About Gulf Coast
Florida’s glorious Gulf Coast stretches for 770 miles along its west coast. As well as the spectacular white sand beaches, the area is filled with picturesque coastal towns, wildlife sanctuaries, trendy shops plus plenty of cultural treasures. With a laid back vibe and picture postcard surroundings, life at the Gulf Coast is slow paced and tropical with perfect sunsets and plenty to explore from the casual to the upscale, a perfect paradise.
Home to a plethora of state parks, the Gulf Coast offers unique, tranquil spaces to spot wildlife, including manatees, admire stunning waterfalls and experience a new water sport, from kayaking to river swimming. The Gulf Coast features endless hidden gems to discover- from unparalleled Gulf Coast fishing to hiking tours designed to engage the whole family, there are plenty of ways to re-connect with nature and take a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Soak in the scenery from one of the many idyllic beaches along the Gulf Coast- just take your pick then kick back and relax, letting your worries drift away.
Shop until you drop at every shop you could ever need, covering all price ranges and tastes, including premium outlets, upscale shopping malls, independent boutiques, souvenir stores and everything in-between.
Golf enthusiasts are spoilt for choice with stunning courses to choose from, lessons available and smart clubhouses to enjoy lunch and a cool drink.
Families and couples will love the varied dining scene, with restaurants to suit everyone’s tastes, whether it’s fine dining, all-you-can-eat or a grab and go option, the taste of the Gulf is filled with the freshest seafood, mouth-watering steaks and local produce.
Children will love the Gulf Coast’s other popular attractions, the most talked about being Busch Gardens, which makes the perfect family-friendly day out.
Lovers of all things cultural will be intrigued and inspired by an extensive mixture of architectural styles, art galleries and museums, as well as Cuban and Spanish influences.
Not sure where to stay on the Gulf Coast? Look no further! We have a wide selection of breath-taking villas and hotels with all the mod cons for a comfortable stay and wonderful Gulf Coast sights and sounds nearby. With a huge selection of fantastic places to stay, you’re sure to find somewhere relaxing for all the family.
For a city break, tropical holiday, outdoor adventure, cultural visit and family-friendly days out all in one spectacular holiday, head to the Gulf Coast for your next getaway.
The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
Fort Myers Beach at the northern tip of Estero Island on the tranquil Gulf of Mexico faces out to Sanibel Island on the one side and San Carlos Island and the mainland on the other. Visitors return year after year to Fort Myers Beach; its laid back holiday atmosphere, dazzlingly fine white sandy beaches which gently shelve into the ocean, great seafood and entertainment - in fact you’d think you are in the Caribbean.
The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in Southwest Florida is made up of 100 islands strung along the Gulf of Mexico. The area is renowned for its laid back barefoot holiday destinations each offering visitors a different story, but drawn together nature and the water. No visit to the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel would be complete without discovering the islands and taking to the water and island hopping to experience the rich wildlife and flora that exists. Think perpetual sunshine, white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Think fashionable boutique and outlet shopping. Think of days spent spotting dolphins and searching for sea shells. Read a book, build a sandcastle or enjoy the warm gulf waters with the kids. Imagine evenings spent enjoying delicious seafood and watching sunsets. From the moment you arrive, you’ll feel connected to the people and unspoiled nature around you. Find your island on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel.
Top 5 Things To Do in Fort Myers & Sanibel
1. Island Hopping - Florida Style
With 100 barrier islands to explore, the best way is to jump on a boat, whether paddle powered or escorted by a trusty captain, by getting on the water you will really experience The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Many of the area’s islands are uninhabited mangrove clusters while others take visitors' breath away with their beautiful beaches and historic homes and wonderful restaurants on islands such as Cabbage Key and laid back Gasparilla
2. Become one with Nature at the J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Lose yourself in the largest undeveloped mangrove eco system in the USA with miles of primordial wetlands. Watch flocks of birds migrate across land and sea and see alligators and manatees dance along the drivable wildlife trail. Birds of over 270 species are protected in this pristine habitat.
3. Watchable Wildlife
Anhigas dive, pelicans flap, herons pose, alligators cut through the water and manatees roll like giant grey jelly beans… animal lovers will find a lot here to enjoy. Watch dolphins when you hop on a seagoing charter with outfits like Tarpon Bay Explorers, or come to Sanibel Island and visit education centres like the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife. The clinic serves as an animal hospital for birds, otters, sea turtles and even deer.
