On a recent layover in Fort Lauderdale, having visited Miami the previous time, I decided to head out to the Everglades in the hope of spotting some alligators.
Once again we had a 50-something hour layover, which gave us plenty of time to do some exploring. After getting a few hours of sunshine in by the pool (which the hotel forgot to mention was empty and under construction …. at least I got a tan!) 6 of us met for dinner.
Our captain had hired a car big enough for everyone to fit in, so we drove down to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, which wasn’t too far.
We had a recommendation for a restaurant called Aruba Beach Cafe, and it was a great choice! We got a table out on the terrace, and ordered up a seafood feast.
We sat outside enjoying the sunset and deciding on a plan for the next day. During the flight when I’d mentioned heading out to the Everglades nobody had really seemed interested, but suddenly we had a big group of us wanting to visit!
The next morning I woke up bright and early, as per usual when I fly to the US. One of the perks of waking up super early though is that you get to see the wonderful sunrise!
After a cup of tea in the room, we met down in the lobby to head to a nearby diner for breakfast. After all, why not get the full American experience?!
We stuffed ourselves silly on pancakes, French toast, eggs, bacon, sausages and coffee, ready for the day ahead. Don’t you just love how this diner looks like it could be from a movie?! I think the only other time I’ve been in a “proper” diner like this is in New York, although I’m sure you can find them all over the US!
After breakfast we piled back into the car and drove towards the Everglades Holiday Park.
The Everglades National Park is a 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve in Florida, and is made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species, including the leatherback turtle, Florida panther, and what we were here to try and find….alligators!
To get around the river areas, you take an airboat tour, which is definitely the loudest boat I’ve ever been on! The boat ride takes approximately 1 hour, which is plenty of time in my opinion.
The weather was beautiful, with blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Luckily the boats have a roof so you’re not directly in the sunlight, otherwise you could easily end up pretty sunburnt!
Our boat captain drove us through the reeds, on the hunt for alligators, and it wasn’t long before he spotted one. He circled the boat a couple of times so everyone got a great view of the alligator.
We continued through the waterways, spotting other wildlife along the way, with our very enthusiastic captain revving up the engines.
Before long we spotted another alligator, and once again all got to have a close-up view from the boat as our driver circled round him.
We got to see one more alligator before we started to head back towards land again, and we all enjoyed the gorgeous views of the clouds reflecting on the water.
All in all it was a fun little trip out on the Everglades, and if you’re looking for something a bit different to do in Florida, why not give the airboat ride a try!
After finishing up our boat ride, we decided to stop by at Sawgrass Mills, one of the biggest outlet malls in the area. Some of the others wanted to go on to Miami, but having only visited a couple of weeks before that, I wasn’t too keen and decided to stay with a couple of the girls and have an early night back at the hotel (after finishing our shopping of course!).
The next day we had plenty of time to chill out before our wake-up call and the long flight back to Dubai.