Fish, Hunt and More: Florida is Game

Outdoor adventures abound at Florida’s many unique destinations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (June 20, 2006) – By land or by sea, few places on earth offer the variety of adventures found in Florida. Surrounded by water on three sides as well as an abundance of inland water resources, Florida is home to more than 700 documented world-record fish catches making Florida by far the “fishing capital of the world.”

Florida’s 85 million annual visitors easily call it the “outdoor recreation capital of the world” with its countless acres of trails, parks, public land, forests which are available for a wide range of activities such as biking, hiking, birdwatching, hunting, camping and paddling. Those seeking waterfowl will find that wetland habitat covers a vast expanse of the Sunshine State, and much of this habitat is open and available for public hunting.

With so many types of outdoor adventures available throughout the Sunshine State, VISIT FLORIDA encourages sports enthusiasts to visit www.VISITFLORIDA.com to learn more or call 1-888-735-2872 for a free vacation guide, recently debuted hiking guide as well as a newly printed biking guide.

New Guides & Charters
SoulMate Charters is a new guide service in Fort Myers. Capt. Rob Modys specializes in guiding both novice and advanced fly and spin anglers on the waters of Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass and Estero Bay. For additional information, visit www.soulmatecharters.com or contact Rob Modys at (239) 851-1242 or CaptRob@SoulMateCharters.com.

The Brevard Zoo, a model around the United States for its educational programs, now provides kayaking adventures, birding tours and nature hikes. These tours are guided by a trained naturalist and given at many locations in the Space Coast, including Haulover Canal at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Manatee Cove on Merritt Island. Tour-goers encounter dolphin, sea turtles, horseshoe crabs, manatee and varieties of nesting birds. Brevard Zoos on-site kayaking tours let guests paddle the Nvami Nvami River alongside majestic giraffe and leaping lemurs. For a face to face nature experience, call(321) 254-9453. www.brevardzoo.org.

View the scenic waterways of South Florida on a GAEA Guided Kayak Nature Tour. Cross Florida on the Okeechobee Waterway on a five day paddling trip touring ancient historical sites and staying at relaxing resorts along the waterway. The Great Calusa Blueway Kayak tour, offers a coastal tour through back bays, aquatic preserves, wildlife refuges, creeks, bayous and mangrove forests. This guided tour will inform guests about the wildlife ecology and history of the area while providing opportunities to see dolphin, manatee and over 300 species of birds. (239) 694-5513. www.GAEAGuides.com.

Space Coast Nature Tour’s new summer evening program escorts visitors down the Indian River Lagoon on a narrated boat ride to watch nature’s fireworks. This phenomenon is known as bioluminescence; it is both rare and extraordinary to experience. Aboard the Skimmer, a 45-foot touring vessel, visitors will see microscopic animals create a light show when brushed through by dolphin or manatee. The cost of the tour is $25.00 per person. (321) 267-4551. www.spacecoastnaturetours.com.

Everglade’s Day Safari provides tours by trained biologists who narrate each trip with stories of the history and condition of Florida’s unique ecosystems. Each safari includes a scenic boat ride to the Ten Thousand Islands, a nature walk into a Cypress swamp, a lunch with appetizers of the local delicacies, and a drive through the outback presenting great photo opportunities. For West Coast Safariers in Fort Myers, Sanibel and Naples, an airboat ride though the swamps and sawgrass prairies of the Everglades is included; for East Coast Safariers in Fort Lauderdale a trip with the Miccosukee Indians on an airboat through the “River of Grass” is part of the fun. (239) 472-1559 or (800) 472-3069. www.ecosafari.com.

Water adventures keep vacationers coming back to Florida and Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort has provided its equipment and experience to these faithful fun-seekers. The resort offers snorkel and dive trips on its 26-ft catamaran, Just-In-Time, to see dolphin, manatee and the beautiful reefs and wreck sites of Pennekamp State Park and the National Marine Sanctuary. The resort’s one-day Discover Scuba Diving Class will have guests exploring the deeper Key habitats in the same afternoon of arrival. Eco-tours and independent kayaking exploration are also offered.(305) 451-3595 or (800) 4AMORAY (800-426-6729). www.amoray.com.

Accommodations and Campgrounds

Amongst ancient oaks and fragrant magnolias, the Steinhatchee Landing Resort is home to 36 Victorian and Georgian style cottages. These cottages provide a great retreat for enthusiast of many outdoor activities including, kayaking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, archery and more. Located where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Steinhatchee River, this area is known as an excellent place to scallop in the summer. (352) 498-3513. www.steinhatcheelanding.com.

