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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Learn to Sail This Winter off Captiva Island

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, Florida, (right next door to the better known Sanibel Island) will once again be offering three and five-day Learn to Sail packages for those looking to earn sailing certification while on vacation. Overseen by the renowned Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School, the courses can be taken in a fast-paced three-day curriculum with full eight-hour days or a more relaxed five-day schedule in half-day sessions. We prefer the latter, so you have time to bike through the alligators at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, look for seashells on the spanking white Gulf Coast beaches, and search for manatees in the waters. Rates for the three-day Learn to Sail package start at $1,350 per person including the sailing certification course, resort accommodations, textbooks, Colgate Day Sailing certification, diploma and logbook, based on double occupancy. Courses are open to all skill levels, minimum age seven with adult.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/29/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Stroll Miami’s Den of Tranquility

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables is a lush mix of ponds, palms, ferns, big birds, and whimsical sculpture. One step inside the serene environs and you’re staring at an anhinga drying its wings in the sun next to Dale Chihuly’s colorful works of glass hidden in the orchids and big-leaf ferns. Serpentine trails lead you into a rainforest shaded by vanilla trees, under the Spanish moss hanging from a southern live oak, and past the massive roots of a 70-year old baobab tree. Add the large collection of herons and warblers that are fortunate to call the Fairchild home and you have the perfect rendezvous away from the crowds at South Beach. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/16/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Bonefishing in the Keys

Flyfishing for bones can be one of the most punishing sports known to man. You stalk the flats, cast your long fly with precision, and then watch in utter frustration as the grazing pod scatters every which way. Averaging just four to seven pounds, the bone is so easily spooked that the best saltwater fishermen will often remain mute and in place for hours in order to hook one. The wily fish can sense the boat moving, can feel you wading in the water, can hear you speaking. One awkward movement on your part and off they flee. Yet, a little patience, a graceful cast just beyond the reach of the school, and a bonefish just might take that fly and run off some 75 yards of line in a couple of seconds. You’ll get the feverish feel of what it’s like to be connected to a remarkably fast and furious fish. The reason why inveterate anglers will often tell you that if you “hook a bone, you’ll be hooked on the sport.” Winter is a great time to try your luck on the flats of the Upper Keys. There are a slew of guides. One of the best is Captain Lenny out of Key West. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/17/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, December 18, 2015

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Bike Ding Darling National Refuge

The best way to see the alligators and amazing birdlife at “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is on two wheels. This way you can slow down and see birds hidden in trees that you would miss if you zipped by in a car. Get here early before it gets too hot to catch the wildlife at its most active. Then make your way over to the beaches at low tide. Sanibel is one of the finest spots on the Florida coast to find pristine seashells, especially during the months of 
February, March, and April. You might return back to your hotel room with sand dollars, whelks, even a conch shell, but realize that taking live shells is strictly prohibited. 
I’m off the next two weeks on a much needed break. I’ll be back the week of January 4th with my 5 Favorite Travel Days of 2015.
Have a Happy, Healthy, and Active New Year!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/18/15 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, February 22, 2016

Get Lost in the Lushness of the Naples Botanical Garden

When you wake up every morning watching a hawk tend to her nest in upper branches of a palm tree, like I did last week in South Naples, Florida, it’s hard not to appreciate the nature of this part of the state. This only whet our appetite for the Naples Botanical Garden, where every type of palm tree imaginable shades the walkways as you peer at another glorious orchid or stop to sniff the lemon verbena and mint plants. We walked across the bridges in the Japanese Garden, spotted herons and egrets in the creek beds, and then stopped for salads and sandwiches in the café. An added bonus was the live jazz performance in the meadow on Sunday afternoons. There’s a reason why the parking lot was packed on this cloudless afternoon—this is a gem of a spot to spend several hours in a tropical oasis. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/22/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Relaxing Stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Fort Lauderdale

We broke up our trip last week in Florida with a stop at the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale. While I’ve stayed at the better known Ritz-Carltons in Florida at Key Biscayne and Naples, I’ve always been a bit leery of this property due to its proximity to the row of Happy Hour bars and T-shirt shops across from the beach, better suited for college students on spring break. But I was pleasantly surprised. Rooms were spacious with balconies overlooking the ocean, the fitness center on the 8th floor has up-to-the-minute equipment with views overlooking the Intracoastal, and the hotel’s new restaurant, Burlock Coast Seafare, served our favorite breakfast of the trip, including strong Panther Coffee. But let’s be real. You come here for the Florida sunshine and this Ritz offers two choices, padded chaise lounge chairs on the 7th-floor pool with glorious vistas of the Atlantic and great waiter service for drinks and lunch; or an overpass across the street to their own stretch of beach and ocean. It’s a nice combination to have on vacation. Kudos also to the concierge, Ernesto, for pointing out Casablanca Café, serving fresh seafood in one of the oldest houses in Fort Lauderdale, a mere 5-minute walk from the hotel. I’d happily recommend this Ritz-Carlton to clients and wouldn’t hesitate to return. 

