Insider Interview: Florida’s North Captiva & Boca Grande

3435492417_cd85059273_bIt’s no wonder Sarah Rapp loves what she does.  For the last 10 years she has worked as a Broker/Realtor and advertising agent for rental properties throughout Southwestern Florida.  As the owner of her own company, Sarah has worked for 8 years in North Captiva and 2 years in Boca Grande and owns a private residence in North Captiva…although she divides her time between Boca Grande and North Captiva.

And who wouldn’t love dividing their time between these gorgeous barrier islands?

 Tropic Ten - Dunes Of Boca

Tropic Ten - Dunes Of Boca

Sarah recalls her first visit to North Captiva, “I loved the natural beauty – it’s still somewhat untouched and family oriented.”

And untouched they are – North Captiva is only accessible by boat and there are no cars on the island, vacationers instead opting to navigate around the island by golf cart, bicycle and boat.

Boca Grande has a land bridge making car travel an option, however many still choose to get around in golf carts or on bike.

“For some people, the fact that they have to be without their car in North Captiva is a bit too much,” says Sarah.  ”So Boca Grande is the next best fit.”

Peak season for both of these lush US islands runs from March through the first part of April.  However, both of these locals have great weather year-round, so go ahead and plan your trip for the off-season when you can enjoy warm weather and great rates on North Captiva vacation rentals!  And if you’re concerned about hurricanes, they are no reason to miss out on a great tropical escape.  Sarah recommends getting travel insurance if you’re planning your trip anytime between August and November.

Once in Boca Grande, vacationers have many options of activities – one of Sarah’s favorites is to head out on one of the many bike paths that wind through the city.  Sarah has also found that Boca Grande has some of the best shelling of anywhere Sarah has been, saying  ”They’re magnificent”

Gasparilla Inn

Gasparilla Inn

She also recommends stopping by the charming Gasparilla Inn & Club for dinner and drinks.  The club has a variety of dining options ranging from The Main Dining Room (open for breakfast and dinner daily), The Pink Elephant, or “The Pink” as many call it (a more casual option for lunch, dinner and drinks), or the popular BZ’s lounge where patrons can lounge on the sofas and chairs and sip one of the Inn’s signature drinks: Gaspartinis, Mojitos and Planter’s Punch.

North Captiva and Boca Grande are only about a 40 minute boat ride apart from eachother – close enough to plan a day trip from one to the other.

Sarah’s North Captiva Picks

A good catch on a North Captiva fishing charter!

A good catch on a North Captiva fishing charter!



  • Island Girl Charters, is a water taxi service to North Captiva, docking at Safety Harbor Club and Barnacle Phil’s Restaurant. They offer daily trips to the Pink Elephant on Boca Grande and Cabbage Key, as well as nature, dolphin watching, shelling, manatee and birding trips.”
  • Visit Boats and Fun run by father, Alberto Barbero, and son, Matias Barbero, who Sarah refers to as “Mr. Fun,” for jet ski, kayak, wakeboard and boat rentals, banana boat and inter-tube rides, and scuba & dolphin excursions.  ”Matias is always smiling, always happy,” says Sarah.  Boats and Fun “has really created a great shop – you can go by and ask them when the tide is, what’s going on around town, anything.”

Vacationers who stay at one of our North Captiva beach house rentals also get to enjoy a guest membership (and all of the amenities that come with it!) to the North Captiva Island Club Resort.  The club offers 2 clay tennis courts, 2 swimming pools, kayaks, bikes, beach chairs, fitness equipment, day excursions, a pool bar that also serves up milkshakes for the kids and more.  The staff of the North Captiva Island Club will also help assist with groceries and luggage!

Hello, my name is Belize!

Traveling through Belize you will see the sign, “No Shirt, No Shoes…No Problem!” nearly everywhere you go. This relaxed approach to life is only part of what is attracting more and more visitors to Belize each year.

Ambergris Caye Island, BelizeLocated between Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and south and the Caribbean Sea to the east, Belize is a country of contrasts.  Belize may be the only country in Central America where English is the official language, but Belize has a diverse society, composed of many cultures and speaking many languages and, culturally, Belize considers itself to be both Caribbean and Central American.

Geographically Belize has a lot for travelers to take in as well.  The Caribbean coast is lined with a coral reef and some 450 islets and islands known locally as Cayes.  In total they comprise about 270 square miles of land and form the 200 mile long Belize Barrier Reef, the second longest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef.  Three of the four coral atolls in the Western Hemisphere are also located off the coast of Belize.

And, because over 40 of Belize’s mass is a protected national park, wildlife sanctuary or marine reserve, there is no shortage of wildlife.  Sharks, coral fish, dolphins and turtles troll the waters, and over 570 species of birds, including toucans, fly the skies.

Caye Caulker, BelizeCaye Caulker – one of the tiny islands off of the Belize coast – is a great place to observe the culture of Belize, while staying within a budget.  In fact, this island has been a stop for backpackers and college travelers for decades!  Many of the residents of Caye Caulker are fishermen, making the island a great place to get fresh spiny lobster and snapper.  There are no cars on Caye Caulker but there are plenty of beaches, friendly locals and delicious food.

Another must see while in Belize is Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, named after the cashew trees that inhabit the village.  For $8 you get access to the community that is actually home to 900 locals, of Creole descent, who have been farming and fishing the area for generations.  If you make it there in the morning, you’ll also get to see the amazing variety of birds that inhabit the area and make this one of the top birding destinations in the world.

After you’ve conquered Belize by land, venture seaward and see Belize’s Hol Chanand the Great Blue Hole.  Hol Chan, also known as “Shark-Ray Alley,” is an split in the reef where nurse sharks and sting rays among other marine life, make their home.  Besides being a prime destination for dive excursions, Hol Chan is also a marine reserve.

Great Blue HoleFirst made famous by Jacques Cousteau, the Great Blue Hole is a large underwater sinkhole that can be seen from space!  The world’s largest feature of its kind, the Hole  attracts divers looking to catch a glimpse of the nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks and Blacktip sharks that live in the area.  Dive trips to the Great Blue Hole are usually full-day trips, including a dive in the Blue Hole and two other dives in nearby reefs.

Whatever attracts you to Belize, the warmth of the local culture will make you feel you’ve found a second home.  Actually, many visitors have made it their second home – and when the owners are away, why not take advantage of the great deals to be had by renting a vacation house in Belize rather than paying a nightly rate for a hotel?

Guest Blog – Pass-Crabbing in Florida

Pass Crab Fishing, Boca Grande, Florida

On my most recent beach vacation to North Captiva Island, I had the opportunity to go “pass – crabbing” with my friends Captain Dennis and Captain Gretchen. I must say it was a blast! While Dennis and my husband were fishing for the “big fish,” Gretchen and I had our nets out for the pass crabs. Crabs are great bait for many species in Florida waters.

Pass Crabs are almost identical to Blue Crabs in shape, but they only grow to approximately four to five inches in width. You can catch Pass Crabs in south Florida during the outgoing tide on the surface, usually floating along with grass as it flows toward the Gulf.

Tarpon Fishing, Florida

You simply take a long handled net and dip them out of the water. There are a few bait shops in south Florida that sell them, but they are few and far between. The primary use for pass crabs is for tarpon in the Boca Grande area, but they are just as good, maybe better, than blue crabs for a variety of fish. Hook them in the same way as blue crabs – through the back leg hole and out the top shell.

Have a Happy Cinco de Mayo at a Beach Villa Rental!

Children in traditional dress celebrate Cinco de Mayo; © Lawrence Migdale

Children in traditional dress celebrate Cinco de Mayo; © Lawrence Migdale

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a holiday held on May 5. It is celebrated nationwide in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla. The date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, and to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War. In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Contrary to widespread popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day, the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico, which occurs on September 16th.

If Cinco de Mayo has you craving a south-of-the-boarder get-away, click HERE to see’s great inventory of Mexico beach vacation rentals!

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Cozumel Beach Villa Rentals‚ Yucatan Peninsula‚ Mexico

Cozumel Beach Villa Rentals‚ Yucatan Peninsula‚ Mexico

Endless Ways to Have Fun in Cancun

beaches in cancunCancun, a coastal city on the Yucatan Peninsula, is the most popular vacation spot in Mexico.  The city attracts four million tourists every year and an average of 190 flights daily! Anyone is bound to have a great time in Cancun because there is something for everyone in this exciting city.

Vacationers can enjoy the stunning white-sand beaches, play water-sports, eat exquisite food, enjoy the buzzing nightlife, shop, and observe the rich culture and history of the city.  Cancun’s has a superb tropical climate that is characterized by mild weather year-round makes it even more attractive for tourists.

While you are visiting Cancun, explore the many and varying beaches.  The beaches on the north side, including Playa Las Perlas, Playa Linda, and Playa Tortugas, have serene waters that are ideal for surfing, sailing, underwater diving, boat trips, and swimming.  To the east are more beautiful beaches, including Playa Marlín, Playa Ballenas, and San Miguelito, which generally have stronger currents and produce giant waves. 

scuba diving in cancunWhether you are a diver or a snorkeler, the clear water of Cancun is home to a variety of beautiful fish.  Scuba diving is extremely popular in Cancun because the city has clear, shallow waters and a superb coral reef.  The most popular and exciting reefs to dive are Banderas, Chitales, and El Bajito and San Toribio, San Miguel, and Aristos for the experienced divers.  Cancun has many diving centers, including Scuba Cancun, Cancun Scuba Diving, and Manta Divers, that offer safe dives for everyone.

Parasailing is also a popular activity at the beaches and perhaps the best way to view the coastline – the rider is strapped into a colorful parachute and, once airborne, is led over the sand and surf behind a speed boat.  Sailing and windsurfing is offered as well.  The small boats provide enthralling rides especially in a brisk breeze.

Enjoy deep sea fishing and have the opportunity to fish Barracuda, Gruper, Red Snapper, and Sailfish on an air-conditioned yacht!  All of these activities are readily available and easy to find – simply step out of your Mexico beach vacation rental and see where the day takes you!

Chichen ItzaChichen Itza is another must-see for vacationers of Cancun – it is one of the modern wonders of the world and rightly so…its exceptional architectural beauty is bound to leave you in awe!

El Mexicano Restaurant features a live Folkloric Show, a mariachi band, and a folkloric ballet every night, in addition to delicious food and an exceptional ambiance.  The Ballet Folklorico de Cancun at the Cancun Convention Center has a fantastic dinner show and features music and dances from all parts of Mexico.

