The Sea Emperor Wreck, AKA "Aqua Zoo." Photo provided by Nikole Heath.

5 South Florida Diving Spots Worth Taking the Plunge

Whether snorkeling or scuba diving is second nature or a brand-new hobby, there are plenty of sites across South Florida for everyone—and a chance to explore life beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Here’s our summer dive list to get you started.

Blue Heron Bridge at Phil Foster Park

Divers under Blue Heron Bridge. Photo provided by Nikole Heath.

Divers under Blue Heron Bridge. Photo provided by Nikole Heath.

Voted “Best Shore Dive in the USA,” this snorkel spot on the Intracoastal Waterway in Lake Worth is prime snorkeling real estate to see batfish, frogfish, octopus, pipefish, seahorses and sea turtles, to name a few. It’s ideal for new divers, snorkelers and photographers because of its shallow depth between 5 and 20 feet. Grab a pair of goggles, a set of fins and a snorkel, and take in the sights.

Breakers Reef

A whale shark swims with a school of fish at Breakers Reef. Photo by Dennis Whitestone.

A whale shark swims with a school of fish at Breakers Reef. Photo by Dennis Whitestone.

Named after the Breakers Hotel, this West Palm Beach site is great for Open Water-certified divers, with depths of 50 to 65 feet. The east side of the dive is deeper, and divers who want to lobster or spearfish are allowed to do so. In the spring and summer, keep an eye out for green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles.

Lady Luck Wreck

The Lady Luck Wreck in Pompano Beach. Photo provided by Nikole Heath.

The Lady Luck Wreck in Pompano Beach. Photo provided by Nikole Heath.

This casino-themed shipwreck in Pompano Beach gives divers the chance to explore 16 rooms, the captain’s deck, engine room, galley and surroundings. Look for the statue of the mermaid cocktail waitress, the faux casino in the main deck and other details, which were designed by Pompano artist Dennis MacDonald. Nikole Heath of Force-E in Boca Raton says this is one of the most popular dives in the area and is between 80 and 130 feet deep.

San Remo Reef

San Remo Reef is about 3 miles north of the Boca Inlet. Photo provided by Nikole Heath.

San Remo Reef is about 3 miles north of the Boca Inlet. Photo provided by Nikole Heath.

For a change of pace, try night diving or drift diving at San Remo Reef. The caves and overhangs make for great scenery and are home to octopus, squid and tropical fish. This reef is only 3 miles north of the Boca Inlet, and the depth ranges from 45 to 65 feet.

Sea Emperor Wreck

The Sea Emperor Wreck, AKA "Aqua Zoo." Photo provided by Nikole Heath.

The Sea Emperor Wreck, AKA “Aqua Zoo.” Photo provided by Nikole Heath.

Also known as the “Aqua Zoo,” the Sea Emperor in Boca Raton is the perfect place to spot moray eels, stingrays and nurse sharks. The barge is upside down and contains 1,600 tons of drainage culverts at a depth of 70 feet. A second dive site, the United Caribbean wreck, is only 300 feet south of the “Aqua Zoo” and is easily accessible—just follow the coral trail.


This story comes from our July/August 2017 issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to the magazine

Allison Lewis is the associate editor at Boca Raton Magazine and a native St. Louisan. She earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. In her spare time, Allison enjoys cooking, playing Ultimate frisbee, reading, traveling and watching sports.
boca raton bowl

Who Will Be The Next Boca Raton Bowl Idol? You Decide!

Deep House/pop singer Kendra Erika performed the national anthem at the 2015 Marmot Boca Raton Bowl. Image provided by Kaye Communications, Inc.

Deep House/pop singer Kendra Erika sang the national anthem at the 2014 Boca Raton Bowl. Image provided by Kaye Communications, Inc.

Absolutely nothing, I repeat, *nothing* is like a college football game in Florida.

The crazy tailgating, team rivalry, unbearable heat and excessive beer add up to unforgettable college experiences. (Note: The amount of beer you consume on college game day might make you forget the experience.)

Right now we’re stuck in a football-free period of the summer. But before college football officially starts in late August, you can get a whiff of things to come by voting for the 2017 Boca Raton Bowl Idol. The winner will perform he national anthem during opening ceremonies of the Bowl, which takes place December 19. The winner also gets 10 tickets to the game, so, you know, if you know one of the idols it’s worth spreading the word.

