As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, Florida intrigues a large number of waterbugs and sun-worshippers with poetic beaches and world-famous theme parks. Aside from plopping down on the beach and soaking up some sun or exploring unique natural places, the state also offers adventurous experiences with plenty of fantastic waterfront activities. Check out these 5 best water activities for your upcoming adventure to the Sunshine State.
DIVING AT BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK
Located near Florida’s southern tip on the Atlantic Coast, Biscayne National Park preserves Biscayne Bay, one of the top scuba diving areas in the United States. This over-90%-water national park is home to an extensive mangrove forest along the shoreline, a portion of the world’s third-longest living coral reef, and the northernmost Florida Keys. Within sight of downtown Miami, the park offers many fantastic activities on the water including boating, snorkeling, camping, and wildlife watching.
Visiting the national park, you will not want to miss the most unique activity at Biscayne National Park that is the Maritime Heritage Trail. Take a boat to get there and approach the diving trail via scuba and or snorkel to explore the remains of six famous shipwrecks, spanning nearly a century and a wide variety of sizes and vessel types. While some wrecks are for divers, a few, especially the Mandalay, can be appreciated by snorkelers.
In addition to the diving experience, you can also camp on two islands off the mainland, Boca Chita and Elliott Key. The appeal of waking up on a subtropical island along with the excellent snorkeling experience among the mangroves will definitely blow your mind.
SNORKELING AT JOHN PENNEKAMP CORAL REEF STATE PARK
As the largest reef in the continental USA, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Florida is the first undersea park in the US encompassing an impressive 70 nautical square miles. While canoeing, kayaking, or fishing in designated areas are popular activities in the park, scuba diving or snorkeling is a must when exploring the site.
You will not want to miss experiences of viewing the park’s colorful coral reefs or discovering vibrant marine life with technicolor schools of fish, dangerous-looking barracuda, or graceful sea turtles. Besides, divers can catch a glimpse of the Christ of the Abyss, a huge bronze sculpture of Jesus – a copy of a similar sculpture off the coast of Genoa, Italy, in the Mediterranean Sea. Before you get out in that water, be sure to stroll over the nature trails through tropical hammocks, picnic, or swim at the beautiful beach.
WINDSURFING AT KEY BISCAYNE
Key Biscayne, the southernmost barrier island of the US, just south of Miami Beach, boasts tropical beauty with palm trees, white-sand beaches, lush nature trails, and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Biscayne Bay on the west. Visiting the island, you will have the opportunity to experience a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities, including bicycling, fishing, kiteboarding, boating, sailing, and especially windsurfing which is the most popular water activity on this island.
The Rickenbacker Causeway, the road that connects the island to the mainland, is the jumping-off point for some true windsurfing. Head to Hobie Beach to rent equipment and take up your wonderful adventure on the sea via windsurfing to relish the salty taste of the ocean and get an awe-inspiring summer vibe.
Also known by its name of ‘Path of the Rising Moon’, this historic island also attracts nature lovers, families and vacationers to admire the spectacular views of a full moon or relax a barefoot-in-the-sand getaway.
SAILING IN FLORIDA’S ‘FORGOTTEN COAST’
Nestled in the panhandle of Florida, the ‘Forgotten Coast’ has its name as it is the last remaining stretch of unspoiled, pristine Gulf Coast beaches that haven’t been overrun by high rises and strip malls. The coast which encompasses Gulf, Franklin, and Wakulla counties exudes primal, wind-blown beauty with the undeveloped stretches of salt marsh and slash pine that spill east and west of Apalachee Bay.
Home to Florida’s most pristine, serene beaches, this beautiful barrier island offers an array of fun activities from shelling, castle-building, and relaxing on the sugar-white sand swimming, to fishing and paddling in the clear gulf waters. If you want to indulge in a real feeling of discovery and adventure, do not miss the experience of sailing between some beautiful spots on the Forgotten Coast, including T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, St. George Island State Park, and Grayton Beach State Park.
Besides, you can also visit the quaint coastal city of Apalachicola nearby to take in an array of landmarks, shop for unique boutiques and art galleries, and learn about the town’s rich maritime history.
PADDLING AT TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS
Taking up the western edge of the Everglades Park, Ten Thousand Islands is a fringe of coral cays and mangrove islands off of Florida’s southern Gulf Coast. Home to many tiny islands and a mangrove swamp that hugs the southwestern-most border of Florida, the Ten Thousand Islands offers visitors many wonderful experiences with interesting water activities. Drifting on the water along the network of waterways that skirt the northwest portion of the park of Everglades is a must-try experience to enjoy the serenity of this site.
For a truly epic adventure, head out on one of the world’s great kayaking trips and paddle the Wilderness Waterway, a 99-mile aquatic trek from Everglades City down the Gulf Coast to the Flaming Marina at the southern mainland tip of Florida. During your adventure, you can camp in chickens raised platforms on the water, say good morning to dancing dolphins, and admire poetic sunsets that will have you falling in love and sear in your memory forever.