Cancun’s buzzing nightlife has been entertaining the masses for years!  Missed out on your spring break or just looking for a repeat performance?  The Cancun Party-Hopper Tour offers an exciting evening!  Skip the lines and be treated like a VIP during this tour – enjoy the lively atmosphere and dance the night away!

Cancun has it all!  Historical wonders, adventurous activities, cultural dining and crafts, and a nightlife to be reckoned with!  It is one of the most exciting cities for a vacation as you will never run out of things to do!  Visit Cancun and have the time of your life!

Myrtle Beach’s Golden Shores

North Myrtle beach is a beautiful and peaceful city located along a nine-mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean coastline in South Carolina.  The beautiful city was created in 1968 when four small beach towns—Cherry Grove, Ocean Drive, Crescent Beach, and Windy Hill Beach consolidated into one town.

The fairly new city has developed into an exceedingly popular tourist hotspot because of its stunning, sandy beaches, enjoyable activities, and world-class attractions.  Thousands of visitors vacation at North Myrtle Beach, especially in the summer, to have a relaxing and fun-filled vacation experience.  Luxurious beach vacation homes are very popular among tourists because they make you feel as if you are at home away from home and you can thoroughly enjoy the real spirit of this city.

North Myrtle Beach is widely known for its superb beaches.  Cherry Grove has scenic salt marshes that have colorful wildlife.  By staying at a beach house, you can relax on your deck while watching the fascinating pelicans and egrets, or go to the fishing pier and catch your own dinner!  Tilghman Beach is an old residential community that has many chic shops and restaurants.  Ocean Drive Beach is a beautiful and exciting beach that is surrounded by many nightclubs.  Be sure to bring dancing shoes and try the Shag which is the indigenous state dance!

The beaches are ideal for relaxing, sunning, surfing, water skiing, kayaking, snorkeling.  Fishing is a very popular activity in North Myrtle Beach and visitors can enjoy inshore, offshore, and surf fishing and find some of the largest and most unique fish in this city!  North Myrtle Beach also offers party boat fishing, private charters, casino cruises, and riverboat cruises.

In addition, North Myrtle Beach is a haven for golfers as the city has over 120 world-class golf courses that are designed by well-known architects.  The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, located right off the beach, is the area’s most prestigious golf course, while the Barefoot Resort up the road features a collaborative design on its courses by some of the best players in the world – Dye, Fazio, Love III and Greg Norman.

North Myrtle Beach is also a wonderful place for a family vacation—the city boasts numerous theme parks, aquariums, adventure parks, race tracks and miniature golf courses.  The city also has a prominent culture of performing arts.  Le Grand Cirque at the Palace Theatre is a mesmerizing performance features the globally acclaimed acrobatic and theatrical performers.  The show is so spectacular and surreal it will leave you in amazement and wonder!

North Myrtle Beach has a wide variety of fine restaurants that have diverse cuisines including Italian, Japanese, French, and classic American.  Among the top to try – Villa Romana (Italian), Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse (Brazilian), Bonefish Grill (seafood), and Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy (Mexican).

Whether you want to take a fun-filled family vacation or invest in Myrtle Beach House Real Estate, you are sure to have a superb holiday at a luxurious beach vacation home in the beautiful North Myrtle Beach.

Akumal – the Secret Jewel of Mexico

Akumal is a hidden jewel that will keep you coming back year after year once you discover it! The most distinct attribute of this wonderful community is that its serene, tranquilizing atmosphere provides miraculous tropical therapy for the soul. Akumal is a small beach-front community located about an hour and ten minutes south of Cancun in Mexico.

Akumal has a variety of stunning beaches, fun bars, and enjoyable activities. Tourists of this area have found that renting beach houses, rather than paying top dollar to stay in hotels, allows them to immerse themselves into the local community, rather than looking from the outside in.  Renting a house or villa in Mexico also allows for a private and homey vacation experience!

Akumal is known for the beautiful sandy white beaches where you can enjoy palm trees, the sun, surfing, snorkeling, diving, and feel as if you are in heaven! Akumal, located on the Mexican Caribbean coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula, has six distinct bays: Central Akumal, Akumal Beach, North Akumal, Jade Beach, South Akumal, and Aventuras Akumal.

Central Akumal, established by Don Pablo Bush, is the original Akumal Bay; you can shop, go to restaurants, bars, and enjoy the beautiful beach. La Buena Vida, or the Good Life, beach bar in North Akumal is one of the most romantic spots of this community.  Pick up a bottle of wine and enjoy it with your sweetheart in this surreal location!

The waters of Akumal have an abundance of tropical fish and coral gardens; hence it is an extremely popular destination for divers.  Akumal’s reef, known as the “jewel of the Caribbean,” is part of the Mesoamerican Reef that stretches along the Yucatan Peninsula.  The reef has a multifarious variety of species of coral, fish, flora, and reptiles.  In addition, snorkeling is a popular activity in Akumal’s beaches as well.  Walk out your beach vacation home and enjoy snorkeling any time!

Moreover, Yalku lagoon, a series of lagoons leading out to the sea, is another distinct characteristic of Akumal.  Its serene waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.  Many also travel here for its great bird-watching – observe a great variety of beautiful birds in Yalku while taking in a vibrant sunrise!

Akumal has many delicious restaurants that serve traditional Mayan food, fresh seafood, Italian food, and typical American food.  The community has wonderful, indigenous shops that sell folk art, handcrafted jewelry, and traditional clothing.  Markets sell fabulous Mexican pottery, blankets, hammocks, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tulum Beach Vacation Rental House

Tulum Beach Vacation Rental House

Besides the exquisite city of Akumal, the famous, historic city of Tulum also offers a variety of exciting things to do and places to see. It is only 19 miles south of Akumul.  Tulum is a spectacular city that has archeological sites where you can see the Mayan ruins – a must-see for vacationers of Akumal!

Akumal is a spectacular town that promises an unforgettable experience.  After one trip to this paradaisical location, you will keep coming back for more!

Need an excuse to travel? has answers for you!

The Economy - it’s the classic example of making lemons into lemonade. Replace the negativity of covid with the positivity of a ticket to paradise!  The economic downturn has forced the travel industry to get creative in order to get people back on the wagon – er, airplane? – and part with their hard earned money.  If you thought the “discount” flight/hotel/rental car vacation packages of last year were something to talk about, you will discover that they are still readily available.  Travel sites and agencies are now practically giving away freebies to popular destinations like Maui, Newport Beach and Mexico…think 7 nights in a beachfront condo for the price of 6, book a flight now and get a free rental car, etc.

Someone’s Getting Married - it happens to everyone at one time or another – that crazy summer where 8 of your closest friends all decide to get married.  Your emotions run the gamut…first comes happiness, hey, they’ve found that elusive special someone!  Next comes nostalgia – guys, you fondly think back to the times when you and your buddies genuinely thought girls had cooties, and girls, you remember all the times when your friends actually thought they were going to end up marrying their First Kiss. But then your mind clears and you realize that 8 weddings = broke by Fall.  The one silver lining?  Bachelor/Bachelorette parties!  Whether you settle on a weekend of The Hangover-style debauchery in Vegas, a trip to a California beach for some wine tasting, or a relaxing spa getaway in Virginia Beach, jump at the opportunity to get away.  One day you’ll all be old and married and these will be the times you reminisce about…if you and your wolf pack don’t get hit with a case of the “floories” and can remember them.

You Just Graduated - Before you hang up your proverbial “party hat” for good, why not embark on one last hoorah!? Gather up your fellow alumni and hit the road to put your education to the test.

Math:  if you’re traveling at a rate of 83 mph and that carload of cute girls next to you is traveling at a rate of 87 mph, what time will you guys meet in Miami Beach?

Foreign Language:  what is the most grammatically correct way to say, “Can you please bring us another round of tequila shots” in Spanish, as you party on the beach in Cabo?

Philosophy:  if, while the Earth is turning on its axis, you’re roaming the ocean on a cruise ship headed for the Bahamas, but you are also in your cabin with a serious case of the spins, does that mean that you’re really standing still?  You get the point.  So get out - before you join the masses and are forced do don a business suit rather than a bathing suit!

You Just Got a New Job - Congratulations – you’ve officially traded in your freedom for a paycheck!  Rest assured…in the long run, that is the smart and responsible thing to do, but in the short term, it can seem like in one handshake and one “Welcome aboard” from the HR woman, your life as you know it ended.  But instead, you’re reading this and contemplating where you want to travel to blow off some of your newfound signing bonus, while your official start date is still a week and a half out! Why not check out the beaches of Panama City?

You Just Got Fired - Congratulations – you’ve officially traded in a paycheck for your freedom!  Rest assured…in the short term, it can seem like in one handshake and one “I’m sorry, but…” from the HR woman, your life as you know it ended.  But in the long run, if you hadn’t just gotten the axe, you’d be stuck in your cubicle right now. But instead, you’re reading this and contemplating where you want to travel to blow off some of your newfound severance pay/unemployment! Bargain vacations can be found in Texas – check out these Corpus Christi beach houses,

Kids - I don’t have kids.  But I can imagine that if I did have one/some, like with every job (regardless of how much I love it) I would eventually be ready for some time off.  Which brings us to, yet another excuse to travel!  Maybe you have one on the way and you need someplace to relax in the sun and cherish the last few weeks of your party of 2.  Or perhaps you and your significant other are thinking it may be about time to get down to – um, business – and are in need of one last wild week while you can still sleep in however late you want.  Whatever your situation, start practicing being a parent now – everyone knows that the best excuse for anything is to blame it on the kids! I suggest a beach vacation in Hawaii!

Truth is… you don’t need an excuse to travel. Check out all of the beach houses and condos for rent on We have thousands of listings all over the world to assist you with checking off that bucket list.

5 Stunning Home Decor Ideas for Your Beach House

Owning a beach house is a sound investment for your family to enjoy or turn into a rental property. Making your beach house an attractive home for personal or commercial use adds a stunning, relaxing, and comfortable space. Are you planning to buy a beach house or redecorate it? Consider the following five home décor ideas for your beach house.

Use the Right Wall Paint Colors

The color of the outside and inside of your beach house depends on your style. Because of the high temperatures in hot areas, minimize the heat from the sunlight by selecting wall paint colors that bounce off light. Dark colors absorb 70 to 90 percent of heat from sunlight, while lighter colors reflect sunlight and thus heat away from your beach house. Heat absorbed into your home can make your beach house feel stuffy and more costly as you end up using more air conditioning to cool your home.

