A day in Islamorada

The Florida Keys is a must visit for anyone who loves the outdoors and is looking to explore a Florida gem. One of our favorite locations in the Keys is Islamorada. This beautiful location is great for snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing or just relaxing on the water. The Florida keys do have some amazing sunsets over the gulf side and you can find fresh seafood anywhere you stop.  What I have learned from my experience is don’t try to do everything in one trip. Being out on the water and in the sun is fun but it is also draining so just plan one activity and enjoy your day. Islamorada is about 2-hour drive from Fort Lauderdale. I would suggest leaving at 6am if you plan on spending your day in the Keys and the later you leave the more traffic you will encounter. A large majority of the drive is only one to two lanes and can back up very easily, this seems to be a great time and you get to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean. My second suggestion is to check the weather forecast and then the marine forecast. Ideally, you’re looking for the marine forecast to show smooth waters 2-3 feet is not bad any more than that I normally rescheduled my trip. This is only my personal experience I am sure other people have enjoyed the day with higher waves I just like it when the water is flat and calm.

Useful Websites before you Trip

Islamorada weather forecast

Islamorada marine forecast

Islamorada Webcams

Robbies

Kayaking & SUP

The clear waters are ideal for Kayaking and SUP there is also plenty to see if you’re interested in paddling thru the mangroves. Parking at Robbie’s is a great option if you have your own gear or plan on renting from the kayak shack. The rental price for Kayaks and SUP is reasonable. To contact the kayak shack for current prices (305) 664-4878 | floridakeyskayakandjetski@gmail.com . If you have your own gear drop in towards the end of the boat duck. The mangrove trail entrance is west a map is included below. The last visit I did see a big family of manatee going into this trail remembers it is Illegal to touch, feed or harass the manatees. The mangrove trails around Robbies also has a few resident crocodiles that like to hang around the docks. Don’t be alarmed if they say HELLO.

Another cool option for kayaking and SUP is Indian Key State Park. The island is located about 2 miles from Robbie’s boat dock.  I would highly suggest bringing water shoes for all your adventures, your feet will appreciate it. When paddling to the island during low tide the sandbar is exposed and a good chance of getting stuck is possible so be aware of the tides. The island is easy to access with kayak or SUP just remember to pull your gear up so that the tide does not take your only way out off the Island. I would suggest bringing your snorkel and dive flag, there is some coral on the east side of the island be aware there is some fire coral in the area.

Fishing

The waters are crystal clear and fishing is a local culture here. If you’re interested in fishing I do suggest Robbies they have few options available with some great staff. I know I talk about Robbie’s a lot and I am sure other places are just as great but personally, I have used them and always had a great time. My favorite option is doing the morning party boat “tip ask for the rear of the boat and book in advance”. The staff has always been wonderful and everything is provided bait and also help for beginners. The boat crew would also filet your catch once your back and if you interested in having lunch or dinner at the restaurant they would cook your catch for a reasonable price and includes side dishes.

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came.” —John F. Kennedy

Boat rental

If you’re renting a boat there are a few really nice reefs only a short distance away. The first one is Alligator reef located a few miles from Robbies. The reef usually has clear water and lots of great snorkeling. Early in the morning sea turtles are commonly found here feeding on the grass and cruising through the grassbeds. The second suggestion would be Cheeca Rocks located a little north and is 2 miles from shore right across from Guy Harvey Resort. This location has bouys located inside the protected area that your boat ties off to. If your doing the boat rental hopefully you brought your fishing or snorkeling gear also be aware of the tides times and the sandbars in the area. When exiting Robbies pay attention because Manatee are in the area.

Suggestions for islamorada

There are plenty of stops for breakfast once you get into the Keys past Florida City. If you plan on fishing, Ricks Yellow Bait shop in homestead offers live bait and gear. There are plenty of other places in the keys that offer bait and snorkeling gear once you’re here. If you plan on snorkeling more than one time it is cheaper to buy your own gear. Many outdoor shops offer reasonably priced kits that will be all you need.

