Looking for adventure in Florida that doesn't cost much? Those of you that already have a hand-held GPS unit will find that geocaching provides an exciting free adventure that can be enjoyed by the entire family.
What Is Geocaching?
Geocache (pronounced geo-cash) is basically treasure hunting gone high-tech. Treasure seekers use a hand-held GPS device to find hidden outdoor containers that include small trinkets, called geocaches, and then record and share their experiences online. You may be surprised at how many geocaches are hidden close to your home — and certainly familiar surroundings may be the best place for newbies to the sport to start — but, with over a half-million geocaches hidden worldwide, it is easy to make this a regular vacation activity no matter where you travel.
If you already have a hand-held GPS device, you're well on your way to finding your first geocache. Now simply register at the Official Global GPS Cache Hunt site for a free basic membership. Upgraded memberships are available for a reasonable fee, but it isn't necessary to enjoy the sport.
Next, you will need to select a geocache that will meet your expectations. You can search geocaching.com by zip code, address, state, or country. Cache descriptions usually include exact coordinates of the location, a description of the cache (most include a water-proof container filled with trinkets and a log), difficulty rating, clues, tips, and often comments from those who have previously found the cache. It will be helpful to familiarize yourself with the cache attributes. These icons help you choose an appropriate geocache to match your situation.
Always, always practice common sense safety:
- Let someone know where you are going and about how long you plan to be gone.
- Traveling to a remote area without a partner is not a good idea.
- Pay close attention to your surroundings and the terrain.
- Bring along a pack that includes a compass, map, cell phone, extra batteries for your GPS device, food, and water.
- Be sure to mark the location of your car; and, if you leave a well-marked trail, be sure to mark it as a waypoint. Both of these are essential for safely finding your way back.
It is important to know where and how to properly place caches, both for the safety of treasure seekers and to also protect the environment. Geocaching.com reviews each new cache posted to make sure it meets their requirements and guidelines. Becoming familiar with these requirements and guidelines will also help you recognize situations that may pose a danger when seeking geocaches.
Geocaching in Florida
You will be able to find geocaches throughout Florida. While you should get someone's permission to place a geocache on private property, there are some public lands that, even if it is allowed, will also require permission. One of those places is Florida's State Forests. The Florida Division of Forestry does allow geocaching within Florida State Forests, but only at the discretion of the Center/District Manager. If someone wishes to install a cache in a State Forest, they must first submit a request to the State Forest. The request will be reviewed; and, if approved, a State Forest Use Permit will be issued.