Posts Tagged ‘beach’

The Joys of the Treasure Island Kite Festival

Posted on: January 20th, 2017 by MB No Comments

It was my pleasure to visit the Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition again this year. Of all the many, many festivals we have in the Tampa Bay area, this kite festival is one of the most interesting, and certainly the most colorful. Perhaps the reason is it so captivating is how much is going on at once, or perhaps that everywhere you look, you see dazzling colors. Loads of people turn out for the event, adding an additional dynamic to the weekend-long affair.

Treasure Island Kite Festival

The Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition gains its name from fairly obvious reasons. The festival atmosphere is provided by the hundreds of kites in the air, many of them gigantic in size. With our luck, and we usually have it, the sky is a bright blue background to the event. This January 2017 was no exception. While the skies weren’t completely clear, plenty of blue sky made it past the thin layer of clouds. Professional kite fliers, yes that’s a thing, arrive with their specialty kites and present them for the citizens and visitors in the Tampa Bay area. Even those who didn’t plan to attend can often arrive at the event, with a sky full of over-sized kites acting as the perfect advertisement.

Giant octopus kite

The Sport Kite Competition comes in a series of events held across the two-day weekend. Sport kites are designed to be highly maneuverable. Because of their ability to make quick turns and changes of direction, creating a sport based on the skill of flying them seems only natural. The sport kite competition includes showing off your skills, following a strict flight plan, or flying in teams where the kites must synchronize their movements. In addition to the swift movements, the sport kites tend to rattle intensely in the wind, creating a buzzing sound while they fly. It’s a lot of fun to observe. My favorite is the team flying competition.

Colorful kites

The festival is boosted by a kite sales tent from which you can get your own kite-flying hobby started. While they sell the sport kites sometimes for hundreds of dollars, they also have plenty of cheaper varieties. A walk across the beach proves that point clearly enough, with plenty of young children smiling while they fly their own pint-sized kites. After the professionals show off their talents at sport kite flying, they often offer classes to show you how they do it.

Treasure Island Kite Festival

Treasure Island Beach is a beach town built on a barrier island. The community is accustomed to tourism and to frequent festivals. In keeping, the streets are lined with loads of dining options. Most are fun beach style pubs and diners. With the popular kite festival in swing, the streets were filled with people and the local watering holes were buzzing. When all the elements of the kite festival were taken in altogether, it made for a great festival outing.

Other posts you might enjoy:

Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival Strikes Again

Tampa Falls to Gasparilla Pirate Attack Again

The Segway Adventure at Clearwater Beach

 

Two Days of Winter in Florida

Posted on: January 17th, 2017 by MB No Comments

We have a running joke on the west coast of Florida regarding our winter lasting two days. It isn’t true, of course, but it is based on a pattern. When cold fronts come down into our area, it can actually get cold. What is cold for someone who lives in Florida? Cold is 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It hits those degrees in the evening and then will raise to the forties or fifties during the day. We break out the long pants and sweaters we’ve worn less than a dozen times and go about our day talking about the weather.

Florida January

Once the front rolls through, however, Florida pushes back. The temperatures rise and, usually in two days, the weather is back to something more normal. Winter is less humid and the temperatures usually drift between the fifties and seventies, with a few days in the eighties too.

Clearwater Beach January

While the joke about two-day winters in Florida persists, the reality is that we usually get two, perhaps three two-day winters during the course of the season. If you’re disappointed to hear that we actually have cold days here, don’t get too distressed. The truth is, no matter what the weather does, we never get snow and we are nearly always warmer than the rest of the country. So, if you’re thinking about coming down for the winter, we’ll be glad to share the warmth with you while you’re here even if, by chance, there’s a day or two of something else.

Other posts you might enjoy:

Clearwater Beach Summers

Pirate Day Fun and Warfare

Wild Winter Wonders on the Florida Gulf Coast

 

Dash for Winter Vacation Rental Season

Posted on: December 13th, 2016 by MB No Comments

Vacation Season

Vacation rentals are considered to have seasons. While we all know the standard four seasons, holiday rentals have quite a few more. In fact, Spring Break is considered a “season” all its own to some professionals in the industry. For us, here in Florida, winter is a big season, with unique milestones like Christmas at its beginning and Spring Break near its end.

