Archive for September, 2012

Photo: Wake Boarding at Ski Rixen in Quiet Waters Park, Deerfield Beach

Renato Zuccolillo flies over the first jump at Ski Rixen in Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach.

Continue reading Photo: Wake Boarding at Ski Rixen in Quiet Waters Park, Deerfield Beach »

Happy News for South Walton Turtles

The turtle lives 'twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile. ~ Ogden Nash

Want some news guaranteed to tickle your fins?

It’s been a record year for sea turtle nests along South Walton beaches, with 115 nests recorded as of Aug. 10, 2012. South Walton Turtle Watch, a volunteer group that protects endangered sea turtles, reported two-and-a-half times more nests on South Walton beaches this year compared to last year. 

South Walton is one of only three counties in Florida — and the only one on the Gulf Coast — to have four of the five nesting species of sea turtles (loggerhead, green, Kemp’s Ridley and leatherback) establish nests on its beaches. 

Give it up for sea turtles! And make sure to watch the above video of a recent South Walton hatchling release: it’s very cute and educational, too.

Fun Turtle Facts: Turtles can live an astonishingly long time. The large tortoises from the Galapagos Islands can live more than 200 years, some American box turtles have been documented at over 100 years old, and some sea turtles live 75 years or more. The common pet, the red-eared slider, can live 40 years or more.

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Get Up Close & Personal with a Dragon (Boat) in St. Petersburg

Dragon boat racing is steeped in culture, rich with tradition and fairly roaring with excitement.

Imagine hundreds of paddlers churning the waterway in boats festooned with vibrant dragon heads; imagine drummers beating out ferocious rhythms, yelling encouragement to their teammates in intense contests where the difference between winning and losing is sometimes only a fraction of a second.

You don’t have to imagine anymore.

Paddles Up St. Pete splashes into St. Petersburg (Poynter Park at Bayboro Harbor) 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6, 2012, promising an action-packed day of Dragon Boat Races. At the event you can:

  • Test drive kayaks, canoes and paddleboards
  • Discover the latest marine advances from organizations in St. Petersburg
  • Check out paddle craft    
  • Enter a kayak or canoe race        
  • Explore the marine science expo    
  • Enter to win a kayak    

More news to twirl your beach towel?

Admission is free!

Fun Fact: The dragon head and tail are attached to the Dragon Boat only for races. During the inaugural ceremony of a dragon boat race, a Taoist priest or a community civic leader is usually called upon to dot the dragon eyes with red paint; this is a symbolic gesture to bring the dragon to life.

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Pirates of the High Seas Fest Invades Panama City Beach

It boasts pirates, parades and sword-swinging showdowns. It features costume contests and a dueling fireworks display.

As far as I can tell, about the only thing The Fun Never Sets Pirates of the High Seas Fest doesn’t have is dragons walking the plank — and who knows, they’ll probably add them at the last minute!

Columbus Day weekend will bring a wave of adventures to Panama City Beach when the admission -free Fest invades the coastal community Sept. 30 – Oct. 7, 2012.

“The festival comes at an ideal time for families looking to get away during the busy fall season,” says Dan Rowe, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We are excited to host this annual event once again, which is bigger than ever and has spectacular activities planned for visitors of all ages.”

Smells like fun to me!

Never been to Panama City Beach?

That's as sad as fish without fins, because it’s lovely. This affordable getaway boasts a whopping 27 miles of sugar-sand beaches nestled against the clear, emerald-green waters of the Gulf, more than 300 days of sunshine annually, plus attractions that include St. Andrews State Park and Pier Park.

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Stone Crab Festival Clatters into Naples Oct. 26 – 28

Fresh stone crab claws, live music, exciting events, art, awesome activities—and free admission!

I thought that might get you to prick up your ears! The Stone Crab Festival clatters into Naples (1200 Fifth Ave. S., Naples, FL 34102) from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Oct. 26 – 28, 2012. Chow down on a tasty weekend on the historic Old Naples Waterfront with action that includes:

  • Block Party
  • Live music
  • Kids’ events
  • Stone crab boats
  • Discounted cruises
  • Vendor booths
  • Kids Activities: Bounce house, face painting, Euro Bubbles and more
  • Charity dunk tank
  • Stone crab and frozen drink tents
  • Water Taxi Stop
  • Crab Toss
  • Bikini Contest
  • Specials galore, on everything from Segway tours to boat, bike, kayak and paddleboard rentals

You can snag $5 parking at the former Grand Central site and Port O' Call marina.

Fun Stone Crab Fact: In order to assure the continued survival of the species, only one claw may be removed so the crab can defend itself. After a claw is removed, the crab is returned to water and the claw regenerates.

Update: It turns out my fun 'fact' is fiction. JoNell Modys, PR & Communications Manager for the Naples, Marco Island and Everglades CVB, says both claws can be harvested if they measure 2 3/4 from the bottom tip of the claw to the bend of the claw. Thanks for the info, JoNell!

Continue reading Stone Crab Festival Clatters into Naples Oct. 26 – 28 »

Give Lovers Key Some Love on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 29

Lover’s Key State Park is a little gem nestled against the waters of the Gulf, just a splash south of Fort Myers Beach.

You can stroll over its bridges and sunlight-dappled trails, and kayak, canoe, paddleboard or pedal-boat its inner waterways or those of Estero Bay. It boasts a maritime hammock, and abundant wildlife, next to the canal banks of Black Island. It also features a 2.5-mile beach heaped with white sand and shells, an expanse so beautiful it’s where my husband and I renewed our vows for our 25th wedding anniversary.

And now I have a chance to give a little love back to Lover’s Key – and you do, too.

On Sept. 29, 2012, in honor of National Public Lands Day, thousands of volunteers around the nation will build trails and bridges, pull invasive weeds, plant trees, remove trash and have fun getting back to nature. They’ll learn about the human impact on parks and lands as well as take part in a service endeavor fed with the energy of volunteers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

You can help at Lovers Key State Park, by helping to maintain trails and pick up trash Sept. 29, 2012, 9 a.m. -12 p.m. Then, spend the rest of the day enjoying the Park.

The rules: Volunteers must wear closed-toed shoes. Pre-registration for this event is required: just call the Ranger Station at (239) 463-4588.

Insider’s Tip: Bring water, sunscreen, a hat and bug repellent; it’s not going to be a day at the mall!

Directions: Lovers Key is located at 8700 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. The park boundaries are Big Carlos Pass and New Pass. The Park is 10.5 miles west of I75 on exit 116.

Continue reading Give Lovers Key Some Love on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 29 »

Full Moon Climb at the St. George Lighthouse

The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.  ~ Frederick L. Knowles

It’s hard to beat a sunset on a barrier island. And watching the full moon bloom into life over the Gulf, painting slivers of pale light on the waves– well, that’s Ma Nature at her best.

Want to know a spectacular – and unique– way to combine these experiences?

On Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, you can savor a Full Moon Climb at the Cape St. George Light (2 East Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island, FL 32328), snagging stellar views of the sunset and the moonrise. It’s not expensive, either: the cost is $10 for Lighthouse Association members and $15 for everyone else.  The price even includes light hors d'oeuvres and a sparkling cider toast to the Full Moon.

After the moon has risen, other climbers are invited to venture to the top for a spectacular view; Lighthouse Association members are $5, everyone else is $10.  Reservations are recommended if you want to see both the sunset and moonrise, and can be made by calling 850-927-7744 (toll free: 888-927-7744) or by stopping by the St. George Island Visitor Center.

If you’re not going to be on the Island this September, don’t get your beach towel in a twist.  You can enjoy a Full Moon Climb Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, as well as Friday, Dec. 28, 2012.

