Okeeheelee Park is an oasis in central Palm Beach County, offering nearly every recreational activity one could want. The park has lakes, along with plenty of trails for biking, running and walking. It’s a perfect setting for those who seek to exercise in the tranquility of fresh air.
Among the many options for exercising in Okeeheelee Park is to paddle a kayak, canoe or the more adventurous stand-up paddleboard on the freshwater lakes.
If you don’t own any of those watercraft, don’t fret, because Kayak-King WaterSports has you covered.
Eleven years ago, Roger Roque was working in the medical field when one day a client he befriended casually asked him if he was interested in buying a business. He was intrigued at the invitation and checked out the modest kayak rental business.
“I saw tremendous potential, and after arranging for financing, I bought the business,” Roque recalled.
As the United States fights an obesity epidemic, many people are trying to live a healthier lifestyle through proper diet and a regular exercise regimen. South Florida has plenty of water, so paddling one’s way to better health is quite popular.
“About 90 percent of the rentals are for an hour to an hour and a half, which is just enough time for the over-stimulated person to disconnect from their hectic lives in the peace and silence of nature,” Roque said.
The kayak and canoe offer an excellent workout for the abdominal core and arms, while the paddleboard is a complete full-body training session.
Roque said that in about five minutes, his staff can train the novice so they spend more time paddling through the water than falling into it.
In more than a decade of renting out equipment, he said he has not had one major injury. Roque believes this is because his staff ensures that the safety equipment — such as life jackets — is personally sized to the individual, ensuring a proper fit.
Anyone who is just starting to get themselves into shape shouldn’t be concerned with not being able to enjoy a kayak, canoe or paddleboard. “No one is too big to rent our equipment,” Roque said.
He suggests wearing a swimming suit and water shoes when going out on the water.
Other groups of his clientele are anglers, who typically rent a kayak or canoe for three to five hours, or people who have rented one of the park’s pavilions for a party and want their guests to be able to get out on the water.
South Florida is also known for pop-up thunderstorms, but Roque said Okeeheelee Park has lightning detectors and sirens that warn people if a storm is in the area. The warning system allows those out on the open water enough time to get back to the dock without getting caught in a lightning storm.
An added safety dimension of paddling at Okeeheelee Park is that the lakes there are not connected to the canal system, so the possibility of alligators, snakes and other dangerous animals is fairly minimal, Roque said.
Bicycles are also available to rent, and the paths in the park give the right of way to bikes rather than to those on foot, he said.
Running a small business can be a challenge at times, and Roque counts on the community for support. “If the community wants to continue to have these kinds of services available, then they need to support small business,” he said.
Kayak-King WaterSports is open Saturday, Sunday and major holidays (except Christmas Day) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last rental is at 4 p.m.). During the summer, the business runs Thursday through Monday.
Kayak-King WaterSports is located in Okeeheelee Park at 7715 Forest Hill Blvd. For more information, call (561) 304-1344 or (561) 632-7969, or visit www.kayakkingwatersports.com.