Renovations have refreshed much of the lodging since Hurricane Charley blew through nearly three years ago. Work ranged from refurbishing the cozy, 30-room Song of the Sea to a $140-million renewal of the luxurious South Seas Island Resort. This resort, the area's largest, closed for almost two years to add rooms, pools, and other amenities.
"The wildlife recovered from the storm in a hurry," Vince points out. "You can stand on the dock and see all kinds of birds. It's a manatee and dolphin highway."
A manatee surfaces like a stealthy submarine in the marina that's a base for Steve and Doris Colgate's Offshore Sailing School. Attendees to the three-day school for beginners learn the basics on the same type of boats that plebes sail at the U.S. Naval Academy. The youngest new sailor last year was 9. The oldest was 92.
left: Recruit the whole family for a day of shelling.