(Photo by Lisa Leavitt)


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/24/16 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, February 26, 2016

A Recommended Stay in Delray

Whenever we head to the Delray Beach/Boca Raton section of Florida to visit my father-in-law and his wife, we always stay at the Colony Hotel. Last week, we stopped there again for the final 3 nights of our trip. Smack dab in the heart of Delray Beach on Atlantic Avenue, within easy walking distance to many restaurants, bars, and shops in town, the Colony Hotel was built in 1926 and exudes a feeling of Florida from a bygone era. I love walking into the open-air lounge and its pleasing color palette of reds, pinks, and oranges. Rooms are spacious and affordable, and include a hot breakfast, free parking, and complimentary WiFi. An added bonus is the Colony’s own beach club, 2 miles down the road, which includes chaise lounge chairs and cabanas on a secluded stretch of beach, saltwater pool, and a shaded place for salads and sandwiches at lunch. They often feature live music here during Happy Hour or head back to the hotel, grab a mojito, and relax on an outdoor table. One of our best dining choices this trip was the Mexican restaurant, El Camino, just off Atlantic Avenue. We enjoyed the homemade guacamole, chorizo tacos, achiote chicken burrito, and avocado salad. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/26/16 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, March 24, 2017

Portugal, Copenhagen, Maine, and Delray Beach, Florida in March Newsletter

Thanks to affordable direct flights and a favorable exchange rate, Portugal is quickly becoming a popular getaway this summer. Distances are relatively short between must-see cities and seaside villages, so it’s an ideal country to rent a car and explore. We’re happy to design an itinerary that includes lodging, driving routes, private guides, activities, and recommended restaurants. Or we can suggest a guided tour that best fits your dates. In the March ActiveTravels newsletter, we break down the best cities and towns to visit in Portugal. We also discuss our top hotel choices in Copenhagen, remind members of an exciting and affordable 5-day itinerary in the Maine woods with Northern Outdoors and Maine Huts & Trails, and talk about a quick escape to Delray Beach, Florida. Enjoy! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/24/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Annual Retreat to the South Seas Resort, a Family Tradition

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches 

It all started 35 years ago when my parents made a sailing stop on Captiva Island, Florida for the night, thereupon setting into motion an annual multi-generational week at South Seas Resort. It is a property I know extremely well, over many decades, and am pleased to recommend to ActiveTravels members. An easy drive from the Ft. Myers airport (RSW), South Seas features regular hotel rooms and condos with kitchens to stock with groceries. The fun pools, miles of white sand beaches, and activities like beach yoga, which I described in yesterday’s blog, lead to activity filled days, gorgeous sunsets, and starry nights. Off property, we venture to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to see the alligators and egrets, visit a farmers’ markets, buy lots of fresh seafood, and head to Captiva Cantina or Bubble Room restaurants for dinner. In December, 14 members of my family (aged 19 - 89) gathered for a week at South Seas. We experienced great weather and are already planning for next winter. Please contact ActiveTravels if Captiva, or nearby Sanibel Island appeals to you. We’d be pleased to make arrangements. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/10/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Great Deal on Captiva Island Condo in December

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches 

Since I was a teenager, I've been spending a week every December on Captiva Island, Florida, at South Seas Island Resort. It all started when my parents made a sailing stop for the night at the South Seas Marina, thereupon setting into motion an annual multi-generational week. This year, 15 family members (ranging in age from my 20-year-old daughter to my 90-year-old mother) will gather.  
Captiva and nearby Sanibel Islands have a lot to offer. They are easy to get to (from Fort Myers / RSW airport), and from the Islands' website: "Enjoy 15 miles of unspoiled beaches, 25 miles of bike paths, 50 types of fish, 230 types of birds, 250 kinds of shells and 0 stop lights." It's true. The miles of white sand beaches, and activities like beach yoga, biking, kayaking, water sports, and shelling lead to activity-filled days, gorgeous sunsets, and starry nights. 
South Seas features regular hotel rooms and condos with kitchens to stock with groceries from nearby Bailey's. Off property, you can venture to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to see the alligators and egrets, visit a farmers' markets, buy lots of fresh seafood, and head to the Bubble Room or Sunshine Seafood Cafe for dinner. 
ActiveTravels has a lead on a low-cost condo rental at South Seas for December 7-14 (Friday morning-Friday morning). That's coming right up! Enjoy breathtaking views of Pine Island Sound in a remodeled 2 bedroom/2 bath unit (King bed, 2 twin beds, sofa bed in LR). There is a full kitchen and a screened porch, overlooking the pool and waterfront. If interested, let us know soon ($1600 for the week). As I write this, it's 42 degrees and overcast in Toronto. On Captiva, it's 81 degrees and sunny. Need I say more?

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/15/18 at 06:00 AM
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about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

Adventure Travel Trade Association