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Travel and diving with sharks in the USA Florida

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Travel Story scuba diving in Jupiter in Florida the USA with sharks and visits to the Everglades, the zoo of Miami and the gay pride

Where can you go scuba diving with sharks in Jupiter in Florida, the USA?

jupiter florida usa

About Jupiter Florida:

The, for us Europeans, most unknown dive sites in Jupiter, have a high number of giant sharks, including Bull-, Lemon-, Hammer, Tiger- and Nurse Sharks - swimming around in the Atlantic Ocean. So, as avid divers, we thought it was time to organize a trip to Jupiter in Florida, the USA, to finally scuba dive with the large predators of the Oceans.

 jupiter florida usa
 jupiter florida usa

General info about diving - scuba diving in Jupiter with sharks

Scuba diving in the USA - Florida - Jupiter is only suitable for very experienced flow divers, from a boat. To remain depth in the blue must be automatic. Being able to control and help yourself in heavy weather conditions is an absolute must and panic attacks are unacceptable. A pill against seasickness is certainly recommended, unless you'vve got strong sailor legs. Following up instructions is very important, not only for your own safety, but also that of others. Next to that it's recommended to reach the surface with a sufficient amount of Nitrox left because there can be heavy waves.

When you go shark diving with Scuba Works in Jupiter, Florida, there are a number of house rules, you need to take into account: there are no deco dives, there is maximum use of nitrox, the nitrox is measured with their second (calibrate) Oxygen Analyzer, the analysis logbooks should always be completed, there's a thorough briefing each time and you're always responsible for your safety.

The maximum nitrox ppO2 is given to secure a maximum dive time. The bottles are very well stocked, to approximately 260 à 270 bar nitrox. Normally a dive of 45 minutes is calculated, but an hour's dive is certainly feasible as well.

At the begin of April, the water temperature is between 22 and 24°C. A 5mm diving suit, bones, compulsory gloves and cap should keep you warm enough.

The boat of Emerald Charters is spacious and comfortable. The skipper narrated very well and has a lot of experience with the recuperation of divers in the sometimes-heavy Atlantic Ocean. Once on board, everyone gets seated and have their own place, which isn't the most convenient. When you're the first to step on board, you get assigned a spot in the back. This way, divers constantly nuisance each other, as they all have to pass by.

The ladder on the back of the boat is made of thick tubes with soft rubber around it. This way you have a good grip and won't hurt your bare feet. The ladder is deep enough in to the water, but nevertheless you have to be careful with waves and swell to remain cautious when ascending to the surface.

Water, coke, and diet coke are abundantly present on board. Hungry stomachs are filled richly, with crackers, biscuits, fresh fruit, and a tasty, very well-topped thick sandwich with greens and at least 200 gr ham.

Randy and Josh are the dive leaders of Scuba Works and has a lot of experience scuba diving with sharks. They doing everything possible to lure the sharks - to keep them close to the divers and in front of the cameras, but above all he tries to proceed the scuba diving in safe conditions.

Scuba Works rarely has foreign divers in its circles. It's, like in Belgium, very usual for everyone to bring their own equipment. A tank and lead are therefore never included in the dive price (US $100 + tax per day for 3 dives). Diving equipment is very expensive in proportion. When you want to dive for multiple days and need to rent equipment, you can request a discount on bottles and lead (US $20 per day). In addition, you need to pay US $20 per nitrox mixture/respiratory gas. You must also drive your own and/or hired equipment to the boat, unload the car and load the equipment on board. If you wish this to be done by the company, it will cost you US $50 per day!

The staff are all volunteers and live of their tips. For us, this is something we need to get used. Especially since the tip is usually US $10 per dive. You should therefore count US $30 extra per day to the bill and give this to the supervisors on board. After all, they did help us by bringing the diving bottles to the street and in the car.

On 50meters from the boat, there's a free hotel parking where we leave the car (make sure to bring back your ticket to pick up the car at the end of the day).

