“… salad bar of waterways”
A lagoon, three massive rivers, four lakes and one ocean create a virtual salad bar of waterways along Florida's east coast. All can be found within Brevard County, where the water du jour depends on each skier's taste, and where longboarding has even found a home away from its roots on the West Coast.
The St. Johns River, one of the few rivers in the world that flows north, is a cornerstone for skiing on Florida's east coast. Trimmed with inlets for footers and open enough in the main body for big wakeboard aerials, the St. Johns cuts through the 54-mile depth of Brevard County. Along the way the river bulges into a chain of lakes naturally sculpted for skiing. One, Lake Washington, has three slalom sites groomed by Brevard's Space Coast Ski Club. The club also has a designated tournament site at C-54 Canal near the Indian River Lagoon. Sneak onto the C-54 and discover the meaning of slow water – it's known among the tournament ranks to practically guarantee personal bests.
From the calm water found along the St. Johns and within its offspring, skiers can slide the boat 15 minutes east to the Banana River for a perfect wide-body slalom setting. When the nerve really kicks in, the wide-body gives way to the longboard along the Intracoastal Waterway, or all the way out to the Atlantic. This is why the Cape Canaveral area is gaining recognition as one of the best places east of California for really big skis. It's also where ski maker Don Kierstead tests his prototype longboards.
“You can do anything you want – slalom, wakeboard, barefoot, longboard – within 15 minutes of the highway [I-95],” says Kierstead. “You could say that about other places, but where else can you find a lake or river or ocean that's made to order for whatever you want to do?”
* Walk into outer space at Spaceport USA on Cape Canaveral, about 30 minutes north.
* Bring the golf clubs. There are courses everywhere with greens fees ranging from $15-$150.
Where to stay:
* All the major hotel chains are within a mile of each other on the beach in Melbourne. Boat parking shouldn't be a problem.
Where to eat:
* Conchy Joe's for great seafood on the west side of the Indian River in Melbourne.
* Pull the boat up to the Indian River Grill in south Melbourne for fine dining.
Something you have to do:
* Get a $7 flat-top and a $699 longboard from ski maker Don Kierstead (407-259-6737), who has one of the most original double-duty shops in Melbourne.
In case you forgot:
* West Marine (407-242-9600) on U.S. 1 in Melbourne carries O'Brien skis and wakeboards, plus any accessories you might need.
How to get here:
* Take I-95 to 192 in Melbourne, then start a personal checklist of ski sites.
For more information:
* Melbourne Chamber of Commerce (407-724-5400).
Brevard County, Florida
“… salad bar of waterways”