Florida Friday Vol. 3, Issue 17 | February 1st, 2019

Once-in-a-lifetime experiences in Florida

First time to the Sunshine State? Make sure these 10 unforgettable adventures are on your bucket list.

The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
Witness one of the world's greatest natural wonders on the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel. From May to October, during the annual Loggerhead nesting season, hundreds of sea turtles will lay their eggs on the sand stretching 18 miles from Sanibel Island Lighthouse to the tip of Captiva Island. The eggs hatch late at night, then the hatchlings follow the moonlight into the Gulf of Mexico. It's truly a sight to behold.

Panama City Beach
Swim with dolphins in the emerald green waters around Shell Island, home to one of the largest concentrations of wild bottlenose dolphins in the world. Take a boat trip out to this pristine barrier island, which is a seven-mile stretch between the waters of St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. In a matter of minutes, you'll be surrounded by a pod of dolphins. Panama City Beach offers a variety of dolphin tours, catering to all ages. Travel Tip: the best time of year to go is in September and October.

Paradise Coast
Kayaking or canoeing the Everglades Wilderness Waterway is a paddling adventure like no other. The full route - only for experienced paddlers - is regarded as the greatest endurance odyssey within the Everglades National Park. Taking note of the tides, winds and weather, you can explore the web of mangrove mazes and islets occupied by Native Americans for thousands of years. Now home to plants and wildlife, including crocodiles, flamingos, dolphins, rays and migratory birds, Florida's Paradise Coast offers a unique outdoor adventure for everyone.

Greater Fort Lauderdale
Experience the Everglades at night during an unforgettable airboat adventure at the Sawgrass Recreation Park. On this 60-minute tour, your captain will use flashlights to scan the waters for the glow of alligator eyes and take you to secluded parts of the waters in search of reptiles, insects and amphibians. Keep your eyes peeled and listen out for the sounds of the wildlife that live here.

Amelia Island
Take a horseback ride along the beach on Amelia Island, one of the few places in Florida where you can enjoy this magical experience. Saddle up at Kelly Seahorse Ranch, then take a short trail ride directly out to the beautiful white sand beach along the park's pristine Atlantic shore, where you and your horse can splash through the waves.

St. Pete / Clearwater
Treat yourself to a memorable ride in a piece of history - an early model bi-plane - and see this beautiful stretch of Florida from a whole new perspective. There are four flights to choose from - downtown St. Pete, St. Pete Beach, Bay and Beach or the Ultimate Tour, which flies south to Egmont Key and Anna Maria Island or North to Clearwater Beach. The planes seat two, excluding the pilot. Make sure to take your camera to capture those fabulous bird's eye views.

West Volusia County
See manatees at Blue Spring State Park, the largest spring on the St. Johns River and one of the largest winter gathering sites for West Indian manatees in Florida. Winter is the best time to spot these gentle giants gathered in the warm crystal-clear waters, easily seen from a viewing boardwalk. There are more than 500 manatees in the park and, if you're lucky, you'll even see mothers nursing their small calves.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Swim in an underwater world teeming with fish and rays and come face to face with bottlenose dolphins at SeaWorld's Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive day resort in Orlando. Be transported to a tropical island with rocky lagoons, waterfalls and pristine sandy beaches, also home to colourful birds. On the dolphin experience you'll learn all about dolphin habits and behaviours, feeding the dolphins, rubbing their smooth skin and swimming alongside them.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Spot iconic rhinos and hand-feed majestic giraffes on a memorable safari at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. From the comfort of an open-air touring vehicle, you can take an off-road tour of the 65-acre 'Serengeti Plain' to see exotic animals including zebras, ostriches, and several antelope species.

New Smyrna Beach
If you've ever wanted to try your hand at paddle boarding, boating, kayaking, diving or surfing, head to New Smyrna Beach. Surfing Magazine named New Smyrna Beach as one of the best surf towns in America and the excellent surfing conditions have produced more than eight world-class competitive surfers over the years. Jimmie Lane Surf Academy, Red Dog Surf Shop and Nichols Surf Shop offer surf lessons and rentals. For diving, try Sea Dogs Dive Center, Ryan Walton Scuba and Spruce Creek Scuba.

Getting around the Sunshine State for the first time is easy when hiring a car from Hertz. Join the free Hertz Gold Plus Rewards programme to beat the queue, and simply pick up your car from any of the 300+ locations across the State, taking advantage of daily rates from £25 per day on Florida bookings. Need some inspiration for a road trip? See the Full On Florida route on Hertz Road Trip Planner which includes 14 iconic and off-the-beaten track stops in the Sunshine State, with downloadable maps and insider guides.

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