4. Paddle the Same Trails as the Calusa Indians
Head out on one of the largest, best executed blueways in the country - a network of water trails. Get geared up with one of the local outfitters at Estero River Outfitters and hit the teal spiderweb that is the Great Calusa Blueway, which provides access to 190 miles of pristine, waterbound goodness.
A fantastic holiday favourite in the USA, it is something that The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel excels at. Miromar Outlets in Estero has over 140 top designer stores offering discounts of up to 70%. Grab a coffee or lunch as you will be sure to spend the day on those bargains! www.miromaroutlets.com On your way to or from Sanibel? SANIBEL OUTLETS is the perfect for a pre or post shopping experience. And if you are in the Bonita Springs area Coconut Point Mall offers a nice selection of high end brands in a very walkable, outdoor space.
To the North of Fort Myers is Cape Coral, renowned as a waterfront wonderland with more canals than anywhere else in the world (over 400 miles of waterways) and also by birding enthusiasts a wide abundance of wildlife, having the largest population of burrowing owls in Florida. Exploring Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve is a great way to see local wildlife with raised walkways through the mangroves giving visitors a fist hand experience of Florida’s eco system.
A short drive from Fort Myers City and the historical winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford on the shores of the Caloosahatchee River, Cape Coral is ideal for those who want to be by the water and on the water. Many holiday home rentals in Cape Coral are waterside and include a boat as part of the home rental so you can navigate to a nearby beach or moor up at a waterside restaurant.
Cape Coral also boasts a stunning resort the Westin Cape Coral; a paradise for those looking to relax and be pampered after a long drive and after a fun filled Orlando visit. The Westin is surrounded by water with its own marina with a daily boat transfer to Fort Myers Beach for those looking for a more activities. With a kids club, golf course, spa and an array of eateries The Westin is a great place to chill in the sun. Cape Coral is suitable for families, groups & couples who are looking for a relaxed holiday on the waterfront setting. Cape Coral offers holiday home rentals directly onto the sound via canals that run through the area. Most properties have direct water access with boats included.
Just to the south of Fort Myers Bonita Springs looks out onto Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It is a great destination to explore nature parks on the beach with as Lover Key State Park made up of four barrier islands offering hiking and bicycling, a canoe launch, kayak and canoe rentals and miles of pristine beaches. The everglades are a short drive away and explored on own or as part of an organised tour on airboat.
The Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa is set in 26 acres of lush tropical gardens offering a perfect resort stay. The resorts boat takes guests to their private beach on a barrier island just off shore while the resort itself has an 18 hole golf course and waterslides (soon to open is an on resort waterpark).
At nearby Coconut Point there is an array of shops and restaurants to browse or if you are looking for a bargain, Miromar Outlet Mall with over 140 brand name and designer stores and restaurant to discover.
Bonita Springs is suitable for families & couples who are looking for resort stay while being close to shops and attractions in a tranquil setting.
Artists have been drawn to Captiva because of its lifestyle and it is easy to see why - the beauty of the area is immense with island dotted around Pine Island sound, beautiful cactus and bougainvillea’s adorn the drive through the island which takes you to the heart of Captiva, not quite a metropolis, but a wonderful collection of local cafes and restaurants dotted along the sand backed road where people watch the slow moving Captiva world go by.
Captiva is suitable for families, groups & couples who are looking for a quiet holiday nature on their doorstep. Being relatively remote by road (one hour to the mainland) means that it is the perfect destination for longer stays, island hopping and exploring the area.
St. Pete/Clearwater offers 35 miles of award-winning, spectacular white-sand beaches and breath-taking sunsets. With an abundance of arts and cultural must-dos, adrenalin-fuelled water sports and a fast-growing food and craft beer scene, this is the perfect holiday destination for families, couples and singles alike. A sun-drenched paradise where shorts and sundresses, flip-flops and sandals are the uniform of the day and the sounds of the Gulf provide an audio backdrop to a slower pace. The sun, the sand and the water await.
Clearwater Beach voted America’s Best Beach 2nd year in a row!
Start with digging your toes into the powdery sands of Clearwater Beach which was voted as America’s Best Beach on TripAdvisor’s annual list of the 25 Best Beaches for the last 2 years, and with St. Pete Beach ranked at Number 4 for 2019.
