One of the nice things about cruise vacations is your embarkation and disembarkation points are typically great places. This means you can extend your holiday either at the beginning or end and stay for additional days in a nice city. We have done this many times in cities including Stockholm, Venice and Barcelona. It is wonderful to add on a few days to explore a city in more depth. After the Oasis of the Seas cruise, we took advantage of the nice disembarkation city and spent a week in Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale is a terrific city. We stayed in a timeshare property called Coconut Bay Resort that was ideally located just a 10-minute walk from the beach and close to malls, restaurants and some local attractions. We have stayed in many timeshare properties and found this one to be in a great location. The resort had a nice pool area with a hot tub but didn’t offer any other amenities or activities on site. For our purposes, it was fine since we really just wanted to relax. The rooms were typical 80’s style Florida but overall it was very well equipped, well maintained and clean so it worked well.
Over the course of the week we participated in a turtle rescue program, relaxed at the pool and at the beach, visited the Bonnet House gardens, Denis played 6 rounds of golf and we took a day trip to Jupiter. That proved to be more than enough for us.
The first night we went out for an evening trek with a turtle rescue group who patrols the beaches of the region watching for turtles hatching. In Fort Lauderdale and many other coastal Florida towns, there is a serious issue with turtles hatching and moving towards the light of the cities rather than the light of the moon as Mother Nature intended. Due to the light pollution there are thousands of turtles that become disoriented and turn the wrong way. This dedicated group of people volunteer to take shifts throughout the night to track data on when nests have been laid, observe their tracks and record how many turtles become disoriented and how many they release into the sea. It is a pretty fascinating experience. Due to the light sensitivity you aren’t able to take pictures or video so we only have mental memories but it was quite a lovely evening sitting out on the beach watching the moon rise and moving from nest to nest as little turtles began their long journey to get into the water. Great work these folks are doing!
The Fort Lauderdale Beach is really wonderful. We spent time there, swimming in the warm water, lounging on the beach and of course people watching. An expansive beach with beautiful white sand, this is a perfect place to spend the day.
One morning Denis and I visited the Bonnet House gardens which happened to be within a few minutes walking distance of our resort. The property the estate resides on, was originally purchased by an early settler to the area named Hugh Taylor Birch. He gave the property to his daughter Helen and her husband Frederic Clay Bartlett as a wedding present. They built the house and planned to use the estate as a winter escape from Chicago weather. Unfortunately Helen died in 1925 so the property did not see its original plans come to fruition until Frederic remarried in 1931. He and his second wife Evelyn brought the property to the grand state it is in today. After Frederic died in the 1950’s Evelyn continued to visit regularly and eventually donated the property to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. This organization continues to maintain the property allowing tours, visits and rentals of the main house. We didn’t tour inside the main house but wandered the gardens for about an hour. The plants and vegetation on the property are incredible – there is a fresh water pond and salt water pond, enormous trees, flowers of all kinds – a virtual rainforest that is wonderful to explore. There are birds, turtles and monkeys roaming the area making it hard to believe the busy city sits just outside this oasis.
We planned a day trip to Jupiter to taking a kayaking tour that shows wildlife of the area. The hope was to see wild manatee in the area. Unfortunately they didn’t show themselves on our trip however we still had a great afternoon on the water checking out stingrays, sea urchins and the massive houses owned by celebrities such as Olivia Newton John, Keith Urban, Celine Dion and Burt Reynolds, to name just a few.
Denis played 6 rounds of golf – 2 per day at Club of Emerald Hills in Hollywood, Palm Beach National in Lake Worth and TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs. Suffice to say he was loving every moment of each day with the clear blue skies and challenging courses and extraordinary cheap rates, at top rated courses!
We ate at a variety of restaurants in the surrounding area including BurgerFi, Franco & Vinny’s, Coconuts, 15th Street Fisheries and Primanti Brothers Pizza. The food was always fresh, well presented and each restaurant had it’s own cool vibe. So many places to choose from – there was never any lack of options.
We enjoyed our week in Fort Lauderdale. There is so much more to see and do that this is a port I would definitely recommend extending your stay.
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.