Florida

In October 2013 Lisa was booked to speak at a conference in St Petersburg in Florida. And Ray, being at a loose end as usual, went along for the ride. This is the second time we’ve visited the Tampa Bay area and America was as America always is; big, brash and full of fun.

We stayed at the four star Trade Winds Island Resort. The hotel was very comfortable but we felt it was a little disappointing after the sheer luxury of Buccament Bay. I suppose we were a bit spoiled really. The Trade Winds is a great hotel. It’s family friendly with plenty of bars and restaurants on site. It’s situated right on a white sandy beach. There were plenty of two sunbed cabanas on the beach to relax and an enormous inflatable water slide for the kids to play on. Well, I say kids… some of them were nearly as old as me.

The sea there was a pretty murky green; at least it was when we were there. Apparently the conditions and visibility in the sea can be very variable. Naturally I had to see what the diving was like so I booked a trip with a local dive charter. We went about three or four miles off the coast to the dive sites but still didn’t have great visibility. Not that I would let anything like that stop me from enjoying a dive. The highlight of the trip was on the way back though when we saw a dolphin that decided to swim alongside the boat for a while. We were passing an area where houses back right onto the water front so some lucky people get to enjoy such sights right outside their back door.

Any trip to the Tampa area has got to include a visit to Busch Gardens theme park. We actually went in the evening. They were running a special event for a few nights that they called Howl-O-Scream. Obviously a Busch Gardens tribute to Halloween. We were lucky! We got there just as the day visitors were leaving and before the night visitors started flocking in. There were no queues for the rides. There were also about four or five ‘horror houses’ where people dressed as ghouls, ghost, monsters, etc. would attempt to scare the daylights out of people. We didn’t bother with any of those.

If you’ve never been to Busch Gardens is a fairly unique mix of theme park and nature reserve. Apart from the usual rides and attractions you can also see enclosures where they keep Cheetahs, Elephants, Alligators and so on. There’s also an enclosure full of birds, mainly parakeets. You can walk into it and feed the birds a special liquid; at least you could the first time we were there. The bird enclosure was closed in the evening while we were there this time. All-in-all, kids love it, adults love it, it’s just not that cheap unfortunately… but then those kinds of places never are.

 

Home » Florida » Florida Oct 13

Diving Florida

Went on two dives about three or four miles off the coast of Tampa in Florida. The water was pretty murky and very green. These pictures have been adjusted to take some of the green colour out but I couldn't get them to look completely natural. Visibility on the first dive was maybe four or five metres. On the second dive it was at best three metres.
Fish
Trade Winds Gardens
Trade Winds Gardens
The Trade Winds Island Resort has an artificial waterway running through the grounds. You can take a trip around these canals in a two seat pedalo.
Salty's
Salty's
Salty's Tiki bar is right by the beach at the back of the hotel.
Beach Cabanas
Beach Cabanas
Beach cabanas in abundance
The Beach
The Beach
Beach lovers are not disappointed. The beach is long,wide and sandy. The sea was a bit murky when we were there but the sun shone every day so no complaints from us.
Dolphin Mural
Dolphin Mural
I took a picture of this mural on the side of one of the buildings just because I thought it looked cool.
View from Salty's
View from Salty's
This is a view from Salty's Tiki bar looking toward the pool. You can't see the pool in this shot. It's just down a level near those trees.
Water Slide
Water Slide
It looks like a bouncy castle. It's actually a bouncy water slide. It's difficult to tell from this shot but that thing's enormous.
Balcony View 1
Balcony View 1
This is view from our balcony.
Balcony View 2
Balcony View 2
This is another view from our balcony
Sea View
Sea View
And this is a view of the sea from our balcony.
Elephant
Elephant
As we passed the elephant enclosure we saw a couple of them just chillin' so I snapped a picture on my phone.
Firework 01
Firework 01
On the night before the event closed, the organisers of the conference laid on a firework display on the beach. We got a great view from our balcony.
Firework 02
Firework 02
More fireworks
Firework 03
Firework 03
And still more Fireworks
Firework 04
Firework 04
Guess what... fireworks!
Firework 05
Firework 05
This is getting boring now!
White Eyed Ibis
White Eyed Ibis
These guys were roaming around one section of Busch Gardens. They weren't above begging for food if they saw someone eating.
Cheetahs
Cheetahs
The fastest and one of the most graceful of the big cats. These two were just enjoying the shade in their enclosure at Busch Gardens.
One Cheetah
One Cheetah
One cheetah separated from the rest to take a stroll in the sun. I got this shot as she looked straight at the camera. Those eyes just look so menacing!
Ghoulish
Ghoulish
When we were there, Busch Gardens was putting on evening events that they called Howl-O-Scream. This is a guy in a costume. The costume was about ten or twelve feet tall. Several guys in scary costumes were wandering around trying to frighten the guests. All a bit creepy really!

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