SPECIAL REPORTS

Sunshine in South Florida

A glance at the palm trees, flamingos and Cuban coffee that make South Florida unique and worth gazing into.

Palm trees on the Fort Lauderdale beach are picturesque. © Adam R. Cole 2009

Flamingos display so much beauty. Its a wonder simply how they get so pink. © Adam R. Cole 2009

The waves flow over the sandy beach and the breeze pushes through the palm trees in tranquil fashion. Jet skis crash roar and crash upon waves into the horizon.

God whispers His essence into this peace. Step back and let it brush up on your skin.

Along this sandy paradise, known as A1A, is a set of restaurants and shops, the typical beach staples: beach ware shop, ice cream stand, a club, a rock-it-out bar where everyone knows your name. The unique spots are the Latin/Mediterranean infused, that wake up at night with a little samba and a belly dancer. As wildness sprinkles its way into the Fort Luaderdale scene, culture flows in ethnic food venues, as the guitar strums a chord audible only to those that are willing to listen to a more globe-trotting sound.

Those that call the beach their haven, have come here to live in the paradise that is this ocean world, whether employed on a yacht or being a professional diver. It’s not quite the mainstream route but it offers a vantage on life that most don’t get to see because they don’t spend enough time in the sea. Asked about the thrill of going down deep, one diver proclaims that you get a sense of nature found nowhere else, where it’s just you and the sea life.

Fort Lauderdale is filled with a multitude of landscapes from the beach to the wetland world. Capture a moment in one of its nature sanctuaries and you will get to marvel at flamingos and alligators. It makes you realize just how widespread His kingdom is when you get up close and personal with the animal kingdom.

Miami offers more of a dynamic and a deeper dimension than Fort Lauderdale, primarily because its diversity and cultural maker-up are richer. Miami is the true hub and gateway to Latin American.

You can get a feel for the Latin American identity by traveling down Calle Ocho (8th street), the street/district in Miami that is predominantly Cuban. Stop in one of the cafeterias (coffee/pastry shops) and order up a Cuban coffee, an espresso with an extra kick that comes with milk and sugar mixed in.

Miami—both central and South Beach—is full of high rises and wealthy businessman, full of posh enclaves and sleek cars. But despite ‘high life’ that penetrates in its core, there is one place in particular that is exquisitely humble and quirky too: Coconut Grove. The Grove is named after the Mangrove tree that also serves as the city’s seal, where houses look sort of like bungaloos, enmeshed in overhands of trees and fauna. The city was founded by a commodore (who also has a street here); downtown is full of relaxed eateries owned by businessmen who are all about living the Coconut Grove dream and not to keep up with the Miami fast lane.

South Beach is a beach that is unique in every way. The hotels here have an art deco style reminiscent of the 1920s. The scene here is all about showing how much you can high roll, from the bottle service at the clubs to the Bentley’s parked outside of every eating and drinking establishment. Look your best because everyone is looking. Within this see and be seen culture, creativity runs wild, in the way people create their restaurants/clubs from theme, to decoration, to food presentation. There’s style here that can’t be beat.

Food, culture, people. It’s a haphazard array with so much coming at you. It makes one want to simply sit on the beach and chill…