Florida is the tropical facet of the geographical diamond of America. It is balmy all year round, which makes the Sunshine State an amply named popular destination for outdoor activities and water sports, even in the dead of winter. Its rivers are ripe for gentle kayaking, while the coast sees killer surf on the Atlantic and sugar-fine sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. Inland is a lush landscape filled with world-class golf courses, amusement parks, and other things to do with the family.
Unless you like canoeing through cypress swamps or wrestling alligators, chances are you will be hanging out on the beach and there are hundreds of miles of sand to choose from. The deep sea fishing in this region is tremendous, as are the possibilities for sailing. Swim to you heart’s content in the bathtub warm waters of the Gulf or meander to the Florida Keys, where the pace slows to a crawl and the snorkeling is sublime.
Florida is the unofficial golfing capital of Earth. More than 1,100 courses await you, many of them world-famous and nearly all of them gorgeous. Coastal southwest Florida has the highest concentration, especially around Fort Myers, Naples, and Orlando. The Panhandle is also a top spot to play, and you can practice your swing at renowned schools like the Innisbrook Golf Institute or Grand Cyprus Academy of Golf in Orlando.
With 30,000 lakes and streams to go with the hundreds of miles of coastline, Florida is an angler’s heaven. You can shoot any of the 100 species of freshwater fish or head out to sea and the myriad inlets for dozens of saltwater varieties. You’ll need a license to catch anything, but outfitters like Daisy Mae Fishing on the Gulf coast or Bud N Mary’s in the Keys can set up almost any kind of fishing excursion from start to finish.
In America, there simply isn’t any better scuba diving or snorkeling than what is available in Florida. From Key Largo through to Key West, the underwater scenery is superb, particularly around the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary and the John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park. Check out Keys Diver or the South Florida Diving Headquarters to cover everything from training and certification, to gear rental and dive trips.
The rivers of inland Florida are some of the best in the country for canoeing and kayaking. You won’t find many Class IV rapids here, but the gentle streams are ideal for scenic, nature rides. There are so many options that Florida actually has boating trails you can follow by yourself or with a guide from Central Florida Kayak Tours. From massive Lake Okeechobee and coastal marshes to mangrove forests, and coastal inlets, excursions and things to do in the water are endless.
If you need a little more action with your boat, Florida is perhaps the finest place to go sailing in the United States. Its 1,350 miles of coast provide launch points virtually anywhere in the state and outfitters like Annapolis Sailing have branches all over. The Intercoastal Waterway is a unique passage along the Atlantic, but most sailors prefer the cool vibes of the Keys or the waters off the islands in the Gulf Coast. Florida is an ideal place to learn to sail too, at schools like Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School.