With a few dozen island stamps in her passport, Florida-based travel expert Angie Orth from AngieAway.com knows a thing or two about Caribbean life. We asked her how to have a relaxing island vacation without ever leaving the Sunshine State. Check out her suggestions for where to stay in Florida below!
Travel season never really ends in Florida, my home base when I’m not jaunting, and that means some of the best themed hotels and most fun vacations in the world are in my own backyard. For a taste of the islands without ever leaving the U.S., check out my top picks for where to stay in Florida with a tropical flair.
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort | Orlando
Inspired by spectacular waterfalls in the Caribbean, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort features, yes, a beautiful cascading waterfall, a lagoon-style pool, enormous stone turret and bright, airy décor you’d expect to find on a luxurious estate in Jamaica. The nearest “island” isn’t Jamaica though – it’s Islands of Adventure, one of three theme parks (as of May 25) you can visit at Universal Orlando Resort.
Sapphire Falls is not just visually reminiscent of the islands — you can really taste the Caribbean, too. At Strong Water Tavern, it’s a tour of the tropics with a menu divided by destination. Try ropa vieja from Cuba, curried goat from Jamaica and pork arepas from Colombia. Don’t miss the Rum Lab, where a Rum Captain will present you with a variety of tasting flights available by region – the British Isles, French Caribbean Islands and even the U.S.
Book Sapphire Falls Resort for:
- Access to Universal Orlando Resort
- Dozens of rums
- Authentic Caribbean cuisine
Margaritaville | Kissimmee, Key West, Pensacola Beach & Hollywood
Looking for that lost shaker of salt? Then I’ve found the perfect group of Florida hotel properties for you! Inspired by the eponymous song by former Key West resident Jimmy Buffett, Florida has three Margaritaville properties to choose from (Pensacola Beach, Key West, Hollywood) with another coming soon (Orlando). Sandy beaches, water parks, retail and the sound of steel drums instantly put guests on island time.
Book Margaritaville for:
- A great vacation soundtrack
- Jimmy Buffett’s lifestyle
- Bright and tasty tropical drinks & cheeseburgers… in paradise
Hawks Cay Resort | The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are as close as you can get, both geographically and mentally, to the Caribbean without having to go through customs and immigration. Halfway down the island chain is Duck Cay, the laid-back home to Hawks Cay Resort. With a variety of accommodations from traditional hotel rooms to sprawling 4-bedroom villas, there’s room for everyone.
The resort’s 85-slip marina is a hub of activity with fishing charters and sunset cruises coming and going throughout the day. And the resort offers the opportunity to cook what you catch alongside the chef. You can eat well on vacation and recreate the experience once you get home.
There are four distinctive pools including a pirate ship pool for kids and tranquility pool for grown-ups. And there’s a saltwater lagoon for snorkeling and paddle boarding. It’s the only property in the Florida Keys where you can hang out with dolphins while you have your morning coffee!
Book Hawks Cay Resort for:
- Large groups or romantic getaways
- Gourmet dining at Angler & Ale and Alma
- Fishing charters
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort | Orlando
This island oasis is set in the middle of one of the most popular vacation spots in Florida, seemingly cut from paradise and dropped in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort offers pirate-themed rooms for the kids and colonial architecture spread out over six villages. There’s also an old Spanish-style citadel with slides and water cannons. Perfect for the littles!
Staying here is one way for Mom and Dad to get the island vacation they want while the kids get the theme park experience they want.
Book Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort for:
- Outdoor amenities for kids of all ages
- Access to Walt Disney World Resort
- Pirate-themed rooms
Which Florida escape suits your Caribbean dreams?
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