At the diving school, there are baths to rinse your equipment and a place, where you can leave it to dry until the next day.

Jupiter and Florida in general are very expensive environments, because many rich retired people come here to hibernate. So, be sure to provide a spacious budget for lodging, food and entertainment.

Travel and diving in Florida - Jupiter photos of tigersharks, lemon sharks, bull sharks, nurse sharks, the Everglades, the zoo of Miami and the gay pride

Thursday 30 March 2017:

Flight from Zaventem Airport to Miami in Florida

As we were quite euphorically about our last diving trip in Jupiter last year, we decided to go to the coastal town on the east coast of Florida once more. This to encounter the same intense experience as last year.

Due to changes in the original flight schedule, we first fly from Zaventem Airport to Schiphol. A ridiculously short distance which we prefer to make per train from Antwerp, but this option is apparently impossible. In the past, we have already learned that it's pointless to argue with airlines, so we get up extra early to first drive in the direction of Brussels. Luckily, from Schiphol Airport awaits a direct KLM flight of 9.5 hours to Miami.

Around 19.30pm local time we land on American soil and go through the usual immigration routine of fingerprints and a mug shot. In contrast to our previous visits to the country of Uncle Sam, we're greeted by a sympathetic official at the counter, who even throws in a few jokes. Welcome to the USA!

After picking up the luggage we look for the Avis office, with which we've reserved a rental car in advance. There are only six people ahead of us in the queue, but the progress is miserably slowly. To make matters worse, a general alarm sets off and everyone must leave the space (although the neighbors at Alamo ignore the drill and keep working!). Hopefully this won't take too much time, since all we want after this long flight is to jump in bed as soon as possible. After fifteen minutes the alarm turns off and the queuing starts again. All customers are neatly lined up, but only a fraction of the reservation clerical staff of Avis returned to their desk. It takes at least another quarter of an hour before everyone's back at operate their post. Frustrating!

Once we finally got through the administration procedure, we pick up our bright red Chevrolet in the garage, to drive towards the nearby Regency Hotel in Miami, where we go to bed straight away.

Friday 31 March 2017:

Drive from Miami to Jupiter - Florida

After a good night's rest and a nice breakfast, we drive through the world-famous South Beach Miami to the northern situated Jupiter. We first cruise along the vibrant Art Deco district on Ocean Drive and subsequently follow the A1A along the coast line, as much as possible. In the meantime, we keep our eyes peeled, and observe the impressive apartment buildings, which are mainly occupied by Rich Americans.

Once we have arrived in Jupiter, we first go to the dive shop Scuba Works, to conclude all administration around our diving. Everything runs smoothly until the young desk clerk refuses to provide the requested 19-pound lead. According to her, it's far too much and only 12 pounds of lead can be taken onboard. What follows is a feisty discussion, but the young lady refuses to consider her arguments; she doesn't even listen to our point of view. Another member of staff gets involved, but he as well claims that 12 pounds is more than enough. Fortunately, he gives in after much palaver and we 18 pounds of lead must do. After our departure, the staff of Scuba Works calls the Dive master slightly panicked, to inform him about the incident. Luckily, Dive master Randy remember us from last year and reassures them that everything is OK!

Finally, we arrive at the Best Western Intercoastal and (on request) get assigned to the same room as last year. In Jupiter, this hotel is known for the best price-quality ratio. The decor is a little dated, but the breakfast is included and the service is excellent.

At night, we go for food in the nearby Outback restaurant that's specialized in meat dishes. Subsequently we crawl in bed early, as we went to feel fresh for our first diving day.

Saturday 1 April 2017:

Shark diving in the Atlantic Ocean in Jupiter - Florida

Since we're expected to be onboard at 7.30am, we opt for an early breakfast buffet at 7.00am. We can choose from waffles, eggs, sausages, different types of coffee cakes and biscuits, cereals, yoghurt, etc.

