“I'm the guy you want to be stranded on a deserted island
with a roll of duct tape
because I can make anything happen.”
The Kite House
Key West, FL » 1998-present
Widely regarded as a kiteboarding pioneer, Paul Menta adventured around the world–and then settled in Key West, where he offers kiteboard training vacations at his unique Kitehouse training center.
Students immerse themselves in the kiteboarding lifestyle, absorbing skills and moves, safety procedures, and a philosophy of living in the moment and becoming one with the environment.
Kiteboarding requires a waist harness, a kite attached by four lines, a steering bar and a board. In the clear shallow waters of the Keys backcountry, students learn to pump up and fly the kite, steer the bar and attempt jumps, spins and other maneuvers on the board.
Kitehouse training options range from one- to five-day beginner programs to a five-day intermediate course — and most instruction is one-on-one with the teacher.
Riding excursions are offered for advanced kiteboarders who don’t need instruction.“Even though we have a small island, we have a huge backcountry, a lot of shallow water and 360 degrees of wind,” said Menta. “Because of this unique situation, we have a super-safe environment to learn the sport.”
For more information about kiteboarding lessons and vacations at The Kite House:
Key West Legal Rum
Key West, FL » 2013-Present
It is irresistibly tempting to compare distiller Paul Menta to Captain Jack Sparrow. There’s the long, dark hair, the slightly Depp-ish eyes, and yes, a shared love of rum and open sea (Menta’s a competitive kiteboarder). Menta’s business dealings, however, are a bit more…legitimate.
The Florida-native opened the Key West Legal Rum Distillery [in 2013], the first legal distillery in the Florida Keys, though rum has flowed through the islands for years.
But this is no bathtub rum. A chef by trade, Menta uses Florida sugar cane as his base—you can really taste it in his raw, unfiltered version—which he infuses with coconut, vanilla, and key lime to make flavored rums that are refreshingly bright (and not syrupy).
Tours are fun and informative—the distillery, occupying a former saloon-turned-Coke-bottling-plant, doesn’t shy away from the shady side of the local rum trade.
Visitors can examine mug shots of infamous local rum-runners, watch as prefiltered rum is drained into the still, and taste Menta’s five spirits. $8, including four tasters and a free shot glass.