Nowhere does the great outdoors quite like Florida. One moment you can be kicking back on the most gorgeous beach you’ve ever seen, and the next you’re flying through the Everglades on an airboat. From Amelia Island’s picturesque salt marshes and protected sand dunes in the northeast to Martin County’s biodiverse estuaries and peaceful clear water further south, nature lovers can discover something to appreciate—and do—just about everywhere they look. Even Marriott Bonvoy hotels and resorts are getting in on the fun, with many providing easy access to eco-tours and activities like fishing, sailing, and celebrated golf courses. Ready to go? Here are the top ways to explore Florida’s wilderness.
Discover history and outdoor fun on Amelia Island
Boasting rich history, pristine beaches, and world-class golf, Amelia Island offers an idyllic escape set within a rare maritime forest ecosystem. Start your trip by stepping back to 1864 at the Civil War-era Fort Clinch State Park. With three miles of shoreline for fishing, beachcombing, and swimming, as well as 1,400 acres of marked trails, there’s plenty to see by foot, bike, and even electric skateboard. You can also simply enjoy a leisurely drive under the park’s famous towering live oaks. Later, be sure to explore Amelia Island’s serene salt marsh estuaries, where you can stroll or bike along nature trails for stunning views, amazing sunsets, and abundant wildlife viewing.
Travelers looking to stay active—and perhaps perfect their swing—will no doubt appreciate Amelia Island’s 99 holes of championship golf, fit for players of all skill levels. Little Sandy, part of the Omni Amelia Island Resort, is a new 10-hole short course that provides a traditional, yet fun-focused golf experience for all ages and abilities, and takes players through a picturesque lowland oak marsh habitat. Stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and take advantage of the adjacent Golf Club of Amelia Island, an 18-hole championship course where you can feel the ocean breeze as you play.
Immerse yourself in Martin County’s natural beauty
Home to one of the most biodiverse lagoon ecosystems in the Northern Hemisphere, Martin County’s serene shorelines and lush habitats along the Atlantic coast are an ideal place for travelers looking to reconnect with the outdoors. This under-the-radar destination boasts more than 22 miles of beaches and over 100,000 acres of parks and conservation land. To find the region’s most spectacular natural riches, start by paying a visit to Hobe Sound. There, you can bike, hike, boat, kayak, and canoe your way through the mangroves and flatwoods of Jonathan Dickinson State Park and along the Loxahatchee, Florida’s first federally designated “Wild and Scenic River.” Don’t miss Blowing Rocks Preserve, where the sea breaks up to 50 feet skyward on the Atlantic coast’s largest Anastasia limestone shoreline.
Meanwhile, on Hutchinson Island, sun-lovers can relax on charming Jensen Beach, and surf, sail, snorkel, swim, and go surf fishing—a favorite local pastime—in the crystal-clear water. At the Marriott Hutchinson Island Beach Resort, Golf & Marina, rooms in the condo-like Sandpiper Tower and in the main hotel all come with balconies from which you can take in incredible views.
Soak up the ambiance of Old Florida in town, decorated with porch-fronted homes and cottages lined with picket fences and carved pineapples. The nearby House of Refuge Museum at Gilbert’s Bar, once a designated haven for shipwrecked sailors, is the only remaining building of its kind, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Book an adventure
Take your trip a step further by picking a hotel or resort in another destination that’s surrounded by Florida’s outdoor wonders. From the sandy shores of the Gulf Coast to Central Florida’s ancient hardwood hammocks, Marriott Bonvoy properties offer a variety of on-site amenities and experiences designed to help guests connect with the natural world.
Situated on more than 10 acres of pristine white-sand beach, the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is the perfect jumping off point to explore the Gulf of Mexico and the Everglades. Sail aboard one of the property’s spacious catamarans in search of dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees, or head to the Ten Thousand Islands on an airboat tour through mangrove forests.
Down in Palm Beach, Courtyard Palm Beach Jupiter places travelers within a short drive of the Sunshine State’s best beaches. When you aren’t relaxing at the outdoor pool, spend the afternoon fishing, boating, swimming, or snorkeling at Red Reef Park.
Further north, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes opens a window into the theme park capital’s wild side. Enjoy a sunrise safari of the resort’s 500-acre campus while keeping an eye open for alligators, bobcats, and deer, participate in a falconry class, go fishing on one of eleven private lakes and ponds, or play the 18-hole championship golf course, designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. And even in Tallahassee, you can stay within Cascades Park at the new AC Hotel Tallahassee Universities at the Capitol.