Essential Florida and the Bahamas

Where to stay, where to eat, recommended shops, visitor attractions, and getting there and away, as featured in the TV seriesGlobe Trekker: Florida and the Bahamas.

 

Tourist Boards

Florida

Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau
701 Brickell Avenue Suite 2700
Miami, FL 33131, USA
Telephone: 001 305/539 3000
Fax: 001 800/933 8448

Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
126 East Orange Avenue
Daytona Beach, FL 32114, USA
Telephone: 001 (800) 854 1234
Fax: 001 (386) 255 5478

St. Augustine Visitors Convention Bureau
88 Ribeira Street, Suite 400
St Augustine FL 320843, USA
Telephone: 001 800 653 2489

St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
14450 46th Street
Suite #108
Clearwater, FL, USA
Telephone: 001 727 464 7200

Florida Keys and Key West Tourist Development Council 
1201 White Street, Suite 102
Key West, FL 33040, USA
Telephone: 001 (305) 296 1552
Fax: 001 (305) 296 0788

Naples Marco Island Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau
3050 N. Horseshoe Drive
Suite 218
Naples, FL 34104, USA
Phone: 001 800 688 3600

Bahamas

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
P.O. Box N-3701
Nassau, Bahamas
Telephone: 001 242 302 2000
Fax: 001 242 302 2098

 

Travel

Literally hundreds of airlines serve Florida’s many international airports such as Miami, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Jacksonville. From there, Bahamas Air and American Eagle both have a number of flights out of Miami into the Bahamas. British Airways recently started a direct flight from the UK to Nassau.

For island hopping by air between Florida and the Bahamas try:

Chalks Ocean Airways
Telephone: 001 (800) 424 2557

This well-run airline has been serving passengers between Florida and the Bahamas since 1910. Landing on azure waters in one of Chalks’ picturesque sea planes is an experience not to be missed. Check out their reasonable prices and enjoy!

 

Where to Stay

Miami

Miami River Inn
118 SW South River Drive
Miami, FL 33130, USA
Toll Free Outside Florida: (800) 468 3589
Telephone: 001 (305) 325 0045
Fax: 001 (305) 325 9227

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this beautiful timber built Southern-style inn dates back to 1906 and prides itself on being Miami’s only bed and breakfast. In the 1980s it was immaculately restored and makes a splendid, tranquil, and luxurious haven for any traveller wanting to rest their weary feet. Guests are welcomed with a glass of wine and shown to beautifully furnished rooms with hardwood floors, brass, and wicker furnishings. Balconies or porches overlook the fabulously lush gardens which shelter a swimming pool and dozens of brightly colored birds in the foliage. The riverside area, once dodgy territory for wandering tourists, is now deservedly undergoing a regeneration. Colorful Little Havana and downtown’s museums, galleries, shopping, and dining are all within walking distance. In short this place is a gem, a tropical jungle in the middle of metropolitan Miami with lovely staff and reasonable room rates starting at $69 and up to around $200 in high

Miami Beach

The Clay Hotel 
1438 Washington Avenue,South Beach
Florida 33139, USA
Phone: 001 (305) 534 2988
Fax: 001 (305) 673 0346

You can’t miss the distinctive pink façade of The Clay, a funky two-in-one hotel and hostel in a fabulous location. The rambling Spanish colonial-style building with its pretty balconies and internal courtyards spread over two blocks on the corner of Española Way, where a colorful arts and crafts market sets up its stalls on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and bustling Washington Avenue in the heart of the Art Deco District of Miami Beach. You couldn’t ask for a more exciting and central location than this. Staff are very friendly and helpful and this is a great place meet other travelers. Prices vary from $20 to $22 for a bed in a dorm to $45 to 50 for a private double.

The Beach Plaza Hotel 
1401 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139, USA
Telephone: (305) 531 6421
Fax: (305) 534 0341

This stylish three-story boutique hotel is the perfect choice for anybody wanting to sample Art Deco architecture from the inside. The hotel, restored in keeping with the tropical Art Deco style of Miami Beach, provides comfortable and attractive rooms in the heart of the Art Deco District. The hotel also benefits from a pretty tropical garden, which is a haven from the bustle of Collins Avenue – one of South Beach’s busiest arteries. Rates for a double room vary between $99 and $299 per night.