Florida Palm Trees

We just wanted to let you know that some of our rentals are still open for winter. While the December rentals are growing thin, there are still some left for January through March. That’s good news!

Most years, and this year too, the Jan-Mar rentals book early, very early. They are sometimes booked more than a year in advance. Smart renters will call us or talk to us during checkout regarding booking the same unit again for the following year. That’s wise. The best rentals go first. If you find one you like, it’s a good idea to secure it.

Seaside Beach Cottage

This blog post is to tell you that the time to rent winter is almost past. The good news is that there’s still room for you. You can book on our site (your on it right now) or contact us directly for personal help at 727-288-2020 or reservations@florida-beachrentals.com

Beach umbrellas

Other posts you might enjoy:

Long Way Home via the Best Beaches in America

Tampa Falls to Gasparilla Pirate Attack Again

Remarkable Origins of Clearwater Beach Sand

 

 

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Tropical Storm Colin Near Miss for Clearwater Beach

Posted on: June 7th, 2016 by MB No Comments

Tropical Storm Colin surge

Tropical storm Colin pushed north through the Gulf of Mexico the past couple of days, turning our heads away from a few tasks while we tracked its progress. It crossed over land at fairly uninhabited area. The map labels it as Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, with the nearest inland city being Perry, Florida with approximately 7000 residents. Despite striking a less inhabited area, it would be incorrect to say did not have a widespread affect.

Tropical Storm Colin did come with a storm surge, which affected a large portion of Florida. Because the storm ran parallel to the west coast of the state, its surge arrived in quite a few cities. A storm surge is, in effect, a very high tide. In major storms, the surges are usually responsible for more damage than wind. We will not attempt to report on every city in the state here in this blog, of course. Our goal is to let you know how our small piece of the coast fared during the storm.

Our tide was high; very high. It was not, however, devastating. That’s good news. From personal experience I estimated it to be about one foot higher than a standard high tide. To be more specific, it was about a foot higher than a very high tide. Water got into places it did not usually go. The video we have posted below follows a school of minnows across the sidewalk. Our video was topped, however, by a person who filmed manatees munching on the grass a waterfront lawn.

20160606_121608People who have lived in Florida for years take storms in stride. For us, this was not a bad one. In fact, it was just a big rain storm. Thanks to its mild nature, we had a bit of fun with it. Our video shows people taking pictures of themselves standing in the storm surge at the beach while just beyond them, another group was swimming in the surf. We would not recommend the second during a storm, by the way, since rip currents are likely.

Tropical Storm Colin did have an ornery side, though. It picked up every lightweight, floatable object it could find and dropped it on the beach for us to clean up. The good news is that we have dedicated beach cleaning tractors that can make short work of that kind of thing. The storm also pushed the debris far into the sand so that the following high tides could not carry the objects away again, which was very considerate of Colin.

So that is our Tropical Storm Colin news from Clearwater Beach. Enjoy the video below which we took at the near the peak of high tide.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Shaking Hands with Pirates

Finding the Lost Dunedin Pass

Hurricane Pass Tidal Currents

 

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Shell Collecting in the Clearwater St Pete Area

Posted on: April 14th, 2016 by MB 1 Comment

Seashell collection

The Beauty of the Florida Gulf Coast

The Central Gulf Coast is the area of Florida from Tampa Bay regional beaches down to greater Naples region. The area is defined by the remarkable white sands that cover the beaches in volume. This article will cover our stomping grounds of Tampa Bay, where we have personally gone to collect our shells. These beaches have grown in popularity, now that the secret it out. The weather is usually agreeable in this region and basking on the beaches is a slice of heaven. During the hot months of summer, the water turns to a striking turquoise hue, lit from above by the more direct rays of the sun that are not present in the winter.

seashell collecting

The Best Seashells

The beaches are better traveled now, more visitors understanding the joy of walking the shores. That of course, leads to shell collecting. So are there enough shells? You would think not, but experience has shown that a walk down the beach will find beautiful shells to collect. Still, the question has arisen, “Where can I find the best shells?”

Going the Extra Mile for Seashells

The answer is that to get the best shells, you have to do a little extra work. You probably saw that coming but to soothe your disappointment, we will point you in the right direction.

