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Caribbean vacation blown away!

Level Contributor
249 posts
13 reviews
Caribbean vacation blown away!

We were headed to British Virgin Islands in first week of December. Irma took care of that. Then rebooked to St. Croix and Maria blew that trip away.

If anyone has been to the BVI on this forum, they'll understand what we are looking for.

We hate high rise condo's, golf courses and all inclusive resorts. We enjoy friendly locals, good food and bars where everybody knows your name, after a few drinks. My sister lives in Tampa and she say's it's hard to find a place for a hillbilly to vacation in Florida. LOL

All that said. Is there a beach that we can enjoy? Is there a few bars that we would drink and be merry? Hopefully with a live band on some nights. Is there nice places to stay with a view of the coast? (Very Important) How cold is the weather the first week of December? Can we rent a small boat to explore?

We are looking for very laid back, little traffic and we even like to rent bikes. Is the water clear that time of year? We very seldom swim in ocean, but enjoy a heated pool. Please HELP!

9 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Florida
Level Contributor
50,030 posts
22 reviews
1. Re: Caribbean vacation blown away!

Well Cedar Key doenst have any real beaches, so you should be looking elsewhere on the barrier islands. It does have a nic vibe though.

From your likes, and dislikes, you wont be looking at Clearwater beach or St pete beach. But if you look south at say Anna Maria island, Sanibel, Captiva- you might find something you like.

You want find real AI anywhere in FL, except one club med in Pt St Lucie.

Fort Lauderdale...
Destination Expert
for Fort Lauderdale
Level Contributor
41,204 posts
11 reviews
2. Re: Caribbean vacation blown away!

The Club Med AI is a golf/tennis resort not on a beach. It is the only AI in Florida as costs for labor and alcohol are too high here to make them feasible. or maybe someplace like Aruba that escaped the hurricane.

You may have to look in Mexico.or maybe someplace like Aruba that escaped the hurricane.

Level Contributor
86 posts
58 reviews
3. Re: Caribbean vacation blown away!

I think you'll love Cedar Key! And if you're coming the first weekend in December - you'll get to experience our Pirate Festival! (It was scheduled for Sept. 15-17, but Irma caused a reschedule!)

We've had a VRBO there since 2002 - it's our home away from home. The city is small, but very walkable and fun to explore. The "downtown" has restaurants, some shopping, a marina/boat launch, rentals and nightlife - usually Thursday to Sunday. Early December weather is variable - we are almost always there that week after Thanksgiving. The fishing is awesome, days are usually 70s-low 80s, nights might need a windbreaker/sweater. The light is amazing for photography.

There's boats to rent, also golf carts, bikes, kayaks and paddle boat thingies. There's Ghost Tours, Nature Tours and Fishing Charters. And of course there are bars (and some have music), in walking distance of most condos/lodging. The speed limit on island is mostly 25 and the officers take their job seriously. ;-)

Cedar Key is also within an easy day trip drive of a lot of things. I think you can have a great vacation in Cedar Key!


Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
3,593 posts
17 reviews
4. Re: Caribbean vacation blown away!

>>Is there a beach that we can enjoy?<<

Not at Cedar Key, no real beach. Cedar Key is an area known for fishing and is an area of salt water marshes and mud flats.

Side note: There are nice beaches along the Gulf Coast beginning around Clearwater Beach and continuing south to Naples and Marco Island or along the the Panhandle area, including the barrier islands near Apalachicola and Panama City Beach going west to Pensacola Beach.

>> Is there a few bars that we would drink and be merry? <<

Yes, there are some bars.

>> Is there nice places to stay with a view of the coast?

Um, well you can see the water.

>>(Very Important) How cold is the weather the first week of December?<<

If there is a cold front moving through the area, it could be cool. It is not the tropics, keep in mind Florida is considered subtropical, not tropical.

>> Can we rent a small boat to explore?<<



Some people love Cedar Key. Others "not so much". It is very small. The population is just over 700 people.

A suggestion. The Palm Coast area between Flagler Beach and Crescent Beach on the Atlantic coast, There are true beaches here. I am not sure how well this area did during Hurricane Irma, but it is less developed than the some of the better known beaches in Florida. This area also could be cool if a cold front is moving through. Maybe it would suit your list for a vacation.

Vero Beach, Florida
Destination Expert
for Vero Beach
Level Contributor
9,358 posts
179 reviews
5. Re: Caribbean vacation blown away!

Palm Coast and Flagler County should have done well. The big swell from hurricanes Jose and Marie may result in some beach erosion. So check local sources, of course.

The travel section of the New York Times had what seemed a thorough rundown of the impact of hurricanes on tourism in the Caribbean. I'm afraid it confirmed a friend's suggestion that southern Florida may have an extra-busy winter season coming up.

The northern Peninsula, with its springs and natural areas, has its attractions. Cedar Key was once the western terminus of a railroad that connected to Fernandina via Gainesville, where you can follow its path along Archer Road.

Edited: 26 September 2017, 09:54
Melbourne, Florida
Destination Expert
for Melbourne, Florida
Level Contributor
17,636 posts
112 reviews
6. Re: Caribbean vacation blown away!

Cedar Key has a small handful of little restaurants / bars and a few shops. Its on the lagoon area, no beaches, just seawalls and mangroves. Good place for kayaking. Its about an hour or so from Ocala or Gainseville. Interesting fact from David, I have been on Archer Road but never knew about the railroad. Pretty neat.

Crystal River might be a good option as its also small town and does have a beach area. Further south look at Captiva Island, maybe a little more active but I dont think they have built condo's there. Sanibel is the island attached to it. Might be an option for you.

Destination Expert
for Florida
Level Contributor
50,030 posts
22 reviews
7. Re: Caribbean vacation blown away!

Cedar key is north of tampa, so positioned for cooler weather in Dec. For the most reliable temps you want to at least be tampa-south, or even better south of Sarasota.

Mobile, Alabama
Level Contributor
3,658 posts
50 reviews
8. Re: Caribbean vacation blown away!

Hey rebelblues- I recognize your name from the BVI's forums.... like you, I am absolutely sick over the terrible devastation in the islands I love. Being a fellow southerner and traveler of like mind, I will throw in my 2 cents worth.

I have been travelling to Florida my whole long life and have seen many of the places I used to love get swallowed up by condos, beachwear shops, etc. so I feel your pain on finding great places. It will be too cold for one of my favorite areas that remains as you describe but you might look into another one....

I visited Anna Maria Island for the last time last summer and absolutely loved it. I think it has what you are looking for in many ways but you need to choose your rental carefully where you can drive your car as little as possible (walk or bike to places or get on the free island shuttle) as parking can be very limited in some places. It was not really a problem for us for the short time we were there (just 2 nights, passing through driving from Mobile to Miami- long story, brother and sister road trip).

I know I saw boat rentals there, too.

There are a couple of airports nearby and others can tell you your best options if you are going to fly into the area. I saw lots of very cute beach cottages (one story "Old Florida" ) that I would definitely rent when I go back one day.

Hope you find a great spot!

Hotty Toddy!

PS We were not booked for the BVI's this next trip and are going to the place that had long been on my bucket list, Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Have you been there? Look at this photo and see if doesn't immediately remind you of the BVI's..... supposed to be the friendly locals, great little bars, beautiful water and beaches, low rise....


Mobile, Alabama
Level Contributor
3,658 posts
50 reviews
9. Re: Caribbean vacation blown away!

in the islands, did you prefer rental homes or small inns?

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