This 600,000 square-mile expanse of water is almost a sea in its own right, and would be if positioning Cuba some 100 miles farther west and then turning the island counterclockwise a few degrees were feasible. Bordered by no fewer than five U.S. states and three countries, the Gulf is a major factor in the ecology and economy of the region. Drilling for oil, mining for minerals, and commercial fishing have both provided jobs and taken a toll on the environment. All concerns aside, the Gulf of Mexico is a popular destination for vacationers, retirees, and many species of birds that winter along the coast!
Retirement communities have proliferated along the Gulf Coast, especially that of western Florida, over the past 40 or 50 years. Great investments, these places offer varying levels of care, as needed, and wonderful opportunities for recreational and social activities. The real estate boom for Gulf properties, whether retirement communities or winter vacation homes, shows no signs of going bust anytime soon.
Winter is the busy season, but travelers enjoy frolicking in the warm waters at all times of year, with their surf boards, jet skis and of course, swimming suits in tow. Recreational fishing is a big pastime in the Gulf, and every year significant catches or red snapper, flounder and tarpon are harvested.
I love taking yacht excursions far from land, when the great blue sea is gleaming with the afternoon sunlight and the distant beaches get smaller and smaller the deeper out I go. Standing on the deck, clad in a pink bikini and wearing a Panama hat, I stare out at the unfathomable fathoms that surround me. Soaking up the rays as well as the balmy breeze, I take a sip of my cool, refreshing tropical drink and think how lucky I am to live the life that I have always dreamed. Evening yacht cruises are invigorating, too, the only difference is that I’m admiring stars and the moon, as well as the dark, mysterious ocean.
Sometimes I spot whales, dolphins and manatees the gentle “sea cows” that were likely the origin of the mermaid myth. Seagulls and other flying fowl frequently pass overhead, on some nights silhouetted by the light of the full moon. The heavens and the earth combine in perfect synergy. I feel liberated. I feel blissful. I feel a little tipsy from my third cocktail!
Don’t be put off put hordes of tourists or the possibility of stormy weather. The Gulf will be there for a long, long time. But how about you? Carpe diem!