FAU Stadium held the first Boca Raton Bowl in 2014, and it is one of 41 postseason college bowl games in the country (and the only in Palm Beach County.) The Bowl matches teams from the Mid-American Conference with either Conference USA teams or American Athletic Conference teams every other year.

Online voting for the idol opens Thursday, where you can choose among the top 20 finalists ranging from singers and musicians, amateurs and professionals, groups and individuals and young and old. Online voting (you can vote here) will run through Sunday, July 23 until 11:59 p.m., and you can vote for your favorite semi-finalist once each day until closing.

After the online votes are in, the finalists will be whittled down to eight, and they will perform onstage for a panel of judges and a live audience on August 1 at the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery in Boca Raton. A combo of judge selections and audience votes will determine the top three, who will perform again that night. By the end of the evening, a winner will be chosen.

Tickets to Finalists Night are $10 and sales will be donated to Spirit of Giving. You can purchase tickets at spiritofgivingnetwork.com/bocabowlidol.

Until I make it to another Gators game (can I get a “Go Gata!?”) I’ll let the hype around the Boca Raton Bowl fill the void in my heart and stomach that is mostly longing for beer on a hot Gainesville game day. But there is one thing FAU Stadium has to offer that no other stadium in the nation can: Views of the Atlantic Ocean from the skybox and press box.

Now that’s something to look forward to.

Shayna is the Web Editor of Boca Magazine. She is a 20-something sorta-recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism. Most of her time is spent fawning over cats and kittens; cooking food at home for her family; and observing Florida’s greatest asset: nature.
The Florida Panthers' Michael Haley helps a Learn To Play participant sign a mock contract to the hockey team. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

Florida Panthers Aim to Teach, Make Hockey Accessible to Local Youth

The Florida Panthers' Michael Haley helps a Learn To Play participant sign a mock contract to the hockey team. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers’ Michael Haley helps a Learn To Play participant sign a mock contract to the hockey team. Photo provided by the Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers’ Michael Haley helped initiate kids into the world of ice hockey last weekend. Haley was part of the team’s Learn To Play program, which invites local children to get fitted into gear and sign mock contracts to join the big leagues.

During Sunday’s event, which took place at the BB&T Center, Haley donned his red Panthers jersey and took photos beside dozens of 5-to 9-year-old kids. “Once they get a taste of hockey, it’s hard to get out of your system.” Haley tells Boca. “Anytime you can introduce the sport of hockey, and especially with giving them gear, I’m sure they’ll have lots of fun.”

Now that the boys and girls have been fitted into gear, they will participate in a six-week long course, taught by Florida Panthers Alumni and USA Hockey Certified Coaches, with the aim of turning them into the next generation of hockey players and fans.

“Learn to Play is a pivotal part of the Florida Panthers outreach efforts. Our goal is to introduce kids to the sport and put sticks in kids’ hands,” said Panthers Director of Community Relations John Colombo. “ With Learn To Play we are able to provide equipment and on-ice training at an affordable cost for all families in South Florida to have the opportunity to allow their children to get out and try the sport of hockey.”

In conjunction with USA Hockey’s “Gold Standard,” which uses an age appropriate long-term developmental model, the curriculum of the Learn To Play program is designed to ensure that kids not only have fun, but also learn the skills necessary to play the game well.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to introduce my son to a sport I didn’t think he’d be able to play,” says Kimberley Miller about her 8-year-old son, Finnley. “He’s so excited. He has not put his stick down since he received it and I’ve never seen him take to a sport so quickly.”

There are still slots open for sessions during the summer. If you are interested in signing your kids up for the August classes, you can sign up at Palm Beach Skate Zone. If September works better for you though, you can sign your kids up at the Florida Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs.

The cost of entry is $150 and every participant will be given equipment that they can use during the program and keep at the conclusion of their course. To learn more about the event, you can read more by clicking here.

