Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Sunshine State!

Well I have been planning to write this down ever since we made our fantabulous trip to Florida couple of months back. So here I am - kickstarting what I've been procrastinating for long - starting our travelogue series!!

First the logistics of our trip - We were in Florida for a week. We landed at Fort Lauterdale and rented a car. Then drove to Orlando which took about three and a half hour ( Distance between Fort Lauterdale and Orlando is about 230 miles.)

Islands of Adventure, Orlando

Spent two days at Universal and then drove to Miami - this took about 4 Hours ( Distance between Orlando and Miami is about 250 miles). We then stayed at Miami overnight and headed for Florida keys in the morning. We were staying at a resort in Key Largo - the first of keys South of Florida.

An aerial view of Florida Keys


It took about 1.5 Hours to reach Key Largo from Miami. Key Largo is largest of all the keys and is also known as " Diving Capital of the World". We then drove back and Forth to Key West over course of next two days. The drive from Key Largo to Key West - the Southermost Island takes about 2.5 hours ( Distance between Key Largo and key West is about 90 miles but it takes that long because of low speed limits). The drive is absolutely beautiful. There are about 42 bridges over the ocean connecting different islands, longest bridge being about 7 miles. The view is simply incredible!!

We spent a total of about 2.5 days in Keys. We spent one evening at Mallory Square known for its Sunset Celebrations. They have a number of very interesting street performances and live music. These performances ranged from one person juggling fire balls while on a delicate balance to another swallowing a sword to another doing some amazing gymnastics! Besides, they have some animal shows and other performances. It is a delight to watch! They also have Key West Aquarium and a sponge market at Mallory Square.

The Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, Key West

On our Next day in Key West we took an Old Town Trolley Tour. They take you to all major tourist attractions in Key West and there is an interesting narration of history of Key West.Attractions covered include the Southernmost point of Continental US ( which is just about 90 miles for Cuba!) , Key West Light House, Ernest Hemingway House, Butterfly Conservatory, Mallory Square,water front market ( Bond Flick ' license to kill' was shot here!) and others. They also have lots of water sports in Key West -including Kayaking, Para sailing, Jet Skiing, scuba diving and snorkeling.

On our third day in Key West we went to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State park - the first undersea park in US. The Florida Keys boast the only coral reef system off the North American continent, a system located on the Atlantic side, which is the third largest barrier reef in the world {following only Australia and Belize in Central America}. The park also has a visitor center and a nice Aquarium with all kinds of coral reef .

Glass Bottom Boat tour at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State park

We took the glass bottom boat tour at the park which takes you through mangrove plantations and then goes deeper in the Atlantic Ocean to an area of live coral reef formations. You can see the fascinating coral reef formations through the glass bottom! It was quite an experience!

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