Getting to Cape Coral
Highly recommended is the trip to Cape Coral via the nearby airport of Fort Myers. From Vienna, you can fly, for example, Austrian Airlines and Air Berlin via Dusseldorf to Fort Myers with United Airlines or via New York. Many other connections to Miami on the east coast of Florida are possible. You can reach Cape Coral in about two and a half hours by rental car.
Please note that with connecting flights that enter the United States the immigration process takes place at the first arrival airport, so for example in New York: Here you will pass the immigration check and customs before you take a domestic flight to Florida. So plan accordingly a lot of time for your transfer.
Entry into the US
Since 2009, an application through the electronic ESTA process is required for entry into the United States, which has replaced the former „Green Visa Waivers“. At least 72 hours before departure you need to go on the website https://www.esta.cbp.dhs.gov and fill out a form and pay a $ 14 handling fee. You will then automatically receive an entry permit for the next two years and can enter the United States in this period. Only if in the meantime a new passport is issued (eg change of name), a new ESTA application must be submitted.
Time Difference in Florida
In Florida Eastern Standard Time (EST) is six hours behind Central European Time. So if it is 12.00 o’clock noon in Florida, it is in Austria already 6 in the afternoon. In the spring and fall, it may briefly come to a time difference of five or seven hours, as the United States changes Daylight saving time at a different time as in Central Europe.
Cash in Florida
Credit cards can also be used for small transactions at the grocery store and at newsstands in the United States. So please definitely take a credit card plus some cash from your bank, so you will have immediately after your arrival have a few dollar bills available and you do not have to look for an ATM first thing. Withdrawals at ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) is with Maestro is usually cheaper than by credit card – check with your bank regarding the conditions. ATMs are virtually found practically everywhere in the United States: in supermarkets, gas stations, shopping malls, and of course in the branches of the banks – sometimes even as a drive-in ATM.
Tipping (Tipping) in the US
In the US please calculate approximately 15% tip for meals with service in the restaurant and for particularly good service 20%. However you should make sure that when you get the bill there is not already a „Tip“ included in your bill – this is done because sometimes European tourists do not like to tip the usual amount so many restaurants have started to charge the tip directly on the bill. If you use „Valet Parking“, give the employee 1-2 dollars tip when he drives up with your car.
Note VAT while shopping
The deals in the major shopping malls of Florida often seem tempting. But beware: At the cash register, there will be a sales tax added (VAT). Since in the US different tax rates apply, the prices are always shown without VAT (for example clothes and shoes). In Florida, the tax rate is 6%, so you will pay for example for the $ 29.99 t-shirt at the cash register $ 31.79.
Rental cars in Florida
We recommend that you rent a car directly upon arrival at the airport in Florida so you can comfortably move around. Public transport is virtually non-existent in the Greater Miami area and under the hot Florida sun long walks for shopping are quite uncomfortable. Especially during high season you should book your rental car in advance, as the rental agencies may well be booked out. Large Car rental companies in the United States are Hertz, Alamo, Dollar and Thrifty.
Driving in Florida
Driving on the highways of Florida is usually quite relaxed. The speed limit is usually 65 miles per hour and is sometimes slightly exceeded. Please note when changing lanes, it is quite common in the States to pass on the left.
At 4-way stops and 3-way stops all motorists must first stop. Then, in the order in which the cars have arrived they can start driving. At intersections you can turn on red providing you do not hinder the other traffic (especially watch out for drivers coming from your left)
Alcohol is a big no-no on the road: Even an open beer can in reach of the driver can get you in big trouble. Stick to soft drinks.
Refueling in Florida
Refueling in the US for European visitors often presents a problem : People usually get gas with a credit card: This must be placed into the gas pump to unlock the tap. However, the gas pumps usually do not accept foreign credit cards. So go to the cashier and pay there in cash or by credit card. The cashier gives releases the lock so you can get gas for the amount paid. Also note that the prices at the pump are per gallon (3.8 liters)
Clothing in Florida
Due to the high temperatures comfortable summer clothing is worn in Florida almost exclusively. However, many interior areas, for example in shopping malls or restaurants are extremely cooled down with air conditioning, so that a jacket is necessary. For evening dining out, appropriate attire is expected, i.e. long pants and long-sleeved shirts for men and beautiful dresses for the ladies.
The weather in Florida
The weather in southern Florida is more like the Caribbean than the rest of the USA. The most pleasant months are January to March where the average temperatures is around 77 degrees F. In midsummer, they rise up to 88 degrees F and it is often humid and hot. The water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico will be pleasant 75-76 degrees F.
Note that from June to October, hurricane season reigns in the Caribbean. Florida itself is not often hit, but the surrounding wind gusts can cause some heavy rain.
If you take a look at the weather report on US television, do not be alarmed if there of 100 degrees F is mentioned: In the United States we calculate in Fahrenheit. 100 ° F corresponds to 37.8 ° C. If the weather shows 80 ° F, this corresponds a pleasant 26.7 ° C.
The beaches in the region
If you like lots of commotion on vacation, you should spend a day at Fort Myers Beach on Estero. You will find numerous beach bars, restaurants, water sports and other leisure activities. If you would rather have a little more quiet time, visit the dream islands of Sanibel and Captiva, which are under protection. Here children can safely play in the clear shallow water and look for shells. However pay attention to alligators that live in the protected areas and often doze almost invisibly along rivers when you are going for a walk.
The best way to explore the vast nature reserves, is the bicycle: Everywhere you will find well-maintained cycling routes signs posted. The local tourist information centers will also gladly give you route maps and tips.
Making calls and Internet in Florida
In most restaurants, bars and coffee shops, you can take advantage of free Wi-Fi to go online. If you would you like to use your smartphone, we recommend purchasing a US Sim Card or a cheap second-hand phone to avoid the exorbitant roaming charges. Alternatively, you should check with your mobile operator for cheap package deals for a holiday in the US.
Adapter for Florida
For the US, an adapter for electrical outlets is necessary. Cheap Travel Adapter can be found in stores, and online at the airport.
Medical care in Florida
The medical care in Florida is outstanding. We recommend taking out travel insurance before departure: In the US, you must pay the bill immediately to the doctor or hospital. A travel insurance will then reimburse your expenses.
Venice in the tropics: The history of Cape Coral
Like many American cities, Cape Coral is still quite young: In 1957 the Gulf American Land Corporation large purchased tracts of land northwest of the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers, and laid numerous waterways and channels. The result is a unique place that was advertised as „Waterfront Wonderland“ and soon attracted the first inhabitants who built villas here. The construction of the bridge across the river to Fort Myers started a real boom in 1964 in Cape Coral and 1970 the water wonderland became a proper city. Today, about 154,000 people live in the city of Cape Coral proper, and 650,000 people live in Greater Cape Coral-Fort Myers area. During the winter months the population of the region swells up again when countless tourists escape the severe winters in the north and move to their vacation homes.