Accommodations can be as upscale or as casual as you like. Once again, a no cookie-cutter mentality reigns here. On the south end of the island I discovered Tortuga Inn Beach Resort, tucked amid palm trees and garden oases and the perfect image of my dreams. Tortuga’s feel is more modern resort, although cozier and with greater character than many contemporary, sprawling complexes. While staying here, I walked just across the road to the resort’s private Gulf beach, where it seemed the sea and sand were all mine to enjoy. I had the choice of studio, apartment, or more standard hotel room; I picked the apartment. This proved perfect, with plenty of room to enjoy a morning cup of coffee after waking up to a water view in a tropical garden setting. The kitchen, living, and dining areas added so much to the experience. I also luxuriated in a fountain-fed heated pool. Free Internet brought in the real world (but I learned to ignore it).
Contact Information: 1325 Gulf Drive North, Bradenton Beach; www.tortugainn.com or (941) 778-6611. Rates start at $170.