Between its lakes, rivers, streams and coastline, Florida has more than 12,000 miles of waterways tailor-made for fun in the sun — and in the Sunshine State, the water is definitely where the fun is. From Jacksonville’s marinas and the Yachting Capital of the World (aka Fort Lauderdale) to the Caribbean-rivaling Emerald Coast off Pensacola and the shelling havens of Sanibel and Captiva islands, there’s never any shortage of things to do in the state’s sparkling waters. Discover the best spot to explore the wreckage of an 18th-century Spanish galleon, land a prize tarpon, or simply cruise the coast to find the best beach towns.
You really need the Benjamin Moore Color Chart to classify the hues and shades created in and around Florida's waters. When the sun sets over the bonefish-laden flats of Islamorada, you get Mardi Gras gold. The shallows off the sea-oat-sprouting dunes of Cape San Blas near Port St. Joe are best described as mint julep, perhaps honeydew. For the murky depths of the Butler Chain of Lakes in Windermere, where large- mouth bass congregate in great number, the matching swatch would be iron mountain or night horizon.
Florida's popularity is and always has been directly connected to the briny blue (see: Vice, Miami; break, spring). And the variety of color on display is only matched by the diversity of maritime offerings at each destination. As an example, let's point the zoom lens at Port St. Joe in North Florida. Observe the line of anglers casting 20-pound-test leaders from Port St. Joe Marina, hoping to hook the redfish and flounder that seek refuge among the docks and rock outcroppings. Check out the beach fishermen and their 9-foot spinning rods on nearby Mexico Beach. They were digging for sand fleas long before the sun broke like an egg yolk across the horizon. Watch the snorkelers follow a three-inch-long sea horse into a seagrass bed off Cape San Blas, its body resembling a spindly semicolon. Spot the divers peering into the Empire Mica, the 500-foot petroleum tanker sunk in 1942 by torpedoes from a German submarine. Stop into Indian Pass Raw Bar. The Apalachicola oysters served for dinner were still in the bay when the restaurant opened at noon.