Beautiful Clearwater Beach not only has brilliant white sands but is also a hub of hubbub with a nightly celebration at Pier 60 filled with crafters, buskers and live music, a great place to watch the sunset. On laid-back St. Pete Beach, build the perfect sandcastle, fly over the water in a parasail or go stand-up paddleboarding on the brilliant Gulf of Mexico.
Find an Old Florida vibe in Treasure Island or Pass-A-Grille, or get active at family-friendly Fort De Soto. There’s no place quite like the pristine beaches of Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands - completely undeveloped barrier islands where you’re guaranteed a blissful break.
Some of the most breathtaking scenery and invigorating experiences are found on the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf. Rent a canoe or kayak to get closer to nature as you paddle through the peaceful mangrove trails. Or if you feel the need for speed, why not hire a jet ski from John’s Pass Village in Treasure Island or try your hand at a private two-man speedboat.
For a bird’s eye view of the coastline try have a go at a Jetlev and get to fly 30 feet above the water with a futuristic jetpack strapped to your back!
Dial up the heat at St. Pete/Clearwater’s waterfront restaurants, rooftop lounges, nightclubs and bars. Whether it be grabbing a fresh grouper sandwich from one of the local beach bars or enjoying a farm to table dining experience, the area is well known for its culinary options. Along the craft beer trail you’ll stumble upon an array of small independent breweries crafting fresh artisanal beers you can’t find anywhere else. Both beer geeks and newbies will find suds to suit their palate. Other people eat and drink, but there they savour and with the added bonus of gentle sea breezes and sparkling water views, who can deny that this isn’t a winning combination! Nightlife in the area is vibrant and varied. St. Pete/Clearwater has one of the best nightlife scenes in Florida.
St. Pete/Clearwater is home to 26 distinct community neighbourhoods, from the Greek sponge fishing enclave of Tarpon Springs and Celtic-tinged Dunedin in the north to small town Safety Harbour, Madeira Beach, Indian Rocks and a string of other Gulf front beach towns all the way down to artsy Gulfport.
Immerse yourself in some of the area’s awe-inspiring art and culture in downtown St. Petersburg. Here you will find the world-famous Dali Museum, featuring the largest collection of artist’s work outside of Spain, as well as more than 70 incredible street murals, which adorn the buildings around Central Avenue. Another fantastic stop is The Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center. Get lost in a swirl of glass sculptures before heading to the Morean Glass Studio and Hotshop to see resident artists creating glass art right in front of your eyes.
Located just 90 minutes from Orlando and 30 minutes from Tampa International Airport and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, St. Pete/Clearwater is your perfect beach destination and ultimate Florida holiday.
Top things to do in St. Pete/Clearwater:
- Spend the day on one of our beautiful ‘Award-Winning’ beaches with Clearwater Beach voted as America’s Best Beach on TripAdvisor’s annual list of the 25 Best Beaches for 2 years in a row and St. Pete Beach ranked as Number 4 for 2019.
- Celebrate the amazing sunsets at Pier 60 Festival, a nightly sunset celebration that takes place in Pier 60 Park on Clearwater Beach.
- Explore natural adventures within our pristine park system. Swim, fish and snorkel, or hire a Canoe or Kayak and meander through the many mangrove swamps and waterways.
- Observe astounding art at the Salvador Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg which houses the largest collection of the artists’ work outside of Spain.
- Discover our diverse heritage from Tarpon Springs, a historic riverfront town famous for sponge diving, to Dunedin with its Scottish Heritage and antique shops galore.
- Visit Winter the Dolphin, star of the ‘Dolphin Tale’ movies at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
- Quench your thirst on our thriving Craft Beer Trail or tantalise those taste buds on one or more of the seven stops along the oh-so sweet Chocolate Trail.
- Bike, jog or rollerblade along the 38 plus mile Pinellas Trail.
- Play a round of golf at more than 50 challenging courses.
- Enjoy a day at one of the many state of the art spas.
- Shop amid fabulous boutiques both fine and eclectic.
- Why not attend one of our many festivals or events that take place throughout the year including the Clearwater Jazz Holiday or the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
- Sports fans can take in a game at one or more of the area’s professional teams including Tampa Bay Rays (Baseball), Tampa Bay Rowdies (Soccer) or Tampa Bay Buccaneers (American Football).
