9. Don't Write Off the Gulf

Everglades National Parks, Florida.

Paddling the Everglades     Photo: Photo by Tim Tadder/Corbis

Yes, the BP oil spill devastated much of the Gulf Coast. But what you probably don't know is that Everglades National Park was unaffected. "Business is down even though we haven't seen a speck of oil," says Jay Rose, manager of Naples Kayaks in Everglades City. See the park—and nobody else—on a six-day sea-kayaking trip along its western shores. The time to go is December to March, when the mosquitoes are fewer and temperatures hover in the high seventies. Pick up your boat and arrange a shuttle from Naples Kayaks (rentals, $195 for seven days; shuttle, $500 for two kayaks; napleskayakcompany.com). They'll drop you at the tiny outpost of Flamingo, at the southernmost tip of the state. From there, paddle northwest around Cape Sable's beaches and pick up the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway—a system of chickees (dock-like campsites) on inland sloughs—at the Nightmare Route, a six-mile tunnel through a web of mangroves. Follow the waterway north before heading west on the Chatham River (made famous by Peter Matthiessen's Killing Mister Watson), and spend your last night on the northwestern tip of Pavilion Key, an island in the Gulf. The route lacks fresh water, so pack enough bladder bags to provide a gallon per person per day. Pick up camping permits from the ranger station in Flamingo ($10, plus $2 per person per night; nps.gov/ever).

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