For the interior walls, the use of neutral or coastal colors acts as the perfect background for creative and colorful décor accents, such as cushions, throws, and rugs or carpets. Light neutral colors create a sense of spacious, easy, and comfortable space.

Bring the Outdoors Indoors

The white beach, blue sky, sunrise or sunset, and the green beach trees and plants lend their beauty and color as complements to your beach house. Looking out in nature brings a calming and uplifting feeling that leaves you feeling relaxed. Make use of large windows to invite the outside view into your home. Having shutters for decoration or protection from storms makes it easier to allow the view from outside to seep into your rooms while reducing the sunrays.
wood shutters

Large decorative mirrors provide another great way of bringing the outside view indoors. Placing large wall mirrors strategically close to or opposite a window, adds a sense of space, more natural light, and the image of the outdoor scenery.

Keep it Simple and Classy.

Avoid clutter and stuffing your rooms with more furniture than necessary. A cluttered room causes anxiety, which can remove the relaxed atmosphere in a room. Think about the activities you want to take place in the space you wish to decorate. Then select a simple layout for your room and furnish it with only the essential furniture.

Use Texture and Furniture Layering.

Similar to having to layer different clothes for your dress style, laying furniture and other decor items add depth and warmth to your beach house. Layering enhances the depth, texture, and visual interest of a room. Using different décor items like glass, metal, fabric, and wood brings depth and makes a room more dynamic. For example, the use of furniture and area rugs.


Mixing unique pieces of furniture that complement each other adds depth to a room. A bookcase, plant, or artwork placed behind a sofa accented with cushions creates a sense of warmth and depth.

Define Your Space with Area Rugs

A bold area rug helps you define your living space area and helps make a room statement. Whether it is colorful, patterned, or textured strengthens and unifies your room design. Rugs add pattern, visual depth, and color to neutral spaces. A rug, textured or patterned, in a plain room, accented with matching or complementary décor items, adds interest and intensity to a room.

Decorate with Crown Molding

One way to create a three-dimensional depth to the edges of your wall and ceiling is to add fancy molding. These decorative moldings turn your plain walls or ceiling into interesting feature pieces. They add character, elegance, and personality to a room. For example, crown molding brings out the architectural design of your space, be it a vaulted roof, trimmed windows, or beautiful French doors.

Final Thoughts

Whether you wish to decorate an empty beach house or redecorating your fully furnished beach house, you can make it look inviting, relaxing and elegant. You might not need a huge budget, especially in a furnished home. A simple tweak here and there might be all you need to elevate your room decor. Browse through house magazines and internet sites for pictures and ideas of what you want your room to appear. The mentioned ideas serve as guidelines in decorating your stunning beach house.

article provided by Lauren Webber

Key Priorities When Selling Your Beach House in Malibu

Malibu beach house for sale

Malibu is a beautiful place. Beachfront homes, canyon trails, sightseeing, wine trips, long stretches of gorgeous beach, and endless dining opportunities abound in this American destination that is both a vacation hotspot and an envious locale to own property.

If you’re looking to sell your Malibu beach home, you want to upsell on all the things that make the area great. While Malibu’s beauty seems like it should be enough to make the sales for you, we have a few tips that can make the entire process less stressful.

Find Yourself A Great Real Estate Agent
A great real estate agent will do more than help you sell your Malibu home, they’ll care about your wellbeing along the way. Great real estate agents negotiate the best deals on your behalf. When you choose your agent, you’ll need to do some research beforehand to find a person who knows the neighborhood, who is experienced in the market, and who is a personal and professional fit for your needs.

To sell your home, you need a targeted strategy to effectively market the property. A great agent will market through a network of buyers and agents, constantly working on your behalf to get you the best deal within your preferred time frame. When it comes to selling a home in Malibu, you know that the market is dependent on the selling ability of your agent.

Find The Best Selling Price
Regardless of how you feel about your Malibu home, your house is only worth what the buyers in the market will pay. Even against today’s ever-changing and tumultuous market, you need to price your house in a way that will maximize the number of bids and potential buyers.

Your agent should come equipped with the ability to drive up your final sales price and help you accurately run an analysis that will predict the true value of your home against the market. Finding the best price is a mixture of this analysis, researching the best price, and maximizing your value against potential bids. Seeking the best sale price can be a challenge, and it’s one that a good agent can meet.

Prepare For Showings With Stagings
One of the most important aspects of selling a home is turning it into an imaginative, comfortable, familiar space. You want any of your potential buyers to walk in and immediately imagine themselves living in the home. Remember to remove any photos that are too personal, decorations that aren’t neutral, and place all your furniture in a way that’s appealing, natural, and neutral.

Your agent should be able to help you personalize the space in a way that’s friendly to everyone, as staging includes cleaning, prep, decluttering, and decorating. These steps will create that “wow factor” you want to have when any potential buyers step through your door. You want them to envision themselves as permanent residents in your Malibu home!

Use Professional Videos and Photos
Hiring a professional to stage and record professional videos and photos can make a big difference when you’re marketing your Malibu beach property for sale. Luxury home buyers especially count on virtual tours that take them through the home, giving them a walkthrough regardless of whether they’re currently in Malibu or not. Taking care to host professional videography can make or break your sale, and your real estate agent can help you with this step once your home is properly staged for sale.

Remember that the sale of your home often happens with location, location, location. Remember to frame your Malibu home in its best light, showing off the area both inside and out. Sites such as let potential buyers view properties at their leisure, with an array of professional photos of beautiful Malibu homes.

Facts Over Feelings
You have an emotional attachment to your Malibu property whether you realize it or not. Homes are associated with memories of comfort and happiness, and this process can sometimes feel like a loss. These days, homeowners hold on to their property much longer than they did a few decades ago, and some of us might be reluctant to move on. While sentimental value can sometimes get in the way, remember to focus on the facts of the situation and the necessity of the sale, and don’t get in the way of yourself or your agent. Try and focus on things like negotiations, bids, the competitive market, and what you’re going to do next.

Predict Early Issues
Even though renovations, fixes, and upkeep are expected, sometimes they can take us off guard with their costs, timeframes, or how extensive they may become. Large renovations can be viewed as poor investments, but if your real estate agent suggests you fix that crack in the drywall or check out the electricity, it’s typically a boon in the long run.

Potential buyers might utilize any noticed issues to drive down their bids or to fully renegotiate a sale. If you address any potential or noticeable issues when you first see them, then there won’t be surprises down the line. The suggestions that your real estate agent makes are ones that should be addressed first and it will help smooth out the process overall.

Malibu beach houses for sale

Know Your Area
Your agent can help you showcase the beauty of your area, highlighting what is available outside your home. Show off the gorgeous sights and trails, restaurants, local dentistry, small businesses, markets, fun activities, and everything that a potential buyer can count on to be a part of their life once they make the sale. Boosting the appeal of the area right around your Malibu property can go a long way to securing that bid and entering negotiations.

No matter the home, someone is in the market to buy. Following these key priorities can go a long way when selling your Malibu home.

Author Bio:
Alison Brown

Alison Brown is the Marketing Strategist at Children’s Dental Fun Zone. She has been inclined towards oral care since her childhood as she comes from a family of dental background. She loves spending time with kids and contributes her insights by writing and promoting informative blogs for families to help them adapt to their new homes and localities without any hurdles.

Some History on the Chickee

Seminole Indians gathered under a chickee

Seminole Indians gathered under a chickee

“Chickee” is the word Seminoles use for “house.”  The first Seminoles to live in North Florida are known to have constructed log cabin-type homes, some two stories tall, with sleeping quarters upstairs.  The chickee style of architecture – palmetto thatch over a cypress log frame – was born during 3669333433_d791d04913the early 1800s when Seminole Indians, pursued by U.S. troops, needed fast, disposable shelter while on the run.  Though indigenous peoples in other parts of North and South America have developed similar dwellings, it is generally agreed that the Seminole Indian technique and product are far superior.  So popular, efficient and functional is the chickee that such Seminole architecture can be seen all over South Florida.  The chickee structure should last about ten years and needs to be re-thatched every five years.  Several Seminole Tribal members make a living building custom chickees for both commercial and private interests.

*Thank you to homeowner and property manager, Sarah Rapp, with Beach Vacation 4 Me, for contributing this article.


They’re not Chickee’s, but has some great beach vacation rental properties in Florida…click HERE to browse our inventory.


Where in the world is North Captiva Island?

Florida’s North Captiva Island, located in the Gulf of Mexico, is about as far away from the chaos of everyday life as you can get, while still staying within the United States.  I had heard it’s almost similar to Thailand or Indonesia in its exoticism, with the heat and humidity…and bugs.  But I went into my research with an open mind and now I’m trying to convince any of my friends and family to take a trip to explore the island with me.

North Captiva IslandAs you may expect, being as remote and as small as it is - 4 miles long and 1/2 mile wide at its widest point! - getting to North Captiva Island takes some planning as it is only accessible by water taxi or private charter boat.  The Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Florida is the closest airport to North Captiva Island and most major airlines service this airport.  From there, take the Pine Island Taxi to Pineland Marina and board the Island Girl – the only scheduled ferry to North Captiva Island.

Sidebar:  Because the island is sosecluded, you have to either bring what you will need for your trip with you, plan ahead to make sure it will be there for you, or a combination of the two.  This applies to groceries, bottled water, basic first aid supplies (aspirin, bandaids, etc), bug repellent, and especially produce – be sure to check with your airlines and local customs on rules regarding bringing produce onto the island.  Most travelers opt to fax their order – at least 48 hours before you will arrive on the island – to Publix Santa Barbara grocery store, on the mainland (Pine Island Taxi will stop at Publix on the way to the marina).  They will take your grocery order and pack your items for easy transport.  There is a small grocery on the island, but it stocks mostly convenience items is ridiculously expensive.

North Captiva Beach House RentalsOnce on the island, be prepared to sloooooow down and take in the natural beauty that surrounds you.  There are no cars and no paved roads on North Captiva.  Bicycles and electric golf carts (a private golf cart and/or bicycles are included in most North Captiva Beach House vacation rentals, so be sure to inquire about this at the time of booking) are used to explore our sandy paths.

There are over 5 miles of beaches to explore.  Visitors report strolling for hours without seeing anyone else – you will, however, run into some local wildlife.  Two-thirds of the island’s 700 acres are a protected State of Florida wilderness park and wildlife sanctuary for manatees, loggerhead turtles and over one hundred species of migratory birds.

