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Fishing Charters on the Florida West Coast

Posted on: September 14th, 2016 by admin No Comments

A fishing charter into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico is a dream come true to many. The beautiful blue waters, the warm climate, and the fantastic fishing combine to create one of the best fishing charter locations in the country. But what does a fishing charter on Florida’s West Coast entail? That’s a we’re going to answer.

Fishing the Gulf of Mexico

While you can also find the larger tour boats that take large groups, most fishing charter boats are relatively small, taking four to eight people. That means you need to be prepared to spend time in close quarters with companions and the boat crew. Here at Clearwater Beach Marina, crews are almost always a team of two.

Clearwater Beach Marina

It is a good idea to choose a comfortable boat. The reason is the length of the trip. The Gulf of Mexico is shallow along Florida’s West Coast while the best fishing is in deeper waters. That means charter boats most often will take you straight out into the Gulf, heading for the shelf where you will experience the best fishing. Powerful engines are standard equipment and the boat ride is usually a lot of fun. The entire trip is most often set as half day and full day, which means either four or eight hours. If you want the best fishing, however, ask for the full day. That will get you well over the shelf and into the waters that will fill you cooler with fish and usually a bit more.

Gulf of Mexico fishing

Florida is famous for sunshine. Your chances of sun on a morning trip into the Gulf of Mexico are very high. Our skies usually start clear with clouds slowly gathering as the day goes on. Larger boats provide interior areas but the more common charters do not. That means you will be in the sun most of the day. Even if you are acclimated to being in the sun, be sure to use sunscreen to avoid getting burned. On the upside, you will be out on a very blue body of water in the bright Florida sunshine, which is actually quite nice.

Boating Florida West Coast

If your fishing experience is anything like mine, you might ask whether you are actually going to catch any fish. The answer is yes. The Gulf of Mexico is known for its excellent fishing. Whether you are looking for a good fight or a good meal, you have a chance of encountering either. Tell your boat crew what you prefer and, chances are, they will be able to accommodate.

Two Tails fishing charter

When it comes to extras, each boat is different. Some will tell you to bring a cooler of your own beverages. Others will provide drinks for you. Usually, it’s a little of both, with waters provided and other types of drinks on a bring-your-own basis. Let your boat crew know what you have in mind and they will tell you what you need to buy. If you think the ride is too long to go without eating, be sure to find out what is provided and what is not.

Florida West Coast Grouper

Keep in mind that when you bring the fish back, your charter crew will offer to clean the fish for you. That means you walk away with fish that is ready to cook. But, here on the West Coast of Florida, a good catch is not a surprise. Because of that, restaurants that sit near marinas will often take your fish and cook it for you! Yes, you will have to pay for the meal, but the cost of the fish subtracted. It’s a great way to enjoy your catch without the need to learn any recipes.

Florida sport fishing

When you put all the factors together, and you love fishing, the overall image is a good one. Fresh air, good food, sunshine, sparkling waters, and some hefty bites on your line are all in store for a fishing charter on the Florida West Coast.

Other posts you might enjoy:

Discovering Anclote Key All Over Again

Finding the Lost Dunedin Pass

Fort Desoto Beaches, Boating, and History



New Beach Rentals on the Florida West Coast

Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by admin No Comments

We are always looking for quality vacation rentals to offer at our beaches. When we get new units, we get excited about it. Here are few new units we wanted to share with you.

Clearwater Beach


Sandpearl 607D

Adorning Clearwater’s pristine beachfront, Sandpearl Residences offers the highest caliber of guest experience and quality of appointment on the Gulf Coast. One of the newer resorts on Clearwater Beach, Sandpearl seamlessly blends refined amenities and nature’s splendor to create moments that enrich the spirit well beyond your stay.

Sandpearl Residence vacation rental Clearwater Beach

This luxurious 3 Bedroom 2.5 Bathroom Sandpearl Residence Condo is 2,181 sq ft and easily accommodates the whole family. The spacious living room has a flat screen TV and plenty of seating.

The large kitchen with granite counter tops and island is the perfect for mealtime. This unit has two dining tables, a small table in the kitchen and a more formal setting in the dining area.

The spacious balcony has a beautiful view of the white sand beach and ocean water in addition to overlooking the Sandpearl pool.