About St. George Island: This tranquil barrier island is snuggled next to the Gulf of Mexico and the Apalachicola Bay in Northwest Florida.  It’s famed for its pristine sugar-sand beaches, its calm, emerald-hued waters and its natural beauty. 

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Raise a Toast to America’s Original Beach Bash: Pensacola’s DeLuna Fest!

Spanish conquistador Tristán De Luna knew how to throw a flip-flopping-crazy-good beach party. In fact, he and his crew threw Pensacola’s – and America’s – original beach bash in 1559 after surviving a perilous journey across brutal seas.  As DeLuna Fest’s website points out, "It was the beach party to end all beach parties, literally, as the settlement was blown away by a hurricane shortly after."

And now you can continue the tradition! Imagine it: dancing with sugar-sand wedged between your toes, reveling in the diverse mix of live talent, and admiring Florida’s breathtaking sunsets.

DeLuna Fest, an epic end-of-summer beach music festival, boogies into Pensacola Beach Sept. 21 – 23, 2012, promising three-days of beach-friendly bands and musicians. It features a mind-boggling four stages — two of them planted squarely on the sands of Pensacola Beach — plus live music featuring a diverse blend of genres.

Now that, that smells like fun to me.

The Talent: As my husband (under) stated, “DeLuna Fest really does it up.” These famous artists are no means a complete list, but they’ll give you an idea of the caliber of musicians.

  • Foo Fighters
  • Zac Brown Band
  • Florence And The Machine
  • Band of Horses
  • Jimmy Cliff
  • Dwight Yoakam
  • Fitz and the Tantrums
  • Ben Folds Five
  • Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  • Diplo
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff
  • The Joy Formidable
  • The Gaslight Anthem
  • The Wallflowers
  • Superchunk
  • Guided By Voices

A Fact to Twirl Your Beach Towel: The average high temperature during September in Pensacola is 86 degrees. I’m just saying.

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Free Star Gazing Event Sparkles into Pensacola Beach

There they stand, the innumerable stars, shining in order like a living hymn, written in light.  ~N.P. Willis

I can imagine what star-gazing on the beach would be like. It would be heavenly.

The Gulf would whisper its peaceful melody; the cool evening breeze would wrap around my shoulders. The sugar-sand would feel soft on my feet. All while I wondered at the vast canvas of stars and planets twinkling overhead.

If it sounds sweet to you, too, check out the Escambia Amateur Astronomers' Association Evening Under the Stars -Free Star Gazing Event. Just sparkle over to the Gulfside Pavilion (735 Pensacola Beach Blvd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561, phone: 850-932-1500) on Oct. 19 –20, 2012 to discover the wonder of the night sky on beautiful Pensacola Beach.

Telescopes and binoculars will be set up for views of the Moon, planets and other celestial objects. The Event will start just before sunset, clear skies permitting. Free parking is available in the Casino Beach parking lot, near the Beach Ball Water Tower.

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Roar into Panama City Beach for the Thunder Beach Autumn Rally!

Four wheels move the body.  Two wheels move the soul.  ~Author Unknown

Beautiful sugar-sand beaches, beautiful people and beautiful machines—who could resist?

The Thunder Beach Rally, dubbed "The Most Biker Friendly, free Rally in the United States," rumbles into Panama City Beach Oct. 10 -14, 2012. Go if you want to:

  • Share stories
  • See great bands and live entertainment
  • Find the hottest custom motorcycles and motorcycle accessories
  • Experience scenic rides on the world's most beautiful beaches
  • Have a rockin’ time!

The Rally features eight official thunder beach venues spread out across Panama City Beach, each one offering its own brand of unique activities, including US RIDER NEWS' Best of the Beach Bike Show, Miss Thunder Beach Contests, stunt Shows at Frank Brown Park and so much more.

Smells like fun to me!

Continue reading Roar into Panama City Beach for the Thunder Beach Autumn Rally! »