The Right Timing for Seashell Collecting

The best time to collect seashells is before someone else gets there! Too easy, we know, so let’s break it down. Morning is best, sunrise even better. If you can arise early and hit the beach, you will find the shells that will otherwise get picked up by the larger daytime crowds. The other timing you might want to watch for is low tide. Check local charts for your area to see when the water will be lowest. More goodies which you can reach will line the shore. Be careful to leave living creatures alone, which includes starfish. Starfish go so slowly that their movements are often missed. Shells with inhabitants should be left alone.

Beachcoming Clearwater Beach

The Right Place for Seashell Collecting

The best places for seashell collecting are those that are infrequently visited. Plenty of beaches along the Central Florida Gulf Coast fall under that designation, so let’s get started.

Caladesi Island State Park is hard to get to. You have the choice of walking for a very long way north from Clearwater Beach or taking a boat. A ferry runs from Honeymoon Island to the Caladesi Island which makes it not so difficult as some other islands, but you have to pay the ferryman. Once there, you will not have to wonder why this beach is on the list of good shelling locations. While you will still have to hunt for the big, dazzling shells, you will find no lack of scallops, clams, oysters, and cockles. Depending on how the waves have impacted the shore, you might find them in heaps.

Honeymoon Island State Park is another place that has hard to reach parts. The northern end takes a long time to reach on foot, leaving boating as the easiest method to reach it. Once you leave the frequently visited parking lot area of the island, headed north, you will head farther and farther into the zones that people don’t often go. Thanks to that, and the great length of the beach, you are virtually guaranteed to find great shells. If you do make it to the northern tip of the island, congratulations. Not only will you find fantastic shells, you will also be standing at one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

spiral seashell

Anclote Key Preserve State Park includes the island of Three Rooker Bar, Anclote Key, and North Sand Bar. These three islands are uninhabited and have no roads to reach them. Boating is the only option. Non-motorized craft should be operated by those with some experience because of distance, waves, wind, and motorized boat traffic. Once there your eyes will pop at the shells you find. We have no need to run through the list of Florida shells for these islands. You have a chance to find them all. Anclote Key Preserve State Park sees so little traffic, especially Anclote Key, that you might encounter the shelling treasures of a lifetime.

Fort Desoto County Park and Shell Key are side by side barrier islands that have fantastic shelling opportunities. Fort Desoto is accessible by car and Shell Key by boat. Kayaks can be rented at the park to help you reach Shell Key. While Fort Desoto receives a large amount of traffic during peak seasons, it still has areas that are hard to reach, or which visitor simply don’t explore. That leaves those zones to you, the shell collector. Walk away from the main parking lot area in any direction and you will encounter a wide variety of shells. And if you rent a kayak, here is the key; cruise the shallow inlets where the water is only a foot deep or so. Shells no one else will find will appear just beneath your boat.

Egmont Key is the last location on our list. It is far from the other islands and motorized boats are recommended as reaching it crosses major boating channels. Fortunately, a regular ferry departs Fort Desoto for the island. Here you will find miles of beaches that see very few visitors. Aside from the archeological goodies on Egmont Key, walking the beach will fill your shelling bag, and quite quickly. It is a shell collector’s dream.

Seashell on Clearwater Beach

Finding Shells the Easy Way

Clearwater Beach, Sand Key, Indian Rocks, Redington, Madeira, Treasure Island and St Pete Beach all receive tourism traffic but enjoy ample sea life as well. Lucky finds can still be encountered on our standard beaches, and often are by the fortunate passersby. Keep your eyes sharp in all these locations for things other than shells. You never know what you might find amid the sands of the Florida Gulf Coast.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Discovering the Artificial Reefs of the Florida Gulf Coast

A Beach Less Traveled

Beach Walk of a Lifetime at Honeymoon Island State Park

 

Paradise Lost; A Beach in Peril

Posted on: February 18th, 2016 by MB No Comments

Honeymoon Island State Park Beach

4 Million Dollar Face Lift

Honeymoon Island BeachHoneymoon Island received a face lift last year designed to restore its remarkable beaches so that visitors could enjoy the shores that have thrilled beach-goers for decades. Stone jetties were added and sand was pumped onto the shore. The beaches looked fantastic and were ready to move forward, allowing visitors to enjoy the famous Honeymoon Island Beach into the future. The reality, however, has turned out quite different. A trip to the beach just two days ago revealed a troubling picture.

