Often called the "yachting capital of the world," Fort Lauderdale provides ample opportunity for visitors to get out on the water, either along the Intracoastal Waterway or on the open ocean. If your hotel doesn't rent boats, try Aloha Watersports, Marriott's Harbor Beach Resort, 3030 Holiday Dr., Fort Lauderdale (tel. 954/462-7245; www.alohawatersports.com). It can outfit you with a variety of craft, including jet skis, WaveRunners, and catamarans. Rates start at $65 per half-hour for WaveRunners ($15 each additional rider; doubles and triples available), $70 to $125 for sailboats, $60 to $70 for catamarans, $20 per person per hour for ocean kayaks, $25 an hour for paddleboards or $100 for an hour lesson, and $75 per person for a 15-minute parasailing ride. Aloha also offers a Surfing School ($50 -- though the waves are hardly rippin' here!) and a Coast Guard class (9am daily), through which adults can obtain their Florida Boaters License for $3. And for the treasure hunters, you can rent a metal detector for $20 per hour.
The IGFA (International Game Fish Association) World Fishing Center, 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach (tel. 954/922-4212; www.igfa.org), is an angler's paradise. One of the highlights of this museum, library, and park is the virtual-reality fishing simulator that allows visitors to actually reel in their own computer-generated catch. Also included in the 3-acre park are displays of antique fishing gear, record catches, famous anglers, various vessels, and a wetlands lab. To get a list of local captains and guides, call IGFA headquarters (tel. 954/927-2628) and ask for the librarian. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and children 3 to 16. The museum and library are open daily from 10am to 6pm. On the grounds is also Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, a huge retail complex set on a 3-acre lake.
More than 50 golf courses in all price ranges compete for players. Among the best is Emerald Hills, 4100 N. Hills Dr., Hollywood (tel. 954/961-4000; www.theclubatemeraldhills.com), just west of I-95 between Sterling Road and Sheridan Street. This beauty consistently lands on the "best of" lists of golf writers nationwide. The 18th hole, on a two-tier green, is the course's signature; it's surrounded by water and is more than a bit rough. The course is pricey -- Friday through Sunday, greens fees start at $150 for tee times after 1pm, and $175 for tee times before noon during high season; Monday through Friday, the fees are $125 before noon and $110 after 1pm. Rates are cheaper during the brutally hot summers.
Another great course is the Howard Watson-designed 18-hole Pembroke Lakes course at the Pembroke Lakes Golf Club, 10500 Taft St., Pembroke Pines (tel. 954/431-4144; www.pcmgolf.com), run by the same management company that runs the Miami Beach Golf Club and the recipient of a $7-million renovation that saw the addition of Paspalum Supreme Grass. Best of all, greens fees are almost rock bottom, ranging from $25 to $55 depending on time and season.
The Diplomat Golf Resort and Spa, 501 Diplomat Pkwy., Hallandale Beach (tel. 954/602-6000; www.diplomatgolfresortandspa.com), is across the Intracoastal from the Westin Diplomat Resort. It has fabulous golf facilities, with 8 acres of lakes and rolling fairways, plus a fantastic delivery service that brings lunch and drinks to your cart. You pay for the services, however, with greens fees of $139 to $179 during high season and $89 to $99 off-season. Twilight fees at 2pm cost from $39 to $89.
For one of Broward's best municipal challenges, try the 18-holer at the Orangebrook Golf Course, 400 Entrada Dr., Hollywood (tel. 954/967-GOLF ; www.orangebrook.com). Built in 1937, this is one of the state's oldest courses and one of the area's best bargains. Morning and noon rates are $17 to $23. After 3pm, you can play for about $13, including a cart. Men must wear collared shirts to play here, and no spikes are allowed.
In Broward County, the best dive wreck is the Mercedes I, a 197-foot freighter that washed up in the backyard of a Palm Beach socialite in 1984 and was sunk for divers the following year off Pompano Beach. The artificial reef, filled with colorful sponges, spiny lobsters, and barracudas, is 97 feet below the surface, a mile offshore between Oakland Park and Sunrise boulevards. Dozens of reputable dive shops line the beach. Ask at your hotel for a nearby recommendation, or contact Neil Watson's Undersea Adventures, 1525 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale (tel. 954/462-3400; www.nealwatson.com).
There are hundreds of courts in Broward County, and plenty are accessible to the public. Many are at resorts and hotels. If yours has none, try the Jimmy Evert Tennis Center, 701 NE 12th Ave. (off Sunrise Blvd.), Fort Lauderdale (tel. 954/828-5378), famous as the spot where Chris Evert trained. There are 18 lighted clay courts and three hard courts here. Nonresidents of Fort Lauderdale pay $6 per hour before 4pm and $7 after. Reservations are accepted after 2pm for the following day, but cost an extra $3.