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Enjoy the active side of Sarasota and the barrier islands that stretch away to the south of this gorgeous stretch of Gulf Coast on a 10-day itinerary that highlights the great variety of natural and man-made wonders hereabouts. From the urban charms of Sarasota to the wildlife-rich Peace River and the blissful beaches of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, where hunting for sea shells is practically a way of life, this is an adventure for the young and young-at-heart, taking in kayaking, paddle-boarding, airboat rides and cycle tours, all of which help to showcase the wide-ranging appeal of this part of the Sunshine State. Sarasota itself is a happening city that often gets overlooked as people rush to Orlando, Miami and Tampa, but it richly rewards those who want to linger and explore, especially as it offers a terrific array of shops and restaurants, as well as the must-see attraction of the Ringling Estate, home of the Greatest Show on Earth. Cape Coral is the place to immerse yourself in natural Florida, with the likes of Four Mile Cove Ecological Park and the fascinating waterway of the Caloosahatchee River. Then enter total chill-out territory on Sanibel and Captiva. These two islands are renowned for shell collecting, as well as their nature paradise reputation from the JN ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Preserve and Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve, with a great array of organised or self-guided eco-tours by boat, kayak or paddle-board.
Tampa International Airport
Tampa International Airport
4 nights – Sarasota
The Resort in Longboat Key Club
Travel + Leisure magazine voted this in the top 15 of the state’s resort hotels, and it is easy to see why with its location just a short drive from the city, its own stretch of beachfront and a dazzling array of resort amenities, including a superb spa.
2 nights – Cape Coral
Westin Cape Coral Resort
This dramatic high-rise hideaway is ideal for exploring the natural wonders of the waterways around Cape Coral, as well as affording guests a sophisticated resort experience with its three pools, recreation centre and choice of uber-cool waterfront restaurants.
4 nights – Captiva Island
South Seas Island Resort
What’s not to like about two-and-a-half miles of sugar-white sands, a 330-acre nature preserve, its own boating marinas, nine-hole golf course and half a dozen restaurants and cafes? It’s all here, just nine miles from the essential attraction of the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve.
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