So I know there are some of you out there who have been anxiously awaiting to hear about my trip to Florida! First let me apologize for not posting anything in awhile. This is due to 1) my Florida trip 2) starting a new job at Expedia and 3) Jake and I both being sick with upper respiratory infections. But enough with excuses! I am going to just whet your appetite a little bit, I don’t want to divulge everything all at once. So let me just start with my thoughts on my first warm beach. The beaches in Florida were obviously different from the ones in Ireland, but it was more than just temperature and the fact that they are in different countries. It was even different in Bonita Springs compared to Naples, even though they are the same stretch of sand.
The first major difference at Naples’ beach is the pier! I had never seen a real life pier, let alone been on one or knew what it was for! It is this huge wooden stretch that people can fish of off, then gut and clean their fish, all while feeding the fish below. But if you’re not fishing, there is sight-seeing or you can buy foods like ice cream or hot dogs. If you forgot items like sun screen and such, you can get them at the booths that are there. It was quite a busy place! Our first visit to the pier we saw a man who had caught a giant fish! Everyone was surrounding him, watching while he had to bring it closer to shore. Because it was too big too reel in. There was a young man down below waiting to help get it off of the line. This fish was so big that the young man could fit his whole forearm into the gill, just to get a grip on this fish so he could try to get the hook out. He couldn’t though, so he had to just cut the line. This fish was probably as long as I am tall (which is 5’2) and could have eaten an infant! Some other things that stood apart from the other beaches I have been to, besides the pier, would be the parking. Parking is rather difficult for a tourist. You see, if you are a resident then you can get a pass that will let you park for free wherever there is space. But as a tourist, you typically have to pay for parking at a meter, or at a parking lot, and space was hard to come by sometimes. There are a few free places for parking if you are willing to walk a little further and look for them. Thankfully we found a decent free spot a couple of streets away from the beach and returned there regularly. Another difference were the beach facilities. I had never seen showers or foot rinsing stations at a beach before! These were found periodically near the entrances to the beach. I guess they are maintained by the city. These are very handy indeed! There are also restrooms and trash bins as well to help keep the beach clean.
The beach itself is different than the ones I have been to in Ireland. The sand here is much lighter in color than the grey colored ones in Ireland. Also there are tons of those tiny white shells mixed in with the sand. The water color is similar to that in Ireland, when the sun hits it, it is that beautiful turquoise! Or it goes darker when the sun isn’t hitting it. Plus this water you can actually swim in! The water is the perfect temperature, in comparison to Ireland, which is so cold it hurts. And people weren’t kidding when they said it is salty! You can taste it, smell it, and it stings if you get it in your eyes! If you get your hair wet, it leaves this gritty feeling, so that’s why those showers are so handy! Conditioner is your hair’s best friend at the beach.
Now you might be wondering why I am mentioning Bonita Springs, as it is basically the same beach, just further north. But Bonita Springs has some major differences from Naples. First of all there is no pier. There is however, some kind of tourist building where you can buy soda, snacks, and such. However, it wasn’t open when we went there. There was also a check in booth that we had to drive past to enter, where you would pay for parking. Thankfully we went on a Sunday around 4 pm, near closing time, so they waved the parking fee. Parking was a lot easier to come by at Bonita Springs though! (Maybe because we came on a Sunday late afternoon.) Bonita Springs does have shower and rinsing stations as well, but they are fewer and farther apart. And it seems like they aren’t as well maintained, as some of them do not work properly. And of course, there are trash bins as well. The beach itself was identical to Naples’ beach, same beautiful water, and same soft sand! My experiences at both were very good! And a side note, to get to the beach access in Bonita Springs, you have to drive quite a long distance past tons of condos and private communities. This is a negative in my book, but the beach itself didn’t seem nearly as busy so it would depend on your priorities. So it’s really just a matter of what’s important to you: activities, facilities, peace and quiet, or distance?
I really fell in love with the warm beaches of Florida! There is such a romance to watching the sunset, with the warm sand at your feet, being serenaded by the waves. My favorite past-time was by far looking for seashells. I hope that if you are like I was, having never been to a warm beach, that you take it upon yourself to experience it! There really is a magic to the ocean that has the power to draw you in (cheesy I know, but true). So for now fellow travelers, I will bid you ” adieu”! May your travels always bring you safely home.