Florida Adventures: East Coast Paddle in New Smyrna Beach

I am always looking to find adventurous things to do in Central Florida.  When I first moved to the area I learned about something called paddleboarding.  Anything that involves water automatically peaks my interest!  When the opportunity came for Shelley and I to visit East Coast Paddle in New Smyrna Beach, I jumped at it.  New Smyrna Beach is about 90 minutes northeast of Orlando just off of Interstate 4, so even if you are interested in taking one of the early morning sessions, getting there wouldn’t involve too early of a wake-up call.  We were able to leave Orlando at 7 and made it with time to spare before our 9 am tour.

East Coast Paddle Boat
Cheryl and Captain Todd coming to meet us in Mosquito Lagoon!
Indian River Manatee Sign
It is amazing how much effort and love goes into protecting the manatees.

We took the Stand Up Paddleboard Eco-Tour.  To start our tour, we met up with our guide, Cheryl and our captain, Todd, at JB’s Fish Camp on the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon.  Captain Todd pulled the boat right up to the dock and everyone in our group was able to climb right aboard.  Cheryl was an excellent guide, telling us all about the areas we would be seeing and giving us some tips on what areas we needed to avoid.  A large area of the river is actually used as an oyster farm for JB’s and there are oyster beds along the edges of the river too.  Cheryl informed us that these were areas to be avoided.

East Coast Paddle Group Photo
Shelley and I before the Paddleboarding Eco-Tour!

On our way out to the drop off location, we had our first wildlife spotting.  A dolphin!  This wouldn’t be the last spotting either.  Once we reached our destination, our boat was anchored and Captain Todd stepped out from behind the wheel to give us our lesson before we each got onto our boards.  I am an experience canoeist so I picked up on the techniques that he explained to us pretty quickly.  The most important part of the instructions included the positioning of the paddle in the water and the positioning of our hands and arms throughout the stroke.  Once you figured that out you were good to go.

East Coast Paddle Indian River
Shelley out on her Paddleboard!
East Coast Paddle on the Water
This is a shot of our group out on the water about to start the tour!

After our group pictures, we were all set out on the boards.  Cheryl went out first so she could capture our first moments out on the board and Captain Todd got us positioned on our boards one at a time.  The tour includes all the pictures they take of the day.  Cheryl sends out digital copies within a day of your tour!  When it was my turn, I climbed onto my knees on the board and paddled away from the boat.  Once I was far enough away from the boat, Cheryl told me it was okay to stand up.  That was the part I was most nervous about.  Despite the fact that Cheryl insisted that these were the most stable boards that they produced, I was still nervous about my ability to balance.  However, once I was on my feet, I was surprised at the stability of the board.  I even rocked it a little bit, just to test it out of course!

East Coast Paddle Standing Up
Here I am on my Paddleboard!

I was actually the last person in our tour to get onto a board so as soon as I caught up to the group, we began our journey down the river.  I was incredibly comfortable on the board.  With the exception of a couple times when I put a bit too much effort into a stroke, I never felt like I was going to lose my balance.

East Coast Paddle with Megan and Shelley
Shelley and I paddling along!
East Coast Paddle Group on Water
Another shot of our tour group! It was fun to share this experience with others who were just as excited as we were!!!

One of my favorite things about Florida is the wildlife and the tour definitely delivered on that front.  My favorite part of our tour was our visit to Manatee Cove.  We were surrounded by manatees who kept sticking their noses out of the water.  I admit that I was nervous that one of the manatees would try to surface right underneath my board, by I had nothing to worry about.  The manatees were close but not right underneath me.  After hanging out with the manatees, it was time to complete our tour and head back to the dock.

East Coast Paddle Manatee Cove
Getting instructions on how to paddle in Manatee Cove.

The tour we took is the best tour for beginners, however there are other tour options for beginners or more experienced paddleboarders.  East Coast Paddle offers lessons, fishing and rentals. In addition, they provide Paddle Fit classes and Yoga on Water.  I am definitely interested in the fitness classes that they offer.  In addition to the services offered on a regular basis, they are willing to create a customized tour for groups.  Just ask Cheryl about the bachelorette party that they planned during your visit!

East Coast Paddle Blanks
Its amazing all the work that goes into making these Paddleboards!
East Coast Paddle Glassing
I have my eye on a wood grained Paddleboard from East Coast…Do you hear that Santa??? 🙂

East Coast Paddle not only provides tours and lessons, but they also make the boards in their own factory.  After a morning out learning to paddleboard, Shelley and I were able to tour the factory.  All the boards are made using AutoCad (Computer Aided Drafting) Software to design the boards and they use their own 3D Shaping machine to cut the boards out of the blanks.  The boards are all airbrushed and finished in the factory to the specifications of each buyer.

East Coast Paddle Factory
It was a really great bonus to be able to see how these boards are made!!!

I had a great time with Cheryl and Captain Todd during my first paddleboarding experience.  They made the whole experience fun and relaxing, as well as a good workout.  I look forward to visiting them again and, in the future, purchasing my own board so I can head out boarding every weekend!  Make sure to visit their website and like them on Facebook.  Also, don’t forget to visit our Facebook page to see our complete album of pictures from our visit.

How We Like To Beat The Heat – The Latest On The Go Roundtable

  1.  What is your favorite way to take a break on a hot day while you are at the parks?

Aurora– It depends on which park you are at.  Epcot seems to have the most places that you can chill! Weather it is Club Cool or The Land or Ellen’s Energy Adventure! MGM it is always a safe bet to watch an American Idol Show. Animal Kingdom we always head to Festival of The Lion King and at Magic Kingdom, my personal Favorite: Carousel of Progress!!

