A few years back, I spent a couple weeks traveling along the Florida coast. After a week on a friend's sailboat in the Keys, it was time to head to our next destination — the Everglades. One might wonder, where do you stay in the Everglades? How about the Everglades International Hostel, located a mere fifteen minutes from the National Park. For those that just cringed at the word hostel (and an American hostel at that!), keep reading...
While you won't find fancy bed linens or flat screen TV's - what you will find is a friendly, laid-back vibe with an eclectic mix of guests and decor. The hostel is situated among lush tropical gardens, with varied sleeping arrangements. There's the typical dorm bed style, private room, semi-private room, and garden camping; ranging in price from $18 to $75. And to prove their good nature, the hostel has an open-door policy where they will never turn anyone away. It might mean loaning you a tent to sleep in the garden, but hey, you have a place to sleep. A few of the other amenities include free internet, a fully-equipped kitchen, it's pet-friendly, a large-screen movie room, laundry facilities, free all-you-can-eat pancakes, and no curfew. For the adventurer, they offer bicycle rentals, Everglades sunrise and sunset tours, canoeing tours and rentals (some are even overnight, varying from 1 to 10 nights!), and a shuttle service.
If you're the outdoorsy type that can do without some of the comforts of a fancy hotel - then this is the place for you. The hostel is a family-run business and it shows. While I was there we shared a delicious staff-made communal dinner (for a nominal fee), followed by drinks and conversation in the candle-lit garden, then we crawled into our tent with the sounds of nature lulling us off to sleep. It was a good day!
(Images: Everglades International Hostel)