Yellow and orange kayaks drift along the protected estuary of Estero Bay. They're maneuvered by small groups of kayakers led by an experienced guide who points out the multitude of wildlife surrounding the group. The certified naturalists pick out the dolphins, manatees, and wild birds as well as impart knowledge about the surrounding eco system.
Jet Boat Fun LLC rockets groups across the water aboard Hot Tuna, a yellow-painted vessel packing 375 horsepower and specializing in 360-degree spins. A USCG master captain helms all supersonic voyages, which are available in 30-minute jaunts or extended, 60-minute tour that explores Mantanvas Path and San Carlos Island. During rides, passengers hang tight as the boat zigs and zags atop the water's surface, blurring past local sights and defeating dolphins in hotly contested drag races.
On warm afternoons, ocean breezes gallop across the water to rustle the hair of diners seated on the outdoor deck at Big Game Waterfront Grill. Mingling with that refreshing air in the main dining area are the aromas of fresh-caught fish getting fried, hand-tossed pizzas getting baked, and Angus beef burgers getting grilled like a Chevy on the assembly line. Behind both of the two full bars, staff members pour pint glasses of beer and shake cocktails to the tune of sports commentary from dozens of flat-screen TVs displaying the latest from NFL Sunday Ticket, Big Ten Network, and ESPN GamePlan. Between watching plays on the big screen, patrons can keep entertained with pool, corn hole, ping-pong, and arcade games.
It's the southernmost point of the entire United States, approximately 95 miles north of Cuba with a longitude of relaxation and a latitude of party time. Key West is the place where Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams worked on their tans and perhaps wrote some novels, and where Ponce de Leon searched for his fountain of youth. Since people still haven't evolved to grow wings, they often try to get there via the Overseas Highway, where congestion often quickly spoils holiday inertia. Key West Express instead turns the sea into a shimmering freeway to relaxation, often getting the vacation kick-started before feet hit solid ground.
With a fleet of a turbo diesel, jet-propelled vessels, including the 140' Atlanticat Catamaran, the 155' Big Cat Catamaran, and the freshly hatched 170' Key West Express Catamaran, travelers savor smooth sailing along their treks. Riders can nest inside air-conditioned interiors, where bartenders stir up libations and flat-screens make time fly by, or they can gorge on sunshine and views from the outdoor decks. Upon arrival, travelers can use the second half of their round trip to return home at a later date, after they've guzzled their fill of Cuban sandwiches or written a sequel to The Sun Also Rises.
It only took two weeks on the picturesque shores of Tahiti and Moorea to send Craig Stewart into a tailspin. He and wife Evelyn fell in love with the South Pacific’s crystalline waters and beachy breezes, so much so that the prospect of remaining in their native Oklahoma turned gloomy. Six years after the Stewarts’ Pacific vacation, they stumbled upon Sanibel Island. With a love for the waters still coursing through their veins, they uprooted and moved there, making it home base for Adventures in Paradise. In 1986, they started out with one boat—Miss Paradise—and one tour, the sunset dolphin cruise. Today, the Stewart family maintains a much larger operation. Their tour topics range from fishing and shelling to dolphin watching to historical sightseeing on a trolley.
Towering oak trees and a sun-kissed waterfront surround the historical Burroughs Home & Gardens, providing comfortable blankets of shade and cool breezes while exemplifying the reverent collaboration between classic architecture and the natural world. The 1901 Georgian Revival mansion—once the setting for a silent 1920s reality show starring businessman Nelson Burroughs, his wife Adeline, and their glamorous daughters, Mona and Jettie—currently facilitates tours throughout its parlors, dining rooms, and sweeping verandas.
Guides share anecdotes from the family's journals and oral histories and point out examples of such turn-of-the-century luxuries as indoor plumbing, electricity, and steam-powered Nintendo. In keeping with the grounds' esteemed history, the public can also arrange to schedule weddings and social events like those that once hosted members of the Fort Myers elite, including the Edisons, Fords, and Firestones.