Jonathan Kendall is a published writer with bylines in the Miami New Times and the New Times Broward-Palm Beach. He was born and raised in sunny South Florida and is a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied journalism under several Nieman Fellows.
boca summer camps

Boca Mom Talk: Stellar Summer Camps for Every Kind of Kid

2017 Summer Camp Picks

What I wouldn’t give to head off to summer camp this June. Kids don’t know how good they have it. Fun activities, color wars, campfires, s’mores! Camp is the best! Some campgrounds are even capitalizing on parents’ nostalgia by launching adult summer camps complete with luxury amenities and cocktails, but that’s a topic for another blog post…

Here’s the Boca Mom Talk on the local South Florida camps I’m digging this summer and why you should send your Boca kids packing.

Summer of STEM

Kids getting hands on with science at Wacky Wild Science. Photo courtesy of Wacky Wild Science.

Kids getting hands on with science at Wacky Wild Science. Photo courtesy of Wacky Wild Science.

Ensure your child doesn’t fall into a “summer slump” by registering them for STEM camp! Wacky Wild Science invites campers (ages 6-8 and 9-12) to go on a wild educational adventure. Your child will interact with live land and ocean animals, conduct awesome experiments, become an archaeologist, make volcanoes erupt, travel through space in a mobile planetarium and more! The camp, located at Saint Andrew’s School in central Boca, is run by a locally owned STEM-based education service with 11 years’ experience inspiring students throughout South Florida. I’m seeing tons of STEM-oriented programs being integrated into Boca Raton schools. This camp is sure to give your child an educational edge.

Summer of tumbling

Twisters' gymnasium and playroom. Photo courtesy of Twisters.

Twisters’ gymnasium and playroom. Photo courtesy of Twisters.

Time to get physical! If your Boca kid loves climbing, jumping, running and flipping, then they will have a BLAST at Camp Twisters.  In Twisters’ state-of-the-art facility in east Boca, safety-certified staff will teach your child to tumble through professional gymnastics instruction. The camp also features arts and crafts, movie time, games—and the icing on the cake? Plenty of air conditioning!

Summer on stage

Courtesy of Showtime

The cast of a production of “Into the Woods” at Showtime. Photo courtesy of Showtime Performing Arts.

Let your child’s inner star shine all summer at east Boca’s Showtime Performing Arts camp! Your Boca kid will learn and fine-tune their performance skills with South Florida theatre professionals. Located in Royal Palm Place in downtown Boca, Showtime has two main summer camp sessions and several mini sessions featuring performances from Moana, Cats and Glee. If your child is on the younger side, Showtime is also featuring a 12-week performance program on Saturdays where Boca kids can “let it go” courtesy of the class’ Frozen theme.

Get ready Boca moms! Because school’s (almost) out for SUMMER!


Visit www.modernbocamom.com for even more summer camp tips! And be sure to subscribe to Modern Boca Mom’s weekly e-newsletter: http://bit.ly/mbmsubscribe

Michelle Olson-Rogers, a native to Boca, is the founder of ModernBocaMom.com, a lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. Modern Boca Mom features family events, activities, classes, fitness, dining, travel, home improvement and shopping options—as well as a weekly MOMpreneur spotlight! She and her husband Andrew have one daughter, Avery.
fakawi

Where the Fakawi? Ride Your Bike Through Who-Knows-Where Next Month

 

fakawi

The Fakawi ride last year. Photo provided by Jimmy Toural.

The Fakawi Gravel Grinder is the annual mountain bike ride that takes local riders off-road to see remnants of Old Florida. The 50- and 30-mile routes meander through networks of levees, horse trails and abandoned farm roads.

This year’s event starts at 8 a.m., Sunday, May 21, at Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida. For those who don’t want to do the 30- or 50-mile courses, there’s a 12-miler out and back on the levee.

Sunrise resident Jimmy Toural started the Fakawi ride. A competitive mountain biker, Toural and his friends were looking for ways to add miles to their bike rides to and from Markham Park. “I found some trails and thought it would be a good idea to set up a ride with some friends, and we did,” he said.

The event’s name came naturally, as Toural’s friends were constantly perplexed by where they were on the web of back-road trails. “We were just messing around, and a lot of the people that have been living in the area for years had no clue where they were,” Toural claimed. His friends kept asking, “Where the f*** are we?”

