Brochure images of Disney characters we remember so fondly as children, give an inaccurate account of Florida. And its nickname ‘Sunshine State’ doesn’t sum it up much better either as we conjure up images of tanned fit bodies. Because away from the incredibly fun but overexposed resorts, there is much more to this least understood state as Luxurious Magazine’s Senior Reporter, Sabi Phagura, found out during a visit to this tropical part of the USA.
The first stop on our tour of Florida was Naples, located on the Gulf of Mexico in the southwest. Known for its world-class shopping, dining and untamed tropical wilderness of the Everglades, I wasn’t surprised to find a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy. And the Inn on Fifth, right in the heart of the shopping district, and home to 119 elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites including 32 luxurious club level suites, is the perfect place to stay and experience the best of what this part of the world has to offer.
Breakfast at Fifth Avenue Coffee Shop is a particularly good place from where to indulge in a spot of people watching while tucking into a hearty morning meal.
There’s nothing like being near water to put you in a holiday mood. With a plethora of excursions on offer, you can get right up close and personal to the wildlife.
We took our kayaks from the marina at All Water Excursions along the Tamiami Trail, for a guided adventure tour through the Estero Bay estuary and the mangrove islands. Our leader was skilful in helping us to identify the various species while allowing us to take our minds off the vigorous workout we were getting during the two-hour paddle.
But if some strenuous exercise seems too much of an effort, then a jet boat tour is for you. This is an adrenalin-pumping way to explore the waterways while engaging in a spot of dolphin seeking.
A trip with the Pure Florida Jet Thrill Ride enables you to experience the excitement of 360-degree adrenaline rush turns, and speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour, akin to being on a fairground water ride.
But the delight of shooting through the shallow waters of Florida’s Everglades has to be experienced on an airboat. You only have to hear the squeals of delight from the kids (and some adults) when the airboat takes a high-speed turn in the narrow channels between the mangroves to know it is a lot of fun. Doubling up as being environmentally educational, it’s possible to get up close and personal to alligators, turtles and more.