PLAY HARD FLORIDA founder, Carmine aka "CJ", grew up in south Florida. As soon as he could hold a fishing pole, he was seeking out snook, tarpon, and sharks in the local waters. As a teenager, he cruised Florida Bay in his boat and drove Alligator Alley out to the Everglades. In the Glades, he spent sunny days with the alligators and when night fell he glided through the tall sawgrass on an airboat looking for bullfrogs.
Once he was old enough to vote, CJ left the Atlantic beaches and relocated to the western shore of Florida, flats fishing in Tampa Bay and scuba diving offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. To rinse off the saltwater, he often canoed down the Peace River to snorkel for fossils and shark teeth.
College took him even farther north, to Gainesville, an area of Florida known as "springs country" - the largest concentration of freshwater springs on earth! Every weekend he was equipped with scuba tank and fins, submerging in the most productive and beautiful aquifer in the world. The fossil-hunting passion he developed on the west coast grew stronger when diving adventures involved strapping 30 pounds of lead around his waist - and jumping into dark Florida rivers full of alligators.
After marrying a 4th generation Floridian with the same passion for adventure, CJ began traveling farther west in the state to the Panhandle, where his wife's family calls home in the historic oyster town of Apalachicola. Now CJ's kids are building castles in the pure white sand beaches of St. George Island and Dog Island. Soon they too will be seeking out local waters with fishing poles in hand.
CJ knows firsthand that Florida has more adventure to offer in her swamps, rivers, lakes, springs, bays, and beaches than any other state. That's just one of the reasons he founded PLAY HARD FLORIDA, LLC. He also knows from decades of working in the environmental field that we must "protect where we play." PLAY HARD FLORIDA sponsors environmental causes and supports non-profit groups that preserve, protect, and restore our waters to ensure that the next generation inherits the same wild and beautiful environment.
Another cause close to the heart of the PLAY HARD FLORIDA team is gratitude for our military veterans. There is no better place for physical and mental recovery than the outdoors, in the swamps, bays, and rivers we call home. PLAY HARD FLORIDA supports veteran groups that provide therapy through outdoor recreation on Florida waters.
So how do YOU play? PLAY HARD FLORIDA offers a comprehensive online directory of wild adventures across the state. Whether you're an avid outdoors enthusiast or a city dweller who wants to escape into the wild, we've got more adventure than you can imagine. From parasailing to zip lining, mermaids to manatee, from snorkeling to cave diving, dolphins to sharks, from tubing to flyboarding, pythons to alligators, our directory covers everything under the sun, between the clouds, in the woods, and on the water.
Get YOUR adventure on! In the words of our founder:
PLAY HARD FLORIDA!