Honored by the U.S. Commerce Association with 2011’s Best of Friday Harbor Award, the Blue Dolphin Cafe boasts Culinary Institute alumni who concoct fresh breakfasts and lunches throughout the day. The eatery obtains provisions from Sarasota’s Sutter Egg Farm to craft three-egg omelets and eggs benedict, and fruit-sprinkled pancakes are topped with Vermont maple syrup or folded neatly into the lab-coat pockets of on-the-go surgeons. Patrons can top salads with their choice of chicken, shrimp, or tilapia, pairing them with burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and fried eats prepared in trans-fat-free oil. A kids’ menu accommodates youthful palates, and Friday-night dinners served November–April brighten the colder months.
Combining exploration with interactive experiences, Jumanji Attractions leads fishing charters and tours throughout the year. The fleet's sportfishing yachts?fully stocked with all of the equipment, gear, and amenities that groups could need?regularly depart from harbors in Bradenton, St. Augustine, and the Miami area, setting out for the open waters of the ocean or gulf. Depending on the season, the veteran crews teach passengers specialized fishing techniques, such as trolling and kite fishing, while seeking out the most likely sites for catching grouper, tuna, snapper, swordfish, or any of the other fish lurking beneath the waves. Jumanji Attractions also runs tours of the surrounding area, including Captain Jack's Ghost Boat tour?complete with spooky stories for families seeking a fish-free thrill.
Captain Anthony Leverett, the man behind Kingdom Business Charters, has fished the waters around Tampa Bay for more than 15 years. After casting countless lines, he mastered the finer points of catching snapper, grouper, kingfish, and cobia. Today, he passes this expertise onto others during fishing charters aboard his deep blue, 1988 classic Pro-Line fishing boat. The vessel features an illuminated cockpit and underwater LED lights, which allow Captain Leverett to fish at night or on days when the sun calls in sick.
The StarLite Majesty, a 115-foot dining yacht, and the StarLite Sapphire, a 113-foot dining yacht cruise Florida's coast under the emblem of StarLite Dining Cruises. Throughout the year, these vessels embark from various ports around Tampa for dining cruises in the warm Florida sunshine or under a starry sky. Passengers board the ships and are escorted to their reserved tables by the dining staff. After ordering entrees such as filet mignon and fresh-from-the-wharf seafood, guests explore the ships as onboard chefs prepare the fresh entrees in an hour. Passengers gaze at the StarLite Majesty yacht, or at the custom Club Lounge and their impressive appointments on the StarLite Sapphire.
When a family of five wanted to go on a kayak tour, they assumed their daughter with Down's syndrome couldn't come along. But Shan-T co-owner Michelle Thorpe assured them she could, and invited her along in her own tandem kayak. Once on the water, the girl immediately took charge, joyfully taking over paddling. Michelle and her husband Mark had always searched for a way to conduct fun, physical, outdoor activities that would accommodate people with special needs, including their daughter with Asperger's and their niece who is autistic. Taking advantage of the therapeutic nature of the area's calm waters, Shan-T provides a way for just about everyone to commune with nature. The couple operates their tours intimately, using no more than 15 boats per group so that wilderness smells and the sounds of lapping waves are prevalent throughout their adventures.
The pair leads their tours through secluded, often shallow waterways and wildlife-rich areas aboard ocean-style kayaks with open tops for easy boarding and egress. They sometimes allow participants to use the boats as standup paddleboards on which participants can stretch their legs or reach up to scratch head itches with overhanging branches. On each tour, guides stress the fragility of the local ecosystem, highlighting issues such as baby fish growing up inside discarded soda cans and dolphins consuming floating plastic bags. In response, participants often pick up any refuse they see, with tours in the past becoming scavenger hunts to help clean the secluded waterways and to see who can find the most Gene Simmons solo albums. On many of these trips, kayakers have encountered manatees up close, sometimes when they brush up against the boats to scratch their backs and bellies.