By Jenni Ojala with Globe Called Home
Written November 14, 2015

A week ago I already felt like I had landed in the middle of paradise – and then the bell boy led me to my room where the balcony opened to an amazing view of the Atlantic, straight to East. Sunsets are beautiful, but sunrises are even more so, and what could be better than viewing them straight from your bed?

Sunrise at Hollywood Beachilta
My kind of view to start the day! Thanks to Margaritaville Resort for the amazing view – and at this resort, every room comes with a view.
Sunrise in Florida
Do you think it was worth it to wake up at seven? Especially when I could go back to sleep at 7.30…

Colorado weather was good enough when it was time to head to Florida, but still the warm wet air of Southern Florida caught me off guard when I exited Miami airport in search of a taxi to my final destination, Fort Lauderdale. I spent nine days in South Florida, and this is what I loved:

  • Hollywood Beach Boardwalk. Bands playing almost every night at the band stand, and the feeling of warm sand between my toes right off the airplane.
  • Fort Lauderdale Beach and an ocean that was still warm in November. The lights around here are turned down in the night to not confuse sea turtles nesting on the beach.
  • John U Lloyd State Park with a beach completely untouched by development. If you think Florida’s beaches are too touristy, this is for you.
Hollywood Beach
Hollywood Beach right next to Margaritaville
John U Lloyd State Park Beach
John U Lloyd State Park – this view could be from a hundred years ago, when barefoot postmen walked days on end to deliver mail to different beach communities.

View from Hillsboro inlet Lighthouse

  • The 175 steps leading up to Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse. The museum is small and you won’t be able to get a close-up with the lense, but check out the views!
  • Those couple magic minutes, when I figured out how to flyboard. Totally worth the ten or so minutes spent splashing into the water at awkward angles.

Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse

Flyboarding South Florida

  • Four alligators spotted while airboating around night-time Everglades. Wroooom!
  • One alligator that we spotted with Iiro while driving along an “alternative” toll-free route to Big Cypress Swamp. The route was a dirt road in bad shape, and our rental car was a Toyota Prius, but hey, we made it – with a wild alligator sighting to boot!
  • A mile of boardwalks around a swamp next to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum. Don’t step off the boardwalk, a sign told us, and looking at the impenetrable  wetlands, this seemed like one of those “don’t microwave your cat”-signs of pure obviousness. Hard to believe people actually lived in these swamps!
  • One big bad swamp buggy, whose sole passengers Iiro and I were. The ride might be a little more bumpy than usual, the driver said and charged straight into the swamp. Fun!
Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki boardwalk
No way we could have hiked around a swamp without the boardwalk.
Everglades transportation
Swamp buggy at left, swamp airboat on the right. Thanks to Billie Swamp Safari and Sawgrass Recreation Park for the rides!
  • 150 miles to Key West, which we didn’t drive but FLEW! The small Piper airplane took us low enough for me to grasp the sheer size of the Everglades.
  • The 100,000 or so party people who had come to Key West’s Fantasy Fest with us. “Crazier than New Orleans on Mardi Gras” said one local and I don’t find it hard to believe…
Everglades from air
Everglades right off the coast
  • Dozens of new travel bloggers I met at TBEX travel blogger conference.
  • Two “old” travel blogging pals from Finland, who I finally got to know face-to-face. Moikka, Sanna and Ulla!
  • The top-rated award-winning queen size air mattress that our friend in Fort Lauderdale had gotten to host us for the last couple days of our stay. And this is completely without irony here.

Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi

Some of the photos and events featured in this post are from a press trip organized by Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB.