Tag Archives: Florida vacation

Nautical dining room

What Is a Beach Villa?

What is a Villa?

2. Front ElevationThe word villa can conjure up images of wealthy British estates with rolling green lawns. For others it might bring forth pictures of quaint urban residences with blooming gardens. The term can also illicit memories of childhood holidays spent in a vacation home in the country, or by the sea. So which of these is a villa? Well, all of them, actually.

 

Vacation Villa

balconyWe at Florida Beach Rentals use the term villa when referring to vacation rentals. To us, a villa is a place by the sea, close to or even on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Villas are fun places to get away from it all, and what better place than the white sand beaches of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida?

 

Florida Beach Rentals Villas

1. Back Yard fire pitOur main villa namesake is the Villas of Clearwater Beach building. These vacation condos look directly over the sands of the beach, receiving some of the best beach views and dramatic sunsets available on Clearwater Beach. To join the vibrant beach life, one only needs to walk out onto the sands. Our other villa namesake is the Seaside Villa House. As the name suggests, this is a vacation house, making it a perfect family vacation villa. Walking to the beach is a mere casual stroll to the end of the street, and not a long walk at that.

 

Villas by the Sea

living room 2Why not take your next vacation in a villa by the sea? Enjoy the beautiful white sands of Clearwater Beach by day, view sunsets over the Gulf at days end, and then dive into the activities of the dynamic beach community by night?

 

 

Beach community vacation rental witha pool

St Pete Beach Pool House

Gulf Coast Vacation Rental Is a Charmer

3. Pool and Florida room 6-24-13

You know you are near the beach just by the feel of this vacation rental. While you will need to drive out to the shore, it’s not far off. This charming house is a great for a base camp for a Gulf Coast vacation. The interior has charming beach décor and is unarguably in keeping with the Florida lifestyle, with its two screened porches and swimming pool.

 

11. Dining room 6-24-13Vacation House Floor Plan

This home has seen additions, all of which add to its charm. The kitchen area is a great space for kids as well as a place to dine. The kitchen is centrally located for easy access from the rest of the house as well as making the kids easy to watch. A front screen room lets sandy feet enter the house without the mess, while the screened back porch allows you to relax in the shade by the pool.

 

Coffee Nook on the Florida Gulf Coast

24. Front patio room 6-24-13Does this vacation rental have a great place to relax with your coffee? No. It has several.

Let’s start with the screen room on the front of the home. This converted garage space couldn’t have more Florida appeal. Enjoy your joe here while watching the world go by.

The dining room is remarkably relaxed if you enjoy your coffee with breakfast. Roll up the shades and take in the sun.

If not the dining room then go right outside to sit on the patio furniture in the back porch screen room. This setting gives a great feeling of space, aside from being right next to the pool and shady palms.

Last but not least, why not go outside and sit in the shade of one those palms, with your feet in the pool? Really. Why not?

 

2. Swimming poolBeautiful Poolside Rental

The gem of this Gulf Coast vacation rental is the pool. The setting is beautiful, with a waterfall spilling into the pool and tall palms waving overhead. The wood fence gives the setting a sense of privacy.

 

 

Beachy Neighborhood with Nearby Attractions

27. Upham Beach 6-24-13

This neighborhood has a beachy feel as it is near the bottom of the peninsula. Though it is close to shopping areas, the immediate streets are calm and pleasant for walks. The beach is not too far off and a neighborhood pool with fun water fountains for the kids is close by. Fort De Soto Park is within easy driving distance and is repeatedly voted one of the best beaches in America. Be sure to look into nearby theme parks like Busch Gardens or even Disney World.

 

 

7. Florida RoomEntertain Your Friends or Family

This house is great for weekend bar-b-ques. Why not have a get together around the pool while serving up burgers for your guests? This vacation rental is well equipped for anyone who likes to relax and play before even leaving the house.

