Rebecca Underwood reveals Florida’s best kept secret.
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, only 12 miles from the hustle and bustle of Fort Lauderdale, is a quaint and tranquil town of approximately 1.5 square miles and oozes with that old Floridian charm.
Located on Florida’s Gold Coast with the glittering waters of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Intracoastal Waterway crammed with sleek yachts to the west, it is, at present, Florida’s best kept secret.
The ideal spot for water babes, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is recognised as the most popular spot for beach diving throughout Florida. Divers are attracted to the reefs, one of which is 100 yards off the beach and the other is only a ten-minute swim away. Another very popular attraction for divers is the wreck of the SS Copenhagen, a 19th-century British steamship, which now lies less than a mile offshore and 25 feet from the surface.
In 1994 Florida recognised the SS Copenhagen as an underwater archaeological preserve and in 2001 it was placed on the national register of historic sites.
If you prefer to keep your head above the water, consider a spot of snorkelling over the reef and you’re sure to be surrounded by an abundance of colourful tropical fish, and you may even meet a passing turtle, or hire a kayak, a paddle board or a skim board, but if you’re feeling like an undisturbed afternoon snooze, the beach is the place for you.
We stayed at the Windjammer Resort, located on palm tree lined El Mar Drive, adjacent to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea’s pristine, white sandy beach and only a short stroll away from the town centre. The level of comfort and service is exemplary at this small, charming property, which features a selection of contemporary, self-contained, fully furnished and air conditioned studios and apartments with one or two bedrooms for self-catering holiday rentals.
Features include full kitchen facilities, separate seating and dining areas, ultra comfortable beds and a spacious bathroom with a shower. There are two heated swimming pools with sun loungers and next to a large BBQ area you’ll find an inviting seating space with plump sofas and footstools, and there’s even a large wooden swing seat, which is shaded by palm fronds. Amenities include complimentary super fast and secure in-room Wi-Fi, an on-site laundry and a complimentary car parking space.
The resort also offers direct access onto the gorgeous uncongested beach and complimentary parasols and beach chairs are provided for guests.
For those seeking a tranquil place to relax all day, somewhere to lounge around in swimwear and flip flops, where the only distractions are the pelicans flying overhead and the sound of the waves retreating gently from the shore, look no further.
The Lauderdale-by-the-Sea community provides visitors with complimentary public transportation; ideal for local trips. The Pelican Hopper service runs every day and the route includes the Village Shopping Centre, which features Publix, an enormous supermarket with an excellent delicatessen and bakery. Should you wish to dine out, take a short stroll down to Commercial Boulevard, the centre of the town, where you will find the Aruba Beach Cafe with ‘live’ entertainment every night.
The Broiled Seafood Platter, which includes lobster tail, shrimp and scallops, is scrumptious, and do sample the delicious Cosmo cocktail of pearl citrus vodka and Cointreau with a splash of cranberry. Or, if you are pressed for time and considering fast food, BurgerFi on North Ocean Drive serves tasty 100 per cent American Angus beef burgers, which are hormone, steroid and antibiotic-free.
Fort Lauderdale’s water taxi is the best and most relaxing way to travel further afield and as you sail sedately by the magnificent properties along the Intracoastal Waterway, you’ll have a close up view of the multitude of stunning yachts. Start off at Shooters and disembark at the Bahia Mar marina where you can embark on the Sea Experience glass-bottomed boat. The very entertaining and knowledgeable Captain Mateo offers daily SCUBA and snorkel trips with ‘top of the line’ rental gear aboard the 45’ Corinthian Catamaran.
If you work up an appetite after that excursion head for the nearby Marriott Hotel’s Sea Level Restaurant located on Harbour Beach. Dine ‘al fresco’ and admire the panoramic view across the glittering ocean. Order the Caribbean Jerk Chicken and a Mango Bacardi Mojito and savour the moment and if you are very fortunate you may just see a flock of sanderlings, willets or dowitchers soaring overhead.
For nature lovers, a trip to Butterfly World, located in Coconut Creek is not to be missed. The world’s largest butterfly and bird park features six aviaries filled with more than 20,000 butterflies and birds and the experience of being in the midst of thousands of graceful butterflies fluttering all around is simply unforgettable. Visit the hummingbird, tropical bird, macaw and lorikeet aviaries and, for the very brave, the bug zoo is the place to get up close and personal with scorpions, tarantulas, giant millipedes and the dreaded black widow.
And, be sure to visit Flamingo Gardens, located on South Flamingo Road, Davie. The botanical garden covers an area of 60 acres and features a spectacular collection of more than 3,000 species of rare and exotic, tropical, sub tropical and native plants. There is also a wildlife sanctuary, which is home to Florida’s largest collection of injured or orphaned native wildlife including bobcats, otters, eagles, panthers, flamingos and two fierce looking alligators named Elvis and Priscilla! Be sure to find time for the daily wildlife encounter shows when visitors are welcome to watch the animals at feeding times. The playful river otters and their antics as they expertly dive to retrieve their fish lunch is just one of the many highlights.
For a tasty meal head back to Lauderdale’s- by- the- Sea’s Commercial Boulevard and dine at Mulligan’s Beach House Bar and Grill, which serves an enticing selection of dishes including Key West crab cakes, ideally accompanied by a Margarita or two. Dine al fresco again and take part in a spot of people watching.
And for those with a sweet tooth, wander at leisure along the boulevard, which is crammed with quirky shops full of trinkets, beachwear and souvenirs, and head for Kilwin’s, which specialises in mouth watering ice creams, sticky toffee apples and homemade fudges, which you can view being paddled on site.
Or, wander along to Ocean Plaza, right by the entrance to Anglin’s pier, which is popular for day or night fishing and attracts snapper, blue runners and croakers all year round.
You will notice a large number of attractive pastel coloured wooden seats and benches, and you will be more than welcome to take a seat and strike up a conversation with the locals. You’re sure to be charmed.
For more infroamtion on the Windjammer Resort, visit www.windjammerresort.com
For a punctual and reliable airport transfer service visit suntransfers.com
Norwegian.com offers twice weekly Dreamliner flights from London Gatwick direct to Fort Lauderdale.
Premium cabin privileges include access to the South Terminal’s Club Rooms, comfortable seats with extra legroom, a generous baggage allowance (2 x 20kg) , complimentary pre-departure and pre-dinner drinks, a three-course dinner including drinks, USB docking and power outlet, touch-screen snack bar ordering and state-of-the-art entertainment system.
For private VIP tours in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and a first-class service visit BusCharterAmerica.com
Southern Railway’s direct service (duration 30 minutes or less) to Gatwick departs daily from London Victoria. For more information visit southernrailway.com
For more information on the Windjammer Resort, visit www.windjammerresort.com
For a punctual and reliable airport transfer service visit suntransfers.com
October 26, 2016 Travel and Lifestyle