A lightbulb went off in Toural’s head: “Fakawi—that’s the name.”

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The Fakawi ride last year. Photo provided by Jimmy Toural.

Since the first official Fakawi in 2010, which attracted 75 riders, it has become a legendary event for local cyclists. Attendance has grown to several hundred. I can attest to that; I did it last year (the 30-mile loop), and thought it was a blast. Toural, who is 42 years old and is vice president of the Miami-based Galloway Office Supplies, said he added the 30- and 12-mile options because word of the Fakawi reached families, and now kids do the ride with their parents. It’s a family affair, but it also offers hardcore riders a competitive option. It costs $20 to enter.

A few words of wisdom: Don’t attempt this ride on a bike with skinny tires (a traditional road bike), unless you enjoy making contact with gravel or have amazing skills. Bring lots of water. Riders, according to Toural, should be prepared to ride two to three hours for the event, and while there’s water in a few places along the course, it tends to be hot. Bring food to keep you energized during the ride. And if it has been raining the days prior, be prepared to get muddy. Most of all, be prepared to have fun!

The fun continues after you’ve finished and hosed off your bike. There will be food and music at Markham Park—a big party. For more information or to sign up, to wherethefakawi.com.

Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has had the luxury of reporting on health, fitness and other hot topics for more than 23 years. The longtime Boca Raton resident, University of Florida graduate and fitness buff writes for local, regional and national publications and websites. Find out more on wordscomealive.com.
33

Dress to Impress at Trainerspace This Saturday

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Trainerspace, Boca’s newest (sexiest) gym run by military veterans will host an All White Party at its facility in Boca Raton on Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

There will be food from Fit Foodz, cocktails and a performance by Adriana Foster and Digital Vibez, a nonprofit that helps children become active and healthy through fitness, dance and technology. A prize will be given to the person who wears the funkiest sneakers to the party, so dress to win. All proceeds raised from the event will benefit Eat Better Live Better, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing, reducing and reversing childhood obesity.

Tickets purchased in advance are $15 and $20 at the door. You can register in advance here.

Trainerspace is a fitness center that focuses on scientifically guided, individualized personal training to help people reach their fitness goals. This space is not just a high-end, luxury gym. Owner Cary Reichbach and director of business development, Logan Skees, an Army vet and a Marines vet, respectively, have a greater mission in mind. They see the gym as a platform to serve others.

They are doing this by forming a foundation, which is in its grassroots phase right now. Its mission is to provide veterans with tools to allow them to help themselves, Reichbach said, particularly helping younger veterans reintegrate back into society after combat. Both Reichbach and Skees believe traditional veteran services like those the Department of Veterans Affairs offer do not address the root of most veterans’ issues. The foundation’s approach is focused on alternative, holistic therapies like acupuncture, sensory deprivation, massage therapy and more to help veterans deal with post traumatic stress.

Reichbach said that vets are perceived as liabilities. They are heavily invested in prior to service in the military, and then when they return home they have very little investment or support.

“What if we take those people and do a 180 and make them into one of the greatest assets in the community?” Reichbach asked.

While the Trainerspace Foundation is in it’s 18-month research and development phase, which will guide its approach to reaching its goal, Skees said that it expects to help 10 to 12 combat veterans during that time. Additionally, the gym wants to give back to the community as much as it can, and Skees said he wants Trainserspace to be known as an ethics driven company.

Also occurring Saturday, April 8 will be the first “Future Warrior Fitness Program,” which exemplifies the staff’s dedication to giving back and military service. Trainerspace partnered with local high schools and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs to bring the aspiring cadets into the gym for an intensive training session. The students will have the opportunity to train with Trainerspace’s military veteran fitness instructors at the facility.  “We have to help them [the JROTC students] prepare for reality,” Skees said.

To learn more about Trainerspace, visit trainerspace.com.

Shayna is the Web Editor of Boca Magazine. She is a 20-something sorta-recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism. Most of her time is spent fawning over cats and kittens; cooking food at home for her family; and observing Florida’s greatest asset: nature.
ultramarathon

This 71-Year-Old Runs 100-mile Races, Directs KEYS100 Ultramarathon

With 100-mile, 50-mile and 50-kilometer ultra race distances, and the option of a six-runner, 100-mile team division, the KEYS100 is not for the faint-hearted.

