The pirates have taken over the ship, their ebullient singing and laughter filling the salty sea air and alerting those around them that this is no ordinary vessel. One of these rowdy buccaneers halts his sea chantey to lift his eye patch, smudging his dark beard in the process, which elicits giggles from his fellow sailors sporting similar face paint. These freebooters are not gruff pirates, but rather youthful adventurers partaking in one of Bluefoot Pirate Adventures' daily cruises along the crystalline waters of the south Florida coast.
Dedicated to both educating and entertaining kids of all ages, Bluefoot Pirate Adventures' crew of well-trained staffers keeps wee passengers enthralled with action-packed aquatic outings. Before shipping off on the U.S. Coast Guard–certified Bluefoot, sea-dogs-in-training partake in a buccaneering crash course replete with face painting, pirate-slang translations, and studies on the linguistic evolution of landlubber. Journeys embark from the Bahia Mar Yachting Center in search of a treasure chest's lost key and culminate with an epic water-cannon fight with the nefarious Barnacle Bill. Upon docking, junior pirates receive an official certificate and a take-home bag of booty.
Everglades Holiday Park unveils the natural splendor of one of Earth's last undisturbed territories with invigorating airboat tours and interactive alligator presentations. Visitors to the untamed river of grass explore its wetlands and observe its animal residents, and tour guides keep encroaching gators at bay with pointed comments of historic and ecological significance. The powerful airboat fleet features a covered passenger vessel for all-weather observation and an innovative zephyr-harnessing propulsion system that allows boats to swiftly skim across the Everglades' grassy rivers while sneaking up on unsuspecting patches of spanish moss. The park is also home to Animal Planet's Gator Boys; most of the reality show's episodes are filmed here.
The park complements boat tours with 20-minute gator presentations that star a cast of live alligators and shed some light on nature's last remaining dinosaurs. The boat captains are always available for private charters, which can be stocked with food, beverages, and ice at the park's 24-hour general store before heading out for fishing expeditions or leisurely cruises through the glades.
Just a mile into the waters off Fort Lauderdale Beach, the currents churn with migrating kingfish, tuna, marlin, sharks, and other fauna. With 40 years of experience on this crowded expanse of slate blue, Paul Roydhouse knows how to catch them. Aboard their 85-foot boat, he and his crew lead trip groups in drift fishing, a method that entails letting the boat float with the wind and current like a depressed seagull. They load up the drift-fishing vessel or a 48-foot sport-fishing boat with everything from bait and tackle to licenses and rods. Passengers cast lines from fighting chairs, buckling themselves in to battle mahi-mahi and sailfish in jeweled veils of spray. On the Mary B III, up to 50 patrons sprawl in the sunshine, clicking together beers brought from home; chartered vessels also can slip through the water toward the Bahamas. During nighttime swordfish cruises, Paul and his crew shut off the engines, letting lines baited with squid and glow sticks hang in the dark until the massive fish grab them and thrash through the water.
The green-blue Floridian waters and deserted cays seem to call to Tropical Sailing’s experienced crews in a sort of inescapable siren song, beckoning the sailors back to the Atlantic day after day. Tropical Sailing's team of seasoned mariners—composed of licensed Coast Guard-certified Master Captains as well as first mates certified in first aid and rescue—share their love of the sea with visitors via scenic cruises off the coasts of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Crews pilot a meticulously maintained fleet of catamarans along aquatic paths, including the 78-foot Caribbean Spirit whose shaded lounge area shelters skin from intrusive sun rays and offers seating to passengers who haven't yet mastered walking in their mermaid costumes. Tropical Sailing’s daily roster of adventures ranges from picturesque Full Moon Party Cruises in Fort Lauderdale to high-energy Ski and Splash Water Sports Adventures in Miami.
“The standard question down here is, ‘Don’t you ever get tired of doing this?’ And we always say, ‘It’s better than working’,” Captain Gary Bobrick says in a Sun Sentinel video. It's easy to believe that he enjoys his job because it usually involves piloting a sightseeing boat through Fort Lauderdale's river ways to point out celebrity mansions and massive luxury boats. In addition to views of prime real estate, his tours often afford glimpses of flitting manatees and iguanas lounging along the shores. On the vessel’s lower level, patrons can congregate in an air-conditioned dining room and replenish with tropical punch and ice cream. Along the way, Captain Bobrick or his tour guides impart anecdotes about cultural heavyweights, as well as the role waterways play in fueling the region’s legendary water-balloon fights.
A full service dive shop, Aquatic Ventures equips snorkelers and scuba divers with the gear, tanks, and instruction necessary to breathe underwater. Owner and dive instructor Gary Beiter has more than 40 years of teaching experience and draws upon that know-how during every lesson.