If your idea of a vacation is body shots and disco music, Captiva is not for you.  The 50 or so year-round residents operate on “island time” and there are very few established businesses.  Island activities include shelling, snorkeling, charter sport-fishing, swimming, kayaking, boating, stargazing, bird watching, dining at one of the 2 restaurants and island hopping…Sanibel, Pine Island, Cayo Costa, and Useppa are all within minutes by boat.

So, despite that fact that every article and travel forum I read about North Captiva stressed the need for Deet-strength bug repellant, I’m not scared.  I’m harnessing my inner Robinson Crusoe, packing my spray (and maybe a mosquito net) and going to check out this beautiful and remote island for myself!  North Captiva Island is one of the few places left that has mastered the delicate balance between man and nature.  This unique island paradise is not for everybody – but as the locals will say, it was never intended to be!

Take the family to Dillon Beach, CA – even your dog!

Dillon Beach CliffsEven the most finicky vacationer can find a city in California that satisfies their hunger to travel.  With nearby cities like San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Palm Springs, Sacramento and San Francisco, there is never a dull moment where one has to stop and ask, “what should we do?”

But what if you want a different kind of trip?  A mellow one where you spend more time sitting on a beach than walking city streets, eating at cafes than drinking in clubs, and where you don’t come home feeling like you need a vacation to recover from your vacation?

Dillon Beach House RentalsDillon Beach, located about 20 minutes north of San Francisco, is one of California’s best family vacation destinations…and I mean the whole family, as Dillon Beach is one of the few dog-friendly beaches in California!

This serene little town overlooks the scenic Point Reyes Peninsula where visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, sailing, hiking, fishing, cycling, beachcombing, antiquing and even digging for the famous Dillon Beach giant clams!  Children especially love running up and rolling down the sand dunes!

Dillon Beach is Dog FriendlyA long, gently sloping stretch of sand, Dillon Beach is usually crowd-free – which, as some dog owners will attest to, is crucial if you have a Chihuahua who thinks he is about 75lbs. beefier than he really is and insists on finding the largest dog on the beach, chasing it down until the poor unsuspecting thing relents, and proceeds to perform actions too inappropriate to discuss with you all.  What?  Oh, you thought I was talking about my little angel?  I was speaking hypothetically, I swear…

Attracting surfers from nearby Mendocino, Napa and San Francisco counties, Dillon Beach’s surf is clean and consistent, although perhaps not the largest or most powerful surf around (expect 3 – 5 foot swells on most days).  Liquid surf shop, located inside the general store, carries full gear for purchase or for rent.

Dillon Beach House Rentals with hot tubOnce you and your family are tired out from a day at the beach, visit the Dillon Beach Cafe and enjoy delicious breads, perfectly cooked meats, and famous clam chowder – all using locally grown produce!

If you are too sandy to dine (or have your pooch with you) stop by the General Store at Dillon Beach for some groceries to take back to your vacation rental home!  The general store carries a wide variety of groceries including canned clams, fine wines, beer, ice, house-made deli sandwiches and salads, as well as salt-water taffy.  Beach necessities and souvenirs can be found here as well – shells, warm sweaters and hats, toys, tide books, bait, and most anything else you might need.  Local tip:  stand on the brass star and see what happens!

San Francisco Beach House RentalsItching for some excitement but don’t want to drive to San Francisco?  Head west into Tomales (an antique farming and dairying village) where you can chat over a few cold ones at the William Tell House Restaurant and Bar – the prime rib is highly reccomended! There’s also a bakery, a general store and a cafe just a stone’s throw from one another.

Swim with the fishes, sharks, and manatees…

I’m not talking about the creepy kind of swimming with the fishes that you hear about in old mob movies where some poor guy’s feet have just been coated in cement and he’s about to be offed and tossed overboard.  Eeew. 

No - I’m talking about the whole “one-with-nature” kind.  You know…where you get to swim along side whale sharks, or interact with dolphins, or even where you can watch a group of sharks feed.  Maybe this sounds weird to some people, but I’ve always loved animals, especially sea animals.  My favorite show used to be Flipper, I have an adopted manatee named after me, and I only eat dolphin-safe tuna.

swim with manatees in FloridaKnown as the “cow of the sea,” manatees are large, gray mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two flippers and their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout. Manatees are gentle herbivores and live in the warm shallow waters off of the coast of Florida during the winter, but are known to travel to Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina in the summer.  Manatees are slow-moving by nature and surface throughout the day making them vulnerable to boat propellers.  Many operations that offer manatee tours donate a portion of their proceeds to wildlife preservation organizations that help to protect these peaceful creatures – these are the only ones you should support as there are other business who add to the problem, rather than trying to educate about manatee preservation and protect against further harm to the species.  You can also adopt a manatee or donate money to help research, education, and conservation programs that promote protective legislation.

swim with whale sharksI’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of divers swimming next to sharks that look about as big as a school bus, and thought to yourself, “um, hasn’t this guy seen Jaws?!”  Well lucky for him, though these enormous creatures (they can grow upto 40 feet in length!) are sharks, they are only whale sharks and prefer plankton over people anyday.  They can be found off of the coast of the Philippines, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Belize and off of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.  Isla Holbox, in Mexico’s Riviera Maya region, sees these gentle giants migrate through their waters each year from May to September.

dive with sharks in the BahamasA different type of shark encounter entirely, many outfits in the Bahamas offer opportunities for vacationers to defy their basic human instincts and swim with some of the world’s fiercest predators in their natural environment.  Shark dives and feeds can be found in almost every area of the Bahamas (West End, Grand Bahama is rumored to be the best location) and each offers a different experience seeing different species of shark.  Caribbean Reef Sharks are most commonly seen, however, lucky divers may also spot Hammerheads, Tiger sharks, Bull sharks, Silky sharks and Lemon sharks.  Most underwater shark experiences have divers done chain mail (protective shark suit) and orient themselves with their backs against a reef while they, or a guide, feed the sharks.

swim with dolphins in FloridaVacationers who want to swim with dolphins should look for opportunities where the dolphins are wild and free in their natural habitat, rather than with dolphins that are in captivity for the sole purpose of pulling tourists around all day.  Hawaii hosts many of these dives, with their first priority being to respect and protect the wildlife.  Dolphins are some of the most inquisitive, intelligent and playful animals in the world and will often approach swimmers and divers on their own – Sunlight on Water in Kona, Hawaii boasts a 98% success rate of finding dolphins on their excursions!  It is not uncommon for divers to get a bonus and also see Humpback whales, Manta Rays and sea turtles.  Dolphins have been said to have a spiritual connection to humans, making this an experience that any vacationer will not soon forget.

5 Amazing Decor Ideas for a Perfect Beach House


There is nothing quite like relaxing on the beach on a nice, calm and sunny day. It is a great time, and a majority of American families have gone on beach vacations at one point or another. But the only thing better than visiting the beach for a vacation is buying a beach house. This will allow you to visit the beach any time you want, simply by taking a little walk outside your door.

If you are going to own a beach house, you also want to ensure it is decorated well and fits the beachy vibe. Unfortunately, finding the right items or art isn’t always easy. In an effort to help, this article is going to go over five amazing decor ideas for a perfect beach house.

Get Some Customized Art Commissioned

Art plays an important role in any home, and a beach house is no different. Art can help you show off your unique tastes, and allow you to creatively design your home. Art can easily be changed out and swapped as your tastes change over time.

While you could simply go out and buy some beach-themed art, why not get something completely one of a kind? You could do this yourself if you are artistically inclined, but if not, don’t worry. There are companies who can create completely unique oil paintings from photos, to provide you with a wonderful piece of art to show off in your beach home. This could be a photo of your family, your dog, or anything else you’d like turned into a piece of art.

Bring the Beach Inside

While you might only be steps away from the water, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the beach inside your home as well. Decorating the home with beach-themed items can be a great way to bring the space together. You could use sea shells in a glass bowl, a wall collage, pillows with a beachy design, and so many others.

Of course, there is a thin line here. If you overdo it with too many nautical or beach-themed items, it can be a little overwhelming. Simply start small, and over time you can add to your collection of beachy decor if you feel the space would benefit from it.

Use Wicker Furniture and Accents


Few materials scream beach as much as wicker. These can give any space the texture it needs, while looking incredible at the same time. Wicker chairs, bed frames, stools and more can be easily purchased and added to any beach house to add a coastal vibe to any space.

There are also several different styles of wicker furniture. You can have some that are fully made of wicker, while others combine wicker with other materials and fabrics. While wicker isn’t always the coziest of materials, a cushion or pillow can easily be added to wicker chairs or stools in order to make them more comfortable. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also paint the wicker your favorite color and help it match the space better.

Muted Tones With Splashes of Bright Color

While there are a lot of directions you could go with for the color of the walls, furniture, floors and decor, going with relatively muted and neutral tones is a good idea. White, light blue, navy, beige, and gray will generally look incredible in beach houses.

Having soft sandy tones like white, gray or light brown can make the transition from your home to beach outdoors essentially seamless. However, don’t forget to add some splashes of color here and there in the form of art, pillows, rugs, or plants

This all leads to a good mix of neutral or muted tones, with a bit of color where it makes sense. If the home is too colorful, especially if the colors clash (with each other or with your decor), it can look a little tacky at times.

Use Area Rugs Instead of Carpet

In many homes across the world, carpet is used in everything from kitchens to living rooms. It is soft, comfortable and can help retain warm air longer. Unfortunately, carpet is rarely the right choice in a beach house. There is normally quite a bit of humidity, which can leave carpets quite musty and make them difficult to keep dry. Also, good luck getting all the sand out of the carpet that finds its way inside.

As a result, your beach house should stick to hardwood or laminate flooring. However, that doesn’t mean you are doomed to have plain hardwood floors all over the home. Instead of adding full carpets, strategically use rugs instead.

Area rugs can look incredible in front of your couch in the living room, by your entryway, in front of the deck or patio, and several other places. This can give you the same look and feel as carpet, without committing to a certain design, color, style and location forever.

In conclusion, we hope this article has been able to help you learn some amazing decor ideas that are perfect for your beach house. CLICK HERE to find your dream beach house!

This blog post was provided by Rebecca Alston

Fun Things to Do on Vacation While at New York

New York City is the world’s leading metropolis that finds its way to every traveler’s bucket list. You finally booked a trip, and now it’s time to develop a vacation plan while you eagerly await for your holiday to begin.

