12 New Activities to Experience This Summer

By Danielle Torley

Imagine that you’re swimming underwater with dolphins, rays, manatees, and dozens of beautiful fish.

Or perhaps you’re stand-up paddling (SUP) on top of the water, practicing yoga, and watching the sun set over the horizon.

Or, you’re suspended in the air, gracefully hanging from two colorful silks.

You could be competing in a triathlon race – swimming through clear turquoise waters, cycling along the beach, and running under the shade of palm trees. 

But perhaps you’d prefer speed and height, feeling the wind on your face as you maneuver your kite board across the ocean. 

Now stop imagining, because you can experience all these amazing activities right here On the Coast! 

It can be so easy to get caught up in our everyday lives and routines and forget how incredibly lucky we are to live in a place that offers so much. Each morning, our alarm goes off, we go through our daily routing, work all day, grab some dinner, head to bed, and do it all again the next day.

If this sounds familiar, then it’s time to take advantage of the amazing activities offered right here On the Coast. Looking to slow down for a calming experience? Try SUP yoga. Need some more energy in your life? Head down to the Okaloosa Rugby Club or one of our local adult social leagues. Want to try something with your teens? Take a look at scuba diving or aerial silks. Can’t get a sitter but still want to get out of the house? Maybe stroller fitness classes are your answer. Read on for more information about our local offerings. 

Aerial Silks. Have you ever marveled at the Cirque du Soleil aerialists gracefully climbing the silks? Then you’ll be excited to find out that we have aerial silk instructors and facilities here on the Emerald Coast! Instructors at the Destin Pilates Center utilize Pilates principles and work closely with beginners to develop upper body and core strength. Susan Dunnam, owner of Destin Pilates Center, says their instructors are fitness-based (not performance-based) and have worked with people from 4 to 85 years old, tailoring the stretches and poses to each person’s ability. Check out destinpilates.com for information on aerial silks and Pilates classes.  DESTINPILATES.COM

Adult sports leagues. Ever reminisce about those days on the playground playing kickball and dodgeball? Consider joining Emerald Coast Social Sports or checking out the league offerings from the City of Destin. Prefer volleyball? Then keep your eye on the 850 Elite Volleyball Academy for their adult leagues starting this summer!  www.ECSSLEAGUE.COM www.850elitevolleyball.org

City of Destin: 850-654-5184

 Barre classes. A few words you’ll hear repeated most often during a barre class: “tuck,” “pulse,” and “lift.” A barre class provides a low-impact, total-body workout that focuses on small isometric micro-movements of muscles. Set to fun, energizing music, classes utilize a ballet barre and light weights to target the whole body. Many people who consistently attend classes see results in the form of elongated muscles, strength, and flexibility. Ashley Singleton, owner of Pure Barre in Destin, says, “Pure Barre offers strength and definition like you’ve never known.” Want to try it out? Check out purebarre.com for more information. 

Frisbee golf. What better way to get the family outdoors this summer? Frisbee golf is great for younger kids and adults, testing out coordination and Frisbee skills in a fun setting. Frisbee golf courses are available at Morgan Sports Center in Destin and the Ferry Park in Fort Walton Beach.

Kiteboarding. Maybe you’ve driven across Okaloosa Island, seen the kite boarders maneuvering their kites across the bay, and absentmindedly thought that you should look into it at some point. Why not this summer? Our location provides the perfect opportunity for beginners. Both XL Kites in Fort Walton and LTD WaterSports in Destin offer introductory classes where people can experience kite boarding in 1-3 lesson sessions. 

