Florida – heaven for divers and cyclists

Florida is so much more than Disney and Universal. For starters, Florida really has a long history. The 27th state admitted to the United States has been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous people; the largest tribes known were the Ais, the Appalachee, the Calusa, the Timucua and the Tocobago.

“Florida” is the oldest surviving European place-name in the U.S. Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish conquistador, named Florida in honor of his discovery of the land on the evening April 2, 1513. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States, established in 1565 by Spain.

Thanks to its climate, Florida truly deserves its nickname “The Sunshine State”. Florida promotes outdoor activities and many of its State Parks are ranked among the best in the US. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission manages approximately 5 million acres to allow for hiking and paddling. The state also maintains hundreds of Mountain Bike trails from Key West in the South to Pensacola in the north-west. Florida’s public lands offer many off-road biking opportunities, including the Munson Hill Biking Trail in Apalachicola National Forest. The tail is one of our favorites, due to its challenging terrain in a pine forest setting with interesting wildlife, including gopher tortoises.

Global Adventures also loves Florida for its diving opportunities. North Florida is truly cave-divers heaven, while the Atlantic cost from Pompano Beach southward boosts some impressive wreck-diving. Beginner divers love the Florida Keys. The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park provides access to the only living coral reef in the continental US, while the Dry Tortugas offer diving off the beaten path. The newest dive attraction in the state is the USS Oriskany, a 904 feet aircraft carrier that was sunk on 17 May 2006 as part of a pilot program to create an artificial reef off the coast of Pensacola.

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