As the region continues to monitor the daily developments with the Gulf Coast oil spill, the beaches along Florida’s west coast wants travelers to know they are open for business, and ready for the summer season. From Cedar Key to Anna Maria Island
to Key West, there are ample opportunities for you to enjoy some sun and fun on Florida’s west coast.
While sampling the clam dishes at Tony’s Seafood Restaurant in Cedar Key should be on everyone’s to-do list, this unspoiled island located 50 miles southwest of Gainesville, is also known for its arts community, outdoor activities and natural beauty. For a complete day here, go gallery hopping, followed by kayaking at Manatee Springs State Park, then dinner and end the evening with a nice walk around town.
- Perhaps best known for their clams, Cedar Key is reporting that as of now the spill is not forecasted to head their way. If anything changes, they will updated with the pertinent information.
Did you know the St. Pete-Clearwater area is home to three of the top beaches in the U.S. as determined by Dr. Beach? Those that received the high accolades are Fort DeSoto State Park, Caladesi Island and Clearwater Beach. When (or if you can) tear yourself away from the beaches, you can enjoy exploring the Salvador Dali Museum, venturing out on a two-hour Sea Life Safari through Clearwater Marine Aquarium or following possible sightings of ghost on the Ghost Tour at John’s Pass.
- According to Josh Hall, public relations manager with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the destination is using various avenues, including Facebook and Twitter, to get the word out that the 35-miles of beaches are opened for business. In addition, several hotel properties have established a “Book with Confidence” guarantee, which provides guests a promise that if the beaches are affected by the oil spill in any way their first night is taken care off (including taxes and resort fees.)
Whether you’re interested in eco-friendly activities, an arts vacation or a culinary adventure, you’ll find it at this destination. Did you know that Siesta Key was recently voted #2 in Dr. Beach’s 2010 Top Beaches? The Sarasota area was recognized by TripAdvisor as one of the Top 10 Beach and Sun Destinations in the U.S.
- Per the website, Sarasota and Her Islands are not projected to see any oil from the spill. You’ll also find a live cam showing the current conditions in Siesta Key. The page is update every few days with new information.
From the 28-miles of beaches to Rick Treworgy’s Muscle Car City (Punta Gorda), you’ll never be bored while vacationing in Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands. Take a wading trip into the harbor to see what you can discover with Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center. Get ready, because you just might spot a gator or two while on swamp buggy tour with Babcock Wilderness Adventure. Spend the afternoon or evening exploring Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda.
- Located about 300 miles away from the plume, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands remain unaffected and ready for guests, says Jennifer Huber, public relations manager with Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau. However, the VCB is closely monitoring the oil spill daily and are posting messages on both their Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as their website.
Looking for new things to do in the area? Consider touring the Art of the Olympians museum, a visual journey for everyone. Find out how many butterflies you can spot at The Butterfly Estates. Explore C.R.O.W.’s new Visitor Education Center and go behind-the-scenes at the Sanibel Island facility to learn about the wildlife hospital.
- According to The Beaches of Ft. Myers/Sanibel Island’s update, no oil is expected to impact the area. Just like with the other destinations, they continue to closely monitor the situation and will provide updates in the event the situation changes. The site also has links to local beach conditions, live beach cams for Captiva Island, Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach, and more.
It’s called Paradise Coast for a reason, and once you’ve experienced any of the over 30 miles of beaches, you’ll quickly understand why. The area has introduced a variety of new attractions throughout the area. For instance, you can toast the sunset on a Sip ‘n Sail cruise with Vine Resource Production. Learn about Naples past on the Historic Naples Trolley Tours. Test your fishing skills on a guided kayak fishing trip with Everglades Area Tours. First thing is first, though; don’t forget to pick up your VIP (Values in Paradise) card for huge savings throughout the area.
- “The Coast is Clear,” says the announcement on Naples, Marco Island and Everglades CVB site. Click on the box to read the latest on the conditions in the area. According the report, the oil spill will not have an affect on the area as of now and into the immediate future. To stay informed, you’ll also find links to beach cams as well as a link to NOAA Loop Current Imagery and more information.
Unlike any other destination in the state, the Keys are an experience within themselves. Whether you visit all of them or just one, you’ll walk away with a new view of the state. If you are looking for beyond-the-usual things to do, you’ll find them all over the Keys. Take a guided tour of the Turtle Hospital in Marathon to learn how they care for their special patients. Feed tarpon at Robbie’s in Islamorada. Walk through Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden in Key West. More than a just a garden, it’s a work of art. Those who enjoy diving can explore the Shipwreck Heritage Trail along the Keys.
photo credit: 096-Flip Flops, flickr, creative commons by Fuschia_ Foot
- The Florida Keys has an oil spill page that include links to news articles, videos and imagery of the NOAA Surface Oil Spill Forecast Map. They also provide information on what guests need to know about the area, such as the seafood is safe to eat and there has been no impact thus far in Keys from the oil spill.