The course for the 10th annual KEYS100 on May 20 and 21 spans from Key Largo to Key West (for those running the 100-miler). The shorter 50-miler begins in Marathon and the shortest 50K in Big Pine Key, both also ending in Key West.

An ultramarathon or ultra race is a footrace that is longer than the average 26.2 miles.

Bob Becker, KEYS100 ultramarathon race director, originally designed this event after Badwater 135, a 135-mile race through Death Valley in July. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the toughest footraces in the world.

KEYS100 race director, Bob Becker. Photo by Alexis Berg.

KEYS100 race director, Bob Becker. Photo by Alexis Berg.

“The idea was to make the heat in the Keys in May a difficulty factor in this race—and not simply the 100-mile distance,” Becker, a Fort Lauderdale resident, wrote to me in an email.

Even for those running less than 100 miles, it’s a daunting undertaking. The training, with attention to hydration, nutrition, salt and electrolyte replacement—even what clothing and gear are needed—make this race anything but an afterthought.

But it’s not impossible.

Becker will be 72 years old in April. He ran his first marathon in 2002 and his first ultra distance in 2005 to celebrate his 60th birthday.

“That was the Marathon des Sables, a seven-day, 160-mile stage race [a race completed over a number of days] through the Sahara Desert in Morocco. After 115 miles the medical team realized I had a fractured femur and would not let me complete the race. In spite of that huge frustration… I fell in love with the people and culture of ultramarathon racing,” Becker said. “The camaraderie, the support for each other in spite of the competition, were totally inspiring. I was hooked.”

By 2007, Becker ran his first 100-mile trail race (typically held on hiking trails) and has since completed lots of ultra distance races, including Badwater 135 three times.

“In 2015, I celebrated my 70th birthday by completing the Badwater Double, setting the age record by 11 years. The Double included running the 135-mile race, then summiting Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states; then returning to Badwater Basin, which is the starting point (and namesake) for the 135-mile race,” he said. “Last November, 2016, I completed Mt. Gaoligong Ultra in Tengchong, China. Located in the far southwest corner of the country, this 77-mile race was a difficult mountain race with over 45,000 feet of combined elevation gain and loss, and one of the most inspiring and emotional experiences of my life.”

Bob Berg at the finish line of the Mt. Gaoligong Ultra. Photo by Alexis Berg.

Bob Becker at the finish line of the Mt. Gaoligong Ultra. Photo by Alexis Berg.

Becker said that it’s important for him to inspire people to get off the couch and become active.

Once you’re off the couch, even running 100 miles is possible.

“When talking with newer runners in particular, I ask them to think back to their first effort to run a mile. It wasn’t easy,” Becker said.

Taking that up a notch and completing a 5K (3.1 miles) might have seemed unimaginable.

“That same notion is true at any race distance,” he said.

Runners thinking about competing in ultramarathons should train properly, which means emphasizing time on one’s feet, as well as strength training and core building. It should include integrating good walking technique and learning what kinds of food and fluids work best during the long runs.

“There is no magic to running an ultra, and people of all sizes, shapes, ages and backgrounds do them,” Becker said.

Becker believes in hard work but emphasizes fun and celebration. The rock band Sister Hazel is running the Keys100 as a relay team, making the trek to Key West. Then they will perform Sunday afternoon at the annual post-race party.

There will be aid stations on the course and water stops about every five miles. Runners can participate with or without their own support crews, according to race information. The race fee for the 100-miler is $265, including the signup cost. That will increase after April 30. The shorter distances cost less, and spots for all races are limited.

For more about how to participate or volunteer, go to: http://www.keys100.com/index.php.

Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has had the luxury of reporting on health, fitness and other hot topics for more than 23 years. The longtime Boca Raton resident, University of Florida graduate and fitness buff writes for local, regional and national publications and websites. Find out more on wordscomealive.com.
Samy Goldfarb

Running For a Cause in the Run From the Rays 5K

Samy Goldfarb

Samy Goldfarb

Samy Goldfarb was diagnosed with melanoma 15 years ago, when he was only in his early 30s. His father also had melanoma, which was detected early, and his father’s twin sister died from the skin cancer.

