Photo Credit: Cocorosa
I just got back from a trip to the Florida Keys—it's a stunning natural paradise with so much to do! These islands south of Miami stretching towards Cuba are famous for their coral reefs (I've heard it's the only natural living coral reef in the United States) and it’s a favorite destination for those loving to snorkel, dive, kayak and fish. You can also take amazing eco-tours of the mangroves.
You’ll find beautiful natural coves, lagoons, inlets and seawalls full of natural wildlife to spot! My favorite beaches were those in Bahia Honda State Park. Shells, little crabs, sightings of birds and plenty of opportunity to kayak and snorkel = bliss! Remember to collect shells for making your own beach souvenir necklace! And don't forget to bring a good SPF you don’t mind reapplying, like Hawaiian Tropic® Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance lotion sunscreen—that's an absolute must in these parts, especially when you’re near reflective water.
More must-sees in the area:
For animal-lovers: I loved Islamorada, an island filled with iguanas and pelicans. Go tarpon feeding at Robbie’s and see pelicans crammed up in this little harbor (we even spotted a stingray!) End the day with delicious seafood at one of the nice restaurants or tropical drinks at your hotel's tiki bar! Tip: Unexpectedly, the restaurants with big flashy signs and names like “Green Turtle Inn” offer some really amazing food!
For partiers: Key West—the biggest town in the area—is famous for its picture-perfect pastel houses and historic sights (look up at the trees to see chickens and roosters!) and it's a big tourist destination.
For students: Spend part of the summer (6 weeks) working in one of the Florida Keys state parks, where you can lodge for free on one of the campsites and will have plenty of time to explore the keys, meet people and have a perfect summer experience!
For wannabe-snorkelers: Snorkeling not your thing? Go on one of the many glass bottom boat tours in the Florida Keys like at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo—all the underwater beauty without even getting wet.