I got back last week from a trip to Florida. We started with "Bathtub Reef" near Stuart Florida. We chose this place because of its reputation as a good place for children to snorkel due to its shallow waters and gentle waves. We only got to do a couple of hours of snorkeling because we had wasted too much time trying to get a hotel by the beach, only to find them way out of our price range. We would have saved much more time if we had directly gotten a hotel in town, because we only needed to drive 10 minutes to get to the reef. The most interesting thing we saw at the reef was an orange trigger fish, but I should like to point out that this is not a "living" coral reef in that the original polyp inhabitants are gone. However, the reef structure currently supports a community of tube worms, which is why the life guard does not allow visitors to walk on the reef structure.

Afterwards we drove to the Everglades. I do not recommend the Everglades in the summer if you have small children because the mosquitoes are particularly harsh this time of year, and most of the birds have migrated. We did however see many alligators. One of the most scenic drives we did was a 20 mile (?) loop in the Big Cypress National Preserve that is adjacent to the Everglades. In addition to the many alligators we had the good fortune of seeing a bobcat waiting to pounce on something by the road.

The peak of our trip was Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys. This was the best snorkeling I ever did with the family because the water near the beach was crystal clear and teeming with fish, sponges, and even small portions of live coral. At one point we found a live conch, which we returned to the water shortly after taking this picture. The two biggest problems of driving to the Florida Keys are that I-95 ends in Miami. After this point you have to drive on Rt 1, which has many traffic lights near the city. The second problem are hotel prices which are roughly 20-30% higher than those on the mainland. This is a good compromise if you want to do some great snorkeling but lack the money and time to go to the Bahamas.