Key Largo

Jules’ Undersea Lodge
Key Largo Undersea Park
51 Shoreland Drive
Key Largo, Florida 33037, USA
Telephone: 001 305 451 2353

It doesn’t get any quirkier than this. The is possibly the only place in the world where you can spend the night in a genuine underwater hotel. Every comfort is catered for once you have scuba dived down to your room! A highly recommended once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

The Bahamas

Grand Bahama

The Sheraton
Our Lucaya Beach and Golf Resort
Royal Palm Way
Lucaya (P.O. Box F-42500)
Grand Bahama
Telephone: 00 242/373-1333
Fax 00 242/373-8804.

In keeping with the style of most tourist developments in the Bahamas, Our Lucaya is a very large resort comprising of three different hotels. The casual, colorful Sheraton caters primarily to families while the nearby Westin is designed primarily for adults. Guests of both hotels have full access to all resort facilities and activities, which include four large pools, two championship golf courses, and a luxury spa. In addition, the hotels are located on one of the best white sand beaches you’ll find in the Bahamas. Room rates are all-inclusive, clocking in at $189 to $249 per double in the winter, down to $159 to $199 per double out of season.

Nassau

Nassau Palm Resort and Conference Centre
West Bay Street
P.O. BOX SS-19055
Nassau, SS19055
Telephone: 001 242 356 0000
Fax: 001 242 323 1408

A centrally located hotel on the famous Bay Street right in the centre of town, overlooking the white sand of Junkanoo Beach and the Atlantic Ocean across Nassau Harbor. Room rates start at around $90 per night.

 

Where to Eat and drink

Miami Beach

Mangoes Tropical Café
900 Ocean Dr
Miami Beach
FL 33139-5013, USA
Telephone: 001 (305) 673 4422
Fax: 001 (305) 674 0311

Colorful cocktails, legendary raunchy floorshows, and Latino jubilance at one of Ocean Drive’s best established bars.

Grand Bahama

Sports Bar
Bayshore Rd
West End
Grand Bahama

If you want to escape your mega resort and get a taste of real local Bahamian life, why not drop in at this little beach front bar and try a local beer and a conch salad or a plate of conch fritters. You may not see many tourists, especially after the 2004 hurricanes did their worst to this sleepy fishing village, but you will experience the very best in Bahamian hospitality and the freshest seafood. Next door is the battered Star Hotel, the island’s oldest hotel which since 1946 has opened its doors to the likes of everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Martin Luther King, Jr. West End is at the very western tip of Grand Bahama, about a 45-minute drive from the center of Freeport. The West Enders are famed for their hospitality and friendliness and they’ll make your visit worthwhile.

 

Shopping

Miami

La Negra Francisca 
1323 SW 8 St (Calle Ocho)
Miami
FL 33135, USA

Just one of the many botanicas in Calle Ocho, Little Havana. Pop in and buy a potion for less than a dollar that will help you stay young, find love, achieve business success, or remedy any other malady in your life – spiritual or physical! This and the other botanicas along Calle Ocho (8th Street) are treasure troves where the mournful faces of alabaster saints nestle between Santeria dolls and mantelpiece ornaments.

Nassau

Nassau Straw Market 
Bay Street
Downtown Nassau

Since the 1940s, Bahamian women have sold dried palm and sisal plant leaves plaited, wrapped, twisted and weaved into every type of bag, hat, doll and basket imaginable. This colorful market, open 9am to 5pm daily, is well worth a visit to pick up a straw bargain.

 

Attractions and entertainment

Florida

John F. Kennedy
Space Center
Cape Canaveral
FL 32899, USA
Telephone: 001 321 867 5000
Kennedy Space Center

Wander around the fabulous rocket garden board a space shuttle and marvel at the man’s efforts to launch himself into space.

Holocaust Memorial
1933-1945 Meridian Avenue
Miami Beach
FL 33139, USA

A stunning installation including sculpture and a permanent display dedicated to the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. A moving and sobering experience in the midst of South Beach’s mayhem.