The Longboard Inn is an ideal place to lodge while participating in exciting outdoor activities. The artsy inn boasts trips to the Indian River for boating, kayaking and canoeing. Professional guides will lend you their expertise in deep sea fishing, saltwater fly fishing and general tips on navigating the Indian River. Close by is one of the best surfing, jet skiing and windsurfing spots in Florida and 13-miles of sandy beach great for beachcombing. (386) 428-3499. www.longboardinn.com.

Nearby the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, West Wind Inn on Sanibel Island strives to give guests a perfect place to stay while enjoying outdoor activities. The island offers boat rentals for deep water to bay charter fishing, canoeing and kayaking. For land-lovers there are 21 miles of island bicycle pathways and the white sand beaches are famous for great shelling opportunities. The inn is the closest resort to the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife National Refuge where guests can reserve a guided tour with Tarpon Bay Explorers to see Sanibel’s amazing wildlife. (800) 824-0476. www.westwindinn.com.

Sports fishermen have long been attracted to The Florida Keys, but Key West’s Frances Street Bottle Inn has created a new way to discover Key West this summer with an Adventure Package. The package includes a guided kayak and snorkel tour that gives visitors a chance to explore this rich tropical island oasis. Passes to the Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and tickets for a ghost tour down the streets of Key West, are also provided. The Sun-N-Fun Package takes visitors on a half-day snorkeling trip to observe a colorful living reef. Tickets to the state park, along with Key West Aquarium tickets and a guided sightseeing tour on the famous Conch Train, are all provided. (305) 294-8530. www.bottleinn.com.

Additional Outdoor Opportunities

Learn to kayak at Kayak Amelia in Jacksonville. Beginning with a short instruction on land, guests then take off on a guided kayaking trip where tour leaders describe the salt marsh eco-system, its animals and history. Adventurers are also able to create their own tour and rent a canoe or kayak for the trip. A single kayak can be rented up to four hours for $25.
(888) 30KAYAK (888-305-2925). www.kayakamelia.com.

Canoeing aficionados find Action on Blackwater’s overnight canoe trips to be an exceptional experience near the Pensacola area. During the day guests will tour the Blackwater River, one of the purest sand bottom rivers in the world. Sights from the water include flowering dogwood, pine forests, white-tailed deer, bobcats, turkeys and river otter. When night falls, tired paddlers set up tents on the white sandbars and camp among sparkling stars, hooting owls and chirping crickets. (850) 537-2997. www.actiononblackwater.com.

Sandestin’s Baytowne Marina is home to the Lil’ Lucky, a 23 ft. SeaPro which offers a four-hour excursion of some of the best flats and fishing holes in the Choctawhatchee Bay. Fishermen will enjoy the chase as they lure local favorites such as speckled trout and redfish. Call the Baytowne Marina at (850) 267-7777 to arrange a four-hour fishing trip on the Choctawhatchee Bay for up to four people. www.sandestin.com.

The Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach has recently opened Gamble Place on Spruce Creek, an opportune place for hunting and fishing. This 175-acre park includes trails covering five different ecosystems and tours of historic buildings. Built in 1907 by James Proctor of Proctor and Gamble fame, Egwanulti is a rustic bungalow in the backwoods of Port Orange. The retreat close by is a charming replica of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves cottage, complete with a dwarves mine shaft. Visitors to Spruce Creek enjoy camping, nature trails, playgrounds, picnics and swimming. (386) 255-0285. www.moas.org.

The western part of Volusia County offers excellent freshwater fishing year round with trophy bass, strippers, panfish, shellcrackers and speckled perch. From bass boats and canoes to pontoon and houseboats, find just the right rental boat or experience a guided fishing tour in West Volusia County (near Daytona). The banks of the St. Johns River are dotted with fish camps and marinas that cater to fishing enthusiast and their families. (800) 749-4350. www.stjohnsrivercountry.com.

For a different mode of exploring nature in Florida visit Horse World Riding Stables and enjoy scenic trails atop one of Kissimmee’s trusty steeds. These trained horses will take guests for a peaceful ride through woods teeming with wildlife. Various trail rides are offered depending on experience, along with a lesson in horse riding and caretaking techniques. (407) 847-4343. www.horseworldstables.com.

InuTrax Outdoor Adventures is a preferred destination for kayakers of all skill levels. They offer many options to personalize your kayaking experience including tour length and location. A favorite spot for nature lovers is the 1,100-acre Lake Norris located in the Wekiva River Basin in Mount Dora (near Orlando). The cypress forests aligning the lake are home to osprey families, black bears, white-tailed deer and other Florida animals.
(352) 455-9892. www.inutrax.com.

Home to shallow water flats, channels and mangrove keys, world-class fishing is one of Miami-Dade county’s lures. At the tip of Key Biscayne lies Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, one of America’s top 10 beaches. On tap for the State Park is more snorkeling, fishing and nature walks. (305) 361-5811. www.miamiandbeaches.com.

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