Florida Beaches holiday highlights

Clearwater is one of the most popular and liveliest resorts on the Gulf Coast. Just two hours’ drive west of Orlando, Clearwater boasts miles of fabulous sandy beaches, a glorious sunny climate and a whole range of activities including snorkelling, fishing, dinner cruises and dolphin watching.

If you’re looking for a real Florida hot-spot, then look no further than St. Pete Beach! With seven miles of sugar, sandy beaches, the warm waters of the Gulf and an incredible sunshine record, St. Pete’s is a firm favourite with British holidaymakers.

Tasteful and luxurious, Longboat Key offers high-end boutiques and fine dining accompanied by manicured surroundings and white sandy beaches. One of the more upmarket resorts of the Gulf Coast and one of the quieter barrier islands, it offers the ideal beach destination for the more distinguished traveller.

The island of Captiva offer miles of beaches, with excellent watersports facilities and a relaxed lifestyle. Life on this part of the Gulf Coast is quieter and relaxing, with interesting shops and restaurants to choose from.

The elegant resort of Naples is ideally located for many sights, resorts and beaches and is a great spot for fine dining, shopping and sunbathing. The Everglades start just a short drive from the resort and Miami is about a two hour drive away.

Fort Lauderdale is located about one hour’s drive North of Miami and is known as the “Venice of America” because of the 175 miles of inland waterways that are found in the resort. It has a wonderful beachfront bordered by a wide path that is perfect for running, walking or rollerblading, or just relaxing. Take a gondola ride around Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale for a romantic ride in a beautiful setting.

Located on a 16 mile barrier island off the mainland and ringed with soft white sands, Palm Beach offers guests a more upmarket experience of the beach. West Palm Beach is where the activity takes place with plenty of water and land sports as well as great dining experiences.

If you intend on getting the most out of your trip to the beach, watch the locals, often they’ll be on rollerblades or bikes and this can be a great way to enjoy the views as well as find yourself a quiet spot to relax. Other than that, a particular favourite mode of transportation is digging your toes into the sand and going for a stroll.

Florida Beaches key facts

Time difference

GMT -5 hours

Currency

US Dollar ($)

Flying time to destination

10 hours

Language

English is the official language, although many other languages are widely spoken in certain cities and communities. America has its own written US English spellings.

Passport & visas

•  Brits must have a full 10-year British Passport that's valid for six months after you return to the UK.
•  You will also need a USA visa or waiver form/ESTA. Apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before travelling (http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov).

Voltage & electricity

The domestic electrical supply is 110V, 60 cycles AC. Sockets are for plugs with two flat pins.

Florida Beaches good to know

Tipping

Tipping is an established and accepted custom in America. For good service, waiters and taxi drivers expect 15-20%, and counter and bar staff 10-15%. Porters can expect from $3-$5 per case, while tour guides can be given the equivalent of £2-£3 per day.

What to wear

Florida is warm all year round but light jumpers or jackets are useful during the winter months, especially in the evening. If you are going to be visiting the theme parks then a hat and comfortable shoes are a must. In the Everglades you will want long sleeves and trousers to avoid being bitten. Strong closed toe shoes are also a must.

Public holidays

• 1 January: New Year's Day

• Third Monday in January: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

• Third Monday in February: Presidents Day

• Last Monday in May: Memorial Day

• 4 July: Independence Day

• First Monday in September: Labor Day

• Second Monday in October: Columbus Day

• 11 November: Veterans Day

• Fourth Thursday in November: Thanksgiving Day

• 25 December: Christmas Day