Fully satisfied and supplied with the necessary medicines against seasickness, we go onboard. The Atlantic Ocean can be quite harsh. Prevention is better than curing! Fortunately, the Atlantic Ocean remains quite calm during the day and we hardly experience any swell. Before we leave, we go through a clear and intact safety and dive briefing.

We'll dive in the open Atlantic, situated on a distance approximately 40 minutes by boat from the port of Jupiter in Florida. It's our intention to mainly look for bull sharks, lemon sharks, Tiger Sharks, hammer heads, nurse sharks and possibly a white shark.

During the trip to the dive site, the employees of Scuba Works prepare raw fish to lure the sharks. They also use harpoons to catch fish. The big difference with these fresh shot fish is that they aren't immediately death. The vibrations caused by the harpoons evoke hunting instincts of the (hammer)sharks faster. The fastest shark eats the nosh and usually doesn't leave anything for the others. If the harpoon divers want to use the fish as bait for the following dive, they must immediately hand it over to someone on board, otherwise the hunting sharks will steal the prey. It's even possible that the staff gets bitten by the sharks, as they see them as a rival of their food or possible prey.

Today we will make three dives on the same wreck; Bonaire. At the beginning, we are accompanied by a large tiger shark right underneath us. What a great start! We start or dive on top of the deck of the wreck and in the meantime, distribute a smell track. This allows a longer no deco time and less consumption of nitrox. Behind the wreck there's practically no current. This is an ideal place to quietly sit on the sandy soil and enjoy the arriving sharks to take lots of photos. A series of lemon sharks, Tiger Sharks and nurse sharks are admired. Amazing!

Diving on wrecks to break the current and spot sharks

wrecks florida jupiter

Pictures diving on wrecks to break the current and spot sharks

To stay safe, we leave the dive site in a group to dive shallower in the blue to remain under water as long as possible. We succeed in taking the lemon sharks and Tiger Sharks up to a depth of 10m. Look around, keep your hands and legs together and keep a fair distance from the bait and odor rail, is our order.

The second dive takes place at the same location as the previous dive. The chance we spot hammerhead sharks today, is unfortunately small since there isn't a strong current. The lemon sharks, Tiger Sharks and nurse sharks luckily remain at the abandoned and closed waste bin. The photoshoots and admiring of these beautiful animals can therefore begin immediately. However, caution is needed since the Tiger Sharks can get a bit fierce. They occasionally bump against us and make an attempt to bite the cameras. Again, we succeed to lure the sharks closer to the surface. This way we get to enjoy these beautiful creatures and impressive beasts to the last authorized breath.

The third dive again, takes place at the preceding location. The situation is unchanged, except for the even fiercer Tiger Sharks. Regularly we must grasp their brutal muzzle and rub it, allowing them to create a very detailed sight on their open jaws with large razor-sharp teeth. Freaky! Subsequently we push away the tiger shark on side flan. Errors or panicking are fundamentally wrong and extremely dangerous!

What a great first diving day, full of action! Everyone is still euphoric when we make our return around 14.30pm.

Diving with lemon sharks, tiger sharks and nurse sharks

citroen bull tijger verpleegster haaien

Pictures diving with lemon, tiger and nurse sharks 1

For dinner, we visit the Rustic Inn Crab House where we indulge in a large bowl of crab legs. It takes about 1,5 hours for us to devour and finish each piece. Tasty!

Sunday 2 April 2017:

Diving with sharks in the Atlantic Ocean in Jupiter - Florida

Today we dive once in the full current in the blue of the Atlantic Ocean and twice on the same wreck as yesterday. The weather is favorable and the Atlantic Ocean is fortunately calm and quiet.

During the first dive, we see four bull sharks. Unfortunately, there is quite a lot of fog in the water causing rather limited visibility up to 10m. This of course indicates poor imagery, but diving with four feisty bull sharks is an impressive experience.

