When it comes to adventure action, Florida is a top destination for many a daredevil. People enjoy scuba diving the beautiful waters, casting away on a catamaran, or flocking to the many theme parks for their preferred adrenaline rush or relaxing retreat. Florida is well known for these things. However, off the glitzy main strips, Florida adventures may not be as commercialized, but are no less climatic. Here are my top five picks on finding a rush in unexpected ventures.
When you think of hang gliding, images of crazy daredevils taking running jumps from high peaks come to mind. Florida is the flattest state in the US, yet despite a seeming incompatibility, it still offers this amazing rush.
The difference? Instead of jumping from the mountain peak, you are pulled up behind a small plane, and then released. This means, you can glide even longer, as the plane takes you higher than climbing mountains.
And, you get to enjoy the feeling of flying on the trip up as well as down. First time gliding on the Florida sea breeze? Don’t worry! The skilled instructors will also do tandem flights, so you can experience the rush without the risk. Want to learn to hang glide on your own? They offer lessons too! I have personally interacted and gone up with the folks at Wallaby Ranch, who have an amazing facility just outside of Orlando. They offer an enthralling experience in controlled craziness.
When I first came to Florida and drove over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, I noticed strange figures in the setting sun. People seemed to be surfing, but they were attached to huge kites, which enabled them to fly through the air effortlessly. I have been wind surfing, but this was completely different. It was like they were jumping waves like surfers, but due to the huge billowing kites lifting them high into the air, were surfing on the moon where gravity wasn’t really a concern. This was my first experience with kiteboarding. It seems there are multiple places to rent equipment or learn, if you are a newbie like me, all over Florida. This is a marriage between surfing and flying, but the end result is the pure synergistic magic of playing in both water and air simultaneously.
Most people think of bioluminescent kayaking in Costa Rica, but Florida offers this too! During the warm summer months, Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River near Titusville come alive with tiny bacteria that glow when the water is disturbed. I personally took this tour and never tired of putting my kayak paddle in the water and watching my path glow with green fire after every stroke. Each sea creature created their own individual bioluminescent signature. We even had jumping schools of fish fly over our boats. Thankfully, since they looked like green speeding missiles through the water, you always knew where they were headed. You can also catch a view of one of the shuttle launch pads in the distance from the water. This night kayak was one of my most memorable Florida trips, and well worth the lack of sleep.
Want a James-Bond-style adventure? Well, how about a jetpack shooting you 20-feet above the water? I give you full permission to sing the Bond theme music under your breath. This action attraction is now offered in the Sunshine State. For around $200, you can get instruction on how to fly the jetpack, then blast off for a 30-minute solo flight. You also can get a video of the entire thing to prove to family and friends that you just may be 007.
Swim with Manatees and Dolphins
Florida is known for its amazing water creatures. However, most people only experience them from stadium seats at Sea World. Two of my favorite large water mammals are the manatees and dolphins. These gentle creatures in their natural environment interacting with us invoke deep emotions. While the experience may be more tame compared to others on this list, for me, it is no less heart stopping to swim with and touch such powerful, intelligent creatures. There are several companies that offer supervised interaction, while also working to preserve these amazing animals, throughout Florida. The experience is well worth your time, and the memories made will be priceless.
While beach swimming, sunbathing, and parks are great reasons to live in Florida, some of the less advertised endeavors are just as impressive. Whether you’ve been here 10 months or 10 years, take the time to explore deeper into this amazing state. You may just be surprised by all you still haven’t discovered.