Spanish Military Hospital 
3 Aviles St
St Augustine
FL 32084, USA

On the site of the Hospital of our Lady of Guadalupe which was active during the Spanish Colonial Period from 1784 to 1821. Today, you can take an eerie candlelit tour and learn about some of the gory medical tools that were used on the suffering soldiers who are said to still haunt the premises.

Zero Gravity Corporation
4101 Ravenswood Rd Suite 120
Ft. Lauderdale FL 33312, USA
Telephone: 001-888-664-7284

It doesn’t get much more exciting than this. The elation of floating weightlessly in zero gravity, between earth and space, is unforgettable, and this is the only outfit in Florida – and one of the few in the world – who can offer you the experience.

Hemmingway House 
907 Whitehead Street
Key West
FL 33040, USA

Located at 907 Whitehead Street and nestled in the heart of Old Town Key West, Hemingway House was home to one of America’s most honoured and respected authors. Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote here for more than ten years. Calling Key West home, he found solace and great physical challenge in the turquoise waters that surround this tiny island. Step back in time and visit the rooms and gardens that witnessed the most prolific period of this Nobel Prize winner’s writing career. Educated tour guides give insightful narratives and are eager to answer questions. Wander through the lush grounds and enjoy the whimsy of the more than sixty cats that live here. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is a significant address on any Key West itinerary. The museum welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world each year and looks forward to welcoming you!

Christ of the Abyss at John Pennekamp Park 

Mile Marker 102.5
Overseas Highway
Key Largo

Established in 1963, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the first undersea park created in the United States. The park, combined with the adjacent Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, encompasses 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, sea grass beds and mangrove swamps. These areas were established to protect and preserve the only living coral reef in the continental United States. Named for the late Miami newspaper editor John D. Pennekamp, who was also instrumental in preserving the land that would become the Everglades National Park, Coral Reef State Park now enjoys over a million visitors per year from around the world.
Mallory Square Sunset Celebration
Key West, Telephone: 001 305 292 7700

Florida’s premiere nightly arts festival takes place at Mallory Square in Key West. The participants of this Key West attraction consist of arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers, food stalls, psychics, and hundreds of visitors from all over the world. Each night, around two hours before sunset, masses of people, locals and tourists alike, flock to the water’s edge to experience a multicultural happening and to watch the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Tours

The The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and Billy Swamps Safari 
Big Cypress Reservation
Billie Swamp Safari
HC-61, Box 46
Clewiston, Florida 33440
Telephone: 001 (800) 949-6101
Telephone: 001 (863) 983-6101
fax: 001 (863) 983-9396

Big Cypress is the Native American reservation in the Florida Everglades. The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum will teach you about the Seminole tribe and their history as the only tribe in the Americas never to have been vanquished in battle. A little further down the road is Billy Swamp Safari, from where you can take wonderful tours of the everglades in a swamp buggy with a guide who can tell you about every creature you see. Alternatively, take an exhilarating airboat ride across the shallow waters of the swamps and eyeball the alligators that slide past your boat, as well as the dozens of other species of wildlife who exist in this delicate eco system. For an authentic overnight experience, why not stay for Indian folktales by the bonfire in the evening then bed down in a native Thi-Ki hut.

Kayak Nature Tours
Grand Bahama
Telephone: 001 866 440 4542 / 001 (242) 373 2485
Fax: 001 (242) 374-4670

Take a magical kayak tour through the mangrove swamps and experience some of the islands typical flora and fauna. Also available are nature walks with expert guides who can take you to discover secluded beaches far away from the resorts, or days out on mountain bikes that can reveal another side to the island. A small locally run business well worth supporting.

Stuart Cove’s Aqua Adventures
Paradise Island
Telephone: 00 242 362 4171
Fax:00 242 362 5227

An internationally respected dive outfit with a wonderful dive shop and its own little harbor. There’s a dive on offer for everyone whether you want a chilling shark encounter or a tranquil potter around the coral. There’s even an option for non-divers who can experience aquatic life in a personal submarine. Stuart Cove can also organize pick-ups from your hotel.

By Lucy Collins

 

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