The second dive takes place on the Bonaire wreck. The chance to spot hammer heads, is small because of the unfavorable conditions. This dive we get entertained by five lemon sharks and three nurse sharks.

The third dive takes place on the same location. Again, we get accompanied by the five lemon sharks and the three nurse sharks. During our safety staircase, a beautiful large tiger shark suddenly swims up from the depth. Finally! During the last minutes of our dives, the sharks seems to be very interested in me and I try to push her away three times, as she started to prepare herself to try a little bite, which I obviously didn't agree with!

After this successful diving day, we visit the Shipwreck Bar & Grille to recover from all the commotions and to obtain a nice meal and margarita.

Diving with lemon sharks, bull sharks, Tiger Sharks and nurse sharks

lemon, bull, tiger and nurse sharks

Pictures diving with lemon, bull, tiger and nurse sharks 2

Monday 3 April 2017:

Diving with sharks in the Atlantic Ocean

Today, the Atlantic Ocean is very wild. Everything is securely fastened and we get told to hold on firmly. Just before we start diving, a mounted dive bottle falls on the deck. The expansion valve breaks off, but fortunately the crane remains. We must tie up everything even tighter, firmer and more solid.

The first dive takes place at the Bonaire wreck. Since the current is a lot stronger today, the chance to spot a hammer head increased. Two lemon sharks and three nurse sharks keep us company, but unfortunately there is no trace or whatsoever of a tiger shark or hammer head shark.

The second dive also takes place on the Bonaire wreck. This time we get to see six lemon sharks, one tiger shark and three nurse sharks. During the ascend I have to push away the tiger shark twice, as she's showing a little too much interest. The tiger sharks sees a less observant diver, who's on a further distance of the group and not too aware of his surroundings as a new prey and starts to nibble on his diving equipment. Fortunately, our dive leader interferes in time and pushes away the tiger shark, just before the animal can damage any more. All of this means and reminds us of how concentrated you should remain and always should look out for possible danger while diving with sharks.

The third dive takes place on another wreck, that's called Hammer Head Beach. As the name suggests, we'll try to encounter hammer heads. Even though hammer heads are very strong and formidable animals, they are very tame. We're silent and move as little as possible, we try everything to lure them. Despite the concerted efforts of the dive leaders, they aren't capable of getting the hammer heads any closer. We only see a hazy shadow in the distance. Unfortunately, but of course you can't force wild animals.

Diving with Tiger Sharks 1

tiger sharks

Pictures diving with Tiger Sharks 1

According to trip advisor Food Shack is the best restaurant in Jupiter. We must therefore definitely give it a try! The shabby exterior doesn't look very promising, it doesn't look much like a restaurant at all. Without the excellent recommendations on the internet, we wouldn't have made our way here. Since all tables all booked, we get a place assigned at the bar where we have a perfect view on the open kitchen. The chef and his team run properly, the dishes follow up on each other very efficiently. This alone, results in some great entertainment. We are served very rapidly and the food indeed is of excellent quality. We would love a second visit!

Tuesday 4 April 2017:

Diving with sharks in the Atlantic Ocean

The morning news announces a shark attack on a surfer in Florida. Unfortunately, they don't give us any notice of the type of shark, but thankfully the victim survived the attack, mainly due to the 129 sutures. Once again, proof that sharks can come from all angles.

The Atlantic Ocean is even wilder today, wilder than yesterday; everywhere we look, there is foam and froth. The preparation for the dives, entering the water, the recovery and return on board will therefore be much more difficult for the divers.

The turbulent Atlantic Ocean shakes the boat back and forth enormously. We therefore need to securely fasten everything and hold on firmly. Despite all the good preparations one of the dive tanks falls on the deck, while changing the dive tanks. Fortunately, nobody got hurt.

Today we dive in the Atlantic Ocean once on the Bonaire wreck and twice on Hammer Head Beach behind a wreck.

