We LOVE Florida as it has our two favourite things – sun and beaches! Now we just have to figure out how we can retire early there…
Here’s our first recap of our time in Florida – in this post we cover Panama Beach City, Crystal River and St. Petersburg.
We drove from the State of Louisiana, through the States of Mississippi and Alabama and into the sunshine State of Florida. We decided to take the longer scenic back route along the coast. It was spectacular and the beaches were just as we imagined – white sand and crystal clear blue/green water. We detoured through a small town called Seaside which was where part of the movie The Truman Show was filmed. It was a surreal place and the houses so different and colourful. I found my dream home there! We continued down the road to our campsite at Panama City Beach which is a small city popular with the Spring Break crowd. It reminded us a little like the Gold Coast. The beaches were beautiful and within 30 minutes of arriving at our campsite Bryce was in the water. The next day we woke early and headed to St. Andrews State Park, which is home to one of the best beaches near Panama City. The water was crystal clear and perfect for swimming. Plus Bryce had a ball snorkelling.
Around lunch time we hit the road again with our sites set on Crystal River – home of the Manatees! Again we took the scenic route down the coast and it was worth it. We found a campsite at Crystal River that evening and settled down for the night with the resident alligators and turtles. The following morning we woke at 5.15am to get ready for our anticipated swim with the Manatee. It was awesome! Manatees really are wonderful creatures and it was such a privilege to be able to swim with them. We even got to touch them when they came close. Manatees are very protected so you are not allowed to chase them in the water, instead you have to wait for them to come to you, which they do as they are quite curious creatures. The tour guide said they have personalities similar to cats which of course I loved. The highlight of our Manatee trip was witnessing a mother Manatee nursing her calf. Swimming with the Manatees was definitely one of the top experiences of our trip so far.
After our swim with the Manatees we hit the road again. Our original plan was to head to Orlando to go to Disney Magic Kingdom. We decided to alter our plans since we had already spent three days at Disneyland in Los Angeles. Plus we figured we’d need more than one day at Magic Kingdom so promised ourselves we’d go there for a long vacation at some point in the future. So instead we headed down the coast to a campsite at St. Petersburg which is close to more beautiful Gulf Coast beaches. We are glad we changed our plans as it gave us more time to enjoy the beautiful Florida coastline. It also gave us a chance to go to Caladessi Island State Park by ferry which is home to one of the top beaches in all of America. It was stunning and we spend four hours swimming, snorkelling, reading and relaxing. I must have finished at least five books in the last couple of weeks due to all the downtime relaxing at the beach! Bliss!
That is all for Part 1 of our Florida blog. In our next Florida blog we’ll fill you in on Miami, Key West and St Augustine.