What to wear and bring

  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Water shoes
  • Long sleeve UV shirt
  • Barlav
  • Water ” 1st tip Buy a large bottle 2nd tip buy a Babba mug to keep water cold
  • Snorkeling gear if you own any

Staying in Miami

Affordable vacation

Staying in Maimi could

Pool view

pool view from the 15th floor

be expensive however there are few travel hacks we used on a recent stay that made the experience both enjoyable and affordable. I am going to offer some suggestions that worked very well for us this weekend.

 

Hotel

The first thing we needed for our stay in Miami was a hotel. We booked our hotel two ways one was thru Priceline because they had the best deal at the time and the second was thru reward points on the Hyatt Credit Card. The current offer for Hyatt credit card is $3,000 spent in 3 months earns you $40,000 points that 2 nights free at this time. You can earn an additional $20,000 points if you spend $6,000 total in 6 months. The time I booked the hotel per night charge was 15,000 points so that is 4 nights free.

The hotel we stayed at was The Confidante. The hotel has 2 pools one for kids and one adults only. The adults would steal the kids floats because we are bigger. a rooftop gym

adult pool

adult pool at the confidante

and plenty of happy employees to make your stay memorable. The hotel is located next to the boardwalk and has a great sandy beach.

 

Suggestions for Stay at The Confidante

  • Don’t bring your car or rent a car during your stay, At $44 per night for parking it’s better to Uber or Lyft here are some promo codes. My uber code $ 5 OFF is yaroslavg10ue My Lyft code $5 OFF 4 rides is GOLUBEV85016.
  • If you do need a car to consider getting a car rental for just 1 day. Pick it up in the morning and drop off the car in the evening probably the airport would have the best options.
  • Check out the hotel Bird & Bone restaurant at the hotel validates parking $10 off the $25 daily parking fee.
  • The hotel has a great happy hour for drinks 4-6pm half priced and the Poke bowl is $8.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle plenty of water stations around the hotel, front desk area, gym, pool bar and more. I suggest Bubba Mugs because they have a lifetime warranty and your drink stays cold for 12 hours.

 Not only is this sustainable behavior easy to follow through with and very inexpensive, it provides significant environmental benefits.

 

  • Snorkeling, If you here on vacation and the water is flat and clear a good snorkeling option is the available walking distance from the hotel if you have your mask. The rocks on the beach located between 29th street and 32nd street provided a great opportunity to see lots of tropical fish. The only catch is it needs to be High Tide during low tide the rocks are exposed and the fish swim away to the real reef.

Be respectful of the sea life don’t touch the rocks or the sea life.

  • Bike Rentals, The hotel offers complimentary bikes however they are the first to come basis and only 4 bikes are available. The Citi bike station is located through Miami and a good option.
  • The hotel is pet-friendly and there is a dog park walking distance from the hotel. The parks name is Pinetree Park. The park also has a kayak lunch site if you happen to have a kayak with you.

Here a few links to checkout

Restaurant walking distance

 

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

 

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

The Park is located on East Sunrise Blvd and A1A. The fact that this park has more than 200 species of wading birds is impressive. I am more impressed with the Gopher tortoise and yes I did see one during my visit. The Gopher tortoise is considered a

gopher tortoise

gopher tortoise

keystone species because he digs holes that provides shelters for at least 360 other animal species, Gopher tortoise is the State tortoise for Florida.

The park does also have a freshwater lagoon, Kayak and Paddle Board rentals are available. If you have your own kayak or paddleboard it’s pretty easy to drop it into the water. I do suggest bringing water shoes the muddy water does not feel great on your feet. The freshwater lagoon is about half a mile long, however, there are 2 narrow paths one at the beginning of the lagoon on your right and another at the end of the lagoon that adds

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

a little more distance. When you paddle the lagoon large iguanas could be noticed on the trees in many different colours some are really good at blending in. The Iguanas are not native to Florida and they are called chicken of the tree in Carribean islands. I just like the way they look the once with the spikes are my favorite.

