Florida has long been one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations. Between 2009 and 2019, visitor numbers in Florida increased year on year to reach 131.42 million.
Tourism is one of the largest industries in Florida, if not the largest when counting indirect revenue. One of the reasons for the Sunshine State’s popularity as a holiday destination is its accessibility combined with its similarity to many areas of the Caribbean.
There are lots of beaches and hotels across Florida that are highly reminiscent of luxury vacation spots in the Caribbean. The warm weather and long stretches of white sand beaches have been drawing in more than 100 million visitors annually since 2015. One of the best ways to explore Florida’s beaches is to rent a yacht in Fort Lauderdale and travel around the coastline. Viewing these beaches from the water rather than the land gives a unique perspective.
Mainland Florida and its surrounding islands are best explored by chartering a yacht to gain the full experience. Click here to find out more about how to borrow a boat and begin your Florida adventure and see the region from a unique perspective.
Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park is one of mainland United States’ most Caribbean-esque beaches. The long stretch of glittering sand meets the crystalline waters and is edged with swaying palm trees. The transparency of the turquoise waters draws in thousands of snorkellers and divers each year, seeking to explore the secrets of the underwater depths and experience breath-taking sightings of colourful marine life. The island is located at Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys and has two modern boat amps located in the main marina.
Captiva Island was so named for the legend of Pirate Jose Gaspar, who allegedly built a prison on the isle to keep his prisoners captive in the early 1800s until their ransom money was produced. Today’s visitors need no locks and chains to keep them captivated. The stunning scenery makes this one of the region’s best-loved wedding venues and a popular spot for visitors from around the world. The beaches of Captiva Island are famous not only for their white sands but also for the plethora of colourful shells that wash up on those sands daily. Captiva has several marinas and is an ideal location for a dolphin-spotting trip or checking out other forms of marine and coastal wildlife.
Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island is a Florida State Park that is accessible only over the water by boat. Sailors who take the time to stop off at Caladesi will find 157 acres of pristine, untouched landscape accessible for just a small docking fee of around $6. Visitors can kayak through the mangrove forest or take a hike through the Scharrer Homestead, former residence of author Myrtle Scharrer Betz, who named the island “Paradise” when referring to it in her memoirs.
Don CeSar Resort
The Don CeSar Resort is a luxury complex located on a private beach in St. Petersburg. Reminiscent of a scene from The Great Gatsby, the resort is often referred to as the Pink Palace in homage to its pastel pink exterior and castle-like appearance. Facilities include two heated pools six restaurants, an exclusive spa and a kid’s camp to allow the adults time to relax and unwind on the sand. The Don CeSar is not the only Pink Palace in the world – there is also a resort in Bermuda, the Hamilton Princess, which has been dubbed with the same nickname.
Sanibel Island is a shell-collector’s paradise, renowned for more than 250 unique types of shell that wash up on the beaches every day. Picking up shells is such a popular pastime on Sanibel Island that the locals coined the phrase “Sanibel Stoop” to refer to the posture of visitors combing the beaches for the best finds. Turquoise waters surround the palm-fringed white sand beaches, while further guests can participate in myriad activities including bicycle riding tours, tennis, golf, bird watching and nature tours. Sanibel Island is just a stone’s throw away from Captiva Island by boat, making for a delightful round trip.
Key Biscane was once upon a time a sugar plantation off the coast of Miami. Today, the island is famous as the location for multiple film shoots, advertisement backgrounds and other photographic opportunities. The towering palms fringe a pearly white beach that is so stunning, thousands have wanted to capture it on camera to preserve the image for eternity. Visitors to Key Biscane on a weekday will find the pristine beaches virtually deserted for a relaxing day away from the madding crowd.
The Palms Hotel and Spa
The setting of the Palms Hotel and Spa in South Beach has a distinctly Puerto Rican vibe. Tall palm trees wave in the breeze, with a backdrop of lush tropical vegetation ending in warm white sands. Tiki cabanas surround the resort’s pools and a poolside tiki bar provides cold refreshments. Diners can relax under the awning of the on-site restaurant and indulge in local favourites such as conch chowder.