Florida: Ponce de Leon was the first to surf these palm trees

A group of explorers will celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the arrival of Ponce de Leon in Florida, with a yearlong project through the state's coastline, waterways and aquatic ecosystem.


Expedition Florida 500 is the code name for an adventure of exploration, stewardship, science and sport that will include the full gamut of the waterman's lifestyle.

Watermen from three organizations - Mother Ocean, Quiksilver Waterman and Tahoe SUP - will spend the first half of the year, chasing swell in the Atlantic, freediving Spanish shipwrecks, sailing in the Gulf of Mexico, stand up paddling the state's coastline, spearfishing in the Dry Tortugas, stopping into local beachside communities and hosting cleanups.

The team will also be mapping the coastline and waterways with the help of Below the Surface and their Riverview Project.

"Our goal with Expedition Florida 500 is to merge our passion for ocean advocacy with an incredible storyline that resonates with the masses", explains Justin Riney, of Team XF500.

Peter Mel, Matt Kechele, Nate Brouwer and Kristian Gustavson are in the group of explorers. In the second half of the year, Team XF500 will turn inland into the rivers, lakes, estuaries and marshland.

They'll camp and airboat through the Everglades, canoe the natural springs, drive old pickup trucks that run on algae biofuel, film amazing Florida wildlife and scenery, kayak and stand up paddle the rivers and waterways.