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 exactly 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 — www.geocaching.com — for a free basic membership. Upgraded memberships are available for a very reasonable fee (around $30 a year), 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 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 allows 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. | Geocaching on Florida State Forests |
Geocaching is allowed in Florida's State Parks; however, as with any activity, it should have minimal impact to the environment and conscientious land use ethics should be followed. | Geocaching in Florida State Parks |
Those of you that enjoy searching for Hidden Mickey's around Disney World would enjoy geocaching there as well. However, due to security reasons, all caches have been removed. There are "benchmarks" that are fun to find via GPS coordinates and a list of benchmarks for Disneyland and Disney World has been compiled by Patty Winter.