Master bedroom has king size bed, flat screen TV and attached full bathroom with garden tub, walk in shower, vanity and private lavatory.

The first guest room has queen size bed and attached full bathroom with walk in shower and the second guest room has queen size bed. There is an additional half bath in the unit and laundry room with washer and dryer.

Some of the rooms in the condo have motorized blinds and adjustable lighting switches.

Beautiful pool area has access right on to white sand beach of Clearwater.

This is a luxury monthly rental property. While this unit is in the Sandpearl Residences, it is a separate entity from the Sandpearl Resort next door. Guests of the Residences have access to all Residences amenities. Resort amenities are not included.

See more about this unit here.


House on the Bay

“House on the Bay” is a charming three bedroom, three bath house with a wonderful view of Clearwater Bay.

Florida Beach Rentals House on the Bay sunroom

This home is spacious and has all the essentials a family could want in a vacation rental. Enjoy a large living and dining area plus a cute kitchen with tile counters and pass-through to the sunroom.  The open, airy sunroom is the perfect place for family interaction with comfy couches to watch TV and cozy dining area.  Panoramic windows capture captivating waterfront views.  TVs in every bedroom and three full bathrooms.

House on the Bay has a great backyard adjacent to the water with a waterfront dock. It is the perfect place to sit and pass the time away watching all the exciting endeavors happening at Clearwater Harbor.

Come on over to the House on the Bay and have a great waterfront vacation.

See more about this unit here.


Harborview Grande 307

Come spend your vacation in this gorgeous three bedroom, two bath condo with breath-taking views of Clearwater Bay.

Florida Beach Rentals Harborview Grande 307 balcony

This unit has all the conveniences of home that includes a full kitchen and wet bar with built in wine cooler. Open floor plan makes for easy family interaction.

Each bedroom has its own flat screen TV. The master bedroom has an attached full bathroom and access to the balcony.

Walk out onto the balcony to relax or look for dolphins, sipping your favorite beverage as you take in the scenic view. Beaches of Clearwater are a short 10 min walk. This unit also has a boat dock available for use. Immerse yourself in vacation life at this Harborview Grande vacation condo.

See more about this unit here.


Harborview Grande 707

Your relaxing, fun-filled vacation awaits you here in this beautiful 7th floor, three bedroom, two bath condo.  This spacious vacation rental has all the conveniences of home with a full kitchen and flat screen TV’s.  The balcony will dazzle you with its large size and beautiful views of the Clearwater Bay.  Take a few moments to breath in the warm, salty air before heading off to the nearby beach.

Florida Beach Rentals Harborview Grande 707 view

This open floor plan has 1800 sq ft for the family to interact.  Unit also has washer and dryer for your convenience.

On site pool is heated during the months of November through March.

There is one assigned parking spot in the covered garage and secure entry.

Harborview Grande is centrally located to all kinds of restaurants, shops and activities. Stroll the new Beach Walk to Pier 60 to play, eat and shop on the Pier.  Daily sunsets are free!!  There are summer movies on an extra-large inflatable screen at the park next to Pier 60.

See more about this unit here.


Belle Harbor 307M

This beautiful 3 bedroom, two bath Belle Harbor unit overlooks the courtyard and enjoys partial views of Clearwater Bay.

Florida Beach Rentals Belle Harbor 307 patio couch table

The open floor plan of this unit is perfect for the family, featuring large living, dining and kitchen areas.  The kitchen has granite countertops stocked with all of the conveniences of home.  Quaint kitchen bistro table is wonderful spot the have coffee.  A breakfast bar with seating for 4 is a great place for a quick meal.  If you are feeling a little more formal, the dining table will accommodate with seating for six.  The living room has two comfy couches, a flat screen TV and delightful electric fireplace… so charming.  Walk out onto the balcony and take in the sun and warm breeze with peek-a-boo view of the Clearwater Bay over the beautiful clubhouse

The master bedroom is spacious with a king bed, flat screen TV, balcony access and attached master bathroom.  Master bathroom has a walk in shower, his and hers vanities, and private lavatory.

Second and third bedrooms have king beds and patio/balcony access.  Guest bathroom has shower/ tub combination. Unit has washer and dryer too.

Unit has one garage parking space.

Belle Harbor has heated pool, hot tub, grills, work out facility and community room.

