If you arrive in Key West and are ready to check out an extreme water sport, but it's too windy to go scuba diving and you're a little too nervous to try Jet Pack Adventures, don't fret. Kiteboarding offers a safe alternative that is gaining popularity around the globe. The sport combines surfing and wind power to create an exhilarating and relatively easy-to-learn activity. Instructor Jake Schutter, of Sunrise Kiteboarding in Key West has been offering lessons in the Keys and Michigan since 2009.A Kiteboarder getting some air — Photo courtesy of Sunrise Kiteboarding
“When done correctly, it’s a very safe sport. We didn’t have a single accident this past season (2011),” said Jake. Anyone can try kiteboarding, and Jake teaches every age group from eight-year-olds to 65-year-olds. The activity does not require someone to be an athlete or a body builder – it’s more mental than physical, believe it or not.
While other companies are charging higher rates for shorter, three-hour lessons, Sunset Kiteboarding provides seven hours of instruction. On the first lesson, most people can get the board under their feet and get up in the air.
“The problem with a three-hour instruction is that there is a lot to learn about the sport and safety before you can get going. Once you get started you only have a little bit of kite time left," Jake said. “We have found that people have much more success with the seven-hour lesson.”Lessons in the shallow, clear water — Photo courtesy of Sunrise Kiteboarding
Kiteboarders can expect to spend 15 minutes at a time on the water, followed by a five to 10-minute break on board the pontoon boat, which anchors in shin-deep water in a sand bar.
Lessons are $400 per person and are offered from November through May - which is the windy season in Florida. On days when it’s not breezy enough to head out, Jake also offers unique backwater tours in the Gulf of Mexico on the pontoon boat.
During the trip, guests can fish, spot dolphins and marine life, swim, snorkel, lounge on the couch, or just do – whatever. Jake claims he has all the best fishing spots in the region mapped out. The catch of the day can be cooked up on board the ship and enjoyed onshore at some of the most pristine and remote islands.
Fishing gear, spear guns, snorkels, paddle boards, bait is included, and for a small charge Jake will fill a cooler with food and homemade snacks for guests.
The back country experience costs $600 for up to six people, and allows you to design your once-in-a-lifetime day on the water.Kiteboarders in Key West — Photo courtesy of Sunrise Kiteboarding