During the first dive, we see six lemon sharks. When one of the divers gets surrounded by four lemon sharks, she starts to panic and move around a lot. Something that's strictly prohibited and extremely dangerous when diving with sharks. Just before one of the lemon sharks, tries to bite, the dive master knows how to grip the shark by its muzzle and free the diver from this plight. For her own safety, the dive master then sends the diver back to the slightly more distant wreck. When we start to ascend, three bull sharks pop up to say hi, but unfortunately, they don't come along to the surface. This means we can only admire them for a very short time.

Once back on board, a few divers get seasick fairly quickly, due to the contracting water. Luckily, I took a pill against this in a timely manner and saved myself from this inconvenience!

The second dive takes place at another wreck on the Hammer Head Beach dive site. Since the current here is very strong, our chance to see hammer heads increases enormously. Whatever the dive leader tries, he doesn't seem to be able to lure a hammer head shark in our direction. Except for a large turtle, up to 1.3m which tries to steal our bait, we don't see anything else. I try to help the dive master by keeping the turtle away from the bait, but it doesn't give up and keeps coming back from the other side. Here as well, we should be careful, as turtles can bite meanly too. At the end of the dive, on which we basically just spotted the turtle, the dive master leaves the box with bait in the water to maintain the odor track.

The last and third dive today, again takes place on Hammer Head Beach. We hope to attract the large female hammer head of 5 a 6m, together with the two smaller males, but we draw a blank. Instead, we spot a large beautiful Tiger Shark. Now as well, I get some extreme attention from this female animal and I continuously must push her away. The difference between the brutal muzzle and the smooth, soft gills surprises me repeatedly. One of the other divers had been able to shoot a little video of my interaction with the tiger shark, which always results in some spectacular imagery.

Back onboard, it becomes clear why the Tiger Sharks shows such a specific interest in me. Apparently, they are attracted to the buzz of a reload of my Iron flash and its red colour causes an extra trigger.

Diving with lemon sharks, bull sharks, Tiger Sharks and nurse sharks- 3

lemon bull tiger shark nurse

Pictures diving with lemon, Bull, tiger and nurse sharks 3

For dinner, we go to Jetty's, a restaurant located right next to the Rustic Inn Crab House. This place as well, is especially orientated on seafood, but focuses on a slightly more upscale target group. Therefore, the prices are slightly higher.

Wednesday 5 April 2017:

A visit to the Miami Zoo

Today we take a day off from diving and pay a visit to the Miami Zoo. Admittedly, a 172 km drive is reasonably far, but according to TripAdvisor this zoo belongs to the top 20 in the world. We can't miss out on that opportunity!

Around 11.00am we arrive at the entrance and it's very clear that the car parking still offers a lot of availability. Not too many visitors on this hot weekday. After we buy our tickets (US $22 + VAT), we take a quick look at the map and decide to first visit the Asian part where we find most large mammals.

Visitors who prefer not to walk the whole distance, can opt for a canopied go-cart rent, these obviously have their own price tag. There is also the possibility to take the monorail or take a seat on the train.

Thus, the warm climate in Florida, most of the animals have an outdoor stay, that's generally provides with sufficient and appropriate movement and walking space. But due to the temperatures today, up to 30°C, even the most exotic animals search for a seat in the shade and are therefore not always active. Fortunately, they remain generally visible to the public and we get the chance to take some great photos.

In addition to the classics such as elephants, lions, giraffes, tigers and monkeys the Miami Zoo has a strikingly large range of colourful, lively birds and different types of antelopes.

Zoo in Miami 1

zoo miami florida

Pictures Zoo Miami 1

The park also has a very extensive range of indigenous and exotic trees, which provide the visitors with the necessary shade. In places where there are no trees, we find umbrellas so we won't melt on the many existing resting spots.