Monthly rental

See more about this unit here.


Ocean Sands 504

Ocean Sands 504 is a beautiful, newly renovated studio right on the white sands of Madeira Beach. Enjoy our fabulous sunsets on your private fifth floor balcony.

Beachfront condo Florida West Coast

Nothing was left behind when modernizing the unit, from the kitchen to the bathroom. The recent updates include all stainless steel appliances in the kitchen along with beautiful white granite counter-tops and a flat surface cook top. The kitchen is very functional with a full-size fridge, range, microwave, and a dishwasher for your convenience. Kitchen overlooks the dining/living room area and right out to the beach! The dining table seats four with two additional seats at the breakfast bar. This condo has great entertainment for many hours outside or inside.

Inside, the HDTV is a whopping 42” with high-definition digital cable and a blue ray player. The Murphy bed in the living area is disguised, yet easily transitions in or out of its hiding place as needed.

Madeira Beach, as well as Ocean Sands, has a lot to offer. On-site at this vacation rental you’ll find a junior Olympic size pool, a Jacuzzi, a tiki hut, a large charcoal barbeque, shuffle board, and plenty of lounge chairs. Madeira Beach offers soft white sands and gorgeous sunsets for your slice of paradise. For the days not spent on the sand, there are countless places nearby to experience. John’s pass has The Friendly Fisherman Restaurant, Hooters, Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company, unique crafty shops, Fishing, Dolphin Tours, Ghost Tours, The Florida Winery—more than enough unique shops and restaurants to spend a whole day, if not two!

The Ocean Sands Condos are located right on the sands of Madeira Beach, which is centrally located to St. Petersburg, John’s Pass Village, Clearwater Beach, and Tampa Bay.

See more about this unit here.


Other posts you might enjoy:

Discovery Tour of Anclote River and Anclote Key

Vacation Rental Frequently Asked Questions

Accommodations or Flight, Which to Book First




Beach Temperatures on the Central West Coast of Florida

Posted on: August 29th, 2016 by admin No Comments

Clouds over beach

How Warm is Florida?

We get a lot of requests for info on what the temperatures are here in Clearwater Beach, Florida, as well as our area in general. While you might think they are mostly aimed at finding out how warm it is here in the winter, a lot of them want to know our summer temperatures too.

Beaches of Tampa Bay

This coastline, in general, is called the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. Our portion of that coast is the beaches of the Tampa Bay area which border the Gulf of Mexico. That encompasses the beach towns of St Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, and all the beach communities between. It also includes the beach parks of Egmont Key, Fort Desoto, Caladesi Island State Park, Honeymoon Island State Park, and Anclote Key Nature Preserve.

Clearwater Beach morning clouds

Summer on the Florida West Coast

Summer is where we will start. To shortcut the conversation, our summers are hot. It’s Florida. June, July, August, and September are the hot months. No surprise there. According to the U.S. Climate Center website, our average summer temperatures are 89 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit/32 Celsius. Of course, that’s the average. It does go above and below those numbers. Add the humidity brought to us by the Gulf of Mexico and it feels quite warm.

Hyatt pool deck view


The saving grace from the heat is the same thing that makes it feel warmer, and that’s the Gulf of Mexico. All you have to do to cool off is dive in. But there’s more to it than that. The Gulf is not quite as cool as you would imagine. In the summer it reaches the mid-eighties. This summer we had a few days of ninety. That was warm but it only lasted a short while and then the water perceptibly cooled off – down into the eighties that is. Despite how warm that sounds, it’s still refreshing to dive in and it does cool you down.

Winter trips to Florida are famous. People come here to escape the winter chills of the north, from both the U.S. and Canada. But how warm is it exactly? There’s good news and bad news. The bad news first. To someone who lives in Florida, it gets cold! The good news, to someone from the north, it’s not cold at all. December, January, and February are the coldest, with a bone chilling 55 degrees Fahrenheit/12 Celsius. Winter water temperatures range around 70 Fahrenheit/21 Celsius.

Swimming Gulf of Mexico

While we joke about how cold it is here we know that it’s really not. However, we once in a while get a person who thinks we enjoy eighty degrees all year long, and that’s just not true. We experience winter, just on a very mild scale. The truth is that our winter is very refreshing. After a summer of high temperatures, a cool winter is actually quite welcome.

