Whoever named this kayak trail Hell’s Bay was giving you a hint: It won’t be easy. During National Parks Week at the end of April, I paddled this forbiddingly named trail. It’s mile after mile of mangroves with tight twists and turns that make going slow. If you’re heading for a backcountry camping site — a chickee on a platform in the middle of the Everglades wilderness — then this trail is worth the trouble. If not, well, I have some suggestions for you.
Within an hour’s drive of the urban tangle of South Florida, one of Florida’s two nationally designated “wild and scenic” rivers meanders through a spectacularly lovely cypress swamp. Recently, Jupiter Outdoor Center re-opened the kayak and canoe rental operation in Riverbend Park, allowing visitors to paddle the best section of the river.
Natural beauty makes Riverbend Park in Jupiter a delightful place to explore. Its 10 miles of bike trails are particularly well suited to family bicycle outings. It’s also the site of a historic battleground from the Second Seminole War.
The historic Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge couldn’t be in a prettier spot. It also tells the story of a wild Florida of shipwrecks and pioneers. While you’re exploring the gorgeous beaches here, it’s worth a quick stop.
Peaceful Waters Sanctuary is an outstanding birding site and a particularly good destination for nature-starved folks from Broward and Palm Beach counties. It’s also close to two good places for 3-mile-long walks in natural settings.
Craggy limestone rocks form a dramatic beach-scape, far different from the usual sandy beach. At the right time, waves crash into the rocks, spurting water into the air.
Biscayne National Park is 95% underwater. Boat trips to shipwrecks, reefs and islands are the best way to see this park. The shipwreck snorkel tour often goes to the wreck of the Mandalay, which has a fascinating story.
This laid-back beach town isn’t famous, but it charms visitors with its funky Florida history, gorgeous beaches and a cute downtown with interesting restaurants and shops. In 2019, it celebrates its 100th birthday.
The historic agricultural area surrounding the Homestead entrance to Everglades National Park offers so many cool experiences — a park where you can see and sample exotic fruits, free tours of a spectacular orchid grower’s estate, a local tropical-fruit winery and famous fruit milkshakes and cinnamon rolls.
Jupiter Island offers a scenic two-lane beachfront road with well-kept landscaping, very little traffic and excellent biking. It goes on for mile after mile past the estates of the rich and famous. And you can build in a stop at a hidden beach.