My very thoughts.
Bernard, Jeremy, I'm really sorry I can't find a comparable single shot to show you the difference. This is Florida in fairly bright sun, and the sun is coming from above the trees on the right. Without HDR the reflections of the clouds in the water are nearly impossible to preserve, and detail in the shore at the right gets lost. Bernard suggests an "efficient use of the shadow recovery tool" might do as well as HDR. Yes, you can come a fairly long way up with a shadow recovery tool like Shadows/Highlights in Photoshop, or by selecting areas as layers and using "screen" blending, provided you start with a properly exposed raw file, preferably at 14 bit color depth and Adobe RGB. But noise is the tradeoff. If you try to bring up the details in the right shore using a technique like that you soon reach the point where noise breaks things down.
None of which is to say that the single exposure of the same scene isn't good. I'd accept it immediately if I hadn't seen what HDR would do with the same scene. This one, and several others like it were test shoots I was doing when I first started playing with HDR. I've had a lot of fun with HDR, but, of course, it's useless for my favorite work, which is street shooting.
Here's another one from about a half mile up the river from the spot in #1. I've shown it before, but I show it again because it's another example of a picture I've shot a couple dozen times, coming back in the morning at the same hour each time I shot it. The HDR is far superior to any single shot I was able to get with my D3.