However, there are so many things to see and do in NYC that it might seem almost impossible to incorporate everything. So, let’s explore the best spots for different traveler types to help you optimize your itinerary.

ny city

For Couples

NYC is as versatile as it gets, offering something for every couple. You could put together a long list of date ideas, and it would tick all the boxes. Here are some top localities for romance in the Big Apple.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden
This serene oasis reaches the fairytale peak during the spring period when it sees over 70 cherry trees blossoming. It’s gorgeous any time of the year, though. The Rose Garden is a couple’s must-visit.

Ditmas Park
The Victorian-era houses in this peaceful neighborhood are downright breath-taking. Ditmas Park is the ideal place for a comfortable stroll after a noisy city life tour.

The Empire State Building
It might seem like a cliche, but this monument is so famous for a good reason. You’ll see once you’re standing there hand-in-hand, enjoying a view that’s oh-so-Sleepless-in-Seattle.

new york city vacation

The Bow Bridge
Central Park’s Bow Bridge is an ideal backdrop for the sweetest romantic moments.

The Lincoln Center
After a world-class play, ballet, or opera, sit beside the Revson Fountain and enjoy the water shows while discussing your impressions.

For Friends
If you’re visiting with friends, you’re likely to spend the day coming up with new ideas for selfie poses on Times Square and touring the quintessential museums during the day. The nighttime offers a bustling atmosphere that paints NYC in a whole new light.

The Speakeasy Walking Tour
The Prohibition gave birth to numerous concealed bars and breweries. While drinking alcohol is legal for adults today, there’s a certain thrill to sneaking through a hidden entrance to access the speakeasies scattered across the city.

A Nightclub Tour
If you find it hard to decide which bar to hit first, why would you force yourself to make the call anyway?

The five-hour tours take you bar hopping, VIP-style, with complimentary drinks and tables reserved in advance.

new york city vacation

The Brooklyn Bowl
Alcohol, bowling, and music are the name of the game at the Brooklyn Bowl. The professional DJs who work there on weekends are brilliant, creating an authentic NYC experience.

For Families
Despite its reputation as ‘the city that never sleeps,’ New York has a lot to offer to families, too. So, if you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss these entertaining, educational locations.

Bus Tours
First-time visitors often find organized bus tours a great way to see multiple attractions in one sitting. The bus stops by every landmark, giving you the flexibility to hop off and explore when something seems appealing.

Ellis Island
Take a ferry ride to the Liberty Isle and climb up the crown if you’re feeling fancy. Afterward, pay a visit to the Ellis Immigration Museum for an engaging history lesson.

The Natural History Museum
Your kids will love the dinosaur fossils, animal dioramas, and gemstones while learning a bit about all the wonders of the natural world.

new york city vacation

Madame Tussauds
The iconic wax sculptures are another must-see. The stunning replicas from pop culture and history are fantastic year-round, but it gets even better if you happen to come around the time of a special exhibit.

The Central Park
You can’t visit New York without spending some time exploring the lush greenery located in the center.

The Bottom Line
Finally, remember that you won’t get to see everything during your vacation. Unless you have an unlimited budget and several free weeks, you’ll miss out on some locations due to the sheer size of New York City.

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself to the maximum, though. Think about all the things you’d like to do and plan your trip around those locations and activities. Use these ideas as inspiration and make each day count. Check out these vacation rental properties in New York.

This article was provided by Rebecca Alston.

Top 5 Most Romantic Beaches in the World

romantic beach vacations
It’s hard to say what, exactly, makes a vacation HOT.  It’s more than the just weather, as Heidi Klum and hubby Seal could tell you – he infamously popped the question in a snow cave atop a glacier – but you can bet their engagement night was anything but frosty.  And while canopy beds, private hot tubs and candles can’t hurt, location can certainly provide it’s own romantic enticement.

We’ve gathered the top 5 most romantic beach destinations in the world as a starting point for your next lovebird escape.  There’s everything from sizzling night life in Mexico to an exotic Latin locale – so pack your suit and anything else you may need…

Costa Rica Guanacaste Beach House Rentals
1. Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
– Do you like your romance on the wild side?  Costa Rica, whose name literally means, the “rich coast”, is a truly unique country, nestled in the always-tropical southern tip of Central America. Enjoy a leisurely walk to one of the local restaurants, where you can indulge in a delightful meal, while making new memories with your loved one. If you´re looking for an adventure, go to Playa Tamarindo to explore a larger variety of restaurants from around the world, small shops full of local art and many venues that host a variety activities, such as a lovely hike to two of the most iconic waterfalls in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s diversity extends beyond its oceans, however. If you’re a fan of natural beauty, Costa Rica will never disappoint you. The geography ranges from mountains to volcanoes, lakes, rivers, and jungles boasting the greatest species density in the world (Yes, more than the Amazon).

Playa Tamarindo is a beautiful location, full of life, learning, and new experiences, and it is a great place to set up shop while exploring the fantasy land that it Costa Rica. Reserve the perfect beach house rental today for you and your sweetheart, and prepare for adventure and relaxation of a new caliber.

Playa del Carmen night life

2. Playa del Carmen, Mexico is for the Adventurous Couple. If you’re searching for world-class diving and unique opportunities for adventure, you only need to look as far as Mexico. Playa del Carmen, Mexico is a coastal resort along the Caribbean. Not only does Playa del Carmen host spectacular sandy beaches with palm trees, but it is also close to Mayan ruins, and exciting night life options. If this sounds like your kind of vacation, don’t wait to book a Playa del Carmen beach house and reserve your spot for your ideal romantic getaway. 

One of the most popular things among Playa del Carmen visitors is to explore the Mayan ruins. While the ruins are about two hours from Playa del Carmen beach houses, this unique opportunity is not to be missed. There are several companies that offer tours of the Mayan architecture, complete with a taste of Mayan cuisine, for travelers of any age. Tours will likely visit Chichen Itza – one of the largest Mayan cities – and the Sacred Cenote. This “Well of Sacrifices” made Chichen Itza a true cultural center where travelers from across Central America met to worship the gods and offer sacrifices at the well. Many artifacts, including weapons, idols, pottery, tools, and jewelry, have been dredged from the well, showing the diversity of the people who once stopped here.

Eleuthera Bahamas beach
3. Eleuthera, Bahamas
– Imagine yourself relaxing on a beautiful, white sand beach while sipping on an exotic, tropical drink with your loved one, under the bright sun shining down at crystal clear blue waters. Choose one of our beautiful vacation rentals in the Bahamas. The Bahamas encompass over 700 islands and 2,500 cays, all located right off the coast of Florida. So close to home, yet a whole different world altogether, each exquisite island has something unique and unexpected to contribute to your island vacation!

Governor’s Harbour is the main town on the island of Eleuthera, with a charming collection of 19th century homes and churches overlooking its historic harbor. Eleuthera is most famous for its 100 miles of spectacular, deserted beaches. The island, home to just 8000 residents, is safe and friendly. The snorkeling, diving, and fishing on the island are world class. Boating, surfing, and other water sports are also popular. You can rent power boats, sailboats, sea kayaks and bikes. There is excellent sightseeing, as well. Eleuthera has vast caves, cliffs, and a bottomless ocean hole.

4. Palm Coast, Florida is the Outdoor-Lover’s Paradise An hour south of Jacksonville and just 30 miles north of Daytona Beach. The city of Palm Coast is situated along the east coast of Florida on over 70 miles of saltwater and freshwater canals. With over a dozen parks and more than 120 miles of trails, this Florida gem is home to some of the best outdoor vacationing that nature lovers won’t want to miss.

Sailing at Palm Coast, Florida

For a more manicured outdoor experience, there are many parks and venues to choose from. If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting a linear park, you’re in for a treat when you visit the St. Joe Walkway/Palm Coast Linear Park. Walk hand in hand and enjoy a tandem bike ride on the biking trails that connect the parkland, picnic areas, and playgrounds over a length of four miles. This park allows for the perfect blend of exercise and relaxation-jog or walk the trails, then kick back and enjoy the scenery while you and your loved one enjoy a romantic picnic lunch, or play a game of bocce ball. Washington Oaks Garden State Park is another visitor favorite, featuring a walking path where you will see lots of flora and fauna, especially the heritage oaks that give the park its name. The park also has a rose garden, acres of idyllic landscaping, and a riverfront park for picnicking or fishing. Golfing is another popular outdoor pastime in Palm Coast, and there are eight courses to explore.

Honolulu beach
5. Honolulu, Hawaii – Go Diving, or Dive Into History – If you are planning a vacation to Hawaii, set your sights on the island of Oahu, which is the home of the state capital- Honolulu. This city is a blend of beach paradise and historic and cultural importance. Waikiki beach is a popular Honolulu destination. This beach is very accessible, and augmented by amenities such as shopping and dining options right across the street. The beach itself is about two miles long. On the east end of the beach is Kapiolani Park, where you can have a picnic, go for a jog, enjoy games on open grassy areas, or indulge in some friendly competition on the tennis courts.

One Hammock, One Christmas Wreath and One Santa Hat. December At Your Vacation Beach House in Shorts Priceless!

Connor looks really comfortable in his hammock. The sound of the waves and the warm California air from San Diego to Trinidad can be so relaxing this time of year!

Connor relaxing at his Vacation Beach House

Connor relaxing at his Vacation Beach House

Enjoy Family Favorite Activities in a Beach House

The beauty of a Christmas beach house is that, while you will feel like you are on vacation, you still get the comforts of home that are essential to your Christmas celebrations. After all, the best part of the holiday is the feeling of home and togetherness you enjoy with your loved ones. A Christmas beach house provides the homey atmosphere you crave in a unique location that will make Christmas feel fresh.

If Christmas dinner is a tradition in your family, a beach house rental will have you covered. With a full kitchen at your disposal, you can create your traditional holiday meal that everyone enjoys, and serve it either in the dining room or on the deck overlooking the water. Spacious common rooms provide great gathering places for family movie nights, games, and conversations, and enough bedrooms ensure that everyone has privacy and comfort at bedtime. You can decorate your beach rental however you like, so that Christmas morning has all the magic of your own living room.

Santa on the beach
Are you looking to escape the cold and take your family on a Christmas vacation? If you are ready for a change of scene for your holiday celebrations, you can put the “blue” in “Blue Christmas” by spending your holiday enjoying the brilliant blue waters at the beach. This year rent a Christmas beach house and have the perfect home for the holidays.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Calculating Net Proceeds from a Home Sale

In selling your home, one of the things you need to do is to calculate your net proceeds. Net proceeds are the money you will earn from selling the house. Doing this will give you additional insight into your home as well as other related transactions.

When computing for your net proceeds, there are things you need to do, as well as those you need to avoid.