Since today is a particularly quiet day, only the main restaurants are open. All other kiosks with drinks and snacks are closed, which is a big disadvantage. On a hot day like this, a cooling drink or ice cream would taste extra nice. Fortunately, the water fountains at the toilets make sure we don't completely dehydrate.

Zoo in Miami 2

zoo miami florida

Pictures Zoo Miami 2

It's already 13.30pm when we have completed the Asian part and return to the centre point and the Oasis Grill, where we opt for a scandalous high priced hamburger. This is by far the worst hamburger we have ever eaten!

After we have strengthened the inner man, we start the African section that is about as large as the Asian side. Unfortunately, the gorilla stay is in the process of a renovation and we don't get to see the imposing monkeys. A shame!

We conclude our day at 17.00pm with a visit to a super cute koala, that gets woken by the carer. A great ending to this beautiful, but also tiring day.

To make things easy, we drive back to Jupiter via the Florida Turnpike, The toll way that crosses all the way through Florida. We have no idea what this ride is going to cost, since Avis won't forward the bill until a few weeks after departure, but we are too tired to make a detour.

Zoo in Miami 3

zoo miami florida

Pictures Zoo Miami 3

Thursday 6 April 2017:

Diving with sharks in the Atlantic Ocean

Today we dive once on the Bonaire wreck and twice on Hammer Head Beach (first behind a wreck and then from wreck to wreck across the sandy soil).

During the first dive, we accompanied with ten lemon sharks and three nurse sharks. The sharks today are very restless and regularly bump against us, not too softly. This means that we need to be extra careful. To avoid bites, we hold our hands against our bodies and photo cameras and put our legs close together.

The second dive takes place on Hammer Head Beach. The current is pretty strong today which is favourable when perceiving hammer heads. Near to the end of our dive, we finally come across a beautiful hammer head with a large dorsal fin. Unfortunately, it doesn't approach us close enough in order to take a good picture, but seeing this animal, is already a fantastic experience.

Despite the attempt and tricks the dive leaders try during the third dive, they aren't capable of luring a hammer head shark. At the start of the dive we see a beautiful tiger shark, but it unfortunately doesn't stay with us for too long, although the lemon sharks and nurse sharks do remain.

diving with Tiger Sharks 2

tiger sharks

Pictures diving with Tiger Sharks 2

In addition to the rustic inn Crab House and Jetty's there's a third restaurant with views of the bay and the lighthouse of Jupiter; U-Tiki. U-Tiki as well, specialises in fresh fish dishes. We opt for the 'fried tuna &basil roll' with wasabi sauce as an appetizer, which turns out the be the local delicacy. Finger licking delicious!!! We could eat this every day!

Friday 7 April 2017:

Diving with sharks in the Atlantic Ocean

On our last diving day in Jupiter we once dive in the blue, strong current of the Atlantic Ocean and twice on Bonaire wreck. When we leave, the Atlantic Ocean is reasonably restless. It's absolutely necessary to make sure to secure all the materials and hold on firmly. A pill against seasickness is certainly not an unnecessary luxury.

During the first dive, we see at least seventeen bull sharks. Wow, what a wonderful experience! Unfortunately, there's quite a bit of fog in the water, causing limited visibility to 15m. When creating the safety stairs on 5m depth, the turbulent wave motion does not bode well. The Atlantic Ocean unfortunately became much wilder. Not long after we got on board the first divers hung overboard to empty their stomach. Not a pretty sight!

The second dive will take place on the Bonaire wreck. Thus, the strong currents, the chance to see some hammer heads todays, is quite large. This dive, we're accompanied by no less than eleven lemon sharks, three nurse sharks and a tiger shark. Some even see a large hammer head in the distance. One of the sharks injured the hand and index finger of our dive master during this dive. Fortunately, he kept his arms and hands against his body, so the damage was limited, but he would probably have been incompetent or not been able to dive for a while.

The third dive takes places on the well-known Bonaire wreck. Ten lemon sharks, three nurse sharks and a tiger shark provide our entertainment today.