 

 Why I Would Stay at The Saint Pete Beach Pool House

This house has everything vacationers needs to enjoy their stay without ever leaving the house. Florida atmosphere permeates this rental, making it a great place to feel like you are on vacation every minute of the day. Despite the comforts, the area has plenty of attractions to draw you out of the house. The community is very much about the beach, and nearby public beaches are fantastic.

23. 2nd bedroom 20. Master bedroom 6-24-13

 

 

 

 

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owl chick

Where to See Great Horned Owls on the Florida Gulf Coast

Gulf Coast Local Secret #11

Central Gulf Coast Owls

Florida owlOne of the great things about the Central Gulf Coast is the incredible variety of birds. Among them are Great Blue Herons, Great White Herons, Night Herons, Bald Eagles, Osprey, Pelicans, and, of course, the Great Horned Owl. All these and many, many more thrive along the Florida Gulf Coast. Catching sight of these birds is usually quite easy. To see owls, however, bird watchers have to work a little harder.

 

Seeing a Great Horned Owl

Kapok Park (1)Great Horned Owls might be found in any forested area along the Gulf Coast. Discovering where they are hiding is another matter. They are very good at hiding and are also known as the Tiger Owl, probably due to the stripped pattern on their feathers, which helps them to blend into their surroundings. It is far more likely that you will be sighted by a Great Horned Owl than the other way around. To see these remarkable birds, the advice might seem a little too obvious. You need to look up! Great Horned Owls like to sit high up in large trees and will usually sit on a branch right where it comes off the trunk, for added concealment.

 

Sighting Great Horned Owls on the Central Gulf Coast

owl chickThe two best places to see Great Horned Owls are Kapok Park and Honeymoon Island Recreation Area. Kapok Park has wide open spaces with bike and hiking trails surrounding a lake. A pair of Great Horned Owls has been known to breed there, offering a potential sighting of chicks. Honeymoon Island is a nesting site for a variety of large birds, the Great Horned Owl included. Park rangers and locals usually know where the owl nests are so don’t be afraid to ask.

Good luck with your sightings and be sure to have your camera ready!

 

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Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Best View of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Gulf Coast Local Secret #9

Fort DeSoto (3)The Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is one of the most scenic bridges in America. Add that to the reality that it carries drivers to the vacation paradise of the Central Gulf Coast, and you have a must-see bridge. But where is the best place to view it?

 

Fort De Soto (5)On the Road Photos

Plenty of good pictures can be taken from either side. While the roadway does curve, allowing for moderate side shots, we don’t consider the roadway to be the best location from which to take the ultimate pictures.

 

The Secret to Great Sunshine Skyway Bridge Views

Fort DeSoto (1)

The best location to enjoy the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is Fort De Soto Park. The view is great, capturing the turquoise waters of the bay along with a perfect shot of the bridge from the side. To get to this viewing location, you have to enter Fort De Soto Park. You get far more than a view of the bridge by taking this trip. The beach at Fort De Soto Park is voted best in America repeatedly. In addition, you can tour through what remains of the actual fort, including interior rooms and exterior cannon firing areas –complete with cannons. The experience as a whole is fantastic.

 

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Sailboat

Regatta

What Is a Regatta?

Dunedin, Hurricane Pass (13)A regatta is a series of boat races but the word also refers to the activities that accompany the races. Perhaps it could be seen as a boat race surrounded by race excitement and activities. This conjures up a pleasant picture when one considers going to see a regatta or perhaps to join one. While the term may conjure images of sailboats, the word originally comes from Italian, referring to gondola races.

Regatta Beach Club

1. Regatta Beach Club Front ElivationDo sailboat or gondola races launch from the Regatta Beach Club? Well, no. While nearby Tampa Bay and Saint Joseph Sound host many sailboat races a year, the Regatta Beach Club is named for its beach access and shorefront theme. It is the most northern high rise condominium complex on Clearwater Beach with breathtaking views of America’s number one beach. The sands are white and very soft on bare feet. Sunsets are spectacular from Regatta Beach Club balconies.

