, and waist-deep water. Students wear a radio-equipped helmet, allowing Lund to provide coaching and instruction as you zip across the surface of the water pulled by the kite. "Our approach allows students to learn at a more accelerated yet safe pace, free of the distractions and challenges of the open ocean," Lund says. "When you fall off the board, you're able to stand up and gather yourself. Via the radio, we can talk about any corrections you need to make before your next attempt on the board." If you do "fly" too far afield or need in-water help, Lund can quickly chase down you or your kite in his boat, which is specially designed to handle the windy yet shallow environment.


Practical Tip: New Wave Kiteboarding offers beginner through advanced lessons in different sites from Stuart south to Palm Beach. Specific lesson locations are chosen based on the student's skills, ensuring optimal wind, wave, and water depth for any level kiteboarder.

When to Go: The windiest—and best—months for windsurfing and kiteboarding are typically October through May.