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Let’s just pretend it’s Sunday, shall we? That way I won’t have to open this post with an excuse for why it’s going up two to three days off my normal posting schedule. I won’t have to really go into the fact that I’ve been spoiled by the number of friends and family I’ve been surrounded with for the past few weeks, and I won’t have to dig into how hopping between guest and host has left little time for blogging. I won’t have to promise I plan to get back to normal quite soon. I’ll just be able to breeze right past that without any mention at all. So, Sunday, right?

I think Central Florida outside Orlando is a mystery to most people, even the travel-obsessed crowd I tend to run with. But the more time I spend there the more gems I uncover, and good thing — with two beloved aunts based around Tampa, I’ll be returning here over and over again for a long time to come. After recharging on family time in Tampa, my friend Michelle flew in and we hit the road through the Everglades to finally touch down in Miami. I’ll have a lot more from the Magic City in my next Photo of the Week edition, but for now — a little teaser of the teaser. And our Everglades adventure? Pure Americana. I can’t wait to write a full feature on it in the future.

I always love putting together this post and seeing what photographic themes emerge from my favorite images of the week. This time, it appears, it’s all about wildlife and shades of blue. Not a bad round!

Photo A

Weeki Wachi Mermaid ShowWatching real live mermaids at the springs in Weeki Wachi, a slice of classic Florida

Photo B

Tampa Bay AquariumYup, that’s taken from inside the glass — diving with sharks at the Tampa Bay Aquarium

Photo C

Shark Diving at the Tampa Bay AquariumMore from the other side of the glass

Photo D

Airboat Ride in Everglades CityGoing through the backwater — and back in time — in Everglades City

Photo E

Miami BeachFinally reaching my final Florida destination: Miami

Which photo is your favorite?

3-devide-lines
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64 Comments...
  • Meihoukai! These pictures are awesome. I especially love the ones of you scuba diving in the tank! You know, the first time I tried to scuba dive was in the middle of the ocean off the coast of Oahu. Literally in the middle of the ocean. My sister and I signed up for what was called “Beginner’s Scuba Diving Lesson” with a local shop. We were anticipating practicing breathing and equalizing while walking in from the beach, but nope! They took us out on the boat first thing, and the next thing I knew, I was submerged about 10 ft under water with an awkward tank on my back and a regulator over my mouth! I also did not know that it is not recommended to go diving while you are congested… I couldn’t equalize for the life of me! It was such a terrifying experience I thought I’d never do it again, but after seeing all of your pictures, I think I need to give it another shot — just maybe starting off in a tank or shallow pool this time. πŸ™‚ Hope you’re enjoying Miami!

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Oh man, I don’t like to hear that :-/ I don’t think DSDs (what you signed up for) should be conducted in open ocean like that, personally — I say pool followed by shallow bay! Definitely give it another try someday, and don’t be shy about communicating exactly what you’re looking for out of the experience. Best of luck!

  • Gemma TwoScotsAbroad
    January 21 2015

    Photo A – it’s magical! Although going through the backwater is pretty cool.
    Gemma TwoScotsAbroad recently posted..

  • Claire
    January 21 2015

    Photo E because I love the beach πŸ™‚

  • Emily
    January 21 2015

    I’d love to go to the Everglades the next time I’m in Florida. I have many friends who have crazy stories from backwater adventures and I’ve read countless books that take place there. As such D is the winner for me!
    Emily recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Oooo, any books to recommend? I love Carl Hiasaan novels set in Florida.

  • Karen @ Lots of Sheep
    January 21 2015

    Photo E is my favorite, but I love the aquarium dive photos as well. We have a family friend who used to volunteer at the Baltimore Aquarium, and I loved watching him dive to feed the sharks. I think it’d be such a cool thing to do – maybe one day when I’m older and settled(??) as a weekend hobby to keep the adventure alive =)
    Karen @ Lots of Sheep recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      I actually thought about the same thing when I was living in Brooklyn — they take volunteer divers at the New York Aquarium down in Coney Island. Unfortunately between working multiple jobs and taking a full load of college classes, I was dreaming if I thought I had time for that πŸ™‚ Someday, though!

  • Ashley
    January 21 2015

    Photo D! I’ve always wanted to take an Everglades tour, so I’m looking forward to reading about your experience.
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Love hearing that, Ashley! We did a DIY version… can’t wait to share.

  • Miquel
    January 21 2015

    Photo B because diving with sharks is badass. I hope he was in recovery. Divers are friends not food!
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    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Luckily these guys were very well fed πŸ™‚

    • Kristen Noelle
      January 23 2015

      Haha I got a good hoot from this comment! Finding Nemo is one of my favs and it’s been too long since I’ve seen it. Going with A-C for cool underwater activities!
      Kristen Noelle recently posted..

  • Steve
    January 21 2015

    I am choosing photo B. That shark looks mean.
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    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      I’m sure he’d smile if he had the muscles for it πŸ™‚

  • Kacy
    January 21 2015

    Photo A, but love them all! It’s been too long since I’ve been to Florida. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip!
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    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Really did! A little bit of everything πŸ™‚

  • Marie @ Marie Away
    January 21 2015

    I love E, but I’ve got to go with D because I’m desperate to do this. I really have to make an effort to go to Florida.
    Marie @ Marie Away recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      I had such a good time, and already have some weeks planned there in 2016, too — I really love that state!

  • Jessica
    January 21 2015

    Photo A is cool with the mermaids but I think I like the diving in the aquarium ones best. My favorite is probably C πŸ™‚
    Jessica recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      I can’t wait to write about that experience! Such a cool new thing for me as a diver.