The remaining months between summer and winter are some of our favorites. Oddly, they are not as popular with visitors. If you lived in Florida and knew how amazing the weather was, you’d wonder why that was true. It’s not chilly, it’s not hot. We refer to that as very nice weather. The temperatures range between 65 and 85 Fahrenheit/17 and 20 Celsius. They are very enjoyable months to be outdoors.

Clearwater Harbor sunrise

As for rain, we do get that. For nine months of the year we get rain like everywhere else, which is to say, every now and then, whenever nature feels like it. In the summer, however, the weather gets very predictable. The days start sunny, then in the mid-afternoon the clouds gather. By about 5pm, it’s time for a rain storm, often a thunderstorm with dazzling lightning. By 6pm to 7pm, the rain is gone and its time to walk the streets again in the remaining hours of daylight. You can almost set your watch by it. While odd weather is always a possibility, that is pretty much what to expect. So will it rain on your summer vacation here at the beach? Yes, it will. Will it ruin the day? Not at all.

Clearwater Beach rain

That’s the summary of our weather here on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida, especially in the Tampa Bay area and its beaches. The reality is that it’s pretty nice just about any time of year, so long as you’re not expecting something else. So if you are coming to visit us, you now have a better idea of what to anticipate. That often makes for a better stay.

Sunny beach day Clearwater Beach

Other Posts You might enjoy:

Paradise Lost; A Beach in Peril

Wild Winter Wonders on the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

Fairy Tales in the Sand at Clearwater Beach

Posted on: May 2nd, 2015 by admin 1 Comment

Fairy Tale Beach

Three Little Pigs in sandDo you remember the Three Little Pigs? Goldie Locks? Rapunzel? The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf? The Princess and the Pea? Clearwater Beach, Florida brought those and a host of other fairy tales into the realm of three dimensions at the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival . At a mere ten dollars a ticket, visitors gained entrance to the large tent protecting the sand sculptures. A path led through the artwork, the trail composed of nothing more than ordinary beach sand which is there all year round. Guests were treated to close up encounters with their favorite fairy tales. Viewers discussed each pieces, many trying to recall the names of certain fairy tales or quotes from the stories. Sculpted into the sand of some of the pieces were their titles, helping guests along while presenting some striking three dimensional fonts. Colored lights alternated from one shade to another, helping to enhance the shadows. pinoccioTo immerse spectators further, a soundtrack played in which snippets of fairy tales were read. The walkway wound end to end inside the very large tent. The trail led guests through the fairy tale renderings, passing by a photo op in front of a fairy tale castle at one end, and a sculpture contest at the other. Loads of interesting sculptures waited in between, making a visit to the ten day Sugar Sand Festival a worthy outing for both area visitors and local residents.


Unique Sand Sculptures

sand sculptureThis year marks the centennial anniversary of Clearwater, Florida. The one hundredth birthday of the community was marked with a sand sculpture of a giant birthday cake at the exit to the event. Another local feature that made its welcome return to the Sugar Sand Festival was Winter the dolphin, this time with her friend Hope to help her along. The two real-life dolphins star in the Dolphin Tale movies which have brought a dose of unexpected fame to the area. Sand sculpting contestThe other sculptures that did not follow the fairy tale theme were those from the sculpting contest. A handful of artists pitted their skills against one another at the south end of the large tent. All contest designs were well done, as you might imagine, some including remarkably intricate detail. The the contestant themes ranted from  mechanical structures to the abstract art in three dimensions. Visitors were encouraged to vote for their favorites.


Sand Sculpting Artists

GoldielocksOne of the best features of the 2015 Sugar Sand Festival was the upkeep of the sculptures. Not only were sculpted pieces maintained and repaired throughout, new pieces appeared all week long. Team Sandtastic, a traveling group of sand sculpture artists, was responsible for the majority of the sculptures seen at the event. A talk with one of the team members revealed some interesting tidbits. Fairy Tale CastleThe one sculptor we spoke with was responsible for several tons of sculpted sand within the tent. The event itself boasted a weigh in of 1000 tons of sand. An interesting and interactive feature was the chance to get a photograph in front of a giant fairy tale castle made by the team. Guests could take home the photo from a booth outside that also sold photo booklets from the event.


