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The Adventure Traveler's Guide To Florida

The Treasure Coast gets its name from the history of shipwrecks and sunken treasure that draw in thousands of divers each year. | Courtesy of Euan Kennedy/Flickr
The Treasure Coast gets its name from the history of shipwrecks and sunken treasure that draw in thousands of divers each year. | Courtesy of Euan Kennedy/Flickr
Florida: what a wonderful place for an adventurer. The Sunshine State, as it’s affectionately referred to, is full of contrasting images, diverse ecosystems and natural beauty. It’s one of the few places in America where you can drive for eight hours straight and still be in the same state. In many cases, though, it’s hard to imagine that due to the stark change in landscape, demographics, and wildlife as you travel from one end to the other. Imagine starting your trip in the Florida Keys, where blue waters and fishing boats dominate the scenic landscape, and then head north to Gainesville, where tall oaks and pines are home to wild buffalo, majestic alligators and raucous college students. It’s all here waiting for you — just get on a plane and visit it. Your adventure starts now!

Diving In The Treasure Coast

The name Treasure Coast has the ability to perk the interest of just about anybody with the slightest thirst for adventure, does it not? The region, whose name refers to the Spanish Treasure Fleet lost in a 1715 hurricane, is popular in the diving community for its shipwrecks, which make excellent artificial reefs for the diverse Atlantic Ocean ecosystem. For those of you who enjoy the thrill of spear fishing and lobster diving, there are plenty of charters for hire that will take you out all day and guide you through your adventure.

The Treasure Coast gets its name from the history of shipwrecks and sunken treasure that draw in thousands of divers each year. Courtesy of Euan Kennedy/Flickr

Ichetucknee River State Park

There are a few options here: one for the fitness lovers, one for the laid back crowd and one for the families. The Ichetucknee River provides travelers with six miles (10 km) of beautifully shaded river hammocks and wetlands. You can choose to kayak down the river or float slowly and peacefully on an inner tube. The park contains hardwood hammock and limestone outcrops, and, like many rivers in this part of North Florida, the Ichetucknee is fed by natural springs that boil up from an aquifer. The tranquil yet wild atmosphere is quite therapeutic and the water is quite safe to swim in. That being said, though, keep your wits about you for river snakes and other animals.

Be one with nature as you kayak down the serene and crystal clear fresh waters of the Ichetucknee river Courtesy of Anoldent/Flickr

Visit the Historic Castillo De San Marcos

St. Augustine, Florida is the sight of the oldest European settlement in the United States and is known for its Spanish colonial architecture and sandy beaches. The Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century Spanish stone fortress with views of the St. Augustine Inlet, attracts visitors from around the world. This type of impressive fortress is unique in the new world and has fascinating history; this is a must-visit place for the history buffs in your life. After touring the castle, continue your adventure by exploring the many fun things to do in the city.

Castillo De San Marcos, 1 S Castillo Dr, St Augustine, FL, USA +1 904 829 6506

Calusa Blueway

The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is an adventurer’s dream come true. You’ll definitely encounter some Instagram worthy moments along the 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail that meanders through the coastal waters and inland tributaries of Lee County, Florida. The Calusa Blueway is great for first-time kayakers as well as advanced paddlers, and is home to abundant marine life, shore birds and crustaceans. If you’re lucky, you might even be greeted by a Florida manatee!

Kayaking is the a great workout with a better view when you do it in the Great Calusa Blueway on the west coast of Florida Courtesy of BountoPaddle.com/flickr

The Florida Everglades

No adventure to Florida is complete without a trip to Everglades National Park, a 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve on the southern tip of Florida. Often compared to a grassy, slow-moving river, the Everglades is made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species, included the endangered Florida panther and leatherback turtle. We recommend you visit Billie Swamp Safari, which is run by the Seminole Tribe of Florida that has been living off of this land for centuries. At Billie Swamp Safari, you can take air-boat and buggy rides through the jungles and swamps of the Everglades.

The Florida Everglades, 30000 Gator Tail Trl., Clewiston, FL, USA +1 863 983 6101

The Florida Keys

Finish off your epic Florida adventure by going to the southernmost point of the continental United States in Key West. Along the way, you will drive along the famous 7 mile bridge that links mainland Florida to the Keys. There are bountiful possibilities for the adventure traveler here; you can charter a fishing boat and head out to sea with professional fishermen. Be patient, the adrenaline kicks in when the first mate yells ‘fish on!’ If you prefer looking at the fishing rather than catching them, we’ve got you covered — for help planning your dive trip, click here.

Southern Most Point. Whitehead St & South St, Key West, FL, USA +1 305 809 3700

By Laurence Kidd