Looking Out for Regattas

18. View of the pool areaWhile you may not see a regatta launch from the Regatta Beach Club, you just might catch glimpses of races that pass by your section of shoreline. You could always check the racing schedules in the area. In the meantime, why not imagine boats pushing off from the Regatta Beach Club dock or racing flags flying on the rooftop.

 

For more info on the Regatta Beach Club, click here.

16. Balcony with table and chairs 6. Master Bedroom with King  size bed

 

 

 

 

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Beach Cottage

Sand Dollar Clearwater Beach Cottage

We had a chance to personally experience what the SanDollar Clearwater Beach Cottage had to offer while on the photo shoot for this rental. The Florida Beach Rental unit is in the heart of the Clearwater Beach community and has some really great features.

 

1. Front elevationBeach Cottage Appeal

This beach community rental home has a great seaside feel starting right from the curb appeal. A collection of shells greets you at the door while on the inside, the furniture and color schemes are all in keeping with what you would expect from a beach cottage. Pinks, blues and greens keep the spaces lively and carry you away to the beach even when you are indoors.

 

11. Family roomCozy Cottage near the Beach

The floor plan makes staying this seaside cottage a breeze. The kitchen forms the central hub from where you can travel easily to the living room, family room and kids’ room. This beach style rental will make an easy to use launch pad for getting out to the nearby beach whenever you want.

 

16. Master bedroomCottage Decor Master Bedroom

The master bedroom is reminiscent of the sea with its blue color scheme and oversize jars of seashells collected from the shores nearby. The en suite bathroom is decorated to never let you forget you are enjoying the sunny shores of Florida.

 

Poolside Coffee in the Shade at this Clearwater Beach Rental

The opportunities available to enjoy the morning coffee at this beach cottage are fantastic. Enjoy your brew in the family room while looking out through the wall of windows or sit on the patio set just outside within the screened porch that enjoys shade all day long. If you’d like some sun, head out to the exterior patio table or get comfortable on a poolside recliner. Even the front porch offers a space to unwind while you watch the world go by.

 

7. KitchenBright Kitchen with Beach Cottage Appeal

The kitchen enjoys the bright beachy feel spread throughout the rest of the rental. Parents can keep an eye on things from this central room with a view of the living room, family room, kids room and the swimming pool! The wide floor also has some space to accommodate that extra cook.

The Amenities You Need

This three bedroom rental is equipped with two bathrooms, a garage, and a screen room. Towels for the pool are on-site and you will find a washer and dryer in the garage.

 

26. Screened patioRelaxing Cottage Patio in Sun or Shade

The backyard has great shade trees for reclining in the breeze as well as open spaces to catch some sun. Plenty of chairs of various styles wait for you around the pool. If a towel is more your style, lay yours out on the spacious, decorator-brick patio.

 

Safe and Upscale Living

This beach community is prime living space in Clearwater. Enjoy a well maintained street where you can take morning and evening walks to take in some air. A bike ride can take you right down to the beach!

 

30. PoolsideBeach Cottage Poolside

This backyard pool at this beach cottage rental has some great extras. Aside the spacious yard, this pool is surrounded by chairs, recliners, a patio dinging set and a hammock. An enclosed, outdoor shower awaits you to rinse off after your swim. The bar-b-que brill is not far off. What more could you ask for?

 

Vacation Cottage for the Kids

This beach rental is great for kids. Aside from ample sleeping arrangements, it has TVs in both the living room and the spacious family room. The pool is a favorite for kids and the low traffic neighborhood is kid friendly.

 

29. PoolsideGreat for Get Togethers

This beachy rental has lots of seating in the family room and outside on the patio furniture. A wicker bar occupies one corner of the screen room while outside seating and the bar-b-que grill are just asking for a get together.

 

Why I Would Stay at the Sandollar Vacation Rental Cottage

This beach house is just plain great. It has lots of room, two TV rooms, and looks like it would be a blast to hang out in. The Florida sun can’t get too hot when you have a pool to jump into. The neighborhood is prime beach community, a fun place to live or vacation. This Gulf Coast vacation rental is close to the hot spots of Clearwater Beach but far enough away to let you completely unwind when that’s what you want.

