All, normally I would post this to the vacation forum, however given that I am a kiter in Chicago and just had a fantastic experience that other Chicago kiters might enjoy, I have decided that this post deserves to go in the open forum.
A few years ago I was able to meet one of the owners of the investment group that owns Hawkâ€™s Cay Resort. For the last few years the owner who happens to kite frequently, toyed with the idea of opening up a kite center at the resort which is located in Marathon, Florida, right in the heart of the Florida Keys. This year, his idea became a reality as a full service kite operation was put into operation in late December. Given that I was down at my condo in the Keys at the end of December/early January, the owner of Hawkâ€™s Cay invited me out kiting to preview the operation and various riding spots that surround the resort. Out of the 6 days that I was down, I managed to kite 4 days in steady 12 meter wind. As the wind was coming out of the North, we kited from a boat which is common practice in the Keys as there are very few if any accessible launch spots if the wind has any north in it whatsoever. The kite operation is being run by Aaron Osters, a Florida Keys local (see Contact information below). Aaron has several years of kite boarding experience and many years of boating experience. Aaronâ€™s operation will consist of lessons which are taught in beautiful shallow flat water as well as kite trips out to the flats to ride on some of the most pristine flat water that you have ever seen. The flats consist of water that ranges from areas that are as shallow as 4 inches and as deep as 10 feet, the perfect setup for those wanting to practice going big or those looking to refine their board riding skills (I finally learned how to ride toeside while I was out with Aaron!) while knowing that shallow water and boat support are always close by. While I did not take formal lessons from Aaron as I am already a competent rider, I did manage to observe Aaron teaching lessons and can say without hesitation you really get what you pay for. Aaron was very thorough with his students in all aspects of kiting while most importantly ensuring that safety was the number one concern. I followed up with two of Aaronâ€™s students who could not have been more pleased with the lessons that they had been given. In addition, although I did not take formal lessons, Aaron was quick to offer advice and help whenever I had a question. Furthermore, for all of you Chicago kiters looking to become PASA certified to ride at Montrose, Aaron is a PASA certified instructor.
To top it off, the thing that makes this location so great is that you have a fantastic resort to stay at. Hawkâ€™s Cay is one of the premier resorts in the Keys. The resort is great for those traveling with families and friends. The resort offers many lodging options from standard hotel rooms to beautiful vacation villas. Furthermore, the resort has quality restaurants on-site as well as a beautiful pool and lagoon. However, the best news is that the kiting operation is located right within the marina of the resort so it makes it possible to stay at the resort and kite without ever really leaving. In addition, on non-wind days there are many other activity options which include deep-sea fishing, flats fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, swimming with resident dolphins, snorkeling, tennis, lounging by the pool and soon, stand-up paddle boarding.
From my past experiences, the best time to visit the Keys for kiting is November to May. In all of my trips down there, I have always been able to ride at least 50% of the days I am there and in some cases 100%.
For further information on the resort, see http://www.hawkscay.com/
If you are interested in contacting Aaron to set-up a fantastic kite boarding vacation in the beautiful Florida Keys, his contact information is as follows:
Marathon Florida Keys Kiteboarding LLC
305-942-9635 Phone. 305-743-8100 Fax.