The hip, urban heart of Florida’s west coast beats in Tampa Bay.
Located west of Orlando on the Sunshine State’s Gulf coast, Tampa Bay ranks at Florida’s Most diverse vacation destination, with family fun for every adrenaline level -- from thrill rides at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay and eye-to-eye encounters with manatees and giraffes at ZooTampa to quiet moments beneath the waves at The Florida Aquarium. Four cruise lines make Port Tampa Bay the key embarkation point for trips to Mexico, the western Caribbean, and Cuba. The Gulf’s sugar sand beaches lie a short drive away. Shopping options range from luxury items to bargain brands.
For more than 130 years, Ybor (EE-bore) City’s Cuban masters have rolled cigars by hand inside the historic neighborhood’s cigar shops. Outside, Spanish-speaking locals solve the world’s problems over strong Cuban café con leche and authentic Cuban sandwiches. Ybor City is the open and welcoming home to Tampa Bay’s LGBT community, along with exciting nightclubs and funky shopping venues.
Steeped in Florida’s year-round sunshine and warm weather, the 4 km Tampa Riverwalk links downtown’s most popular hotels, restaurants, cultural attractions and parks like gems on a string. As it winds its way along Garrison Channel and the Hillsborough River, the Riverwalk provides beautiful space for a morning jog, after-lunch walk or hand-in-hand sunset stroll. Rental bikes, electric shuttles and the Pirate Water Taxi make moving through downtown simple and easy. The sparkling waterfront offers exciting options for exploring that include self-drive electric boats and self-propelled water bikes.
Tampa Bay also has some of Florida’s Most important cultural institutions. Tampa Museum of Art houses a diverse collection of ancient and modern art in a striking jewel-box building that seems to float above the Hillsborough River. At night, the museum becomes a work of art itself as the colors of Leo Villareal’s “Sky: Tampa” swirl across the façade. Nearby, the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the largest theater complex in the Southeast, hosts Broadway shows, Opera Tampa, and the Florida Orchestra as well as home-grown theater.
Always evolving, Tampa Bay is busy adding nearly 3,000 new or re-invented hotel rooms over the next two years. The offerings include new waterfront properties such as the Current, a Marriott Autograph Collection property opening in 2019, along with luxury brands such as a new JW Marriott opening in 2020 and 5-star Edition Tampa opening in 2021 – the same year Tampa Bay hosts Super Bowl LV!
1. Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay
Take a white-knuckle ride at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay, among the world’s top-rated theme parks. Cheetah Hunt® gives you the feel of chasing prey across the Serengeti. Cobra’s Curse brings you eye-to-eye with the Snake King before hurtling through an amazing ride. In 2019, Tigris opens as Florida’s tallest triple-launch coaster. Tampa Bay CityPASS makes access a bargain.
2. Tampa Riverwalk
Running 2.4 miles (4 km) along Garrison Channel and the sparkling Hillsborough River, the Tampa Riverwalk provides a pedestrian-only path linking popular hotels, restaurants, museums, and performance venues like gems on a string. It is the perfect place for a morning jog, an afternoon bike ride, or a hand-in-hand sunset stroll.
3. Dolphin spotting
Thrill to the sight of a fin breaking the water during The Florida Aquarium’s Dolphin Quest excursion aboard the Bay Spirit II. Tampa Bay is home to bottlenose dolphins, manatees and other sea creatures all year round and an important nursery ground for their young. For a close-up encounter, step inside the Florida Aquarium to discover the connections that unite Florida’s delicate ecosystem from springs and wetlands to reefs and the Gulf of Mexico.
4. On the Waterfront
Take to the water along Tampa Bay’s sparkling downtown waterfront. Sporty types will want to try out their sea legs atop a rented paddleboard. Captain your own Tampa e-boat for a slow cruise through downtown. Hop on and off the Pirate Water Taxi as it travels up and down the waterfront. Or bring your own crew and brews for a pedal-powered exploration above the Kraken Cycleboat.
5. Luxury and discount shopping
Shop ‘til you drop among International Plaza’s 200 luxury brands, including Tiffany’s, Hugo Boss and Apple. Tampa International Airport is moments away, so you won’t have far to tote your bags. Bargain hunters will treasure the high-end brands at bargain prices at Tampa Premium Outlets – definitely worth the 20-minute drive north of downtown.