Here are the dos when calculating your need proceeds from selling your home.

Do: Estimate a feasible selling price.
You need to make sure that your net proceeds estimate how much your house is worth. Look at how much the house is sold for. Does the price live up to its quality?

If you are unsure about your price or have not decided on a price yet, then the best thing you could do is compare. Go around your neighborhood with a house being sold or newly purchased with the same quality as yours. As much as possible, it has to be in your neighborhood because the prices of homes will differ significantly the farther you search.

What should be your criteria? A few things you need to compare to estimate a fair price for your house are: the number of bedrooms and bathrooms (where you need an exact match), the size (square foot of inside and outside, as well as floor levels), the year when it was built (stay within a five-year range), its current condition, mainly the general state of the place as well as its functionalities, and updates, or modifications done.

In the case that you couldn’t find a home that is precisely comparable to yours, you may look for at least the closest one and make adjustments to the price. For example, if a house has had updates to a kitchen similar to yours, you may subtract the upgrade cost from the house’s total price.

Do: Consider the Costs of Potential Transactions
If it is your first time selling your house, and have no related experience whatsoever, then you may be inclined to seek help from a real estate agent. A real estate agent acts as your representative as you sell the house, and for your house to sell well, you would want it presented well.

Agents are reliable, have attention to detail, and are great negotiators. They can help you sell the house in a shorter period than you probably would if you’re inexperienced. However, that would mean that you will have to pay for them. Real estate agents will typically charge five or six percent off the total price of the house.

Both buyers and sellers can hire an agent to buy or sell a house. There are times where the seller has to pay for the commission of the buyer’s realtor. With this, you need to deduct their fee from your total net proceeds. If you choose not to hire a real estate agent, you have to be very hands on. There are tips you need to do in selling a house without one.

Do: Include Computing Holding Costs
When people purchase a house, the spending does not end the moment they make that purchase. Once the house is acquired, the buyer will be in charge of paying additional living costs, such as electricity and water. But while it is not yet sold, who will be in charge? The answer is the seller.

The longer your house is waiting for a buyer, the more your holding costs will be. Holding costs are the costs of the house you need to pay while you are selling it. That means you are still responsible for the mortgage and other utilities that need paying. Holding costs will range from more than 500 dollars to more than a thousand dollars, depending on how long the house took until it was bought.

If you wish to lessen the money you need to pay for your holding costs, a buyer must be found to buy the house.

As there are things you have to take note of while calculating your assumed net proceeds, there are also things you should not do.

Don’t: Set an unrealistic price.
Before computing your net proceeds, you must make sure that your numbers are accurate. Make sure to put the exact number of your home’s price and the additional costs, such as transactions with realtors and holding costs. However, only do this if you have a fixed price for the house.

If you do not have a price for your house to sell, you have to research how you can put up a price in the most realistic way possible. You may also consult a financial adviser for that matter.

Don’t: Overlook Additional Minor Fees.
Depending on the state you live in, there could be additional fees that either the buyer and seller of the house will pay for.

Examples of these additional fees are escrow fees, where you pay a third party to temporarily hold essential assets. Simultaneously, the transaction is ongoing, a warranty plan, where the seller may or may not be required to pay a year’s worth to the buyer, and a transfer fee, which is a portion of the sales price that the seller typically pays.

A home warranty provides coverage for major home systems and appliances and prevents you from paying expensive repair and replacement costs. If you’re unsure which home warranty is best for you, read this comprehensive guide detailing the top home warranty picks for 2021 and tips for buying the best home warranty.

Calculating your total net proceeds is a way for you to see how much money you have gained and lost while selling your house. Always check the costs that have to be looked after before and during transactions. You may calculate your proceeds through a useful resource such as a net proceeds calculator you can find online.

by Karla Lopez

California’s Central Coast’s Beach Communities

Cambria – Located just off of California’s Pacific Coast Hwy 1 is Cambria – a picturesque artists community set amidst the pine trees and foothills half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Head to Cambria’s “East Village” for a selection of small restaurants and cafe’s set between gardens and old historical buildings. There is a cute downtown village area with boutiques, antique shops, flower stores and art and jewelry galleries. Centrally located, Cambria is a great place to head out on day-trips from.   Vacationers can head a short distance to tour either Hearst Castle or to San Simeon, home to one of California’s largest populations of elephant seals. Moonstone Beach is also nearby, which is a great place to walk the beach before dining at one of the delicious restaurants while you take in some amazing ocean views.

Morro Bay BeachMorro Bay – Surrounded with natural beauty, Morro Bay is a great place to spend the day or the weekend.  Whether you like shopping, hiking, boating or all of the above, this harbor town has it.  Morro Bay’s Natural Estuary has great hiking trails, and is home to the Museum of Natural History and a Heron Rookery Preserve.  Continue down Morro Bay’s Coast and you will find more bluff trails, the Elfin Forest and the Sweet Springs Preserve.  The entire bay is home to many different species of birds making it a bird-watcher’s dream.  Morro Bay also has a great beach, with certain parts that are dog-friendly.  Local surfers enjoy “the Rock” – not only does this break have a killer view of Morro Rock, but the water is a few degrees warmer than the surrounding water thanks to the

Avila Beach – For a funky little beach town that’s not much larger than a neighborhood, Avila Beach sure knows how to make headlines. In the late 90′s and into 2000 the community got an almost complete makeover after it was discovered that a Union Oil Co underground pipeline had been slowly seeping oil into the ground for decades. But now Avila is back and better than ever, with a re-vamped boardwalk that hosts a farmer’s market each Friday afternoon, delicious deli’s and an assortment of upscale eateries. Locals and visitors enjoy Avila for its unpretentious and friendly atmosphere where flip flops and sandy toes are practically a uniform. Looking for some great grub? Be sure to wander over to nearby Port San Luis to Fat Cat Cafe – it’s so good that Sunset Magazine wrote about it!

Shell Beach – Unlike the others on the list, Shell Beach doesn’t have a central downtown or main street, per se, and really is more of a neighborhood. If you turn down Silver Shoals Road off of Shell Beach Road, you will dead end into a grassy area on the bluffs of what the locals have dubbed “Silver Shoals Beach.” This park is a great place for picnics and people watching. There is a dirt trail that leads down to the beach where, even on a windy day, is perfect for sunbathing as the sand is protected from the elements by the sea wall behind you. Feel free to bring your furry friend – the crowd is usually mellow and on the younger side so nobody minds that you are voilating the “no dogs on the beach” policy that most California beaches seem to have.  

Pismo Beach – If you want some action, Pismo is the beach for you – there is more going on and much more to do here than at any of the other beaches on this list. Pismo Beach offers great shopping. Vacationers can find everything from surf stores, antique stores, candy shops, souvenir stores and more.  Pismo’s sandunes are a great place to camp, go off roading and ride horses.  The pier at Pismo Beach is a great place to fish, people watch and get tasty treats including hot dogs, ice cream, and snow cones to name a few. As you stroll the beach, look for the volleyball nets – there is often pickup games and the courts are also the location of tournaments during certain times of the year. You must allot time for a trip to Splash Cafe. Be prepared to wait, but I assure you that even a half hour wait is well worth it. There is a lot to choose from on the menu – and all of it is good – but this place is famous for their clam chowder.

Travel Tools – Lonely Planet Review

Named after the Joe Cocker song “Space Captain,” (the founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler thought he sang “lonely planet” – it’s really “lovely planet) Lonely Planet is perhaps the leading online travel research, tips, advice and informational site.  These guys got their start penning travel guidebooks for backpackers and other low-budget travel efficianados.  In addition to thier Web presence, which was revamped in 2008, Lonely Planet’s repotior also includes hardcover photography books, food guides, city-specific guides, travelogues, and language guides, just to name a few.

What once started as a travel resource has morphed into a kindof travel phenomenon, even resulting in the creation of the tongue-in-cheek term Banana Pancake Trail - the monkier given to the well-worn path that backpackers (who, many say, found out about these places thanks to Lonely Planet) take throughout South East Asia.  This constant influx of adventurers has inspired bed and breakfasts, tour and event guides and restraunts to be founded in order to accomodate them.  Many guesthouses and cafes now serve banana pancakes – a tasty treat reminiscint of home.

Jamaica beaches

What’s Good: Find world guides, travel forums, links to travel services, traveler photographs, community blogs, travel-related applications etc. on one user-friendly (and visually exciting) site. Planning a trip of just curious about an area? Zero in on your vacation destination using Lonely Planet’s regional search tool and get in depth information including maps, “top city” picks, travel alerts and more..

What’s Bad: Too much of a good thing? As asthetically pleasing as the site is, it’s easy to get lost in the site, unable to get back to that tasty tidbit you meant to jot down or research further. And while there is ton of information on the commonly vacationed-to destinations, the site is lacking information on the more offbeat areas. Picks – Top Travel Movies

THE BEACH (2000 – starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Robert Carlyle)

Tagline:  Paradise has its price


Why it made our list: Rating:

***** It’s a Real Scorcher
****   A day at the Beach
***     Sand in Your Suit
**       Stay out of the Water
*         I’d Rather

SIDEWAYS (2004 – starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Matsen, Sandra Oh)

Tagline:  In search of wine. In search of women. In search of themselves


Why it made our list: Rating:

UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN  (2003 – starring Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan, Raoul Bova)

Tagline:  The Only Thing More Surprising Than The Chance She’s Taking…Is Where It’s Taking Her


Why it made our list: Rating:

BROKEDOWN PALACE (1999 – staring Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bill Pullman)

Tagline:  What is your dream? How far would you go? Who could you trust?


Why it made our list: Rating:

THE ENDLESS SUMMER (1966 – starring

Step into Liquid

Lost in Translation

Vicki Christina Barcelona

7 Things Guests Want in a Beach House

When it comes to a beach house, guests aren’t just looking for a place to stay. They are looking for a vacation experience. People choose a beach house because they want something more personal than a hotel or resort. They want a place that will provide them with everything they need to comfortably enjoy their vacation. Here are 7 things guests are looking for in a beach house.

Malibu Beach Houses For RentPhoto credit: Unsplash

1. Beach Access

This one seems rather obvious, but the most important thing guests look for in a beach house is access to the beach. This doesn’t mean your property needs to have the ocean right on its doorstep. But your guests will want to know where the beach is. Emphasize the distance to the beach in your listing, and be sure to provide clear directions or a map if needed.