 Rugby. Want something to shake up your standard games on the beach? Check out the Okaloosa Rugby Club! Although rugby is popular overseas and the fastest growing sport in America, it’s still a sport that many people in the USA know very little about. In simple terms, rugby is a combination of American football and soccer. Two teams play on a pitch, aiming to pass or kick a rugby ball into the opposing team’s end zone with a kick at goal for the extra points. The physical benefits from rugby are obvious – it’s fast-paced, with a lot of running and tackling involved. Interested? The Okaloosa Rugby Club plays both the 15-aside and 7-aside versions and are even hosting the inaugural Okaloosa Beach Rugby 7s tournament this summer! Contact Chris Mendonca, captain of the Rugby Club at okaloosarugby@gmail.com to learn more. 

Sailing. Living On the Coast, we all love spending time on the water. But imagine sailing across the bay, connecting with the water and wind, without the sound of a motor or engine propelling you. If this sounds like an experience you’d enjoy, then consider sailing lessons with Emerald Coast Sailing Association. They offer lessons for children, teens, and adults that take place in nearby bayous and the bay. Beginners need only to bring a life jacket, water shoes, and confidence in the water. Visit www.ecsasailing.com to learn more!

Scuba diving. You know that the oceans offer a whole new underwater world, but if you haven’t taken the plunge yet, why not? This summer is the perfect opportunity to give scuba diving a try! Although scuba diving is not considered a strenuous activity, being in the water while concentrating on slow, deep breathing is a huge stress reliever for many divers. And contrary to popular belief, first-time diving is not a long-term commitment. Dive centers such as Emerald Coast Scuba offer Discover Scuba classes to teens and adults in either the pool or the open water. Need something for the little ones? They also offer a snorkel camp for 5-7 year olds and a PADI Seal Team course for 8-12 year olds. Check out their website at www.divedestin.net for additional information.

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) and SUP Yoga. Do you enjoy paddle boarding? Interested in yoga? Or maybe you’re a yoga enthusiast who is new to paddle boarding? Look no further than 30A Paddleboard Yoga! Shanda Beste, owner of 30A Paddleboard Yoga uses a progressive teaching approach to educate people on the proper paddling techniques and use of stabilizer muscles that are essential for paddleboard yoga. She works closely with people to set them up for success, whether on the bay, ocean, or intercoastal dune lakes. Visit www.30apaddleboardyoga.com for additional information.

Looking for some paddleboard action closer to Destin and Fort Walton Beach? Check out Paddle Tribe at www.paddletribecompany.com, a new addition to Lulu’s, providing paddleboarding and paddleboard yoga. Keep an eye on their website for new information on class times, tours, and special events!  

Stroller fitness classes. Sometimes it’s tough to fit in a workout when you have small kiddos or babies at home. So, bring them with you to a StroLa Bliss fitness class! StroLa Bliss is a fitness group where women can bring their children in a jogger stroller while they get a great workout that includes cardio, Tabata, and circuit and strength training. It's for every fitness level and a great support system for moms (sisterhood in motherhood). Think this would be a good fit for you? Classes are Mon-Wed and Fridays at Morgan Sports Center. Join the StroLa Bliss group on Facebook or contact Rebekah Thomas at strolablissec@gmail.com for class times. 

Triathlon. Are you a runner or cyclist looking for your next challenge? The Emerald Coast offers triathlon races of varying distances from sprint to Ironman and even off-road XTERRA. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of training for a new challenge – Stephanie Woodard, a board member of the Emerald Coast Triathlon Club, says that beginners should find a local group to train with and not be afraid to ask questions. She notes that everyone was a beginner at one point, and that the Emerald Coast Triathlon Club has a great group of beginners and veterans who are excited to share their experiences with others. Learn more at ectriclub.org. 

Waterskiing and Wakeboarding. Maybe you’ve lived in or visited a friend’s lake house, or spent time participating in watersports here on the bay. Chances are you’ve seen (or even tried!) to waterski or wakeboard. They can both be tough sports to master but did you know we have our very own state-of-the-art ski school? Pickos Waterski and Wakeboard School offers single, half-, and full-day lessons at the privately-owned facility with freshwater man-made lakes in Santa Rosa Beach. Check out www.skicory.com for more details.