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Featuring Florida Cities and Florida's First Tourist


Florida's First Tourist

In 1513, Ponce De Leon, a Spanish politician of note in the Caribbean, sighted and visited the first of many Florida vacation destinations. While on a sailing trip from Puerto Rico, heading for the Fountain of Youth in Florida, he first spotted and named St. Augustine, a lovely area inland of the Atlantic Ocean at the foot of the St. Augustine Inlet. Thinking of the many stories he had heard about Florida, he and his fellow travelers put ashore just north of the Old City. After a few days of sightseeing and revelry, Ponce reminded his group that time was getting short and they must press on for the ultimate of Florida vacation destinations, The Fountain of Youth.


Discovering Southwest Florida

From St. Augustine, Ponce de Leon and his crew set sail south along the Atlantic coast and around the Florida Keys, their trip taking them northward into the Gulf of Mexico. They sighted and re-named many of Florida's most popular tourist destinations, in Spanish, including the Dry Tortugas. After tracking the Gulf Coast north for about 150 miles, they spotted an inlet between Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island. Ponce and his men sailed through the pass into the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River where they thought to look for food and camp sites before hiking out to find the Fountain of Youth. Discovering that the bay waters were very shallow, they anchored their vessels. It is not known exactly where the group headed next but it is commonly thought that Ponce de Leon and some intrepid fellow sailors set off in small boats, paddling into San Carlos Bay.


The Calusa Indians

While exploring the shoreline and the small scattered islands of the natural harbor, Ponce de Leon and company met up with some locals, a group known as the Calusa. Normally a peaceful, friendly bunch, the Calusa took an immediate dislike to the European intruders and tried to discourage their adventure. Bold and aggressive, strangely dressed and speaking a foreign language, the Spanish visitors, however, insisted that they be allowed to tour the area. No one knows who started it but a fight ensued. Ponce and his crew were well outnumbered and decided they had better leave. The Calusa followed them, just to be sure that they did not turn around and come back, but Ponce and his party were tired, scared and offended. They reached their ships, pulled up anchor and sailed back to Puerto Rico, forgetting their dream of reaching the Fountain of Youth.


Florida's Siren Song

Some years later, in 1521, after hearing many more stories about Florida vacation destinations, Ponce de Leon contracted another sailing charter. As happens to many others who visit Florida, this time he had decided to move to Florida and was bringing more people along, just in case he ran into the Calusa again. His pride still suffering from his first aborted trip to Florida and ever desirous to visit the ultimate of Florida vacation destinations, The Fountain of Youth, he headed straight back to Southwest Florida. On a hiking trip inland, Ponce de Leon and his party were ambushed by the Calusa. Ponce suffered a grievous wound during the fighting and subsequently he and his party of explorers decided to abandon their dreams of  Southwest Florida haciendas and sailed back down the coast to Cuba. Ponce de Leon, the first tourist to Florida's shores, died in Havana, Cuba in 1521at the age of 61, as a result of complications suffered from the wound in Florida.


Ponce de Leon's 'La Florida' 

Much has changed in Florida over the 500 years since Ponce de Leon toured the area as Florida's first visitor. For instance, there are laws forbidding the killing of tourists, now. And the Calusa? They're gone; vanished. Nobody knows where, how or why. About the only thing left from them are these giant piles of shells and bones. The locals in Florida now are mostly the cranky descendants of tourists that came to Florida and decided to stay. They, too, are a peaceful bunch, but they still resent the intrusions of visitors from Europe ...or Canada, for that matter. However, even with the cultural differences and the hardships imposed by the huge influx of visitors to Florida's vacation destinations, the locals now are not feared and are much easier to get along with because everyone speaks a common language - money.


Your Visit to Florida

We have tried to make the selection of property easy for your Florida vacation destinations by organizing cities under geographic areas. For instance, Orlando, Florida is in the Central area while Clearwater, Florida is in the Tampa area. The cities are in the list, one next to the other, as they would be on a map. 


Bring your camping gear and stay in some of our state parks while you are here; or if roughing it is not for you, call ahead and book a cabin. Many condo rentals in Florida are properties situated near nature preserves and eco-parks so it may seem that you have settled in the wild. Either way it'll be an experience you'll not soon forget!


Select Flordia rental Houses, Condos, Villas, Condominiums and Vacations from these pages by clicking the appropriate city link.

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Ponce Inlet

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