2. Entertainment & Wi-Fi

People want to relax and have a good time when they are on vacation, so it is important to offer plenty of ways to keep them entertained. Make sure your beach house has a TV and a decent selection of DVDs, books, and games. You could provide things like bicycles, a guitar or piano, art supplies and sporting equipment. These are great family-friendly activities that guests can enjoy together. Even on vacation people want to stay connected, so WiFi is essential. In fact most guests consider WiFi to be a necessity, so make sure to provide a reliable internet connection too.

3. Outdoor Space

Most people on a beach vacation want to spend as much time outside as possible. This is why many guests will be looking for a beach house with a nice outdoor area. This includes an outdoor dining space as well as somewhere to relax. Something like a sun hammock or an outdoor sofa can provide a great place for guests to kick back and read or sunbathe.

4. Welcome Basket

A complimentary welcome basket is a good way to make a strong first impression and get your guests’ vacation off to a great start. You’ll want to include a mixture of practical items as well as a few treats for your guests. Practical items can include toiletries such as soap and shampoo, and things for the beach like towels and sunscreen. For treats you can’t really go wrong with something like chocolate, cookies or fresh fruits.

5. Kitchen

Unlike a hotel or resort, guests staying in a beach house are usually responsible for their own food. This is why guests will be looking for a decent kitchen setup. Invest in high quality cooking equipment and provide things like cutlery, bowls and plates. Many guests will also look for luxuries such as a coffee machine and complimentary condiments.

Malibu Beach House KitchenPhoto credit: Unsplash

6. Bathroom

When it comes to the bathroom, many guests are looking for a spa-like experience. Giving the bathroom a makeover and providing good quality toiletries can go a long way to creating a luxurious experience. Even better if you can provide locally-made artisanal products like soaps, shampoos and candles.

7. Local Experience

Location is a huge factor for guests choosing a beach house. Many people will be looking for a full experience that allows them to explore and enjoy the local attractions. It’s a good idea to provide information on sightseeing locations, activities, good restaurants and cafes. Provide brochures and maps for things that the area is known for. For example, in Marathon, Florida your guests will probably want to see the marine life or do activities like jet-skiing or kayaking. For beach house rentals in Malibu, California, guests will want information about Malibu Pier and the best restaurants and surfing spots.

Malibu Beach House Vacation Rental Luxury

People choose a beach house because they want more than just accommodation. They want the whole vacation package. They want a place with the comforts of home but the luxuries of being on holiday. Going the extra mile for your guests will ensure they have an unforgettable experience.

Author’s bio:
Maia Fletcher is a freelance writer from the sunny city of Gisborne, New Zealand. When she wants a few hours of tranquillity, Maia loves going to the beach – where she sits under the clear blue sky and listens to the soothing sounds of waves crashing the shore. See more of her published works here.

5 Most Photo-Worthy Spots in Savannah

The Atlantic Ocean and Savannah River are more than beautiful scenery. They’re also the perfect backdrop for any photographer. You won’t find a better place to capture a serene sunset or charming magnolia tree. But venture deeper into the city, and you’ll find even more picture-perfect places. Here are our picks for the five most photo-worthy spots in Savannah.

1. Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Known as the “Sistine of the South,” the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is the most popular place to snap a picture in the city. The inside is breathtaking with its attention to detail and French Gothic architecture. It’s the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in Georgia, making it a must-see photo stop for history buffs and anyone visiting Savannah.

2. Historic District

Savanah is definitely one of the most scenic cities in Georgia, but it’s also filled with an incredible amount of American history. A national landmark, the historic district encompasses the part of the city that dates back before the Civil War. It’s laid out on a grid pattern with 22 park squares to showcase the history and scenery. Walk down cobblestone streets and marvel at the homes built centuries ago. Strike a pose in front of any of the older homes, history museums, monuments, and beautiful landscaping.

3. Forsyth Park

While you’re in the historic district, check out Forsyth Park, which dates back to the 1840s. Make sure to stop by the popular water fountain in the center of the park. The round fountain is accessible from every angle and makes a great photo backdrop for you and your fellow travelers. Forsyth Park has 30 acres of beautiful scenery as well as clean paths and walkways for easy use. Consider checking out the Fragrant Garden in the park or stop by the park cafe to take in the beauty of this epic and historic park.

4. The Gingerbread House

A short walk from Forsyth Park, The Gingerbread House showcases the magnificent architecture in Savannah. Built in 1899, the house is surrounded by the original landscape (including a 200-year-old oak tree in front). It’s one of the most photographed homes in Savannah and has been featured in movies such as “Forest Gump.” The house serves as a venue for weddings and corporate events and is also open for tours. After snapping some shots of the front, get some pics of the private gazebo and courtyard in back.

5. River Street

Old cobblestone streets will lead you to River Street, complete with a trolley railway and quaint shops. Historic buildings face the river on one side of the street while mature trees line the side nearest to the river’s edge. The street is also rumored to be haunted.

6. Tybee Island

Known as Savannah’s beach, Tybee Island is only 20 minutes from downtown and a great place to soak up the sun and feel the sand under your feet. Cozy cottages dot the coastline and restaurants offer a fresh catch of the day. If you have the legs for it, climb the Tybee Island Light Station and snap a panorama. You’ll be the envy of your Instagram followers. Pirates made Tybee Island a regular stop centuries ago as a safe resting place as well as a good place to bury treasure. (Bring a shovel. Who knows? You may get lucky!) If not, you’ll have plenty of pictures to treasure for years to come.

By Cynthia Schumacher, a freelance writer and photographer. Born in South Florida, she enjoys traveling across the U.S. while still being a proud Gator fan. Her past jobs include tech writer, museum docent, and strawberry picker.

5 Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Savannah

By Emilio Rodriguez

Savannah sunset

After a long day on the beach or checking out the many historical spots in the area, why not end the day watching the sunset over drinks and some amazing food? As the city with the best scenery in Georgia, you’ll want to enjoy all the area has to offer at these five best places to watch the sunset in Savannah:

1. Savannah Riverfront

Plenty of rooftop bars offer a prime spot for catching the most beautiful sunsets in the city. Enjoy specially craft cocktails along with appetizers as you watch the sun fall over the horizon. The colors play off of the reflection of the Savannah River making this a popular spot. The view of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge makes it a photo-worthy experience. This is also the best place to spot a rainbow after a brief shower. Book a Savannah GA Beach House here!

2. South Beach on Tybee Island

Savannah Riverfront

The sun may set in the West but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch a gorgeous sunset from the beach near Savannah. Take a 20-minute drive to Tybee Island to enjoy the sunset that sparkles over the water and sandy beach. Take a stroll down the beach in the waning sunlight for a romantic, and free, date night. Buying or renting a beach house on Tybee Island allows you to watch this amazing scene from the comfort of your patio.

3. Route 17 Marshes

If you drive down Route 17 south of Savannah at sunset you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the beauty on display. You’ll find beautiful colors in the background of many small area marshes that provide a beautiful reflection of color and majesty. Tall trees will scrape the sky and provide the perfect atmosphere for a peaceful view of all that Savannah nature has to offer.

4. Savannah Riverboat Cruise

Savannah Riverfront

Instead of being on the edge of the river why not be on the river to watch the sun go down? Enjoy the different Savannah Riverboat Cruises that offer a special sunset cruise every night. Guests will enjoy two hours on the river on one of the boat decks and get a prime spot to view the end of day. Music is included and drinks and food options are available for onboard as well.

5. Coco’s Sunset Grille

Savannah Riverfront

If you’re looking for a spot that provides a more laid back atmosphere for sunset viewing, look no further than Coco’s Sunset Grille located south of Tybee Island. This restaurant sits on the shores of Lazaretto Creek in the marina. They offer amazing views of the river as well as a few boats with a backdrop of beautiful sunsets every night.

Catching the sunset in the Savannah area is the perfect way to end the day and get ready for an exciting evening exploring more of the city.

If you love the Georgia coast, you might check out the beach houses for sale in Georgia here!

Emilio Rodriguez began photographing his native Southwest with his parents’ Polaroid OneStep in the 1980s. He’s gone digital and roams far and wide now, but still stops for every good sunset. He and his wife bought an RV in 2003, and have been circling the country ever since.

5 Reasons Why You Need A Beach Vacation In Destin, Florida

According to Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, 80% of visitors to Florida’s Emerald Coast choose Destin as their destination. There are many reasons why people seeking a beach vacation choose Destin in preference to other sea cities. Here are just 5 of them.

Image by Terri Cnuddde from Pixabay

 #1. The white beaches and emerald sea 

The white sand found on Destin’s beaches originates from the Appalachian Mountains and is composed of fine granules of quartz that resemble sugar. Quartz-rich mountain rocks are eroded by the action of wind and rain, and tiny quartz crystals are carried into the Gulf of Mexico by the Apalachicola River before being washed ashore in Destin. The resulting pristine beaches are considered among the most beautiful in the world.

But not only the sand here is stunning. The Emerald Coast is called this because the crystal-clear seawater is so green. A combination of bright sunlight, white sand below, and harmless algae living in the water give the sea around Destin its spectacular and unique color.

Sometimes a beach vacation is all about the beach. You and your family don’t want to rush off to do a bunch of activities. You just want to be together and chill. The gorgeous white beaches and emerald waters of Destin provide the perfect place to focus on your family and deepen your family bonds.

If you stay in a beach house in Destin, you can step straight out onto the beach with no worry or stress. And if you rent a Destin condo or beach house, you can also prepare a picnic each day or just pop “home” for food and drinks any time you want. So, gather your family, pack a picnic, take along your travel cooler, and get down to the beach for some quality family time.

Image by Terri Cnuddde from Pixabay

 #2. Enjoy splashing around in the water

But if your family are the kind that loves activities and adventure, Destin still has plenty to offer. Check out Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park. This is a great place to take your kids to cool off on hot summer days.

This is the biggest water park on Florida’s Emerald Coast and boasts over 40 different speed slides, tube rides, pools, and water play areas. You can relax in the slow-moving Lazy River or fight the currents in safety inside the giant wave pool.

There are many water rides and slide for thrill-seekers, such as the Kowabunga Racer. Riders lay face-down on a mat and plunge 5 stories down a racecourse the length of a football field. There are twisting tubes along the way and a breath-taking final drop. And there are also calmer rides for the youngest in your family, such as the Blue Mamba, Hydro Max, Piranha, and Tahiti Twister kiddie slides.

Image by Terri Cnuddde from Pixabay

#3. Educate while you entertain

Sometimes you want to educate your children while entertaining them. Sometimes you feel the need to educate yourself. Get your whole family down to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park on Okaloosa Island just outside Destin. It’s a great place to learn all about alligators, birds, dolphins, sharks, stingrays, tortoises, and other creatures that live along Florida’s coastline.