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Pass between Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island, Florida

Hurricane Pass Tidal Currents

Gulf Coast Local Secret # 6

Hurricane Pass, DunedinUnique Gulf Coast Tidal Currents

Hurricane Pass is located between Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island off the Dunedin Causeway in Dunedin Florida. Other locations in the area also have inlets dubbed “hurricane pass,” but this one is accessible on foot along the beaches. The pass was created by a hurricane nearly a hundred years ago and now serves as a great throughway for boat traffic. Because of its location, it is affected by tides from the inland waterways of Saint Joseph Sound on either side of the Dunedin Causeway. When the tides move in and out of the sound, the water is pushed through this narrow channel in great volume and speed.

 

Why Is Hurricane Pass a Gulf Coast Local Secret?

Hurricane Pass

Hurricane Pass Video

While most people know about the pass, what locals have discovered is that visiting the pass during incoming and outgoing tides can be fun! If you are an experienced kayaker, you can play in the tides that pull past the tip of Caladesi Island. On foot, you will see how the nearby city of Clearwater got its name when the crystal clear waters go swishing past your feet on the tip of Honeymoon Island. You might catch a glimpse here of eddies that grow as big as 100 feet across.

 

Play Safe in the Gulf of Mexico

Keep safety in mind when playing in the Gulf of Mexico. Dipping into these powerful currents is not recommended! Avoid stepping near the edge of the shallow ledge of sand that is clearly visible at this location. Keep the kids under good control. Great, safe places to swim are a very short stroll away so use those if you want do dive in. Please enjoy this wonder of nature with a measure of prudence.

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Clearwater Beach seagulls

Clearwater Beach Seagulls

Howard Park (6)aThe Florida Gulf Coast Has the Best Looking Gulls

Ever wonder why the gulls flying overhead at Clearwater Beach appear so photogenic? The answer is that they are flying over the brilliant white sands of the Gulf of Mexico. With the sun shining overhead, the white sands light up, casting light back into the air. When the white bellied seagulls fly over the sands, their feathers catch the reflected light from below, giving them a beautiful hue. The effect creates great photo opportunities.

 

How to Get Great Photos of Florida Gulf Coast Seagulls

Clearwater Beach (172)

Seagulls of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida are not rare. You will see them anywhere you go, although they like the beast more than other locations –just like us! Attracting seagulls for your photo is not hard. In fact, it’s a little too easy. Just hold a potato chip or piece of bread up in the air and you will soon be swarmed with sea gulls. Try throwing a few tidbits up in the air. It’s fun to watch.

 

A Word of Caution with Florida Gulf Coast Seagulls

Howard Park (8)aIf you choose to gather Florida Gulf Coast seagulls like described above, there are two drawbacks. One, you might get sea gull droppings on you. Two, you will probably upset fellow beach goers. This tactic is best done when on an empty section of beach. You should also be ready to dive into the Gulf to wash off, just in case.

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TriRock Triathlon at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach TriRock Triathlon 2013

TriRock Triathlon at Clearwater Beach

TriRock triathletes at Clearwater BeachThe TriRock Triathlon hit Clearwater Beach last week on Sunday November 10th. The normal routes north and south on Clearwater Beach were closed down and the streets filled with participants and spectators. The racers gathered in the dark hours of the morning with a good showing of spectators braving the early hours to get a view of the race. The spectators gathered on Pier 60, overlooking the swimming course, while the racers and their supporters formed a large crowd on the beach below. The sunrise was beautiful and, not long after, the starting gun sounded.

 

Clearwater Beach TriRock Triathlon Race Course

TriRock triathletes Clearwater BeachThe Gulf of Mexico was the scene for the swimming course, with large, orange course markers easy to see in the rising sun. The swimmers emerged to cheers and headed for the transition area. The bike route headed over the Clearwater Beach causeway and through the city of Clearwater, Florida. Bikers headed south to the next beach bridge at Belleair Beach where they headed back north again. The running portion of the race took the racers around South Beach of Clearwater Beach and back onto the causeway. The finish line waited for the racers on the lawn in front of Pier 60, where a female announcer in a tutu peeled off quips for the arriving racers.

