SMYLE, YOU'RE IN SMYRNA Discover paddle-boarding, sandy beaches and adventure in Florida

The 17 miles of sandy beaches are impressive and New Smyrna’s main street, Flagler Avenue, is packed with bars and restaurants.

Thanks to its almost year-round good weather, visitors never struggle to get close to Florida’s marine life.

Although best known for Disney World, it is clear the Sunshine State has a lot more to offer than just “the Mouse”.


After touching down in Orlando, I head to New Smyrna Beach, an hour south of the airport.

The 17 miles of sandy beaches are impressive and New Smyrna’s main street, Flagler Avenue, is packed with bars and restaurants.

The pastel-painted Twenties buildings are home to shops and businesses and I’m spoilt for choice on where to eat.

At Third Wave, a restaurant with a top coffee shop, I enjoy fresh seafood in the gently lit courtyard before heading back to my room — one of seven at Inn on The Avenue.

The homely B&B’s owner, Tami, cooks breakfast to order and it sets me up for a day on the water. An inlet means New Smyrna Beach is part of an island of land with the Atlantic on one side, and the Intracoastal Waterway and Indian River on the other.

The area is full of family-friendly watersports.

Kirsten, from Paddleboard New Smyrna, takes me out for my first attempt. Despite my nerves and dodgy balance, soon I’m standing up and paddling out.

As we pass waterfront houses with pontoons and wave to passing kayakers, Kirsten points out a river dolphin just a few feet away.


We edge closer and watch with delight as the dolphin and its mate jump out of the water and play next to us.

After lunch at the Corkscrew Bar & Grille, I wander into New Smyrna’s downtown and take in The Hub, a group of art and photography workshops, and grab a drink.

Becky and David Reichenberg have set up a tearoom just off the central Canal Street.

Thanks to many years living in the UK while David was in the US Air Force, there is no problem getting a proper cup of tea and British visitors are especially welcome. On Saturday night, everyone recommends I head to the New Smyrna Brewery Company.

What started as a hobby in brew master Chris Coyle’s garage in 2006 is now a thriving microbrewery, complete with the warmest of welcomes.

Everything is made on site, in barrels and tanks you can see from the bar, and it’s not long before I am chatting to regulars.

The brewery is next to Yellow Dog Eats, where I grab a signature pulled pork sandwich and a root beer.

With the beach vibe from restaurants such as seafood specialist JB’s Fish Camp, New Smyrna has a feel of a “California on the East Coast” and it is regularly voted one of the top five surf towns in the States.

After my paddleboard success I decide to book a lesson with pro Devon Thresher, who helps me ace my stance. And unlike in chilly UK waters, my teeth aren’t chattering by the time I head back to the beach.

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The Sun UK