Images from our visit to Florida and the Cayman Islands, April 3-12, 2015.
Click to enlarge, read captions and view slideshow.
In front of the Clay Hotel on Española Way, Miami Beach.
Ocean drive by day is a study in pastels.
Ocean drive by night is loud and bright.
We visited three national parks on this trip, bringing our total to 31.
The “river of grass” at Everglades National Park. Taken from Pa-hay-okee overlook.
Count the gators along the anhinga trail.
An anhinga drying his wings.
Mangrove forest along the Flamingo Canal. This was our guided back country boat tour.
Checking out preserved sea creatures on the Jetty Walk tour at Biscayne National Park.
Seven Mile Bridge is the longest of the 42 bridges that make up the Overseas Highway from Key Largo to Key West.
Bahia Honda State Park beach.
The old bridge at Bahia Honda provides a great viewpoint for the nearby islands and bridges.
The National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key is the only place where this species lives. It’s hard to tell the scale, but this guy is only about 18 inches tall at the shoulder.
We’ve arrived in Key West. 90 miles to Cuba, baby.
We stayed at NYAH (Not Your Average Hotel) and really enjoyed the 5 pools and countless sun decks.
Contender for best meal of the trip: Azur in Key West. This is the seafood risotto, we also had some fantastic grilled octopus.
Great cocktails from 2 Cents Restaurant. Our bartender also provided a “Key West Koozie” for the road (Not technically legal).
President Truman’s “Little White House” is a great historical tour.
The 73 foot tall Key West Lighthouse kept ships safe from 1849-1969, now you can climb it and there’s a museum attached.
View out one of the lighthouse portholes.
Ernest Hemingway’s home from 1931-1939, complete with six-toed cats.
You run into some real characters on Duvall Street in Key West.
And roosters and chickens … lots of chickens.
Everyone goes to Mallory Square to watch the sunset, but it’s more entertaining to watch the tourists watching the sunset like they’ve never seen one.
Street performers do all kinds of crazy stunts on Mallory Square.
Dry Tortugas National Park is a 2.5 hour boat ride west of Key West. This is the first sight of Fort Jefferson.
99% of Dry Tortugas NP is under water, so they provide snorkel gear so you can get a look. I recommend an underwater camera case as well.
Ranger Bruce gave our small group a detailed tour of the history of Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas.
The seawall around the fort protects it from waves and creates a defensive moat.
Nick performs a stunning kick atop the ramparts of Fort Jefferson.
For the return cruise, the crew of the Yankee Freedom III opens the bar.
Departing Key West. We love small airports where you walk right across the tarmac to the plane. Now on to the Cayman Islands.
Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman is lined with resorts from end to end.
Sculptures in central George Town, Grand Cayman.
We booked a half-day tour with Cayman Routes Island Tours. The first stop was the oldest existing building on Grand Cayman, Pedro St. James.
Next we went to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Gardens.
More botanic garden beauty.
This is also one of the few habitats for the endemic Blue Iguana.
The pristine north coast of Grand Cayman provides a contrast to the developed western end of the island.
Delicious lunch at Vivine’s Kitchen was included in the tour. We selected the Cayman style grouper.
The blowholes on the southern coast of Grand Cayman spout like geysers when waves crash in from the sea.
Shirley, owner/guide at Cayman Routes, was born and raised here and is an expert on all things Caymanian.
More fun with Shirley at Cayman Islands Brewery.
Sunset sail on board the Spirit of Calypso from Red Sail Sports.
A popular weekend activity is a boat party. We were on a birthday boat chartered from Double Trouble Charters. First stop was Stingray City.
Stingrays flock to this area and swim around people in waist-deep water. You can hold one if you want to …
Or you can just touch one from a reasonable distance. It’s like rubbing wet velvet.
Nothing makes you feel like a spring breaker like jumping off the top of a boat into bathwater-warm water.
High kicks all around for our amazing friend, hostess and current Cayman resident Sarah!
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