Every year, I visit the beaches around South Florida to escape the harsh New England climate. This past winter, my goal was simple: to de-stress.
Located near the glitz and glamour of southern Florida’s Palm Beaches, Singer Island lured me in. With its abundance of upscale hotels and restaurants surrounded by seven miles of white-sand beaches, I knew it would be beautiful. But I discovered that this relaxing destination is also an ideal spot for outdoor recreation. A quiet tropical paradise, Singer Island pushed me to tap into my own eco-adventurous spirit among the mangroves.
Yoga on the Beach
Although I had taken yoga classes before, I had never taken a class on the beach with warm sand underfoot. It had always been on my wish list, so I signed up for a beginner class on Singer Island.
Shortly before 9 a.m. on a sunny Saturday morning, I made my way to the sand, but I was soon flustered. It was hot. Really hot. I was a surprised by the strong sun on my skin at such an early hour. I had forgotten to apply sunscreen before leaving my hotel room, and I had no clue where exactly the class would meet. Luckily, after walking along the beach for a bit, I spotted a few women doing downward dog moves in tank tops — then, I knew I had found the right spot.
When I arrived, the instructor greeted me with a smile, which helped ease my nerves. She also had extra sunscreen for students (phew!). After applying a layer of lotion to my shoulders, I found a spot on the sand.
As class began, the instructor told us to close our eyes and breathe deeply. I discovered that this kind of yoga was nothing like a typical class in a studio. While the beach setting sounds like it should be relaxing, at first I found it very hard to get into a groove. The sounds of chirping birds and crashing waves distracted me, and my toes kept sinking into the sand, wreaking havoc on my balance. After a few more deep breaths, I realized that I didn’t need to be perfect — I was there to enjoy the experience. So I relaxed into the poses (sandy toes and all).
An hour later, we all said “namaste” and went our separate ways. Drenched in sweat and smiling, I felt as if I had just left a sauna. I stood taller, my muscles were relaxed and my worries had long faded away.
Check with your hotel concierge to find a beach yoga class near you.
Snorkeling in the Ocean
I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to swimming in the ocean. But, unlike the murky, dark blue waters of the northeast, Florida’s clear waters made me less apprehensive — if there was a giant, scary-looking fish ahead, I could try my best to swim away from it, right?
So I rented a snorkel, mask and fins from a beach-side store and headed to Ocean Reef Park, a place known for its fish-friendly waters. The park also offers free parking and is ideal for newbies because the reef is close to the shoreline.
I took a few minutes to adjust my mask and get comfortable, and once I put my head under water, I felt the instant urge to explore. As I headed closer to the reef, I spotted small schools of fish in vibrant colors. The water was remarkably clear, and I was happy to find a few more shells for my collection. After snorkeling for 20 minutes, I camped out on a beach towel to enjoy the sun and watch others take their first dive.
Go snorkeling during high tide, when visibility is best.
Going on a Nature Walk
Having thoroughly enjoyed my time on Singer Island, I discovered one final activity to help de-stress — a nature walk at John D. MacArthur State Park. I trekked through the park in the early morning, while the air was still cool and the shady trees provided coverage from the sun. It was a great opportunity to stretch my legs, appreciate the park’s tranquil beauty and reflect on the joys of my vacation.
You can choose from two primary self-guided trails — I walked both trails and found each had special aspects. The Dune Hammock trail featured an array of tropical and subtropical trees like big gumbo limbo and tall mastic. And the Satinleaf trail near the park playground offers a variety of plant life that changes with the elevation.
John D. MacArthur State Park opens at 8 a.m. every day of the year, and you can visit the nature center to learn more about the local wildlife and bird species.