The Perfect Beach

Perfect beach Honeymoon IslandTen years ago when I first toured Honeymoon Island, I was taken by its swaths of white sand, beautiful palms, and ample space for visitors. The beachfront was lined with parking lots that filled up on busy weekends, the sands occupied with happy visitors. I joined them, sunning and swimming at the beach with friends and taking long walks to the north and south along the white-sand shores.

Destructive Storms

Coral rock beachEven then I heard concern voiced for the island due to the shifting sands. Over the years I watched the beach change but after a rather heavy set of storms, I returned to find the sand gone, with the substrate of coral rock in its place. The beach had been carried away so deeply that one section of parking lot had been undercut and collapsed. It was then that the serious efforts to save this cherished beach began in earnest. That led to last year’s jetties and sand replenishment. Logic, a visual study, and the experts agreed that the extra sand would be held in place by the rocks. In fact, the anticipated  sand movement should have piled up against the rocks, allowing nature to create even more beach area. Alas it did not prove so.

No More Beach Walks?

Honeymoon Island beach walkDuring the recent visit, I found most of the beach I had known missing, and certainly no large swaths of sand. January and February had brought high winter tides, which are normal, but the tides were also accompanied by high winds, perhaps associated with the El Nino conditions. The sand that was pumped onto the beach has been effected, and much of it seems to be gone. When I walked north, I saw that during recent high tides, the waters of the Gulf had washed completely across the beach into the inland waterways and only a few, very small areas of beach had remained above the waterline. Honeymoon Island parking lotThe waters reached the parking lot as well, with large pools collected in the low areas of pavement. I cut my walk north short because the rising tide met with the inland shrubbery, leaving no space to walk.

Startling Beach Erosion

Eroded beachBoardwalks led out onto the sand in the past. Those boardwalk ramps have now been shortened, with the ends fenced off and the beach access provided via stairs leading off the sides instead of the ends. When I walked north toward the dog beach area, I was alarmed to find the surf rolling into the mangrove bushes which had once been some fifty yards up the shore. The evidence of shifted sands was everywhere, which included washes of sand pushed inland alongside of uprooted bushes. Dog beach is now divided by a miniature estuary that runs about two feet deep. I will admit, the dogs didn’t seem to mind.

Return of the Natural Beach?

Honeymoon Island jettiWhat will the future of Honeymoon Island be? A placard on site suggests that the island is attempting to revert to the shape it had before development. After watching the sands at the various islands moving about, it seems that letting nature take its course is not a bad idea. As this Herculean effort to restore the beach proves, nature is going to run its course regardless. The question still remains, however, as to whether or not the beach will continue to wash away. Rock barrierThe rock barriers are still in place. Will the calmer summer tides and currents pile the sand back up? The island was created by natural forces so its disappearance is highly unlikely. As for the beach, it seems that a game of wait and see might be in order. I, for one, hope to see natural forces bring the sands back. Wishful thinking? Let’s hope not.

Central Gulf Coast Beaches to Visit

Clearwater BeachArea beaches that are surviving well are Anclote Key, Caladesi Island just to the south, and, of course, Clearwater Beach which has done quite well. Clearwater Beach, may, in fact, be the recipient of some of those migrating sands. Islands south of Clearwater Beach were replenished in the past and casual observation suggests they are remaining intact. If you are looking for sandy beaches in the area to visit, both natural and developed, those would be the locations to visit.

Honeymoon Island Beach

Honeymoon Island dog beachHoneymoon Island was one of the top beaches in the area and a favored seashore for spending the day in the sun and surf. The park’s allure for locals and tourists will continue but without the swaths of soft beach sand that once drew crowds, its future attendance will undoubtedly suffer. The saving graces of the island park include a nature center, picnic area, dog beach, a ferry to a neighboring island, and a nature trail that has remarkable bird watching opportunities.

Best Wishes for Honeymoon Island

Will the county try again to save the beach? Will the erosion create a much different island shape than the one we know today? Will the beach save itself? Or will the jetties create the intended effect and capture the shifting sands?  Those of us who love Honeymoon Island State Park will keep a close watch on its progress and hope for the best.