Pier 60 Festivities

Sugar Sand FestivalPier 60 was bustling all week long. On an ordinary day, souvenir vendors line the pier for four hours a night at the Sunset Festival. Street performers entertain the crowds juggling fire, tumbling, dancing, or displaying a host of other talents. For the Sugar Sand Festival, vendors set up all day long, every day of the festival. Evening is always the prime time for street performers, but one or two could be found at almost any hour during the ten day event. In addition to the additional availability of souvenirs, a number of food carts set up along the sidewalk and on the sand to serve treats to the passing crowds. TPier 60 Sugar Sand Festivalhrown into the mix was a swimming pool where visitors could float in giant inflatable bubbles, an interactive drum circle, a sand castle building area for the kids, and even a mechanical “bull” in the shape of a shark. On the two weekends, bands play on a stage set up on the beach. The sands of Clearwater Beach were the venue for those who attended the shows. The extra activities, the food, and the music surrounding the sand sculpture tent made the event a thrill to visit.


Sugar Sand Festival

Little Boy Who Cried WolfThe Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival was as fun as expected. Last year set a high bar that this year’s event succeeded at meeting. The event drew plenty of extra attention during a time of year that ordinarily sees fewer visitors. Artists transformed the beautiful white sands of Clearwater Beach into fairy tale sculptures, while the grounds outside took on a carnival atmosphere. For those thinking of coming to Clearwater Beach, or one of the nearby beaches in the area, April might be the month to consider. If you enjoy fascinating art and a dynamic atmosphere, the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival is for you.


Genie in the lamp Pinoccio whale Banner for Sugar Sand Festival Thumbalina

Other posts you might enjoy:

Holiday Lights in the Garden

Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Clearwater Marine Aquarium


Sandbar Island Paradise

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by admin 1 Comment

Island in the Sun

North Sandbar IslandNorth Sandbar is a place that lives in all of our imaginations. Dream of a tiny island, one where few people go, but which is a safe place to be. Cover it with soft white sand and paint clear turquoise waters around its shores. When you are done, you might have come close to North Sandbar. It is a tiny island located off of the coast of Tarpon Springs, Florida, a fun little tourist town on the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. It is to the north of such famous places as St Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island State Park, and Honeymoon Island State Park. When you go through that list of names, you will realize that the island called North Sandbar is located in the midst of a popular vacation destination. However, if you make your way to this remote sandbar, you will find that you are nearly alone. With absolutely perfect beaches of soft, white sand, it is a destination you might want to include in your travel plans.


Remote Destination of North Sandbar

island boating FloridaThe only access to the uninhabited islands of our area is by boat. While Caladesi Island is a popular boat destination, you can walk there from Clearwater Beach. Honeymoon Island is connected by a bridge. Go farther north, however, and you will not reach the islands without crossing the water. Three Rooker Bar, Anclote Key, and North Sandbar are the three most northern points of land. All three enjoy a low visitation rate, due to the difficulty of getting there. If you do not own a boat, you have to rent or charter one. While you can kayak there, the trip is not recommended for beginners because of the open water between, which is exposed to wind and waves. The photos in this blog were taken on a trip with Private Island Charters. The coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a boaters’ paradise, with endless locations to visit. On holidays, the little island can fill up, but on most other days of the year, it is a gentle, soothing place to soak in the sun and sea. The northern barrier islands are a perfect destination for a day of boating.


The Evolution of an Island

North Sandbar of Anclote KeyNorth Sandbar appears as though it might be an extension of Anclote Key to its south. The sand extends in a long bar, easily a mile in length. At its northern tip, North Sandbar rises out of the water to become a tiny island, complete with mangrove bushes and grass. Google Earth has this sandbar listed at Rapp Island, although we found no other source on the whole of the Internet that confirmed the assignment of that name, casting doubt on the title. While it seems as though the sandbar might become part of Anclote Key, the matter is debated by locals. The conflicting forces are the accumulation of sand rising to the surface and a strong current that runs between the sandbar and Anclote Key. A study of the history of Honeymoon Island formation suggests that the sandbar might become a northern extension of Anclote Key, as a nearly identical formation was in place at Honeymoon Island a mere thirty years ago. In that case, the sandbar did become part of the island, despite the channel that flowed between. Time will tell if the joining occurs, and if North Sand Bar will eventually come under the title of Anclote Key, enjoyed by future boaters who might never know the two keys were ever separated.


