Got a bit of a wild side? With sunny weather almost all year, Fort Lauderdale is a great place for adventure seekers to explore the great outdoors through activities that are unique to the Florida lifestyle. The famous beaches and canals give the city a diverse ecosystem with much to be discovered.
Here, we’ve narrowed down our top five activities to help you get your adrenaline-rush on:
1 - Scuba Sites
The Greater Fort Lauderdale area has a number of artificial reefs for scuba-certified visitors to check out — and plenty of dive shops at which to rent gear. The Rapa Nui Reef, inspired by the stone figures of Easter Island, was sunk off Deerfield Beach in 2015. Unfortunately, the figures accidentally landed upside down. So, while divers can’t see the manifested vision of the project, they can dive at the wreckage of the artificial reef. In Pompano Beach, the SS Copenhagen was run aground in 1900, and the 325-foot steamship is still underwater. Also, with good currents, divers can see three different wrecks on the Wreck Trek — the Jay Scutti, Tracy and Mercy Jesus — on a single tank.
2 - Explore the Canals
See the bodies of water that gave Fort Lauderdale the nickname of Venice of America. Rent a paddleboard or kayak at the John U. Lloyd Beach (19 minutes) or Oleta River (31 minutes) state parks to traverse the winding canals, including the delicate mangroves lining the edges of the water. Many Broward County parks, such as Hugh Taylor Birch State Park (22 minutes), offer midnight kayaking once a month, giving an inside glimpse into the nocturnal wildlife and fauna. To amp up the experience, many places offer free or affordable yoga and Pilates classes while balancing on a paddleboard. To learn more about renting a paddleboard, kayak or canoe in Fort Lauderdale, visit
3 - Everglades Holiday Park
As seen on the Animal Planet show Gator Boys, the staff at Everglades Holiday Park use entertainment to help educate the public about Florida’s most famous animal — the alligator. Catch a gator show with a trained specialist, then hop aboard an airboat to sweep through the River of Grass. In the swamp, alligators are sure to be found; keep an eye out for bubbles at the surface. Also on the tour, guests can see snakes, lizards and unique birds — plenty of fodder for picture taking. The park is 40 minutes west of the port.
Everglades Holiday Park, 21940 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33332. 954-434-8111, evergladesholidaypark.com
4 - Sea Turtle Night Walk
From October to March, loggerhead sea turtles come to shore to lay their eggs. Visitors will notice that lights on the beach are dimmer or covered to aid in promoting typical nocturnal sea turtle behavior. During the summer, nature lovers can be a part of the sea turtle’s journey through the Museum of Discovery and Science. Starting at the museum, a guide gives information on the sea turtles and the dangers they face from nature as well as humans. Then, the group heads to the beach in search of sea turtle nesting until about 1 a.m. Guides cannot guarantee that a turtle will be found every time. Guests are asked not to use flash photography and to keep a safe distance. Tours are $20 for nonmembers and $18 for members.
Museum of Discovery and Science, 401 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33312. 954-467-6637, mods.org
5 - Big Cypress Swamp
About an hour and a half west of Port Everglades is a unique part of the Florida Everglades: the clear, gentle waters of Big Cypress. Nature photographer Clyde Butcher made the area famous, and he and his staff conduct swamp walks through the cypress groves. The quiet wildlife, lush green tree canopies and pristine mangroves will entrance visitors. However, this national preserve — which is home to more than 30 Florida panthers, as well as other wildlife, including alligators, otters, manatees, snakes and over 200 species of birds — can appeal to any adventurer’s need for a thrill. Hike along designated trails or unmarked territory within its hundreds of miles of multiuse trails, or pop a tent for some backcountry camping in this sprawling 729,000-acre property. There’s also plenty to do in terms of bicycling, canoeing, kayaking, bird watching and more, plus many ranger-led activities.
Big Cypress Swamp, 33100 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL, 34141. 239-695-2000, nps.gov/bicy
6. Sport Fishing
Get your sea legs before you set sail from Port Everglades with a sports fishing charter on the stunning waters of South Florida. Head to the area around the Bahia Mar Marina along Seabreeze Boulevard for providers, who will offer different packages based on time and whether you're headed out during the day at night. You'll be fishing for shark, swordfish, marlin, king fish and sail fish. And if you listen to the skipper, you might just bag one.
Know of any heart-thumping activities in the Fort Lauderdale area that we missed? Share them with us in the comments section below!