Did you know that Florida second highest number of islands of any state in the United States? There are 4,510 islands that have 10 acres or more. In case you were wondering Alaska has the most islands.
Now with new rules in place for anyone returning to the US from any international location it is easier to just stay in the US. If you are really in need of an island getaway don't worry there are lots of wonderful island options right here in Florida!
Here are my picks for top 7 luxury island getaways in FL -
#7 Amelia Island
Starting with the Northeast corner of Florida this island getaway is an easy drive for many East Coast states or just a short drive from Jacksonville airport. - My pick for luxury here is Ritz Carlton Amelia Island Unfolding along 13 miles of pristine beachfront, this luxury resort infuses the story of the land into nearly every guest experience. They even offer Field Trip packages Distance learning comes alive with instructor-led field trip packages designed to complement science curriculum and foster a passion for marine ecology and biology.
#6 - Destin
Moving West across North Florida on the panhandle is a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico where you will find Destin. This location offers an easy drive from many Midwest states or a short drive from Pensacola airport. My pick for a luxury stay on this island is - Henderson Beach Resort With it's stunning location on some of the most breathtaking stretches of sand in the world, and the tranquil jeweled waters of the Gulf of Mexico right at the doorstep, there is literally an endless list of activities and attractions for everyone to experience.
#5 - St Pete Beach
Staying on the Gulf Coast but moving South we hit St Pete Beach. Just below Tampa and also an easy drive from Orlando. My pick for where to stay here is - Tradewinds Resort two beach resorts on 31 acres of the soft white sands of Florida’s St. Pete Beach, rated a top 10 USA beach for six years running by TripAdvisor. They are even pet friendly! I have taken my dog there before and he loved it!
#4 - Gasparilla Island
Heading further south down the Gulf Coast you will find little known Gasparilla Island. The closest airport would be Fort Myers. You will feel like you stepped back in time when you stay at the The Gasparilla Inn The barrier island is a small on at only about 1/4 mile wide. Tarpon and other prized fish call the blue waters off Gasparilla Island home which makes this a fisherman's paradise.
#3 - Sanibel and Captiva Island
Just south of Gasparilla you will find my favorite barrier island of Sanibel/Captiva. They are a shell lover's paradise with tons of shells washing up on the white sandy shores constantly. It is a great way to get back to nature since more than half of the island is made up of wildlife refuges, the largest being J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. I recommend South Seas Resort Originally a key lime plantation 100 years ago, South Seas Island Resort is now truly a destination.
#2 - Florida Keys
I am guessing when you think of Florida islands you automatically think of the Keys but I hope the previous 5 islands I listed made you realize there are islands all around Florida. Since the Florida Keys are just about as close as you can get to a Caribbean vacation without leaving the United States my top 2 choices are in the Keys. The #2 resort I have listed is Hawks Cay On the the small, secluded island of Duck Key, aquamarine waters sparkle under the South Floridian sun, bottlenose dolphins readily greet guests, and visitors and locals alike discover the best seaside dining, coastal living and aquatic adventures. This one is great for families.
#1 - Florida Keys
The number one resort I have listed is also in the Florida Keys and it truly is a private island escape! Little Palm Island Located off the fabled Florida Keys coastline, on a lush, private island dotted with crushed seashell paths amid verdant tropical foliage and exotic wildlife, rests Little Palm Island Resort & Spa – a destination like no other. Whether arriving by seaplane or our private boat, begin your journey with refreshing cocktails at our on-shore reception and lounge, the Shore Station, before making the short, scenic journey to your new island oasis.
Adventures by Disney is an 8 night package that includes 1 night on land and 7 on the ship.
You need to purchase round trip flights into Quito separately. Your adventure begins with 1 night stay in Quito and the following morning you will fly over to the islands to get on the ship. This internal flight is included in your cost along with transportation. Your ship the Galapagos Legend is a good size holding around 100 guests. As expected with Disney they chose a ship that will offer some rooms that will accomodate families. You will have the Disney Adventures Guides along with Naturalists and other special guests. It is a 7 night cruise around the Galapagos with lots of adventures like hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and wildlife viewing, included each day. After the cruise is over you will be flown back to Quito to catch your flight home.
There are 5 dates to choose from in 2022 for this Adventure and most are starting at $6279 per adult (thanks to a nice $750 early booking savings offer). There is a minimum age of 8 to travel to Galapagos.
Let's compare this to something very similar offered by another of my favorite vacation suppliers - Avalon Waterways.
Avalon offers a 7 night package but it is just a 4 night cruise with 3 nights on land. You would also fly round trip into Quito with those flights not included. You would spend the first 2 nights in Quito with that second day including sightseeing in Quito. Then fly over to the ship on day 3 (those flights included). The ship is the Treasure of Galapagos which holds just 16 guests (yes that does mean it is a nice small group on each cruise). You will have a tour director and naturalists onboard which will also lead your excursions doing things like hiking, snorkeling, and wildlife watching (that are included). On day 7 you get off the ship and fly back to Quito to spend the night and fly out the following day.
There are 12 dates scheduled for this trip in 2022 but 2 are already sold out. Rates start at $5254 per adult for most dates. Avlaon also offers some add on options if you would like to extend your vacation into the Amazon or Peru.
