If you've ever tried to pitch a tent on the ocean, you know that it's a hassle. Thankfully, Seaduced Watercraft Adventures makes camping at sea far easier?they have a rental boat where up to three people can bunk down for the night, after a day of fishing, swimming, and roasting foods on the grill.
When and how you do these things is typically up to you, as the company prides itself on customizable experiences. The staff will develop a boating plan for clients based on what they'd like to see in the waters around Anna Maria Island. For those interested in wildlife, they might recommend a nature tour. For a romantic outing, they take couples on sunset sails, rather than to exhausting negotiations with oysters for their pearls. And for history buffs, a snorkeling excursion at Egmont Key reveals the remains of forts, some of which still stand at the north end of the island.
If you don't know how to pilot a boat, Seaduced can teach you?they have classes for beginners on both sailing and operating pontoons and powerboats. They can also provide excursions with a guide or captain, whose knowledge of the area makes for memorable stops at coastal restaurants, or even a sandbar where you can tan in your birthday suit.
The course at Greenfield Plantation shares its plot of Manatee County with wildlife-rich wetlands, coiling around numerous lakes and natural marshes. Large, forgiving fairways welcome towering drives off the tee, though many greenside bunkers make approach shots difficult, especially for golfers who associate sand with emotionally debilitating sunburn. Golfers can square up from one of four sets of tees, which can adjust the overall length from less than 5,000 yards to 6,719 yards from the back tees. In keeping with the water-hazard-heavy theme, the driving range at Greenfield Plantation is a large aqua range complete with floating targets, ideal for improving swing mechanics and iron accuracy.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Total length of 6,719 yards from the back tees
Course rating of 72.2 from the back tees
Course slope of 130 from the back tees
Four sets of tees per hole
Imagine for a moment diving into the ocean, resurfacing with not only memories of the sub-aquatic environment, but a full reel of photographs, too. Underwater photography is just one of the many courses offered at Scuba Quest, a family-owned company that has shown students how to safely explore the seas for more than 25 years.
Scuba Quest began as a single shop, but has since spread to six locations across the state of Florida. At each, the company’s NAUI-certified instructors lead refresher courses, beginner classes, and comprehensive certification programs. Rather than climbing into fish tanks while pet-store clerks are on break, Scuba Quest's students can put their new skills to the test in unfamiliar waters during the company’s exotic diving excursions around the globe.
It?s not uncommon to stumble upon fake alligators as you make your way around a mini-golf course. But at Smuggler's Cove's locations, live American alligators snap their jaws in exhibits nestled amid the miniature fairways. With an old-fashioned bamboo pole players can dangle a treat above 20?50 of the predatory alligators, which leap from the water to snatch their treat. Between feeding frenzies, games take place on Smugglers Cove?s 18-hole outdoor courses, where balls roll past rushing waterfalls, into caves, over mountainous terrain, and into a hole in a pirate ship.
Pinebrook/Ironwood’s 3,964-yard executive course challenges every golfer’s stroke and strokes every retina with its beautiful Gulf Coast surroundings. Water borders 16 of the fairways, with 37 bunkers, or 6.4 million years in hourglass time, buffering the well-manicured greens. Budding Ben Hogans can cruise the course in their own golf cart and line up on super-quick Champion Ultra-Dwarf Bermuda grass, which is said to outperform traditional Bermuda for producing a true roll and distorting Mayday signals.
Designed by Ted McAnlis to take advantage of the area’s natural wetlands, the fairways at The Preserve Golf Club are riddled with water hazards and marshy areas. Water comes directly into play on 9 of the course’s holes, and players end up traipsing across 11 bridges as they hit their way from beginning to end. Many stumble at the 3rd hole, whose aim-blocking sabal palms earn it a handicap of 1, or at the course’s signature 17th hole, which drowns balls left and right. The course’s greens are newly recarpeted with ultradwarf bermuda grass, and pines, oaks, and palms line the fairways, their branches grasping at stray balls like nature’s catchers' mitts.
Before tackling the aquatic mischief of the championship course, golfers can take aim at the island target greens of the aqua driving range, where 40 hitting stations let players gear up for the watery course. After facing down the fairways, players select from a deli-style menu at Ryder Cup Grille, which features live music from artists such as Larry Crane, longtime guitarist for John Mellencamp.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 7,000 yards * Course rating of 74 * Slope rating of 141 * Three tee options * See the scorecard