Nothing warms the heart like the sight of a skiff full of Outward Bound kids enjoying Everglades' National Park. This shallow draft vessel is loaded to the gunwhales with passengers as it slides across the sandy shoals off Whaleback Key near Key Largo. Much of Florida Bay's waters are in the three to five foot range which necessitates the use of shoal draft sailboats or kayaks. We encountered this scurvy crew on a recent Everglades' Eco Tour at Azul del Mar. Ahoy mateys!
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OK so we can't take credit for everything in this world... but a little help goes a long way! When Chris Teasdale and his girlfriend Lauren stayed at Azul del Mar he asked if we would discreetly film his proposal to her. And here's the result (minus a few steps along the way) - this beautiful bundle of joy! Named Xanthe Largo, at eight months she's the happiest little pink thing we ever saw. And while bringing kids to Azul del Mar will get you sidelined, a flying visit never hurts. Welcome to the world baby Xanthe. You are absolutely lovely!
Another stunning day at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo. And did you know... that John Pennekamp, a former city editor at the Miami Herald, was a leader in the fight to set aside part of the Everglades as a National Park? ...Great idea John! In recognition the USA's first underwater park was named in his honor.
Azul del Mar won the inaugural Trip Advisor Traveler's Choice "Best Hidden Gem USA" Award back in 2006. Since that time we've been awarded TA's Certificate of Excellence every year, Hall of Fame 2011,12,13,14 & 2015 & we are pleased to announce once again in 2018 we received their Certificate of Excellence Award. Thank you to you - the reviewers. We couldn't do it without you!
So here are a few sun facts to ponder.... The sun is 109 times wider than the earth and 330,000 times as massive. Meaning 1,300,000 earths would fit, squished inside the sun. Yikes! And what's worse - one day the sun will consume the earth. : ( However, given that light from the sun takes eight minutes and twenty seconds to reach us I'd say that's fair warning - although the fact it will already have gobbled up Mercury and Venus might give us a clue. Until then we'll just have to keep watching!
A world-class fight deserves a world-class finish.... photo finish that is! So when our guests Anna and Chris from Mississippi landed this 30lb grouper what better way to end the struggle than with a photo. Complete with hair, makeup, sunglasses and high-fashion gloves Anna forgot one small thing - the fish wasn't ready. And the fight wasn't over! Our offshore Captain, Zane Albury, tells us that grouper can weigh-in anywhere up to 600lbs which makes this baby look like chum. OK, quiet on set, take two...!
In an ever-changing world it's heartening that some things stay the same...like the migration pattern of these Great Egrets who head south for winter, traveling as far as the West Indies or southern Central America. They migrate by day in small flocks and stop at night. Yesterday our guests Christina and Florin from Germany witnessed the late arrival of this final group at our favorite little island in the Keys. Another spectacular sunset cruise. A bird-watcher's delight!
Ever hear the expression: something fishy in the air? Well here you go. A beautiful Spotted Trunkfish held aloft by Captain Mike Makowski. Perhaps not the best swimmer in the world, this puffy little guy tries to blend in with patch reefs or sea grass beds. But not here; he's about as obvious a fish out of water as you could ever imagine in this stunning photograph. Although he looks soft and cuddly the Trunkfish is protected by a bony outer surface that acts as body armor. Fully mature the shy but curious fish grow to 12 inches or so and sport a couple of long, sharp spines just to keep things awkward. Regardless this is one impressive little fella. Nice catch Captain!
Before most people have had their first cup of coffee, fishing guides at Azul del Mar slip their lines and are well on their way to another adventure. Mike and Erika, guests at the small Key Largo Boutique Hotel, were probably as surprised as this healthy Tarpon at their early morning rendezvous. Mike's not fishing for compliments these days but this is one fine specimen weighing in at more than 10lbs and 37 inches long. Of course once the photo shoot is over this catch of the day will be released back into the wilds of Everglades' National Park. What a wonderful way to start the day for at least one of the two subjects in this snapshot! Together with back country, flats and fly fishing excursions you can also head offshore to the Gulf Stream for some deep-sea fishing action. Mahi mahi (so good to eat that you have to say it twice), tarpon or sailfish will likely be your catch of the day there - depending on season. In this fight you're guaranteed a ringside seat - so be sure to book ahead through the hotel.
Our Everglades' Eco Tours into the wilds of Florida Bay are world renown. Early morning or afternoon matinee makes no difference... you simply never know what's going to surface! Take this little manatee aggregation for instance (yes, a gathering of manatee is called an "aggregation"). Talk about "in your face"! One of Azul del Mar's most famous guides, Captain Mike Makowski, snapped this "family" photo on his iPhone over the shoulder of our Canadian guests Scott and Christina during their half-day tour. Apart from Key Largo's amazing sunsets and evening star-gazing opportunities, a trip into the wild and wonderful wilderness - known around here as Everglades' National Park - never fails to amaze! Whether it's a pod of dolphin, flights of migrating ibis, a float of crocodiles or today's aggregation of manatee you can count on our guides to make memories that last a lifetime. At our little boutique hotel we offer guests wildlife of a completely different nature!