It runs in the family.

But for two years, Goldfarb has participated in a different kind of “run.” The annual Run From the Rays 5K.

“This charity and race is very important and meaningful to me,” Goldfarb wrote in an email.

The 5th Annual Run From the Rays is Sunday, April 23 and starts at the Spanish River Athletic Complex in Boca Raton at 7 a.m.

Goldfarb, of Boynton Beach, says that because of his family history for the cancer, he has had frequent dermatology checkups since college. “I consider myself lucky,” he said.

A triathlete, Goldfarb finds it hard to stay out of the sun when training. But he takes precautions, like training early in the morning before the sun comes up. He said when he can’t avoid the sun, he wears sunscreen, hats and even arm sleeves as an extra shield from harmful UV rays.

“I think most people think that melanoma is something that they only have to worry [about] later in life,” Goldfarb said. “Few people know that melanoma is one of the most common types of cancers for people in their 20s and 30s.”

The opening ceremony from the Run From the Rays race in 2016

Run From the Rays has local roots. Boca Raton residents Fran and Nathan Nachlas, a Boca Raton facial plastic surgeon, decided to help their son Jake, who was a freshman at Pine Crest High School, start a meaningful community project in 2012. The Nachlas family founded the nonprofit foundation SafeSun, recruited two more Pine Crest families to join in the charity’s mission and made sun safety a priority.

At this year’s run, there is also a 1-mile competition, which starts at 8 a.m., and a virtual run for those who can’t make it but want to donate to the cause. Race officials will mail virtual runners a T-shirt and finisher medal from the race.

The cost to participate in the 5K, which is 3.1 miles, is $30. The one-miler is $20 for adults and $15 for teens 16 and younger. And the tab for virtual runners is $30.

Event proceeds benefit selected charities through the SafeSun Foundation. The charities chosen offer screening, treatment, education and research for melanoma and other types of skin cancer. Among the past beneficiaries is Melanoma Research at Moffitt Cancer Center, which has partnered with Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s Lynn Cancer Center.

Fit Foodz Café will provide runners and walkers with a post-event breakfast.

Kids with Race Proceeds 2016

Proceeds from the race in 2016.


To sign up for Run From the Rays, click here. Those interested in getting involved in the cause or in sponsorships should visit www.safesunfoundation.com.

Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has had the luxury of reporting on health, fitness and other hot topics for more than 23 years. The longtime Boca Raton resident, University of Florida graduate and fitness buff writes for local, regional and national publications and websites. Find out more on wordscomealive.com.
florida experience

How to Give Out-of-Towners the Quintessential Florida Experience

Experiencing the Florida Everglades with family

IMG_8054

January to April in Boca Raton is what I have affectionately dubbed “houseguest season” for my family. My friends and in-laws travel down south in droves to escape the cold and enjoy Boca’s enviable winter weather. I’ve discovered that having houseguests kind of forces me to be a tourist and do what I call, the “Florida things” while they are visiting.

Growing up in South Florida, heading to Cape Canaveral, the Miami Zoo or a theme park was totally standard for school field trips and summer camp. But for our guests visiting from places like Maine and New York, that’s all 100 percent original stuff.

My sister-in-law’s boyfriend made his first ever trip to Florida in January, and I decided the one thing he had to do while he was here was see an alligator. And the best place to see a gator in its natural habitat? The Florida Everglades.

My family and I drove down to Everglades Holiday Park in west Broward County (about a 40 minute drive from Boca Raton) and purchased tickets for a 1-hour airboat ride and gator show. Children under 3 are free, by the way. I slathered my daughter with SPF 50 and mosquito repellant and we boarded the airboat—after taking our complimentary souvenir photo, of course.

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The Everglades Holiday Park fleet of airboats is unique because each has a covered passenger compartment so you can enjoy your ride across the “River of Grass” in pretty much any weather. I guess my sunscreen precaution was a little overkill. The boat starts off slow but grows into an all out thrill ride zipping across the Everglades at top speeds while your guide searches for gators. My 3-year-old absolutely LOVED IT.

We chose a cool day for our Everglades adventure which meant that the alligators were hiding out. Finally, during the last 20 minutes of our tour, we got lucky and came face to face with three different American alligators! It was amazing and, I could tell, really impressive for our visitors.