The three dives today form a beautiful shut-off of our diving holiday in Florida - Jupiter. What an impressive experience!

diving with Tiger Sharks 3

tiger sharks

Pictures diving with Tiger Sharks 3

Since the last time we went to the Food Shack, was so terribly tasty, we need to revisit this dodgy looking shed again. We once again opt for the 'fried tuna & basil roll' and delicious fresh fish dishes. This really is a top recommendation!

Saturday 8 April 2017:

Boat trip on the Everglades near Fort Lauderdale

Since the diving trips have come to an end, we decide to drive to Fort Lauderdale for a boat trip on the Everglades.

A bit before noon we arrive at the Everglades Holiday Park. The car parking is reasonably packed. After we purchase our tickets (US $30 + VAT) we thankfully, only have to wait 15 minutes, before we can board the propeller boat. The boats are covered at the front and at the top, so that all passengers are protected from the sun, rain and splashing water. The boats are not overcrowded so everyone has enough space.

At the start of the tour, our experienced guide gives us a lot of information about the Everglades and the existing flora and fauna. Then we will sail the river with its lush vegetation and we can start looking for alligators. Unfortunately, we only see a few birds, fish and a large Iguana during this one-hour trip. The alligators apparently have hidden themselves well between the plants! Yet, it's a nice boat trip through beautiful nature. The guide occasionally opens all the registers and sails over the river, in full speed.

Once we return to the Quay, there is an interactive and educational alligator show where the classical tricks get shown. Despite the predictability, it still is a very nice playful show.

Subsequently, we drive back to Jupiter, where we collect our diving equipment at Scuba Works and say goodbye to the crew with which we dived over the last days. I hope we will be able to return to make more amazing shark dives here, the next or coming years.

To conclude our lovely time in Jupiter, we go for dinner in the Food Shack, one last time. The food again, is absolutely divine!

Everglades Holiday Park

everglades holiday park

Pictures Everglades Holiday Park

Sunday 9 April 2017:

From Jupiter to Miami South Beach

For our last day and night of our holiday we have booked a hotel on the world-famous Ocean Drive in South Beach Miami. Immediately after breakfast, we leave Jupiter, so that we get to Miami with enough time to play with. The annual gay pride on Ocean Drive takes place this afternoon, which means all access to the roads will be closed after 11.30am.

Fortunately, there are no traffic jams on the way and we arrive in the city with impressive skyline around 10.30am. We are very surprised when we find out the streets to Ocean Drive have already concluded by the police. There is no possible road that takes us here, and also the nearest public parking is unreachable. Shit, how do we get our luggage to our hotel?

We put the car along the side of the road and inquire the Penguin Hotel to help us with this problem. We are told that something went wrong with the booking and we've been rebooked at the President Hotel in Collins Street, a parallel street which is just behind Ocean Drive. We would also get an upgrade to a penthouse with private terrace. We'll believe it, when we see it!

We drive around the corner to get to the President Hotel, where we, for the first time in our extensive travel history use valet parking. You drive your car in front of the door and after it's unloaded, your vehicle gets parked somewhere for you, by an employee. Easy, in such a crowded and chaotic area as South Beach, but expensive (US $40 + VAT).

Because the room isn't available until 15.00pm, we leave our luggage in a closed space and go to Ocean Drive and Lummus Park where all it all takes place.

Today is the annual gay pride and South Beach get swamped by homos, lesbians, bisexuals, drag queens and trans genders. Many of them are dressed very eccentric: men in pink tutus with extremely high heels, Borat strings, near-enough-naked Hench bodies but also proper curvy woman, who have absolutely no shame showing off and strolling around in their bikinis. It really is a hodgepodge and our eyes almost pop out.

