Become an audience member for the greatest show on earth: Mother Nature. Every summer, thousands of threatened and endangered sea turtles drag themselves onto Florida's beaches to lay eggs. Conveniently enough for those who prefer their wildlife wonders coupled with unspoiled, sea grape-lined beaches, the phenomenon is most concentrated on the state's eastern barrier islands. You can spot nesting turtles on your own, but that risks scaring them away. To do it right, join a weekly turtle walk hosted by the non-profit Caribbean Conservation Corporation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge south of Melbourne Beach. While you learn sea turtle ecology during an orientation talk, guides will scout a nearby mother turtle. Later, watch as she digs her nest, lays her eggs and then returns to the sea. The Tuesday, Wednesday and -- beginning in July -- Saturday walks begin at 9 p.m. and cost $5; your turtle decides when it's over (usually around midnight). cccturtle.org
Need an easy weekend getaway or family vacation? These Florida islands are unique hidden gems and close to home — but still deliver a true tropical experience. Take a look at these unexpected coastlines, private island resorts and secret beaches in Florida and see if you can find a spot for your towel — just try not to let the word get out too much.
Think you can top these beach photos? We know you guys have been to plenty of beautiful beaches (and love to show us your pictures). Here are 10 great sandy shots from our photo contest entries that we're loving right now. And we'd love to see more! Enter the ISLANDS 2013 Photo Contest and check out the best of the competition here: 10 Amazing Reader Photos | Best of the Caribbean...So Far | Best of Hawaii...So Far
A journey aboard a 237-foot, 110-year-old tall ship brings one adventurer to a beach with water as clear and as bright as the sky.