Florida Journals

Travelling Florida

An October 2005 trip to Florida by macodiva

Quote: I spent a crazy and bizarre, but good, 2-month journey going through Florida. I started in Ocala drove down the west coast, through the everglades and back up the east coast, mostly staying in hostels and the odd motel. Definitely a worthwhile trip.

Travelling Florida

Overview

Quote:
Everything you want to do is possible in beautiful Florida (except snow skiing!): relaxation, sports, partying, beaches, shopping... whatever you want, you'll find it here.

Quick Tips:

Enjoy yourself!

Bring plenty of dollars.

Bring an open mind and sense of humour.

Best Way To Get Around:

Good Greyhound bus services. Car is best though.

Gram's Place Bed and Breakfast

Hotel | "Grams Place"

Quote:
This is a UNIQUE place centered around music and trains! Depending on your perspective, it's really cool or bloody awful. Only you can decide. Dorms are squashed train carriages sleeping six (fine if you don't move much)for $18 a night, or privates for $50 a night. Music is piped throughout the compound (for want of a better word) constantly, and there's a bar, whirlpool, outside shower, and cool tree-top deck area.

It is in a residential area but close to the main bus routes and not far from Ybor, the city within a city. Ybor is a lovely place to visit, combining history, charm, and nightlife. Busch Gardens is approximately 30 minutes' drive away. Find it on Hostels.com.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on May 2, 2005

Gram's Place Bed and Breakfast
3109 North Ola Ave.
Tampa, Florida 33603
813-221-0596

Backpackers Beach Hostel

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel | "Fort Lauderdale Beach Hostel"

Quote:
This is by far the best hostel I’ve stayed in. There are no outward signs indicating hostel accommodation, and the locals I spoke to didn't even know it was there! Funny, as I asked in the motel next door! Or maybe they were touting for business… Anyway, step outside, cross over the road, and you're on the beautiful Lauderdale beach, and a 10-minute walk to the right puts you in the lovely Las Olas area, with lots of restaurants, pubs, shopping, and other activities. Turn left for a 20-minute walk or hop on one of the frequent buses into central Lauderdale and party the night away on the beach with excellent pubs serving lovely food at a very reasonable price. The staff is very friendly an...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 6, 2005

Backpackers Beach Hostel
2115 N. Ocean Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
(954) 567-9669

Seashell Motel

Hotel | "HI - Key West/Sea Shell Motel"

Quote:
This hostel is well located for exploring Key West. A kitchen and bike hires are available. I stayed in the HI dorms, which were $30 per night, which was very expensive, especially considering that I can only describe it as a ****hole. The female dorm has 5 bunk beds in a tiny, cramped room. Two steps from my bed and I was in the toilet, literally! There was one sink, one toilet, and one shower in minute cubicles (and I’m small). Beds are covered with plastic sheets.

I really would avoid this place if you can. However, that said, I didn't see the motel rooms, as they were much pricier, so possibly nicer. And when in Key West, you won't be spending much time indoors.

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on May 6, 2005

Seashell Motel
718 South Street
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 296-5719

Quote:
This hostel is in the small town of Clearwater on the Gulf of Mexico, 20 miles from Tampa. The beach is rated in the top 10 of the US. The hostel has a pool, canoes, bikes, barbeque area, car park, and internet access. The dorms are clean, and staff is helpful and friendly. Beds cost between $15 and $18 per night. A short walk gets you to the beach, shops, pubs, and restaurants, as well as various sports areas.

This is a great place to relax and chill in a gorgeous setting. It is well worth a visit. Find out more on hostels.com.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 6, 2005

HI Clearwater Beach
606 Bay Esplanade
Clearwater Beach, Florida

Quote:
The South Beach Hostel is a great place to stay. It is in the Art Deco area of South Beach, 1 block from the beach. Prices range from $13 to $30 per night, depending on the size. This is a friendly, clean, trendy place complete with its own lounge/bar, Internet access, and pool table. Unfortunately, there's no parking except the expensive multistory lots nearby. But there's excellent public transport around the area. Nearby are numerous bars, restaurants, sights, various attractions, clubs, galleries, etc. Pretty much anything you want you'll find close at hand. This is a really great place to stay.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 6, 2005

South Beach Hostel
235 Washington Ave.
Miami, Florida

Tropics Hotel & Hostel

Hotel | "The Tropics Hotel & Hostel"

Quote:
This is a nice enough hostel/hotel only 2 blocks from the beach, complete with a pool, Internet, and open-air kitchen and patio. Unfortunately, the only parking is in the expensive multistory lot nearby. The dorms are clean, comfy, and en suite, usually two bunk beds costing $18.50 per night. While the rooms and facilities are nice, I found it a bit noisy, as the place never seems to sleep, but I guess that’s Miami for you.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 6, 2005

Tropics Hotel & Hostel
1550 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
(305) 531-0361