We look for a place to sit along the course and wait patiently until 12.00pm for the gay pride to start. For almost two hours we see hundreds of employees of the local police, fire services, universities, companies and organizations showing and celebrating their sexual orientation here. Each group is enthusiastically welcomed by the spectators, and the initial jeers and cheering doesn't get left behind. This truly is one big rainbow party, where everybody is happy and accepting. There are also various groups that distribute gadgets to the public, such as beaded chains, impeller lakes to cool yourself down, key chains, but also ... tons of condoms. The message is clear!

Ocean Drive in South Beach Miami The Love & peace gay pride 1

ocean drive south beach miami gay pride

Pictures Ocean Drive in South Beach Miami The Love & peace gay pride 1

Once this large caravan of Love & peace has passed, we go back to our hotel where the room is ready. We effectively are assigned to a modern furnished penthouse and spacious private terrace. Top!

After a beneficial siesta, we go back to the festivities on Lummus Park, where a proper beach festival is in progress. The liquid flows generously, the bass of the music blares loudly from the speakers and the dancing crowd complies a smooth atmosphere. The atmosphere is great and everyone's having a blast.

After a while, we get a little hungry and start looking for a nice dining area. Ocean Drive is more or less, one long chain of bars and restaurants, which virtually all serve the same. To go on a wing and a prayer, we are swayed by the host of La Baguette that promises us two drinks for the price of one, and offers a free tequila shot. Since it's our last day, we go all the way and opt for a large margarita (US $30) of which we can sip the rest of the night, the nacho dish as well, is reasonably pricey (US $36), but very, very tasty.

During our meal, we notice that other customers regularly fall into discussion with the staff when they want to pay their bill. Something clearly isn't right, and we therefore need to be careful when we ask for the bill ourselves. When we do so, it appears that an effective error has been made because we are charged for two drinks. When we notify the co-worker, she says that the two for one action is only valid on the largest cocktails of US $60. This was not reported to us and we continue debating, until the manager comes over. We are threatening to simply walk off, if we must pay the two drinks, on which the manager responds very aggressively. We don't get intimidated and ultimately leave La Baguette after we pay for only one Margarita and have had our free shot of tequila.

This is probably a practice that is regularly used to rip off innocent tourists. Always be alert and check the bill before paying, when you eat and drink on Ocean Drive.

To end the evening in style, we pass along Lummus Park where the party hasn't finished yet. On the contrary, the rousing music and thumping beats ensure that both men and women twerk as if it's their last day on earth!

After we've tarried the party for a bit, we feel like we've seen it all and make our way back to the hotel and king-size bed.

Ocean Drive in South Beach Miami The Love & peace gay pride 2

ocean drive south beach miami gay pride

Pictures Ocean Drive in South Beach Miami The Love & peace gay pride 2

Monday 10 April 2017

From Miami Florida to Antwerp

Since the traffic in Miami Florida can be very hectic, we bear in mind enough time to drive to the airport and get up extra early, to enjoy an extensive breakfast. Even though we've asked the front desk of the hotel to get our car ready for 9.00am, at 9.15am, we're still waiting in vain. Valet parking is thus clearly intended for people who have time on their side! We are reporting our complain at the front desk and as consideration we get offered a refund on our resort fee of US $21. However, it takes up to 9.30am when our bright-red Chevrolet gets presented. We feel a reasonable pressure, but fortunately there are no traffic jams on the road and we simultaneously drive to Miami Airport, where we take the first flight to New York.

The 6.5-hour flight from New York to Amsterdam runs smoothly, but when we land, a new misery awaits. One of our suitcases doesn't appear on the luggage belt. We declare at the baggage service and fill in the necessary documents. Normally the forgotten suitcases get delivered within 48 hours. Just wait and see!

Then we hop on the Thalys and arrive at Antwerp Central Station an hour later. Home sweet home and again a very nice trip to put on our extensive list!

Two days later our suitcase get delivered.

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Useful information about Florida in the USA:

Medical information about Florida in the USA


Decompression Room - Hyperbaric Chamber and emergency numbers - emergency contacts in Florida in the USA:

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