  • 2 tickets to Wonderland
    January 21 2015

    Photo D, because I’d love to go to everglades someday πŸ™‚
    Looking forward of your adventures there.

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      It was even better than I expected! Can’t wait to share more about our day there.

  • becky hutner
    January 21 2015

    A!! I first encountered these superhuman beauties on the show Amazing Race (have you seen that show? made for travel addicts!!) & wondered how the hell I’d been to Florida about 50 times & never seen them.

    I have to say I’m pretty amazed at all the cool stuff you’re doing there. Florida, bless her, is never that good to me.

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Oh my gosh, I need to find that episode on YouTube! According to some Instagram commenters, it was also the setting for an episode of The Simple Life (another must see). I found out about them through my family, and a great New York Times profile reignited my interest πŸ™‚

  • Marni
    January 21 2015

    Photo E is my favorite! Florida really is a crazy cool state, and I’m looking forward to your posts about it! I haven’t spent enough time out of southern Florida.

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      I’m glad to hear there’s some interest! I know a lot of readers find domestic travel posts a little less thrilling, but I’m having a little love affair with the USA right now — so there will be a lot of them coming up!

      • Marni
        January 22 2015

        I can’t wait to read them! I was born in Southern Florida, so other than the obligatory (and many) trips to Orlando & Tampa for theme parks, and also a one-time pit stop in St. Augustine, I haven’t explored much. If you’ve never seen St. Augustine, I highly recommend it sometime – it’s beautiful!! I’m looking forward to your posts (as always)!

  • Janice Stringer
    January 21 2015

    Gotta be the Alligator! I just love em πŸ™‚
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    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      They are pretty cool — and we saw over a dozen of them that day!

  • Leah
    January 21 2015

    The mermaid thing is super duper cool. That photo has to be the clear winner, because MERMAIDS.
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      I know, right? It really pained me not to get in there with them.

  • Kate
    January 21 2015

    LOVE photo A! B comes in at a close second.

  • Maddy
    January 21 2015

    I love D and E together, mostly because of how different they are! Can’t wait to see more pics from the everglades and from MIA. I still haven’t been there!
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    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      It’s crazy how diverse Florida really is. No wonder it’s such a tourism powerhouse!

  • What an adventurous week you’ve had, Meihoukai. That’s just up my alley! …even though that shark doesn’t look too friendly.
    Miriam of Adventurous Miriam recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Ha, they do have kind of permanent frowns, those sand tigers πŸ™‚

  • Erin
    January 21 2015

    A is INCREDIBLE… but I gotta go with E. LOVE that beach πŸ™‚

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      It was a joy to be back on the sand, Erin!

  • Chris
    January 21 2015

    C looks pretty cool!

    How’d you manage to swing a dive on the other side of the glass?
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    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Anyone can do it! They’ve got a really cool Dive With the Sharks program set up at the Florida Aquarium. I’ll definitely be writing a full post about it!

  • Going against the grain to say… C! Just really nice composition photography wise, but diving IN an aquarium! Am I just slow to catch on or is this a rather unique experience?!
    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      There are a few aquariums around the US that offer it as a specialized program for certified divers. I loved trying it — can’t wait to share more!

  • Jana
    January 22 2015

    My most favorite certainly is the last one as that is exactly where I would like to be right now to escape winter here in Germany… It looks very relaxing and puts me in the mood to plan our mediterranean holiday this summer!!!
    Jana recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      That sounds like a fantastic idea πŸ™‚ Planning is one of my favorite parts!

  • Laura
    January 22 2015

    I think the photo of Miami beach has to be my favorite. I would die to be on a warm beach right now and the colors are killer!
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    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Miami is the perfect weekend away destination! I think I might have to make it an annual journey…

  • Justine
    January 22 2015

    Photo D for me because I have an a crazy fascination with the Everglades! I would love to visit! I can’t wait to read more about Florida travel. It’s definitely not a place you read about too often on travel blogs, which is a shame!
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      I didn’t realize so many people were interested in the Everglades… makes me even more excited to write my post!

  • Ása SteinarsdΓ³ttir
    January 22 2015

    I love your blog! <3

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      Thanks Asa! That always makes my day to hear.

  • Carrie Elias
    January 22 2015

    –and the Mermaids have it! (Photo A) All the photos are truly lovely, but I can’t resist voting for those beautiful women! πŸ™‚

    • Meihoukai
      January 23 2015

      Beautiful and talented! I couldn’t believe the feats they were managing — seriously impressive!

  • Julia Nix
    January 24 2015

    PHOTO E. Anything to get away from the workdesk. Mundane office routine.

    • Meihoukai
      January 25 2015

      Sounds like it might be time to book a trip! πŸ™‚

  • Rashaad
    January 24 2015

    Photo A – the picture of the mermaids is lovely πŸ™‚
    Rashaad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 25 2015

      Can’t wait to write a whole post about them!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    January 25 2015

    ALLIGATOR!!!!!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 25 2015

      Girl, there were dozens. I know you love yourself some Florida — you should check Shark Valley out!

  • Amanda
    March 29 2015

    A of course! A true hidden gem in Florida! I live in Orlando and when I first went to Weeki Wachi I thought “I can not believe I am doing this!” Wow I was so shocked how much we enjoyed it:) A slice of classic Florida is right! Thanks for reminding me of the great non-disney things to do here!(but I do love Disney)

    • Meihoukai
      March 31 2015

      My aunts had the same reaction, I think πŸ™‚ I actually just wrote a full length post about the springs — it’s on my home page right now. Check it out!