 

Great Location for TriRock at Clearwater Beach

TriRock Clearwater Beach triathlete bicyclesFantastic weather graced the racers of the Clearwater Beach TriRock event. The weather was mild and fairly dry, providing some of the best exercise weather of the year for the hard working participants. Aside from the beautiful Gulf Shores of Clearwater Beach, the racers were treated to well-maintained Pier 60 area, Beach Walk and the beautiful beach causeway. The bicycle route looping south to the Belleaire Causeway was easy on the eyes as well. Spectator opportunities were endless, with the race course wide open and accessible. The Pier 60 staging area, with its MulitSport Expo, had plenty of space for both racers and spectators to gather at the end of the race.

 

TriRock triathlon Clearwater BeachTriRock Clearwater Beach Triathlon Winners

The Clearwater Beach TriRock triathlon had three divisions; Intermediate, Sprint, and Relay. You can see the winners for the Sprint here, the Intermediate race winners here, and the Relay team winners here.

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Kayaks on Honeymoon Island

Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

Gulf Coast Local Secret #3

Secret Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

Hurricane Pass, DunedinCaladesi Island is accessible by two means, including a very long beach hike north from Clearwater Beach or by boat. The most popular means of arrival is the Caladesi Island ferry which cruises between Honeymoon Island beach and Caladesi. A fun way to arrive is by kayak. The most often used launch site is the Dunedin Causeway which serves as the bridge to Honeymoon Island. A great kayak rental shop sits on the shores, right at the best launch site on the narrow strip of land. Be sure to ask directions and be prepared to do some paddling, this is not necessarily a kayak trip for beginners. The good news is that some of the very best sightseeing in the region is along the route.

 

Directions to the Hidden Kayak Trail

Kayaks on Honeymoon IslandThe directions to the Caladesi Island kayak trail are simple -pretty much. Launch westward from the Dunedin Causeway toward the northern tip of Caladesi Island, which is close by and clearly visible. When you arrive at the other side of the waterway, be sure to get out and play or stroll on the north end of the island. It is one of the most beautiful strips of white-sand beach you will find on Earth. Be mindful of the bird sanctuaries! Once you are back in the boats, head south along the inland coast of the island. This is the long part of the trip. You will row past mangroves for quite a while. Enjoy the ride while you admire the mangroves and spot birds among the branches and stilt-like roots. Watch for the passing ferries. You will be able to locate the route to the Caladesi Island docks by seeing where they enter the mangroves. The opening is wide and has channel markers for larger boat traffic leading up to it. Cruise down the channel, turning right then left. Signs ought to tell you if you make a wrong turn by warning of shallow water. At long last you will arrive at the boat docks. But where is the kayak trail?

 

How to Find the Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

KayakerHidden along the edges of the Caladesi Island docks is the beginning of the kayak trail. Although it is nearly invisible to the eye, it is actually easy to find! Keep to the far left while entering the docks, keeping the mangroves at your elbow. When you round the left hand turn inside the dock area, you will see a maintenance area dead ahead. Keep looking to your left and you will see an opening in the mangroves with a small white sign. It is marker number one for the trail. Peering inside you will see a tunnel created by the roots and branches of the mangrove forest. It’s ok. Go ahead on in.

 

Caladesi Island Kayak Trail

Dunedin, Hurricane Pass (10)Enjoy the trail through the mangroves. You should see wildlife along the way. Birds hide out among the branches, and keep an eye out for the crabs that run up and down the mangrove roots. The entire trail is shaded, making for a very pleasant paddle. This is one of the top kayak adventures in the area, so enjoy. When you come back out into the Sound, just turn left and before long you will pass by the entrance of the channel leading to the Caladesi Island docks. Once you identify this landmark, you are on your way back to the Dunedin Causeway by the same way you arrived. Trip time: 2-4 hours.

 

 

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