6. Brew Bus
Join your friends (and make new ones) on an afternoon tour of Tampa Bay’s amazing craft breweries and leave the driving to this crew when you do. They’ll get you from Coppertail to Cigar City to Angry Chair and back with plenty of restaurant stops along the way so you can also soak up the superb food scene here in Florida’s hub for craft brewing.
7. Tampa Bay History Center
People have called Tampa Bay home for more than 12,000 years, leaving behind a legacy written in wood, steel, and cigar smoke. Hands-on exhibits let visitors trace the history of the region from its earliest days to the 21st Century. Explore the inner working of the factories that make Tampa Bay the Cigar Capital of the World. The newest addition includes a life-sized pirate ship, sunken treasure and exciting tales of discovery. Sample a piece of culinary history when you bite into an authentic Cuban sandwich at the museum’s Columbia Café.
8. Ybor City
Stroll the brick streets beneath iron balconies that preserve the unique flavor of Tampa Bay’s historic Latin Quarter. Savor Spanish and Cuban favorites at the Columbia, Florida’s oldest restaurant. Stop in a cigar shop to see Cuban masters still rolling smokes as they have for 130 years. Listen for the crowing of Tampa Bay’s wild chickens – a direct connection to the waves of Cuban, Spanish, and Italian immigrants that built Tampa Bay into the Cigar Capital of the World. Step into Cuban territory at the park dedicated to the original Cuban revolutionary, poet and journalist José Martí.
9. Bern’s Steak House
Florida’s top steak house also houses the world’s largest private wine collection at more than a million bottles. Located in the heart of toney Hyde Park, Bern’s has spent 60 years perfecting the kind of style and service that has lifted it into highest echelons of dining in the U.S. After your sumptuous main course, be sure to step upstairs to the Harry Waugh Dessert Room for their famously decadent macadamia nut ice cream.
10. Food Halls
Mix and match the plethora of local pleasures at two new food halls – Sparkman Wharf and Heights Public Market at Armature Works. Located at opposite ends of the Tampa Riverwalk, both eateries offer flavorful combinations of local restaurants created by some of Tampa Bay’s most dynamic chefs. Enjoy your meal while basking in the Florida sun at waterfront Sparkman Wharf. Watch boats bob on the Hillsborough River at Heights Public Market, which has your taste buds covered from Cuban sandwiches to ramen to breakfast and beyond.
11. Tampa International Airport
We know, it’s exceeding rare than an airport makes the list of memorable experiences. But, trust us on this. With flights from Europe on British Airways, Icelandair, Norwegian and (soon) Delta, TPA consistently ranks among the best airports in the U.S. for efficiency and all-around experience. A recent $1 billion expansion has added even more local restaurants, the country’s only in-airport brewery, and a new rental car facility that gets visitors on to their holiday in record time. Coming or going, it’s something to text home about.
12. Tampa Bay CityPASS
As the only Florida destination in the CityPASS system, Tampa Bay gives families the perfect way to explore everyone’s favorite attractions without breaking the bank. For a single, steeply discounted price, CityPASS provides access to Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and MOSI – the Museum of Science and Industry. Take your time – each booklet is good for 9 days.
Tampa Premium Outlets®
Area Attractions include Adventure Island, Busch Gardens, Glazer Children’s Museum, Lowry Park Zoo and MOSI - Museum of Science & Industry.
Bradenton, Anna Maria Island & Longboat Key
Anna Maria Island earned a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award as one of the Top Ten Islands in the United States. Downtown Bradenton’s Riverwalk received a 1st place award as the top cultural, sports and recreation project by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Commission. Plus six of our beaches now have the prestigious “Blue Wave Certification” from the Clean Beach Coalition. With easy access to three international airports, we’re close to all the major attractions, yet far from the crowds.
There are 16 miles of powder white sand beaches found on idyllic Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Visitors won’t find any buildings over 3 storeys along Anna Maria Island, making beach life feel even more laid-back and unspoiled. There is a distinct community and family friendly feel, which is why this part of Florida is a hit with those looking for an authentic beach break.
