Kayaking Hell’s Bay
rubs off on we mere mortals who chase them around, hoping to spot them strolling Lincoln Rd or sipping a drink at the Shore Club’s Skybar (1901 Collins Ave). Lose yourself in the swooning crowd, because as you search out celebrities and hang in their hot spots, you start feeling like one yourself. There is no wilderness in America quite like the Everglades. Good old Glades boys – who once lived in what is now one of America’s most beautiful national parks – dubbed one stretch of water ‘‘Hell’s Bay’’. Why? The waterway, part of a complicated capillary network of Glades streams, was ‘‘hell to get into, hell to get out of’’. But it’s also heavenly once inside, shaded by a tunnel of vegetation that cools you while water runs past your paddles. Forget fearsome titles; kayaking Hell’s Bay is one of the most romantic exploratory experiences in South Florida (nps.gov/ever). weather, gators or hedonism, what follows are some favourites from the “Only in Florida’’ category.
This roadside attraction is dedicated to tracking down southeastern America’s version of Bigfoot, the eponymous Skunk Ape (a large gorilla-man who supposedly stinks). You may not see a Skunk Ape but you will see a corny gift shop and, in the back, a reptile-and-bird zoo run by a true Florida eccentric, the sort of guy who wraps albino pythons around his neck for fun.
There is no greater temple to all that is weird and wacky about South Florida. The legend: a Latvian gets snubbed at the altar. Comes to the US. Moves to Florida. Hand carves, unseen, in the dead of night, a monument to unrequited love: a rock compound that includes a “throne room”, a sun dial, a stone stockade (his intended’s “timeout area”) and a revolving boulder gate that engineers to this day, cannot explain.
More than a boat launch, Robbie’s is a local flea market, tacky tourist shop (all the shells you ever wanted), sea pen for tarpons (enormous monster fish) and jump-off for fishing expeditions, all wrapped into one driftwoodlaced compound.
This charmingly eccentric museum really reflects the quirks of the Keys – a collection of diving paraphernalia from around the world. The hall of diving helmets from around the world is particularly impressive (see skunkape.info; coralcatle.com; robbies.com).
JUST NATURAL: (from far left) Sunbathers on Miami Beach; kayaking in the Everglades; and yellowtail ceviche dish at Waterbar Restaurant, South Beach. Lonely Planet Images