Do you sometimes get bored on a beach vacation but still want a relaxing experience? Do you want to do something different in the sun and sea? The perfect combination of adventure and relaxation awaits in the following unique adventures.
Some of these outings are more adventurous and may require physical activity. If that isn't for you, we've found some excursions that are laid back. Whatever your choice, these interesting experiences near almost every Florida beach will be fun and memorable on your vacation.
Things To Do In Florida By The Beach
1) Tiki Boat Tour
Feeling like you need to do something totally different? Cruising on a Tiki boat with a drink in your hand could be the answer! These incredible little water boats are all the rage in Florida. The motorized floating Tiki Bar is a thatched tiki hut in the middle surrounded by a bar with stools for seating. You can find them in several beach locations. Florida Tiki Tours is in Madeira Beach and Cruisin' Tikis Clearwater. Tiki Cruises is near Cocoa Beach. Fort Lauderdale has Captain Jack. Cruisin' Tikis has locations all over Florida including Siesta Key, Daytona Beach, and in the Florida Keys. Get on board in Key Largo at everyone's favorite time: sunset.
Usually 90 minutes long, you and a few of your friends and family can enjoy dolphin and manatee watching, music, dancing, grilling, and swimming. Who could ask for more? Some of them even do Florida weddings and vow renewals! In Destin, Florida you can BYOB at Ocean Reef Resorts' Cruisin' Tiki to Crab Island. Costs vary from $25 per person and up. Watch the sunset on these floating party boats with an iced cocktail or beer in your hand. It's the perfect end to a Florida beach day!
2) Bioluminescence Tour
Imagine a velvety night sky as you paddle through the Indian River lagoon. Suddenly the water glows around your kayak and sparkles like the stars. Located near Cocoa and Melbourne Beach, this one-of-a-kind trip through warm waters is not to be missed. Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction used by marine plankton as a defense mechanism to keep predators away. When the water is disturbed, for example by using the paddle of a a kayak, a non-toxic blue light is emitted that ripples through the water.
Several tour guides offer this adventure and it's a great choice for Florida visitors looking for something unusual and memorable. Prices start at $60 (at time of publishing). We live about an hour from the Florida Space Coast and Orlando so we will be trying this soon. Check with providers for current tour pricing and schedules.
3) The Sunken Gardens
If you want to be amazed by huge tropical plants and natural wildlife, then don't miss the 100-year-old Sunken Gardens in St. Pete, Florida near Clearwater. Our visit here was spontaneous after visiting our favorite bakery, Mazarro's Italian Market. A good bakery is hard to find and this St. Pete Beach Tampa Bay delight delivers one hundred percent!
Everything is huge in the 4.5 acres of the Sunken Gardens so you will spend a lot of time looking up. Most of the tropical plant leaves were bigger than our heads. There are also pink, Chilean flamingos here. The entrance fee is $15 for adults (at time of publishing), but you may find coupons online. It is open every day except holidays. Parking is limited and it can get busy. Afterward, head back to the beach in Clearwater to catch the sunset.
4) Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is famous for unique coquina rock formations that line its east coast beach. It is actually the second largest outcropping on the Atlantic Ocean. These incredible limestone rocks are found between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River, and stretch for miles along the Florida coastline. A paradise for any nature lover or photographer, the many caves and tide pools are fun to find. They are formed from seashells and carved by years of ocean water.
You could spend the entire visit at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park traversing the rocks and looking for treasures. However, there are also formal gardens to explore which have massive Southern Live Oak trees. There are trails for hiking, biking and a fishing area. Located near Flagler Beach in Palm Coast, the state park entrance fee is $5 per vehicle. It is open from 8am to sunset daily.
5) Big Bend Power Plant Manatee Viewing
If you want to see manatees in their natural habitat, why not visit this popular viewing area near Tampa? It is free! We saw lots of fish including sharks during our day trip. There is also a manta ray tank where you can touch the rays. The pier offers a good walk with clean restrooms and a snack area. Located in the Tampa Electric power station at 6990 Dickman Rd, Apollo Beach, FL, this manatee gathering place is unique. The Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach circulates water from Tampa Bay for cooling, then sends the water flowing clean and warm back into the bay. In the winter months the manatees leave colder waters to return to this warm and welcoming refuge. Parking is free and its open from 10am to 5pm daily. Pets are not allowed. Only service animals are permitted on the grounds. After you're done, head over to Siesta Key or up to Sand Key Beach or Madeira Beach near Clearwater.
6) Sea Turtle and Bird Hospital
Here's a unique opportunity to feed stingrays and witness sea turtles being treated and rehabilitated. Located just around the corner from the Ponce Inlet lighthouse and museum, this unique Volusia County ran facility offers a wide range of aquariums and exhibits. Kids will love it! The Marine Science Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm and on Sundays from 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm. Admission is $8.00 for adults. After you're done, walk a few blocks and take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. You can also choose to drive right onto the white, sandy beach (for a fee).
7) Pirate Cruise Tour
If you are feeling fearless why not climb aboard a Florida pirate ship cruise? Choose from Captain Memo's in Clearwater Beach, Salty Sam's in Fort Myers Beach, or the Sea Dragon in Panama City, FL. Get lost in pirate antics and look for dolphins during the sailing odyssey. Face painting, water gun games, stories and dancing for all ages. They do weddings too! Some ships have adults-only decks. No matter which Florida destination you choose to try this adventure, it is sure to delight you...unless they make you walk the plank!
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.