Posted November 30, 2013
By ANDREA JACOBO
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Greater Miami’s atmosphere of multiple cultures, constant sunshine, and mostly important, pristine beaches attract people from all over the world to visit or to stay.
As a Miamian, I feel like I know the city like the back of my hand. However, I realize there’s still more to explore to this magic city.
Growing up in Hialeah, a prominently Hispanic community located at the Northwest part of the metropolitan area, the interaction with eastern part, where beaches are, would be on the weekends with at least 25 minutes car ride, so the trip seldom occurred.
To other locals or tourists, the trip to the beach is longer or shorter; however, Miami’s beaches are the natural amenities that everyone wants to experience.
As a college student, it is hard to get away from the everyday tasks, especially when the semester is in session; however, a Groupon offer intrigued me to take some time and enjoy the crystal blue waters of Miami Beach.
Groupon is an online coupon service allowing users to buy anything from beauty to travel packages at a significantly discounted price. Since I have purchased Groupons in the past, I am constantly getting news on recent deals in my area.
“Paddleboard Rental, $30, $11,” displayed in my e-mail inbox and it caught my attention. I clicked on the link to get further details, just like I did with the past purchased Groupons.
For the price of $11, the buyer could rent a paddleboard for an hour at Miami Beach Paddleboard. Usually, Groupons have another option of the deal at a higher price with more benefits included. In this case, I chose to buy two hours of paddleboard rental for $19, originally $50.
Within two weeks, I scheduled my rental appointment for a Monday afternoon, and surprisingly, there was only one available slot for that day. Thankfully, the weekend’s inclement weather dissipated before the Monday afternoon came around.
Clear blue skies with clouds perfectly shaped accompanied the hot and windy day as I made my way over the Julia Tuttle Causeway Bridge, Interstate 195, towards Miami Beach. The Biscayne Bay waters flowed beneath the bridge and my rear view mirror displayed the scenic skyline of Midtown.
As I merge onto one of Miami Beach’s major roads, Alton Road, Google Maps announces that the shop is only a few miles away. I was late because of some minor traffic, so I was already anxious that my session would be cancelled.
Making a turn onto 18th Street, you can see the marina at the end of the road. I passed the paddleboard shop and parked at the parking lot on Purdy Avenue, that’s right on the marina. Since I was not staying the whole day, $3 for parking was just enough for my time there.
I rushed to the paddleboard shop and was taken a little aback with the set up. I was expecting a typical surf shop with boards everywhere, but it was filled with motorcycles, Smart Cars, and Jet Skis, but the one paddleboard near the garage-style door assured me that I was in the right place.
At first, the sun-bathed employee was reluctant to allow me to rent the paddleboard since I was late, but with a bit of convincing, he allowed me to use my full two-hour session.
Since it was my first time getting on a paddleboard, he gave me a quick lesson inside the warehouse-style shop on how to paddle properly. For someone that does not have experience with water sports, the lesson outside the water would not suffice and further instruction is best. However, since I am Groupon customer, you get what you pay for.
“You need to adjust the length of the paddle by placing the paddle on the middle of the board and adjusting it to height of your elbow,” explained the employee, Camilo Joya, in Spanish since he was more comfortable giving instruction in his native language.
After a few more suggestions, Joya walked me to the side of shop to pick up my board for the next two hours. As we’re walking towards the marina, he suggests for me to stay within the buoy markers because it is my first time and to start paddling on knees until I get used to the motion of the board.
The clear water meets the fin of the white buoyant board and I start to get the feeling similar to when you’re on the top of a roller coaster hill and you’re just about to drop. The feeling quickly goes away once I get into the cold water. It’s definitely not summer, although the weather may seem like it is.
Joya helped me on to the board and handed me a pink paddleboard with a white hibiscus outline at the end.
“Remember to switch your hands position when you’re changing sides,” said Joya as I start to paddle towards the floating boats about 60 feet away from the dock.
I did exactly what I was instructed to do: I started paddle on my knees just to get used to the rhythm of the ocean and the incoming afternoon wind. I looked backed, and Joya was gone; the lesson was definitely over.
After 10 minutes of being in the modified position, I decided to actually stand up. I placed the paddle on the center of the board, my hands directly under my shoulders, placed my right foot on the board then my left foot followed, and slowly stood up on the board; I was standing and didn’t fall!
I took the paddle and carefully made little stokes forward; it was exhilarating and nerve wracking at the same time. I was gliding on the water effortlessly, but falling into the stingingly cold water made me nervous. The nerves went away once I fell in moments later for first and last time during my ride.
The Monday afternoon made the open water tranquil and welcoming for any one to tread through it. Only the blue horizon kept me company as I paddle by the Venetian Causeway and gazed at the same bridge I drove on just an hour ago. It was special moment with nature when you’re the only one in the water.
At that moment, as I stared in to the skyline on the mainland, I understood why Miami is such a popular place amongst world travelers. Besides from the nightlife, it is the peaceful adventure that people seek when they come to Miami.
As I am docking my board, two laughing paddle boarders are coming in, it seemed like they were racing each other. I start a conversation with them, and it turns out that they too bought a Groupon and were paddle boarding for the first time.
Pat and Rick Corbett are brothers that decided to celebrate Rick’s 60th birthday doing something they’ve never done before.
“It was something we always wanted to do and the weather is always nice down here, so we were like ‘why not?’” said Rick Corbett “We just rode our bikes down Collins and paddle boarded by Sunset Isle, it was great!”
At the end of the day, you may know the in and outs of your hometown, but there’s always more to explore. Take the time for yourself and Go!
If You Go
- Go to the Health & Fitness or Events & Activities to find different deals on paddle boarding.
Miami Beach Paddleboard
- 1416 18th St., Miami Beach, FL 33139
- To rent paddleboards: 786-428-4402
- To rent kite boards: 786-718-7537