I’m reporting to you from the Northernmost Caribbean. The next great adventure starts here. I moved here for the second time in June, 2009. Although I intended for that move to “stick”, circumstances took over and I moved away. This time I intend to stay here through late fall… and maybe forever.
When Jimmy Buffett talked about the “Northernmost Caribbean”, he was really talking the New Orleans and the area running along the coast to Gulfport, Mississippi & beyond. It’s logical that this extends all the way to at least Panama City in Florida. Geographically, it makes sense that if New Orleans is in the Northernmost Caribbean, then certainly all of the Florida Panhandle is in the “Northernmost Caribbean” too.
But there’s more than just the same body of water connecting the Northernmost Caribbean to the regions in the more southerly Caribbean… there are a lot of other similarities. First there are the magnificent beaches. The beautiful sugar white sand beaches may be the best of anywhere in the Caribbean… Northernmost or otherwise. These beaches may be the biggest reason Panama City Beach has become “the” destination for “Spring Break”.
These are not just some kind of man-made beaches like a lot of the tourist spots in other areas of the Caribbean. These are natural and stretch hundreds of miles from Mississippi all the way to east of Panama City. The water is clearly Caribbean too. During the spring, summer, and fall months, the water is warm and inviting for every kind of water activity you can imagine.
The area has a lot of other similarities to more southern areas of the Caribbean. Tourism has become big business. When I first went to Destin many moons ago, there was a billboard just outside of town that proclaimed Destin as the “Luckiest Little Fishing Village in the World” and that’s just what it was… a little fishing village.
Well… that same sign is still there, but Destin has grown up. It is now similar to many of the cruise ports I have been to. There is a “Harbor Walk” area that has all of the tourist shops including a Del Sol T-shirt shop. Now all they need is a Diamonds International and they would rival any of the cruise ports in Cozumel, Grand Cayman or Roatan. Of course in Destin you can still charter fishing boats for a day on the ocean fishing like the “Old Man and the Sea”.
More than places or things, it’s the attitude that makes this a lot like the rest of the Caribbean. It leans toward the laid back, “no problem mon”, style. Certainly people here have to make a living and work most days. But the intensity is turned down. Most folks living here realize that they are living at least close to the Caribbean and their lives are more relaxed. A day on the beach or out fishing… or a frozen concoction to help you hang on… is at least as important as days at work.
All along the coast you can rent everything from a little bungalow to a high-rise condo right on the beach. Those high rise condos have a stunning view of the ocean… and a stunning price. There’s also just about every kind of activity you can imagine… water-parks, go-kart parks, parasailing, boating, swimming, and just about everything you might want to do on a vacation.
Not far from here is Jellystone park. Yeah… really… Jellystone park. Of course they are capitalizing on Yogi’s fame, but just the same, I’m going to make a trip to Jellystone soon. Also the Swanee River… “how I love ya, how I love ya”… is not too far away. I’ve driven by there a lot of times and each time I do I say I’m going to stop there one day. Well, that day will be soon. Oh… the mouse place is only about six hours drive away so I’m sure I’ll be visiting there too.
“Stay tuned”… I’ll be reporting here on all the goings on in the region and as many adventures I can manage. I intend to post here at least once a week with pics and stories.
The Northernmost Caribbean
The Adventures Continue