” keep our state parks clean use reusable water bottles and don’t litter”

The park is great for bicycling and in-line skates, the trail is 1.9 miles one way around

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

the park. It is highly recommended to wear a helmet because you are sharing the road with cars that are in the park, The park is also across the street from Fort Lauderdale beach making it easy to park and enjoy a full day without paying an arm and a leg. The Park and Ocean restaurant located near south is a perfect place to enjoy a quick-lunch and adult drink. They do offer outdoor seating and the prices are not bad.

overall this is a nice park that is located in Fort Lauderdale. I do suggest the park for both locals and tourists. The park has plenty of other features their website is listed below the address and remember to keep our parks clean for everyone’s enjoyment.


Open Larger Map for Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

address

3109 E Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
floridastateparks.org
phone (954) 564-4521
Hours :  The park is open from 8:00 a.m. until sundown

Admission Fee:

$6.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.

$4.00 Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.

$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

 

Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Personally I’m not a big fan of snakes, however, it seems that my wife on her recent visit to Ichetucknee Springs State Park filmed one swimming in the spring. She absolutely loved it, being able to observe wildlife in its natural environment is an amazing experience. I believe the snake in the video is a Florida water snake. If anyone’s got more information about it please share.

This spring is located 50 minutes from Gainesville. Ichetucknee Springs State Park offers tubing, kayaking, and paddleboard rentals. If you plan on spending a week here I recommend buying your own tube and bring own snorkel gear. I have had great experiences with the brand Intex. “In-park canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals are available from 8 am to 2:30 pm daily. tube and raft rentals are available from 8 am to 4:30 pm daily,” per the park’s website.

” keep our state parks clean use reusable water bottles and don’t litter”

 

 

Hotel Recommendations

Normally when we are visiting I Recommend staying in Chiefland. This little town is located one hour from the spring is also located driving distance from multiple Springs. The interactive map below shows a few large springs in the area.

Park information Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Address: 12087 Southwest, US-27, Fort White, FL 32038

ichetuckneesprings.com
(386) 497-4690

 

Park Hours 8 a.m to sundown.

The Dania Beach Erojacks

I updated some video and pictures

Our Travels

Dania Beach Snorkeling

Eagly Ray at Dania Jacks Eagly Ray at Dania Jacks

If your in Fort Lauderdale or just happen to be in the area check out the Dania Jaxs. Its artificial reef located 300 feet from shore. The Jaxs stretches 1,500 feet until the first reef edge. The reef is located inside Dr, Von D Mitzell Johnson State Park. Once you enter the park drive until the first parking lot on your right. Get your gear and walk towards the beach, a bathroom and outside shower are located on your left after you cross the bridge. The bridge goes over Whiskey Creek. Whiskey Creek is great for paddle boards and kayaks. I do suggest wearing long sleeves to avoid the mosquitoes and noseeums if you decide to paddle here in the afternoon.

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Dania Beach

 

Welcome To South Florida

Welcome to South Florida you just landed in Fort Lauderdale Airport better known as FLL. If you already picked up a car and on your way to check in your next stop would be to get food. The areas blowing up restaurants so that should not be a problem. If you’re staying in an area there are plenty of parks to explore only minutes away from the airport. I’m going to talk about a few that are located in Dania Beach and Hollywood the neighborhood south of Fort Lauderdale.

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Goethe State Forest

 

Dunnellon

Goethe State Forest

Driving Goethe State Forest

The Goethe State Forest is located 2 hours north of Orlando. The park offers wonderful hiking trails for someone looking to get away from the noise and just relax. The park also has roads so if you wanted to stay in your car and slowly drive-thru in air conditioning go right ahead. Thier are campsites available at this park they are clean but primitive. I do recommend bring food and water if you plan on spending the whole day here.

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