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DESTINATIONS WINTER SUN | FLORIDA


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Kayaking; Lovers Key State Park; an anhinga at JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge; dolphin in Pine Island Sound


PICTURES: The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel; Jason Boeckman; The Lee County VCB; Jason Lindsey


WORKING UP A SWEAT Exercise is best when you don’t even realise you’re doing it, and a sunset kayak at the Mound House, on the site of the 2,000-year-old Calusa Indian Shell Mound, is so impossibly picturesque you won’t even notice your arms aching.


Led by an expert guide, I initially regretted my many missed gym sessions as I attempted to muster control of my kayak, but I soon got the hang of it, and dare I say it, even enjoyed the repetitive motion. As the sun set, its deep orange tint glistening against


the waters of Estero Bay, we glided rhythmically past enormous mangroves and encountered birds, fish and even dolphins as we carried on in awed silence, the colours of the Floridian twilight washing over us. That was arm day, but the next morning it was leg day as I headed to Lovers Key State Park and jumped on a bicycle to explore the barrier island’s pristine beaches and dense mangrove forests. Our gentle bike ride was punctuated by a few slightly terrifying pauses as we tried to spot alligators lurking in a murky freshwater pond (sadly – or perhaps luckily – none materialised). As a reward for the real-life spinning class, the


state park’s two-mile-long beach is just waiting to be collapsed onto, but if clients are feeling energetic, they can also try stand-up paddleboarding, shelling, canoeing or kayaking, or walk on five miles of trails. There’s wildlife galore to be spotted, from manatees and dolphins to tortoises and ospreys. If the search for manatees and dolphins has left


66 5 SEPTEMBER 2019


stay WHERE TO


FORT MYERS BEACH Outrigger Beach Resort Clients can stay in comfort right on the beach at this wallet- friendly resort. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, but they won’t be spending much time inside: with direct access to the beach, two restaurants and a beachside Tiki Bar with live music, they’ll find themselves working on their tans, cocktails in hand, in no time. Rates from £106 per night. outriggerfmb.com


SANIBEL ISND Sundial Beach Resort & Spa Larger groups certainly won’t run out of space at this beachfront property. Recently renovated rooms come in the form of sprawling apartments complete with kitchens and living rooms, from studios to three-bedroom suites, so clients can bring the whole family. Direct beach access and complimentary amenities are a hit with guests who want to try kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, and there are also six tennis courts, five swimming pools and five dining options for when clients need to recharge their batteries. Rates from £129 per night. sundialresort.com


clients more determined to come face to face with creatures they would never see back at home, they should visit the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which occupies over half of Sanibel Island. Clients can be as active or as leisurely as they wish, exploring the refuge on foot, by bike or in a kayak, or by hopping on the tram for a guided tour. Here, they’ll see hundreds of bird species, learn more about the mangrove ecosystem and keep one eye on the water for sightings of manatees, alligators and otters.


² travelweekly.co.uk


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