Tuesday, December 8, 2015


I have a love affair with warm waters, beautiful beaches, and clear blue water.  I also have a love affair with islands/beaches that most people don't know about.  There is nothing like sitting nearly by yourself on a beach, surrounded by the waves and sand.  I found that in Tampa, this summer.

It was stifling that day, so they cooled off on a water ride
After a lot of searching for places to take our kiddos on a retreat, we finally settled on Tampa.  Having been there once before, I knew how beautiful it was, but hadn't really explored the city.  During our recent trip, we fell in love with the city, and will hopefully be making many more trips there.

Having only four short days there simply was not enough, we crammed in what we could, but plan on making a trip in another year or so.  Being a homeschooling family, I wanted this to be a somewhat educational trip.  With that in mind, we decided on Sea World, Clearwater Aquarium, and Caladesi Island.

Ferry from CWA
Having been to Sea World numerous times before, I knew what to expect (or so I thought), and knew that my kids loved it.  Things have changed a lot since the last time we had gone, since the attacks on trainers is my guess.  The shows were honestly lackluster, while the kids enjoyed them, my husband and I found them to be cheesy.  Most of them were video shows, with just a few minutes of seeing the animals.  My kids enjoyed the rides more than anything else, definitely not worth the pricey admission tag.

That is all the chairs out on Caladesi
My oldest daughter is an animal lover, she had studied marine zoology last year, so we decided to also hit up the Clearwater Aquarium.  Several friends had recommended it to us, so we knew we couldn't pass up the opportunity.  The aquarium is small, but wonderful.  One of our favorite aquariums that we have been to actually.  The "shows" are completely different from Sea World's, they educate you during the shows, and are really good about answering questions.  They have manta rays that you can pet, and my girls stood over them for probably an hour petting them.  They got to see Winter and Hope from Dolphin Tale, and that was the highlight of their trip.  They also have turtles, river otters, and other animals.  They periodically release animals back into the wild and you are welcome to join them and watch the release.  You will find employees walking around asking questions and teaching the kids interesting facts.

Beautiful Caladesi
The last day we had found this island that is only accessible by ferry, called Caladesi Island.  This island was incredible, one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to in the Continental U.S. The island is raw, natural beauty-in fact they warn you of rattlesnakes.  The ferry is not free, but not terribly expensive, and they have chairs that you can rent too.  There were only 26 people on the island with us, and the island is about 3 miles roundtrip, I believe.  You can catch the ferry from Honeymoon Island to get over there, and I highly recommend it.  Make sure you get there early so you can really enjoy the entire day there.

Picture I took on the Island

Hope you have a chance to visit Tampa here in the near future.

God bless,


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