Photograph by Steven Martine, National Geographic Travel
Wakeboard cable systems act like supercharged dog runs on water. Riders are hooked to an overhead cable, and a motorized trolley mechanism acts as a towboat, pulling riders back and forth across the water. Visit one of Florida's cable parks to take an introductory wakeboard lesson and practice new moves, or stay onshore to admire the aerial wizardry of the pros.
Keys Cable and the Otherside Adventure Park, Marathon Key
Most wakeboard coaches at Keys Cable and the Otherside Adventure Park are professional athletes, which can be a little intimidating to first-time boarders. No need to worry, says professional and Keys Cable partner Matt Sexton. "Each wakeboarding experience is catered to how we wish we could have learned for our first time," he explains. "If the board doesn't come naturally to you, we personalize the cable speed to make it as easy as possible to get up and learn to maneuver. If you have previous board skills or pick it up fast, then let's go straight to the ramps and see if we can make you go upside down."
Orlando Watersports Complex, Orlando
Orlando Watersports Complex (OWC) is one of the largest wakeboard destinations in the United States and the training facility for several pro-level riders, including Shaun Murray, a four-time world champion wakeboarder and a member of the OWC coaching staff. With professional coaches and two full-size cable systems (one for advanced riders and one for beginners), OWC offers the instruction and conditions to fit any wakeboarder. "We can accommodate everyone, from world-class professional riders to people who can barely swim," says assistant manager Theo Koester. "If you've ever wanted to try wakeboarding, our complex is the easiest place to learn."
When to Go: Water sports tourism is lightest between September and mid-December. "If you time it just right," says Keys Cable's Matt Sexton, "you might get the wakeboard cable park all to yourself."
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