Betsy– You may also occasionally find me in La Cava del Tequila, Rose and Crown or Tutto Gusto in Epcot for a cool adult beverage.

Cheryl– I like to go visit a resort or get a snack at an indoor counter service.

Megan– Going back to my room, especially when I’m staying at a DVC resort. I can relax in the room or at the pool. If heading back to the room isn’t an option, I try to visit any of the indoor movies or attractions, like the movies in Epcot’s World Showcase.

Shalon– I really enjoy scheduling a long table service lunch on hot days. It’s a great way to get out of the heat and off your feet.

Shelley– I like to hang out in Innoventions and play the games, and then pop over every so often to Club Cool for some Kinley!

2.     If you could go to any resort pool for the afternoon, which one would you choose and why?

Betsy– The best pool is Stormalong Bay, which is shared between Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts. It is amazing with different sections with sandy bottom an an awesome water slide out of a shipwreck! My second favorite pool is the Nanea Volcano pool at the Polynesian. It has the best view of the Magic Kingdom hands down.

Cheryl– I’d choose Saratoga Springs new pool at the Paddock.  It’s the newest DVC pool.

Megan– I would choose Kidani Village. In the afternoon you are more likely to see the animals in the savannah. Take a dip in the pool then head over to see who is outside.

Shalon– I would like to go to the pool at Port Orleans Riverside. It’s so well themed and quite most of the time. There are also a lot of large trees around which provide plenty of shade for relaxing.

Shelley– I really love the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter, because it’s a good size, you can watch the boats on the Sassagoula River, and most importantly you are close to beignets.

Aurora– Art of Animation! That pool is so lovely. There is a ton of space around both the Big Blue Pool and the Carsland Pool. And Mr. Ray even talks to you in the Big Blue Pool! And you have so much to look at while in the pool! Plus, they have a PRIMO pool bar! The Drop Off is awesome!!

3.     When it is hot outside, what is your favorite treat to eat to cool you down?

Cheryl– Fruit or tofutti

Megan– A Dole Whip without a doubt. When it’s hot I don’t want ice cream but I definitely want something cold.

Shalon– I love the classic Mickey bar although it can be quiet the challenge to eat it on a hot day without wearing some of it!

Shelley– My answer is always the same…when all else fails, pink cotton candy and a frozen coke!!!

Aurora– I would go for a Strawberry Bar! They don’t melt right away and there isn’t a lot of sugar so you don’t feel dehydrated! Perfect snack on a hot day!!!

Betsy– This is a tossup for me between a frozen coke, Mickey bar and a dole whip. I’d say my go to is probably the frozen coke since it can get kind of warm and ice cream isn’t always the best thing in the heat and humidity.

4.     What is your favorite attraction to cool off in?

Megan– I love the Carousel of Progress. I can go in there almost any time, but when it’s hot, it is especially nice since it usually has a short line.

Shalon– I love ducking into The American Adventure on hot days. It’s such an incredible show and is lengthy enough to relax and cool down.

Shelley– Ellen’s Energy Adventure at Epcot is my favorite, because it is the world’s longest attraction!!! LOL!!!

Aurora– Philharmagic!!!! They squirt water at you 😉

Betsy– At the Magic Kingdom my go to spots to cool off are a ride on the Peoplemover or shows like Mickey’s Philharmagic, Hall of Presidents or Country Bears Jamboree. At Epcot my favorite is Impressions de France, followed closely by American Adventure.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios provides great places to enjoy air conditioning like at the Animation Academy, One Man’s Dream, Voyage of the Little Mermaid and the Great Movie Ride. At Animal Kingdom I prefer Festival of the Lion King, but Finding Nemo is a slightly longer show

Cheryl– Innoventions is my favorite!!!

5.     Give us your best tip for staying cool during a day in the Parks.

Shalon– My go to for hot days in parks is a small handheld fan. You can get them at many drug stores for a dollar and they run on 2 AA batteries. Many of them come with clips so they are very easy to tote along in the parks.

Shelley– Don’t overdo it! Take your time! You can duck into a store along the way to cool off, linger in a post-show area, and take another moment to talk about your day after you finish your meal!

Aurora– LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of water! You can always get those free cups of ice water at any quick service place, so make sure you keep yourself hydrated. Also you can keep the sun off your face by wearing a hat, carry a wash cloth to dampen to blot your skin, and especially take advantage of indoor attractions and save things that have little to no covering in the queue or ride for early evening late afternoon

Betsy– Definitely stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and try to alternate indoor and outdoor attractions so you don’t get overheated. Hat or visors and sunglasses can also help to keep you cool.

Cheryl– Take breaks inside the Air conditioning

Megan– You should try to drink lots of water and stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Cups of ice water are free at any location that has fountain beverages.

6.      What is your favorite beverage to help quench your thirst on a hot afternoon?

Shelley– After lots of water, I like to have a frozen coke! They are magical!!!

Aurora– A Peach Tea Snap from China is my MOST favorite thirst quenching cool down treat/drink!!!!!

Betsy– Water is best, but if I am in Epcot it is hard to beat a refreshing avocado margarita or a snakebite and black.

Cheryl– I enjoy the new guava fruit drinks at Animal Kingdom!

Megan– Beverly! (Just kidding) Water always works for me. Sometimes grabbing a Powerade is necessary though. Or maybe even a Grand Marnier slushie.

Shalon– Love getting a frozen Coke or other flavor!!