The Bishop Museum
The Bishop is a museum of science and nature and the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Home to fascinating exhibits, as well as a digital state of the art planetarium and the manatee rehabilitation centre, where you can get up close to the manatee which are rescued and brought back to health before being released back in to the wild. The Bishop has also recently opened an interactive section of the museum where kids can dig for fossils and look through the microscopes in the science shed.
“The Greenest Little Mainstreet in America”
Florida’s first LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy Retail Park
On the quaint island of Anna Maria, history is being made with the first platinum LEED and Zero Net Energy Commercial Park. On Pine Avenue, a collection of Historic 1920’s bungalows have been retrofitted into boutique shops and cafes with a green twist. The historical relics are completely powered by solar energy and geothermics.
Village of the Arts
If you’re an art lover, the Bradenton Area is the place to visit! A national arts magazine has listed Bradenton as one of the nation's top 10 small cities for art. A stroll through our colourful streets has something for everyone, whether you’re a foodie, a vinyl enthusiast or a quilt lover, you will discover a range of services that range from knife sharpening to yoga.
As Downtown Bradenton’s showpiece, the Riverwalk serves as an outdoor gathering place and host for many diverse events and activities. The stretch is a mile and a half and is one of the longest public riverwalks in Florida. Running alongside the Manatee River, the Riverwalk includes a Family Fun Zone with a splash fountain and playgrounds, a great lawn for picnics, kayak launch, a day dock for boaters, a botanical walk, public artwork and the 400-seat Mosaic Amphitheater.
Eco Tourism and Agritourism
When our visitor’s need a break from the sun and sand, there are several agri-tourism treasures for them to explore, offering entertainment and education for curious minds of all ages. All they need to do is head inland. Here are just a few of the many great places to start:
- The Bradenton Area boasts not one, but two world-class wineries:
- Bunker Hill Winery - is a "GREEN" Environmentally Responsible Winery and offers complimentary tours and tastings of their handcrafted wines.
- Rosa Fiorelli Winery - has a 10-acre Muscadine vineyard and their wines have won more than 100 awards. Tours include your choice of an authentic Italian lunch and wine in a complimentary souvenir glass to take home.
- Dakin Dairy Farms - A visit to Dakin Dairy Farm is not only fun; it’s good for you! The farm is one of only three dairy farms left in the Bradenton Area.
- Mixon Fruit Farms - has always been famous for its plump, juicy citrus, its gift shop and Groveside Café. But now, visitors can take a ride on the Orange Blossom Express through the groves past the Children’s Magical Maze and Wildlife Rescue, where the family will delight in an interactive show with rescued Florida animals, reptiles and birds. Our favorite thing about Mixons … their homemade orange swirl ice cream!
- Robinson Nature Preserve - Robinson Nature Preserve in Bradenton is an exquisite nature preserve that is a popular destination for wildlife photography and bird watching, Tucked into the corner of northwest Bradenton, it includes 487 acres of coastal saltern, marsh, and mangrove habitat.
- Turtle Watch Tours - In the Bradenton Area, the beaches are shared with Florida’s abundant wildlife and families visiting from May through November can experience “turtle nesting season”.
Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades
Whether travellers are looking for a romantic escape or family getaway, Florida's Paradise Coast - Naples, Marco Island & the western portion of the Everglades has an array of holiday options with excellent value from May-early December. With more than 30 miles of soft, white sand beaches, world-class golf, a thriving arts and culture scene, distinctive dining and the best of outdoor adventure, the Paradise Coast is truly a destination with it all
They call it the Paradise Coast. It's the Southwest Gulf Coast area of Florida that includes the resort cities of Naples and Marco Island, along with Everglades City and several national, state, local and private parks and nature preserves.
Naples Beach & Pier
The white sands of Naples Beach hold obvious appeal, and the historic Naples Pier, open 24/7 for fishing as well as people-, bird- and dolphin-watching, is a popular gathering spot for visitors and locals alike to watch the sun set into the Gulf of Mexico.
With over 90 golf courses in the greater Naples area, it's obvious that golf is a major focus for residents and visitors. Although many of these are considered private, some turn semi-private in the off-season, meaning that they will allow non-members to play between May and December.
Many people don't realize the Gulf Coast entrance to Everglades National Park, located in Everglades City, is the gateway to the saltwater portion of this expansive national park. Many say this is the most beautiful section of the park, and it is a favorite with sport fishermen and paddlers for its natural wilderness and quiet beauty.
Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach, Florida offers 27 miles of stunning white sand and turquoise waters along the Gulf of Mexico and has an average year-round temperature of 23 degrees Celsius and an average of 320 days of sunshine annually.
Fun in the sun for all of the family is a guarantee in Panama City Beach; with great attractions, top-notch restaurants, beach activities, amazing accommodation and world-class events, you'll never forget your Panama City Beach holiday.
Panama City Beach offers a wide range of accommodation options for every budget, suiting all types of travellers, from family groups to couples and singles.
Getting to Panama City Beach is now a breeze, thanks to the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), serviced by Delta Airlines located just 10 minutes away from the famous sugar-white sandy beaches.
Top 10 Must Do’s in Panama City Beach
1. Stroll on the super white sand beaches and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
2. Take a morning dolphin cruise on a 50-foot catamaran to Shell Island and spend the afternoon snorkelling, swimming and relaxing.
3. Panama City Beach offer a wide range of beach activities including paddle boarding, snorkelling, diving and jet skis.
4. Shop the boutiques at Pier Park and ride the Panama City Beach Skywheel for Birdseye views of the coastline and incredible sunsets.
5. Make a splash at Shipwreck Island Water Park on its Pirates Plunge attraction or the 65-foot Tree Drop and then relax and take in the sunshine on the Lazy River.
6. Dive for treasure in the “Wreck Diving Capital of the South” and explore the local shipwrecks and artificial reefs.
7. Visit Heron Pond Nature Trail at St. Andrews State Park to birdwatch for snowy egrets, great egrets, blue herons and little blue herons and spot white-tailed deer or the occasional alligator.
8. Attend a world-class festival – from jazz to country music, Panama City Beach boasts a year-round calendar of events of festivals for you to enjoy.
9. Enjoy a sugary treat at Thomas Donut & Snack Shop; locally owned and operated since 1971, it’s a local’s favourite!
10. End each day watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico – preferably on a beach… with a cocktail!
Anchored at the western tip of Florida, stretching miles along the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola Beach’s mild temperature, sugar-white beaches, and crystal clear waters draw beach lovers, fishing enthusiasts and environmentalists alike.
Pensacola Beach’s atmosphere ranges from lively crowds at the main beaches with lifeguards to quiet, secluded beaches bordered by wispy sea grass. No matter what the season, beachgoers can relax on the sunny, peaceful shores of the Pensacola Beach’s award-winning, emerald-green coastline.
Located on Santa Rosa Island, one of the longest barrier islands in the world, Pensacola Beach has an old Florida feel with natural beaches, local hangouts, first-rate fishing and a historic fort.
For history buffs, Fort Pickens on Pensacola Beach offers a unique look into the military significance of Pensacola going back before the American Revolution. Designed and built to fortify Pensacola Harbor, the Fort is located on the very tip of Santa Rosa Island within the national seashore.
The Pensacola Beach Boardwalk features open-air bars and restaurants, shops, piers and shallow water for kids along the Santa Rosa Sound. Pensacola Beach also offers an array of shopping, lodging, restaurants, beach bars and entertainment – all with minimal travel, traffic, and cost.
Sarasota County is a beautiful subtropical destination and cultural hot spot located on Florida’s Gulf Coast 80km south of Tampa. The cities of Sarasota and Venice are on the mainland and the six beautiful barrier islands are easily reached by walking, car or bike! Many properties are located on or within a short walk to the beach and great shops and restaurants nearby. As Sarasota was voted America’s No. 1 small city for art, it is the perfect destination for lovers of art and culture; visitors can choose from performing arts, opera, ballet, internationally acclaimed festivals and discovering the area's unique circus heritage. Award-winning white sandy beaches, jewel blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and an eclectic variety of cultural activities make Sarasota the perfect escape for couples and families.
There are an abundance of sugar white sand beaches to be found in Sarasota and the extensive coastline is lined by six islands, each revealing its own personality. Lido Key has a variety of beaches including the unspoilt and secluded North Lido Beach or the family friendly Lido Beach. Longboat Key is a more manicured area with exclusive beachfront communities. On the extreme southern end of Longboat Key is Quick Point Nature Reserve offering scenic bay beach views and excellent bird watching opportunities surrounded by beautiful lagoons. Venice Beach is famous for the prehistoric sharks’ teeth and beautiful shells that are found along the shore, great for beachcombers of all ages; divers also love this area for its stunning reef. Casperson Beach is best reserved for beachgoers wanting an unspoilt and secluded experience.