Both options will include all meals on the cruise and some meals while on land. Both options include many excursions and both give you the VIP entrance into the must see stuff. Disney is one day longer and includes more time cruising but at about $1000 more per person. Disney is also on a much larger ship so there will be more people. I know that both companies will offer you a luxurious adventure that you will never forget but if I had to pick one I would go with Avalon mainly for the small ship experience.
I know the end of the world is on a lot of people's bucket list and I think it is great that Disney is offering an option now. I also love that they are doing it on Ponant which is a small ship cruise company that I think is the best choice for Antarctica!
This comparison will be a little different from the Galapagos because in this one I will compare booking the Adventures by Disney package vs just booking a regular cruise on Ponant.
Adventures by Disney will be using the Ponant ship and as far as I understand it Disney has chartered the ship for 2 dates so that means everyone onboard is part of Adventures by Disney. The ship has 132 staterooms so will have less than 300 guests onboard. It is a 12 day Adventure where you need to purchase round trip flights into Buenos Aires. Spend the first night in Buenos Aires and then the next day you will be flown to Ushuaia where you can ride the End of the World Train, experience the Tierra del Fuego National Park, and End of the World post office. Then you will board the ship for your 10 night cruise. At the end of the cruise you will be flown back to Buenos Aires where you can catch your flight home or maybe add the land package also offered by Adventures by Disney (3 night Buenos Aires Escape). During the cruise with Disney you will have your Adventure Guides and some special events that won't happen on the regular Ponant cruise but most of the rest will be the same.
Ponant runs these cruises November - March so you do have more dates to choose from if you are Ok without the Disney touches. They do offer the same itinerary as Adventures by Disney along with some other longer options as well. The pricing seems to come out very similar to what Disney is showing as starting rates so price shouldn't be a factor in choosing.
Here is how Ponant describes the 10 night cruise -
PONANT invites you on a polar expedition cruise to the heart of the icy realm that is the Antarctic Peninsula. Embark on an unforgettable 11-day voyage and succumb to the enchantment of the breathtaking landscapes inhabited by astonishing wildlife.
The start of your cruise will be marked by the crossing of the mythical Drake Passage, during which you will probably be escorted by several albatrosses and Cape petrels, the sentinels of these often-choppy waters.
Your ship will then reach the White Continent, realm of the unexpected. Weather and ice conditions permitting, this extreme environment where nature reigns supreme will reveal to you its most beautiful secrets through numerous discoveries.
On this uninhabited land, which wasn’t explored until the 19th century, your encounters with the wildlife will no doubt be one of the highlights of your experience. The Gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins, humpback whales, seals and seabirds will provide you with cherished lifelong memories.
Each day, whether on land, aboard your ship or during a Zodiac® outing, you will be surrounded by a grandiose decor ranging from icebergs to ice floe and ancient glaciers.
We have only seen Disney's starting price as of now and I am sure there will be higher price points for upgraded rooms but until Disney opens these for booking next week this is what we have to go on. The starting price for Adventures by Disney's 2 dates is $12,459 per adult (that is for the January 30, 2002). The December 20, 2021 starts at $12,769 per adult. For many dates Ponant is already sold out of the lower priced rooms so the Adventures by Disney option might allow you to get one of those rooms that can be harder to get this close in. Of course if you might need more than a year to save up you can always look to book for 2023 or later too with Ponant. The earlier you book with Ponant the better your options for rooms will be as this one does sell out early. You could also hope that Disney will keep up the partnership and start saving now for when they open booking for the next year.
Either way on this one I think you will have the most amazing adventure! If you would prefer a cruise that will have less families than going with a Ponant booking might be better for you.
6 years ago Brad and I took our first cruise together and it was a Disney Cruise. As you can imagine there were a lot of kids onboard. While we loved the cruise and Disney does a great job of offering adult only areas we thought wouldn't it be great if there weren't any kids onboard LOL. Our next cruise was a river cruise so we did get to enjoy a kid free ship on that cruise and it was wonderful! Almost a year after that we took a 30 day cruise on Holland America and there was just 1 kid onboard. We realized that there were a lot of poeple that prefered a cruise without kids, not just without thier own kids but without anyone else's kids too.
I am working on www.cruisewithoutkids which also has a facebook page and instagram with the same name and I will be posting more information so please feel free to check them out and follow them if you also like the idea of a vacation without kids.
This week I want to talk about 2 cruise lines that are always adult only and they are Virgin Voyages and Viking.
This is the new kid on the block - or should I say new no kid on the block. Virgin Voyages was suppoed to start sailing March of 2020 but as we all know that didn't happen. As of now it looks like May 2021 will the first voyage of this brand new ship. Richard Branson wanted to create a new way to cruise and I think he might have done it. The ships are adult only they also inlcude a lot of things many other cruise lines do not. Ever thought about getting a tattoo on a cruise ship? Well now you can do it! They also have no buffets and include over 20 eateries in your cruise fare. They also include tips and wi-fi in your cruise cost. I am very excited to try this new experience and am looking forward to my cruise in May! I will be sure to tell you all about it!
You have probobly seen the commercials for Viking River Cruises but they also have Ocean Cruises too. They are also coming out with a river boat for the Mississippi and an Expedition ship too so there is a lot going on with Viking. They are always adult only on all of thier ships and like Virgin they include more in your cruise cost than the usual cruise line. The Viking Ocean ships are smaller than your typical ocean cruise ship holding under 1,000 guests which also allows you to get into smaller ports.
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