2023 Holiday Wish List

SWFL Gifts for Sports Lovers

Athletic types love immersive classes and experiences. Throw in locally sourced gear to round out the best gift ever.

BY December 1, 2023
A series of salt-water fishing flies in a case.
For the fishing lover, Bonita Springs’ 239 Flies offers an Intro to Saltwater Fly Tying class with owner captain Chris Conant. The shop also offers custom saltwater and freshwater flies and reels for all your casting needs. (Getty Image)

In this active, outdoorsy paradise, opportunities abound to spoil the sports lovers in your life. Golf is king around these parts, where more than 150 courses dot the landscape from Marco Island to Punta Gorda. Consider granting your fairway friend a custom club fitting with The Golf Guys in Bonita Springs. The family-run retail shop was rated among the 100 Best Clubfitters in the country by Golf Digest this year. The team uses tech to analyze club speed, launch angle and spin rate to determine what type of club would be most advantageous. Drawing from the extensive inventory of parts in the 10,000-square-foot shop, in-house makers can create thousands of configurations. Pair the new gear with a private lesson. Consider West Bay Golf Club’s Katie Dahl, a Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers in America recipient (her LPGA-USGA Girl’s Golf Club of Estero is great for young girls); impact position expert Mark Durland in Naples; or two-time LPGA Tour winner Gail Graham.

For water lovers, you’ll score big points for connecting them with the latest watersports craze: eFoiling. Riders use a Bluetooth remote and hydrofoil board to cruise above the water at speeds around 25 miles per hour—it’s like surfing but with no paddling or waves required and riders soaring above the water’s surface. Smile, Surf & Sail eFoil lessons in Naples and on Marco Island include two-hour, one-on-one sessions. Instructors can meet at the nearest beach or a private boat or dock for the class and can recommend the best location based on the weather conditions. While no experience is required, the sport is best for generally active folks with strong core strength and balance.

Outfit your rider in style with swimwear from Naples-based Sunnyland Swim. We know, we know—we said no material gifts. But, in this case, it’s worth making an exception. With Sunnyland, you’re supporting a local business that commits to full sustainability for its ethically produced SPF50 suits, made of recycled fish nets.

For anglers, schedule a half- or full-day excursion with Everglades City Fishing Charters. During their four-to eight-hour backcountry fishing charters for up to six people, captains share the best techniques for seasonal catches like redfish, trout, sheepshead or snook, which thrives in the warm, brackish waters and thick mangroves. Even if you’re not fishing, you’ll want to tag along for the swamp adventure, replete with wildlife watching. Prepare your fishermen for the trip with gear from captain Jimmy Wheeler’s Everglades Fishing Co., based in Everglades City. His waterproof dry bag with adjustable, padded shoulder straps and maritime-themed buffs are lifesavers.

If your angler is more into fly fishing, Bonita Springs’ 239 Flies delivers, with custom reels and hand-tied saltwater and freshwater flies. Get your fly angler an eight-person, five-week Intro to Saltwater Fly Tying class with owner captain Chris Conant. For a more laidback experience, book a bird tour by kayak during sunset through Rookery Bay with Rising Tide Explorers, led by local biologists and scientists.

If your group is more into dinks than dips, smash the gift-giving game with front-row tickets to the Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships. Go for VIP Experience passes, which include four courtside seats; drinks and snacks delivered to you; and commemorative paddles. Round out the experience with Naples-based Anya & Niki’s the Pace backpack, which is cinched at the top to hold a paddle or racquet. On the other hand, the brand’s Baldwin yoga mat bag has a high-gloss material, elevated by leather trimming. It’s perfect for a yogi escape with Estero-based, Lululemon ambassador Kim Quan, who hosts yoga retreats in Costa Rica, or Megan Doyle’s Align & Revive wellness trips in Chiang Rai, Thailand. We can already see the glow on their faces.  

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