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Attraction | "John Pennekamp State Park"

Quote:
The park is easily accessible and has a full service dive shop. It's a wonderful place to relax. A small fee is payable on entrance. The diving was excellent, and the boat crew was excellent. The value for your money was good. A full set of rental equiptment is available, or bring your own. Boat diving has half- or full-day options.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 2, 2005

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
MM 102.5
Key Largo, Florida 33037
(305) 451-1202

Skydive Miami

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Miami Skydiving and the Everglades"

Quote:
Skydive Miami is an excellent professional outfit on the outskirts of Florida City. While this experience isn't cheap, it's well worth it as a 'once-in-a-lifetime' thing. All in all, I was at the airfield for approximately 2 hours and spent nearly $300! However, I did buy the photos and DVD (I needed proof I'd leapt out a perfectly good plane). The jump itself is a tandem jump and costs around $200. I stayed in the Hosteling International hostel in Florida City, which is only a 10-minute drive from the 'drop zone', and transport can be arranged for a fee. It is a very laid-back, welcoming place with friendly, helpful staff. Their policy is to never turn away a genuine traveller, even if they're ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 2, 2005

Skydive Miami
28730 S.W. 217 Ave.
Homestead, Florida 33030
(305) 759-3483

Quote:
This is a small family-run shop. They are extremely friendly, go out of their way to help and are very reasonably priced. Crystal River has an abundance of dive shops/operators to chose from; however, the larger operators seem to herd divers and snorklers on and off the boat as quickly as possible, and boats often look cramped. STADT Aquatics were prepared to take me out alone to swim with the manatees and do two dives at a bargain price. Other shops were quoting $120 for one dive and manatee swim! I spent a lovely, relaxing morning with dive master Dan as we leisurely swam and dove with the manatees. This is an excellent shop that I'd highly recommend.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 2, 2005

S.T.A.D.T Aquatic Adventures
48 NW US Highway 19
Crystal River, Florida 34428
(352) 794-7227

Devils Den

Attraction | "Devils Den & Hal's Forty Fathom Grotto"

Quote:
Devils Den is a lovely natural freshwater spring with clear 72-degree water year-round. The staff are friendly, and a wide range of equipment is available. This is a lovely place to dive, and with the blue grotto just over the road, a place for a full day of diving fun. RV sites and cabins are available to rent with fishing, vollyball, picnic tables and BBQ for your 'dry' time. Both of these places are fairly expensive for diving, but I’d say worth it for the been there, done that value. A short drive down the road brings you to Forty Fathom Grotto, home of the Guinneness World Record Deep Diver Hal Watts. Unfortunatley due to the recent hurricanes i was unable to dive here but i did meet Hal who wa...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 2, 2005

Devils Den
5390 NE 180th Ave.
Williston 32696
(352) 528-3344

Deep Blue Divers

Attraction

Quote:
This is a nice little shop in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It is a full-service dive shop with a full range of rental equipment. It is only 1 block off the beach. They have a friendly, helpful staff.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 6, 2005

Deep Blue Divers
4348 Ocean Drive
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
954-772-7966

Florida Keys

Story/Tip

Quote:
The journey down through the Keys is beautiful and scattered with dive shops for the adventurous. Take time to stop and enjoy if you've the time and money. Mallory Square (KW) is a must-see with its evening entertainment. The street musicians, dancers, etc., offer all types of entertainment. Visit numerous tacky souvenir shops, but shop around for bargains. The beaches are nice, but many are private--hotel guests only. Whatever type of nightlife you're looking for, there's a good chance you'll find it here. Try the Irish pub, then cross the road for New Orleans-style music. Nightlife and partying are what Key West is about, and after visiting here, you'll know why! Quick Tips/Suggestions: ...Read More
Quote:
All three places above are well worth a visit. They are laid-back, naturally beautiful, and perfect for relaxing. All offer fresh-water springs diving at its best. The water is clear and warm. Homassasa and Crystal River fill up with the gentle giant manatees in November, so be sure to make time to swim with them. The nature parks are gorgeous, especially Hommassa Springs, where you can visit various animals in the park and go downstairs to a 360-degree underwater observation area to watch the manatees feeding. Accommodation is readily available, and there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and fast-food places to keep you well-fed and watered.

Daytona Beach

Story/Tip

Quote:
One word for Daytona Beach has to be Octoberfest. This was an excellent week on the beach, with plenty of R&R and partying. The town was overrun with Harleys. Now, bike fan or not, I defy you not to be moved by the sight of hundreds of gleaming Harleys roaring down the street, the ground shaking, accompanied by leather-clad, denim-clad, and barely clad bikers! The work these people put into their machines is astounding. For many of them, it’s a way of life, and the time and effort spent has to be admired. Of course, with this many people descending on the town, accommodation must be booked early. Try the Outback Steakhouse on the edge of town for a gorgeous meal and friendly staff. ...Read More