Rent a car. By European and other standards, rental cars and gasoline, are unbelievably inexpensive in Florida. Almost all visitors to Florida rent a car – apart from a guided tour, there really is no other way to get to out-of-the-way ecotourist sites.
Maps. Without question, the best maps of Florida can be found in the Florida Atlas and Gazetteer (1997) published by DeLorme, P.O. Box 298, Freeport, Maine 04032;
Each 2.5 cm (1 inch) on these maps equals 3.7 km (2.3 miles) and clear symbols show you exactly where you can fish, hike, bike, or launch a canoe.
Buy a phone card or a TRACFONE. Florida also differs from most ecotravel destinations in that it is easy to get information over the telephone even at the last minute.
Want to find out the exact directions to a birding site listed in this guide? Buy a $10.00 telephone card at any gas station or corner grocery store and phone the number listed beside the site before you leave your hotel.
Are the manatees in at Blue Spring? Call the park at the phone number listed in this guide beside the site.
Want to know which birds are being seen in the Miami area? Call the Tropical Audubon Society Birding Hotline recording for area sightings (305) 667-PEEP. Other rare bird alert hotlines include:
Statewide (561) 340-0079
Lower Keys (305) 294-3438
Northern Florida (912) 244-9190
Northwest Florida (850) 934-6974
Rent a canoe or kayak. Because Florida is so flat, and many of the best and least traveled wild places are on or near the water, canoeing is a good way to go. Try it – even if you have never done it before. You will love it. If you choose a weekday and leave early in the morning, you can drift through the ‘Real Florida’ and get very close to the wildlife. Most natural areas and State Parks have canoe outfitters associate with them. Or, you can call the Florida Association of Canoe Liveries and Outfitters at (863) 494-1215 and they will give you the name of a good canoe rental outfit in the area.
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