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After your airboat ride, you can choose to eat lunch at one of the food vendors on site (think bar food), enjoy an exotic animal encounter or see a live Gator Show. My family chose the latter and were not disappointed.

The Gator Boys Alligator Rescue of Animal Planet fame performs stunts and tricks for visitors while offering information about the conservation and preservation efforts surrounding the American alligator and the wetlands it calls home. You will leave the park knowing more facts about alligators than anyone you know, which I’m sure will come in very handy for our Maine guests someday.

Everglades Holiday Park is open 7 days a week (rain or shine) starting at 9 a.m. with the last airboat departing at 5 p.m. Be sure to add this to your family’s adventure to do list, Boca moms! It’s major Florida fun!

My daughter, Avery.

My daughter, Avery.


Visit www.modernbocamom.com for even more Florida things to do with kids! And be sure to subscribe to Modern Boca Mom’s weekly e-newsletter: http://bit.ly/mbmsubscribe.

Michelle Olson-Rogers, a native to Boca, is the founder of ModernBocaMom.com, a lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. Modern Boca Mom features family events, activities, classes, fitness, dining, travel, home improvement and shopping options—as well as a weekly MOMpreneur spotlight! She and her husband Andrew have one daughter, Avery.
sea turtle awareness month

How You Can Help Loggerheads During Sea Turtle Awareness Month

Sea turtle release in Juno. Photo courtesy of Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Sea turtle release in Juno. Photo courtesy of Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

March is Sea Turtle Awareness Month, and the staff at Loggerhead Marinelife Center and Gumbo Limbo Nature Center are working hard to educate the public about the dangers of single-use plastics on our beaches.

Out in the open ocean many sea turtles struggle to survive amid the plastic that pollutes the water—the churning cloud of bottles and bags that float on the waves. These single-use plastics are what their name implies: they are made to be disposable and generally used only once.

“Single-use plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats that sea turtles face every single day,” said Hannah Deadman, a spokesperson for the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. “Our rehabilitation staff has seen nearly 100 percent of our sick or injured sea turtle patients with some form of plastic impacted inside of them.”

How you can help

Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings. Photo courtesy of Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings. Photo courtesy of Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Take at look at your lifestyle

  • Reduce your use of single-use plastics like grocery store shopping bags and water bottles. “Simple acts like bringing a reusable water bottle or reusable bag with you make a huge difference in reducing the impact of plastics in our oceans,” said Deadman.
  • Knock down sandcastles and fill in holes from umbrellas and chairs before you leave the beach—otherwise sea turtle hatchlings risk falling into the holes while making their trek to their ocean habitat.

Get educated!

Both sea turtle rehabilitation centers (Loggerhead in Juno and Gumbo Limbo in Boca) offer a variety of programs this month.

  • March 12 – Loggerhead Marinelife Center will host an eco-adventures tour where participants will be able to see local wildlife up close and personal. While immersed in nature, guides will inform people about the many ways they can help sea turtles and other marine life.
  • March 25 – Loggerhead will host its 14th annual TurtleFest this year, which will feature artists, bands, conservation awareness,  interactions with sea turtles and more.
  • March 31 – Marine conservationist Dr. Kirt Rusenko will present a lecture as part of Florida Atlantic University’s Frontiers in Science Lecture Series. It is titled “Light Pollution: Effects on Sea Turtles and You.”
  • You can also learn more about marine life conservation by attending one of Gumbo Limbo’s many programs this month, such as walking through the butterfly-laden Ashley Trail while learning about the different fauna native to South Florida.

Although sea turtles struggle with human-caused threats, there’s hope for them.

Thanks to ongoing community support and involvement, research biologists at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center said 2016 was an improved year for loggerheads. In just the 9.5 miles of beach that the center monitors there were more than 15,000 loggerhead nests discovered! So many nests burst with life, in fact, that it was a record-setting year for loggerheads in the Sunshine State.

Jonathan Kendall is a published writer with bylines in the Miami New Times and the New Times Broward-Palm Beach. He was born and raised in sunny South Florida and is a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied journalism under several Nieman Fellows.