Two years on a Caribbean island will turn you into a bit of a beach snob. So, Tony and I were hesitant to plan our last minute holiday getaway to a US location. However, Naples did not disappoint! Each beach we visited stretched for miles with luxuriously soft, white sand that looked like sugar crystals when it stuck to my ankles. Metered public parking was available at the end of each immaculate residential street, complete with showers for feet washing. Even when the beach was packed, (at sunset and on Christmas Day) everyone had their own space, and you didn’t feel like people were on top of you.
We enjoyed several days lounging and reading by the beach, but we also ventured inland for a Florida Everglades Tour. Tony was super excited to see some gators, and gators we saw! Our first stop was at Captain Jack’s Airboat Tours in Everglades City. Bushman Alan got us all settled in and told us a bit of Everglades history – how the area has changed since the Native Americans lived in the area.
As a surprise we actually got to see some manatees, or at least glimpses of their noses and lots of their gas bubbles! The massive sea cows love the warm waters of the canals and marshland. We also saw two alligators – one sunning herself on the bank and one swimming in search of a meal!
These were unexpected finds because the airboat ride is supposed to be the adventure part, not the sightseeing part. And we did have some adventure! Alan would rev that gas motor, and we’d skim across the water at 30 mph through the mangroves.
After lunch we went for another boat ride through the Everglades, and this time we saw dolphins! We were right where the 1,000 islands meets with the Gulf of Mexico when we came across a pod of about 20 (we estimate) of them! Everywhere we looked around the boat they were sufacing, blowing air, and even jumping out the water.
We found a church holding Christmas Eve services in one of the parks in downtown Naples. It was one of the strangest services I’ve ever been to, but it was pretty cool to sit in the park on a warm evening with 2000 other people!
Tony and I agree that every Christmas should be spent on the beach!