Enjoying the Shores of North Sandbar

North Sandbar of AncloteThe shores of North Sandbar are some of the most beautiful you will find. The beaches are formed by the lightest sands, those most susceptible to movement in the currents, deposited onto a sandbar that has risen from the waves. That makes the grains among the softest you will find. The white color is remarkable, dazzling to the eye and cool to the feet. When the sand is submerged in shallows, it illuminates the water to a sparkling turquoise color. The island is perfect for sitting on the sand or strolling the shores. However, a walk around the island will only take a few minutes, so plan for a large dose of relaxation. The shallows are expansive, making wading and swimming conditions perfect. If you head south toward Anclote Key, you can stroll with your ankles in the water for nearly a mile. So, if you share the inclination to restore your soul on the shores of a remote island, you should give this tiny gem a try.


Private Island ChartersThis trip to the islands was provided by Private Island Charters (727-534-8818) (Facebook link)



North Sandbar trip

North Sandbar

North Sandbar Anclote

North Sandbar

Boating to Anclote Key sandbar

North Sandbar

Island Paradise Central Gulf Coast of Florida

North Sandbar



Other posts you might enjoy:

Gulf Coast Sand Bar Hangouts

Finding the Lost Dunedin Pass

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown


Geocaching in Paradise

Posted on: March 25th, 2015 by admin 2 Comments

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching Clearwater BeachThe word geocache comes from two words, geo and cache. The word geo refers to the Earth, and cache refers to a secret storage location. In the case of geocaching the item can be anything! The game is to find the stashed object, usually hidden in plain sight in a public place. Players find the locations using their phones’ GPS.

Geocache Clearwater BeachThe beauty of geocaching is that anyone can play. All you need is a phone that will accept the app (application) for playing the game presented on the web site, According to the web site, there are 2,579,133 active geocaches hidden across the globe, and over 6 million geocachers worldwide.

Geocache at beachThe caches are created by ordinary people who are also playing the game. Hidden objects can be as simple as a log book which you sign when you find the cache. Others can be as large as a pirate’s chest, and have items of interest stored inside. One of the mottoes of the game is if you take something away, you should leave something else behind.


How to Find a Geocache

Clearwater Beach sand duneOnce you have loaded the geocache app, your screen will display the geocaches near you –or across the globe, if you want. Your job is to go out and find them. They can be in the city or the countryside. Hiking trails are favorite places, as are public landmarks. Your GPS will get you close. Once you are there, it is your job to figure out how and where the geocache is hidden. Favorite tricks are to put the items under something, or to hide them inside of common objects. Here at Clearwater Beach, one of them is hung on fishing string inside a sign post. Another is attached to a bolt set inside a piece wood, both attached to a fence at the end of a beach road. Use your wits and imagination to discover your first geocaches. After a few finds, you will get better at discovering caches.


Florida Gulf Coast is Geocache Paradise

Gulf Coast IslandThe Florida Gulf Coast is a paradise. Our beaches are covered in soft white sand, often with mangrove forests nearby. The boating opportunities are endless. The combination of the two make this a fantastic place to geocache. Discovering a hidden cache in the city might be fun, but have you ever found one on an uninhabited island? Some of the caches here in our area are hidden underwater, some are near ruins of wartime bunkers, and others are stashed in a wooded area on islands accessible only by boat. The terrain of our area ups the game a notch, adding water and difficulty of access.

Snorkel for geocacheWhile we don’t believe you need an additional excuse to head out to an island, geocaching on the Florida Gulf Coast makes it all the more exciting. On Anclote Key you will find miles of beach that rarely see visitors. You will also have the opportunity to find the three geocaches hidden there. Honeymoon Island State Park is a beach island paradise. It is home to at least twelve hidden items. Caladesi Island, accessible by ferry or a very long walk, hides five of the caches to date. Nine of the stashed goodies wait for you on famous Clearwater Beach.beach nature trail The long chain of barrier islands of the coastline hide many more. From Sand Key to John’s Pass, a popular tourist destination, our count is thirty five. Famous St Pete Beach has its own collection, some eleven by our tally. Fort Desoto park, which is one of the best beach destinations in our area, has enough geocaches to keep you busy for long while. A quick glance at the map told us that a geocacher can find over eighty hidden stashes without ever leaving our beaches.


