Who loves vacations? White sand, turquoise water, and a soft island breeze with a few pina coladas – that’s our idea of a vacation.
Last week’s Friday FabOoolousness blog post listed seven places on my travel bucket list, and not one of them included locations within the United States. What’s ironic about the timing and publishing of the post? I was sitting pretty in a beach chair off the Atlantic Ocean in a tropical paradise – Islamorada, Florida.
Islamorada means “purple island” and is known as a “village of islands” located on multiple islands within the Florida Keys, almost centralized between the cities of Miami and Key West.
The tropical climate in Islamorada resembles that of the Caribbean. While we were there, the temperature never raised above the triple digit figures we’re accustomed to in the state of Texas this time of year, and the humidity wasn’t like walking through a constant cloud of moisture. It was simply beautiful allowing our group to stay outside for hours on end enjoying the sand and beach.
Our group couldn’t resist the urge to take the snorkeling charter out to the Alligator Reef Lighthouse, a coral reef only thirty minutes from the shores of Islamorada. The waters were only about ten to fifteen feet deep at the lighthouse, and crystal clear making for a great snorkeling experience. We saw Surgeonfish, Juvenile Angelfish, a few bright blue wrasse, and a couple of large and beautiful Parrot fish.
Not a seasoned snorkeler, I headed back to the boat after spotting a few barracuda and being instructed to make a fist (they supposedly like to nibble on fingers), missing out on the jellyfish, the Moray eel, and the four-foot baby shark that the rest of the group experienced. I can’t really say that I’m sad.
Another must-do when vacationing at the beach is to order and consume as much fresh fish as possible. Before every dinner, we relished the conch and clam chowder as well the jerk shrimp and conch fritter appetizers. Our main dishes included blackened Mahi Mahi, grilled and whole Yellowtail Snapper, Lobster Schnitzel (shelled, rolled in breadcrumbs and pan-fried with a light butter sauce – yea, it’s pretty tasty), scallops, crab, and mussels to just name a few.
Who can travel to the Florida Keys without eating key lime desserts? We sampled the key lime cheesecakes, the tarts, and the pies. Nothing beats topping off a fine dining experience like a piece of key lime pie and a cup of coffee. Well, maybe a few people prefer Sambuca (tastes like liquid licorice) and bread pudding for dessert.
For those looking for a U.S. tropical paradise, I recommend the Cheeca Lodge and Spa. The resort has a secluded beach, a 525-foot pier, a Jack Nicklaus 9-hole par 3 golf course, a camp for the kids, and of course a spa. The resort also offers kayaking, windsurfing, chartered fishing boats, and sailboat rentals. Once you arrive, you never have to leave again.
Enjoy some of our shots around the resort!
What’s your ideal vacation and where do you like to go? Do you know of another tropical paradise in the U.S. that we need to check out? Please leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!