Honeymoon Island

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Wonders of Winter on Clearwater Beach

Posted on: January 27th, 2016 by MB No Comments

Treasures on the Beach

The beach is always an enjoyable place. Summer is the time people flock to the shores to dip into the waters or sunbathe on the shores. Winter, however, has its own sort or allure at the beach. It is a place to take long walks, to observe what you see on the sand, or to spend time with someone you care about.

sponge on beach

Winter brings higher tides, the waterline rising to surprising heights during full moons of December and January. At Clearwater Beach recently, the high tides were accompanied by high winds and larger waves, a unique event for a beach that ordinarily sees waves of a foot or less.

Conch on Clearwater Beach

The draw of the waves and high tide brought things to shore that one does not usually get a chance to see. Peculiar creates wound up scattered across the sand, bringing delight to those who were wise enough to go to beach on a cold day.

Seashell on Clearwater Beach

The Tampa Bay area, which includes Clearwater, is known for its sponges. A wide variety grows on the shallow, warm seafloor of this region. The turbulent waters detached those in unprotected areas, or that were perhaps old or even dead. They many shapes and colors added to the display on the beach.

Sponges on Clearwater Beach

The birds gathered to pick through the treasures, though in the early morning they more often gathered in groups to huddle against the cool breeze.

Seagull at sunrise Clearwater Beach

While many people enjoy a clean, debris-free beach, this wash-up was a delight. The faces of those walking the shores showed their enjoyment and the scattered display prompted strangers to discuss their finds and to comment on the peculiar volume of sea life on the sand.

Horsehoe crab on Clearwater Beach

The visual treasures of the beach were the type that easily create beach memories that can last a lifetime.

Conch with visible eyes

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Chowder Challenge Hits the Spot

Posted on: November 18th, 2015 by MB No Comments

Chowder Anticipation

Chowder Challenge 2015We were waiting for the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge long before it appeared on the 2015 calendar of events. This was a hit with us last year and we ready to go back. How many events have the best restaurants in the area all cooking to impress you? Last year’s event was a lot of fun so we set the date on the calendar and made our plans to attend.

Pass A Grille and St Pete Beach

Chowder Challenge 2015While the event is put on by the community of Pass A Grille, this year the park where the event is normally held was in use for a road repair project. Alas, the Chowder Challenge event was moved to another gorgeous, outdoor, waterfront venue in St Pete Beach. We heard the music on the way in and were pleased to see that the band had been set up right next to the intra-coastal waterway, providing a deep blue background for their stage. Dining tables spread across the lawn to the left, with nearly ever seat filled. The much-anticipated “chowder arena” awaited to the right. The chowder was ready, and so were we.

Chowder, Chowder, and More Chowder

Chowder ChallengeWe were happy to pay for our wrist band and get right to it. We started at the Shells booth and then made our way around the tent-ringed lawn. In total, we had to return three times in order to sample all of the chowders available. That’s a lot of chowder. You will notice that we are not saying clam chowder because, at this event, the types of chowder can vary in wild and fascinating ways. Aside from clams, the ingredients included grouper, shrimp, and conch, crab, and some others. The good news is that, with top recipes and restaurants involved, it was impossible to go wrong.

Picking a Chowder Challenge Winner

Chowder ChallengeWe won’t give away our personal chowder challenge favorites here, but we will say that there were too many delicious chowders to easily pick the winners. At the gate, you are given three coins to award vendors of your choice. That means you can only pick three top chowders. A pad and golf pencil are provided to keep the all-important notes. We made our difficult choices and voted from a host of top picks. It was hard to do, but that was the burden one bore when attending the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge for 2015.

According to the Facebook page for the Chowder Challenge;

The Golden Ladle Award went to Shells of St. Pete Beach.

Event judges gave the top spot to Snapper’s Sea Grille of St. Pete Beach.

The coins dropped at the booths decided the People’s Choice Award;

First Place –         Shells of St. Pete beach

Second Place –   Rumfish Grill at TradeWinds Island Resort

Third Place –      Loews at Don CeSar Hotel.

Pass a Grille

Pass a Grille is a Florida community at the south end of St Pete Beach, located on the Central Gulf Coast. This charming island town is quiet and fun to visit, with a fantastic stretch of sand for beach lovers.

 

Other posts you might enjoy:

Finding the Lost Dunedin Pass

Sea Turtles of the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Barrier Island Breakdown

 

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