Age Limits for Geocaching

geocaching in a kayakWhile you are hunting for the hidden items on our barrier islands, you will also be enjoying sunshine and beautiful shorelines. Shelling, sunbathing, beach walks, boating, and other pleasures await visitors to the remarkable shores of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida. Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, and the fun beach towns in between are some of the most cherished beaches in the U.S. Add geocaching to the mix, and you might experience an adventure you did not anticipate. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of finding a treasure on an island? barrier island geocachingYou might imagine that geocaching is the domain of the young, but, so long as you have a phone that loads apps, no age barrier exists. Anyone who possesses a sense of play can join the hunt. So on you next trip to the white sand shores of our coast, give at least one of the caches a try. You might take away a fun vacation memory you did not expect.





Vacation Rental Frequently Asked Questions

Posted on: March 9th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Ask Questions Before You Book Your Vacation Rental

A vacation destination sets you free to explore a new piece of the world. Unfortunately, it also comes with challenges. In order to know what you are getting into, you have to ask a lot of questions. Here is a short list of questions which we handle often.


Vacation FAQs

vacation rental condoWhere is my vacation rental? Well, that’s important, isn’t it? You need to know not only the town, but where specifically in that town you will be staying. Are you on the beach? Are you near it? That’s matters. In fact, it’s vital information that can make or break your vacation plans. Be sure to nail down exactly where your accommodations will be. Your vacation rental company should provide a map with the exact location marked.

How far ahead should I book? Unfortunately, that question is often asked too late. If you intend to visit a popular vacation destination during its peak season, you had better book ahead a full year. For the less traveled seasons, or less known destinations you will want to book three to six months ahead. If you miss those deadlines, you may wind up booking at higher, last-minute rates.

vacation rental condoHow many does it sleep? Knowing the number that the unit sleeps is key. Be sure your rental will accommodate your party. Some rentals consider an overcrowded unit to be a breach of contract by the renter. If you want to stay cheaper, try to find places that utilize sofa sleepers for extra guests.

What size are the beds? Questions regarding bed size aim at personal taste and type of party. Some couples want king size beds, others are fine with queen size. When bed size can really come into play is when two families travel together, which includes the extended-family vacation. You may want to make sure that the couples each have a king or queen size bed. You can also ask for units that have more than one master bedroom. They are less common, but they do exist.

beachfront accommodationsQuestions about money. Questions about money are perhaps the most important. Aside from the obvious “how much” inquiry, you will want to know how payment is made. Is it all up front? Is there a deposit? Is there a penalty for cancelling? Is the money refundable? Those are all important details. The company you use should be able to answer them easily. Be sure to validate that your company is the real deal, especially if they are asking for a full payment up front.

How do I know my vacation rental company is real? That is a question you will want to answer before you pay. Don’t use non-official, garage-sale style sites to book a vacation rental. A week at a beach condo can cost in the thousands. You should know your company is legitimate before paying. Check the BBB, make sure the rental company has a website, and look online for reviews.

beachfront condoWhere do I check in? Not knowing where to check in can throw a wrench into your first day of vacation. Ask the booking agent where you need to arrive then check it on an online map. If it doesn’t seem right, be sure to call them back for specific directions.

What is the layout of the vacation rental? This is more than one question really. Does it have a kitchen? How many bedrooms does it have? Will the dining table seat your group? Does the unit have a washer and dryer? Does it have a balcony or patio? What floor is it on? What is the view? Where do I park? Those are all very important details that you need to know. Write them down before you call so you don’t forget to ask. A good online directory should tell you all those things. So should a good booking agent.

vacation condoWhat can you expect to find inside your rental unit? Will it have a dishwasher and an icemaker? Can you expect beach towels and beach chairs? What about toilet paper, paper towels, and soap? Those answers vary greatly between rental agencies and even between units rented by the same company. Knowing those answers ahead of time will help you prepare. The agent you contact should be able to tell you what will be waiting for you and what you need to bring.

What activities and attractions are nearby? An agency, even an online one, should have an idea what you will find nearby. That is why you are booking that unit in the first place! Clearwater BeachThe online booking site should answer at least some of those questions. An over-the-phone agent should also have an idea of what you will find outside your door. After all, the things-to-do list is one of the most important features of most vacations. You should be able to receive a short list, at the very least, before booking your vacation rental.