SIESTA BEACH, SARASOTA - THE #1 BEACH IN AMERICA 2017
Siesta Beach, Sarasota boasts that it has the finest, whitest sand in the world, which attracts sand collectors and beach lovers from all over. The clear, clean waters along this gently-sloping beach-face make for ideal swimming. The beach is hundreds of yards wide, attracting fitness fans and volleyball players. Siesta is a year-round beach that is very popular with snowbirds during the winter months. There are lifeguards along this crescent-shaped beach along with full amenities. Recent upgrades include expanded parking and concession stands with seating overlooking the beach, while maintaining the beautiful natural environment, and a free trolley to transport beachgoers.
The Trip Advisor Choice Awards 2017 placed Siesta Key in the top five beaches in the world & Dr. Beach named Siesta Key as the number one beach in the US in 2017, for the second time since first being awarded in 2011.
Art & Culture
Sarasota County is known as Florida’s Cultural Coast and offers an assortment of cultural activities. The crown jewel of the Sarasota cultural scene is The Ringling Museum, John and Mable Ringling brought the circus to Sarasota in 1927 and created a legacy that continues to this day. The Asian Art Wing of The Ringling Museum, which opened in January 2016 showcases a modern design in contrast to the rest of the estate. Visitors can also head to the 1926 art deco theatre to experience superb acoustics at the Sarasota Opera, or The Gulf Coast’s professional ballet company, Sarasota Ballet for both classics and modern works. Sarasota Ballet just celebrated its 25th anniversary in the 2015-16 season. Sarasota hosts a range of cultural and arts celebrations throughout the year such as the Greek Glendi and Venice’s Italian Feast & Carnival in February, the Sarasota Film Festival in April and the Sarasota Music Festival in June.
Nathan Benderson Park opened in Spring 2012, the 400-acre lake has been transformed into a world class rowing facility that hosted the World Rowing Championships in 2017 and the Masters Regatta in 2018. Events at Nathan Benderson Park also include Triathlons, Canoe & Kayaking, Stand-up Paddleboarding, Dragon Boat Racing, Water Polo and 5k & 10k Runs. A playground and paths for walking and cycling add to the variety of entertainment in the park. Sarasota also offers over 30 exceptional golf courses at terrific values.
Outdoors & Nature
With year-round warmth and lush landscape Sarasota County is the perfect destination for exploring the great outdoors and connecting with nature. Visitors can head inland to Myakka River State Park – one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks. The 148km of nature serve as popular hiking, fishing and camping destinations. Visitors can walk among the treetops on the Canopy Walkway or kayak in the Myakka Lake tributary and get up close to alligators. Paddle boarding along Lido Key or kayaking through the mangrove tunnels on Sarasota Bay allows visitors to see dolphins and manatees in their natural habitat. The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium offers up-close experiences with turtles, manatees, sharks and over 100 species of marine life, including two touch pools, viewable working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits this is great day out for families. Visitors to the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium can learn first-hand from the biologists about the local marine life, you can even head out on the water on a research boat and help out on the surveys of local shark or sting-ray population. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a beautiful public garden with over 20,000 exotic plants, research and education centre offering a butterfly garden, banyan grove and a new Rainforest Garden exhibit, and plenty of room for little ones to stretch their legs.
Shopping & Dining
The colourful neighbourhoods of Sarasota offer visitors a variety of shopping and dining experiences. The Mall at University Town Centre, the area's newest shopping district, is a two-level enclosed shopping centre and features a Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, along with over 100 other shops; it is one of the biggest developments in South West Florida. Downtown Sarasota is a vibrant area with scores of independently owned shops and St. Armands Circle has a wide variety of high-end boutiques, alternatively the trend hunters can head to Southside Village. Eight main shopping districts in the area can be found, along with unique artist colonies for shopping and browsing. Enjoy al fresco dining to view stunning sunsets and enjoying the trendy rooftop bars in the downtown area. Sarasota offers a wide range of dining options from casual beachside restaurants to world–class elegant resort dining, and has the highest concentration of zagat-rated restaurants than anywhere else in Florida.