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Shaking Hands with Pirates

Posted on: February 15th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Outlaws of the High Seas

Captain Memo

Captain Memo docked at Clearwater Beach Marina

While the pirates of the Caribbean have become a household name, it is also true that those same pirates roved beyond the Caribbean, to the Carolinas and westward to the Gulf Coast of Florida, and even to New Orleans. While the notion of pirates is romantic, the truth might surprise you. Piracy began long before the Golden Age of Piracy, with which we are most familiar, occuring in the 1700s and 1800s. Men –and women –boarded ships to plunder merchant vessels from the earliest times of shipping history. All parts of the world knew piracy, wherever ships were sailed. The pirates plying the waters of the North American coast, the Bahamas, and the Antilles were the most recent version, existing shortly before the nations of Europe, along with that of the United States, agreed to abolish the practice. But, if piracy is an illegal activity to begin with, how could abolishing it lead to its end? Read on to discover why it worked.


Marauding Pirates

John Levique Pirate Fest

John Levique Pirate Festival at John’s Pass, Madeira Beach, Florida

Piracy is labeled as the act of theft or plunder, by means of violence, committed by the crew of a ship, usually against another ship. Piracy’s heyday came when gold was discovered in the Americas. Attacking a ship laden with gold taken from the Native American tribes offered a hefty reward. Pirates worked on their own, keeping all the booty taken from their attacks to themselves. Numerous pirates became rich, and sometimes famous, based on the success of their exploits. Because of the routes of the American treasure shipments, the Caribbean and the coast of Florida were well-known hideouts for pirates.  You might think that the major countries who sailed the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean worked hard to put an end to piracy.  The truth, is that they did not. They were, in fact, guilty of the very same crime.


Attack of the Privateers

Gasparilla Pirate Invasion Tampa

Gasparilla Pirate Invasion Tampa, Florida

During times of war, it benefited one side to attack the merchant vessels of the other. Interrupting shipments of goods crippled the supply routes of the enemy. In order to entice ship crews to become privateers, countries would commission a privately owned vessel to engage in privateer attacks. Often, the reward for plundering of enemy ships was the cargo itself. With such bounties to choose from, privateer crews attacked with relish. Unfortunately, that also led to violence. More than one privateer gained fame via a reputation for cruelty. If privateers sound a lot like pirates, it’s because they were. By 1908, the countries invovled agreed to a ban, thus ending further commissions for privateer vessels.


Buccaneers of the Caribbean

Treasure Island Florida

Pirate at Treasure Island, Florida

Blurring the line between pirate and privateer were the buccaneers. Buccaneers behaved much like privateers, in that they were well organized. They did not, however, have official permission from governments to “do business.” Their name comes from “smoked meat” which, apparently, they did while in the West Indies Islands. Their ilk was more specific than other pirates of the world, being best known for plundering Spanish ships in the Caribbean and sometimes on the west coast of Africa. Their trade began as meat sellers in the West Indies, but looting ships and attacking coastal towns proved more profitable. Buccaneer ships, it seems, operated much like businesses, the loot being divided equally. They also attacked land targets, which true sea pirates did not often do. Because of the benefit of impeding enemy ships, many governments turned blind eyes to the activities of the buccaneers.


End of the Golden Age of Piracy

Captain Memo

Captain Memo on Clearwater Harbor

The lines between buccaneers and privateers, and their pirate counterparts were often indistinct. Both privateers and buccaneers went outside the guiidelines of the governments that supported them. The violence committed by all three groups became notorious. With an overall disruption of shipping by pirate and pirate-like activities, governments began to turn against the practice. By the 1900s, it had fallen into disfavor. The days of governments shaking hands with privateers were over, a withdrawal of commissions for such ventures ensuing. That left the outlaw pirates alone, with even their home ports eventually turning against them, leading to the end of the so-called Golden Age of Piracy.


Florida Pirates

pirate flagMore pirates, privateers, and buccaneers came to Florida’s shores than you might imagine. Pirate treasure stories abound, and pirate festivals throughout the state are popular. Be sure to keep up with our continuing pirate stories, in which we will tell you who among the world’s most famous pirates visited our area.



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