Your kids will love the touch tank, where they’ll be permitted to pet crabs and hold starfish. For a small fee, there are options to swim alongside the dolphins and stingrays or just watch a fun dolphin show.

For younger kids, there’s a sandbox area and an obstacle course. And if your family is hungry, there’s a snack stand with ocean views. This is a wonderful place to come if you want to inspire your children to contribute toward preserving our wildlife and environment.

Image by Terri Cnuddde from Pixabay

#4. Enjoy a round of golf

Destin is a fantastic place to enjoy a round of golf or introduce your children to this popular game. Check out the Golf Garden of Destin. This is a family-friendly golf facility dedicated to providing fun and education to golf enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.

The 9-hole, executive golf course is a great location for honing your short game skills or coaching a beginner. At par-29, you’ll find challenges along the way. Bring your own golf clubs from home in their travel case or hire everything you need here. And if you are serious about improving your game while on vacation, there are PGA instructors available.

If you’re a serious player, there are several private golf clubs in Destin, such as Indian Bayou Golf & Country Club, Kelly Plantation Golf Club, Regatta Bay Golf & Yacht Club, and Emerald Bay Golf Club. Also, nearby Sandestin offers another 4 private golf courses: Baytown Golf Club, Burnt Pine Golf Club, the Raven Golf Club, and the Links Golf Club. Golf is a popular game on the Emerald Coast!

Image by Terri Cnuddde from Pixabay

#5. Charter a boat

Destin is also a popular destination for anglers. Visitors often charter fishing boats from the harbor to enjoy saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. For example, Fish In Daze offers family-friendly charters, from short 2-hour bay trips aimed especially at kids to deep-sea shark fishing adventures in a customized offshore fishing boat.

Every October sees the annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, which has been held there since 1948. And in the same month is the Destin Seafood Festival. If you love angling, or simply like to eat fresh fish, Destin is the best destination for you.

There’s so much more…

Destin is also a fantastic destination for birdwatching, swimming, snorkeling, and as a base for exploring the Emerald Coast. If your family is wondering where to go for a beach vacation, you couldn’t choose anywhere better. Book your own Destin condo or beach house today!

Contributing writer: John Paul

Getting Back to Nature in Myrtle Beach

Getting Back to Nature in Myrtle Beach
By Juanita Hawkins

Myrtle Beach is famous for its bright lights and teeming tourist offerings. We’re talking about extraordinary golf courses, boardwalk, amusement parks, live music, and restaurants. But it’s also a place any nature lover would feel at home. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets are reason enough to get out to the beach. But wander away from the beach just a little, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of some magnificent natural areas. Get back to nature on your next visit to Myrtle Beach by visiting some of these off-the-beaten-path areas. Find great places to stay on, Myrtle Beach Vacation Rentals.

Brookgreen Gardens

Located in Murrells Inlet, across Highway 17 from Huntington Beach State Park, is one of the top 10 gardens in the country. Brookgreen Gardens is a historic site offering more than 9,127 sprawling acres of cultivated and natural landscape. You can walk beneath majestic oak trees dating back to the 1700s, explore a butterfly garden, and wander through a breathtaking array of sculptures and plants.

Explore Lowcountry history by taking a boat or vehicle tour deep into the preserve. The Lowcountry Zoo presents a large number of native animals in woods, swamp, and aquatic conditions that are close to their natural habitats.

Heritage Shores Nature Preserve

For a deep dive into nature, Heritage Shores Nature Preserve offers a nature experience right in Myrtle Beach. You’ll find seven acres of walking paths, an interpretive trail, boardwalks, and observation docks to see wildlife and native plants. The park is uniquely situated on an island that extends into Cherry Grove Marsh.

Huntington Beach State Park

To the ocean side of Highway 17, less than 30 minutes from Myrtle Beach, tucked into Murrells Inlet lies some 2,500 acres of pristine state parkland. Huntington Beach State Park boasts ample camping and picnic facilities and features educational programs year-round. Dogs are welcome, as long as they’re on a leash at all times.

Fishing aficionados flock to the park for the best surf fishing in the state. The fish also attract birds and bird-watchers eager to see the more than 300 species of birds in the park. Three miles of immaculate coastline provide opportunities to spot loggerhead turtles. The Kerrigan Nature Train gives you a glimpse of alligators in lagoons.

Myrtle Beach State Park

Located just south of Market Common, Myrtle Beach State Park is as far from the hustle and bustle of the main drag as you can imagine. On a mile-long stretch of Grand Strand beach, you’ll find a tranquil getaway far removed from the hotel-front beaches a few miles away. Ample hiking trails allow you to experience natural South Carolina habitat with the luxury of restrooms and beaches a short distance away.

Anglers can make use of a fishing pier that provides a perfect setting for Atlantic fishing. And visitors of all ages will delight in exploring the park nature center with interactive natural history displays, live reptiles, and saltwater aquariums. Park staffers offer nature education programs about the native habitat.

So, forget about all you’ve heard about the lively, loud, touristy side of Myrtle Beach. Next time you venture down to this neck of the woods, take a walk on the wild side and see what you can find. Book a Beach House for your family and friends at, Myrtle Beach Vacation Rentals.

Contributing writer: Juanita Hawkins is a writer and travel expert. She has a passion for trying new restaurants and new foods around the country. To work off the calories, she finds a hiking or jogging trail in every city she visits.

The Philosophy of Travel

Anyone who has done it will tell you that traveling, when done right, is sort of like a religious experience…or like a drug.  Once you get the itch it can be impossible to fully scratch – sure, it may ebb now and again, but it is sure to creep back in and leave you compulsively planning how you can embark on your next adventure.  Even bad trips eventually turn into a fond memory – a new story that you can brag about to other travelers.

And like any drug worth doing, those who are hooked on traveling will find a way to make it happen.  Priorities shift, you skimp where you used to splurge, and save what you used to frivolously spend.  You begin to see each dollar as a caveat that can take you one step closer to your next destination.  And the good thing is, there are ways to travel on any budget.

In fact, some of the best experiences come from those times you are forced to get in the trenches, so to speak, and really experience and immerse yourself in the region of the world you are in.  Fancy hotels, swanky train trips, and pricey tours allow you to barley scratch the surface of a town.  Sure, you may not be used to sleeping in a hammock rather than a bed, but to some, that is their everyday life.  And if you approach your travels with no expectations, you may gain a new perspective by which to measure your own life and your own happiness.  Simply put – travel changes you.

Over the years, travel has meant different things to different people.  Everyone has a different travel philosophy – and for most, it will contintue to change for as long as they continue to travel…gathering new colors with which to paint their own canvas.

Here is a collection of thoughts on the subject:

“Not all those who wander are lost.”  -  J. R. R. Tolkien

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”  -  Pat Conroy

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”  - Lao Tzu

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”  -  Miriam Beard

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”  -  Samuel Johnson

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  -  Mark Twain

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”  –  Maya Angelou

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” -  Paul Theroux

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”  -  Jack Kerouac

“The traveler sees what he sees.  The tourist sees what he has come to see.” –  G.K. Chesterton

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.”  -  Anatole France

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”  -  Martin Buber

“Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.”  -  Aldous Huxley

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”  - Freya Stark

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”  -  James Michener

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”  -  St. Augustine

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”  -  Bill Bryson

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”  -  Cesare Pavese

“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.”  -  Dagobert D. Runes

“And that’s the wonderful thing about family travel:  it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.”  -  Dave Barry

“I met a lot of people in Europe.  I even encountered myself.” –  James Baldwin

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” –  Susan Heller

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” –  Rudyard Kipling

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”  -  Benjamin Disraeli

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”  –  G. K. Chesterton

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”  -  Mark Twain

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” –  Lillian Smith

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” –  Aldous Huxley

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” –  Jawaharial Nehru

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” –  William Least Heat Moon

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”  -  Mark Jenkins

You Better Belize it!

The family took a trip to Belize in August, 2019 to go scuba diving and enjoy some down time, down in Central America. We stayed at the Bermuda Landings condos, which you can also rent from our website HERE

bermuda landings

Our first night we had dinner at Stella’s Sunset on a small deck over the water by the lagoon.

We met Cinnamon the resident dog, who makes her way to and from the local restaurants, making friends and picking up any dinner droppings. Ceviche (shrimp) appetizer. Coconut shrimp. Yum! Special: redfish. Plantain chips. French fries are really good.

Day 2 –

We went diving with Ecologic Divers.
ecologic divers
Charlie was our DM. Jonathan was boat captain. We dove at San Pedro Canyons. We saw crab, green eel, bull shark, lots of nurse sharks, reef shark. A great start!

nurse shark

We then went to Sandy Toes Beachfront Bar n Grill @ dolphin n boca del Rio for lunch. Grilled fish tacos. Omg. They were the best we had all week.
fish tacos
fish tacos at Sandy Toes

Day 3

Left the condo at 8:15 to go diving. Dive site Esmeralda. The dive site was much prettier than yesterday, but not very many fish. It was deep caverns that dropped down to 100+ feet. I did spot a lobsterand we saw many nurse sharks once again. At the very end I briefly saw a turtle. Several Queen angelfish.

Lunch at Estel’s Dine By The Sea
Kirk: fish tacos.
Tyler: Mayan eggs
Me: grilled fish topped with grilled onions and bell peppers. No rice or beans – Delicious! And they played great zumba music

Night dive at Hol Shan. Shallow 28’ max depth some current.
Saw octopus, big green moray eels, lotsa huge stingrays, nurse sharks, spotted eel, tarpon, tiger paw sea cucumber, arrow crab. It was exhausting but exhilarating. I love night dives!


Sea Anemone on night dive

Octopus on night dive

Stingray on night dive

Dinner at 9:05. Headed to Dive Bar. Nope. Kitchen closed at 9. Headed to Pirates. Nope didn’t look good. Mostly a bar. Then to Palapas. Nope. Closed kitchen. Elvi’s was recommended. Got there at 9:30. Whew! they took us in. Getting their famous curry fish. The corn cake bread is wow
Calamari. Only 9 pieces but good!

Thursday day 4 – Rest day

I got up at 7:30. Went out to the beach and did some yoga and meditation. Kirk and I drive to the south end of the island. Stopped to get gas. Shopped at the local Artisans craft market. I ordered an ankle bracelet.

Had lunch at Palmilla’s (#35) at the Victoria House resort. very fancy indoor with a/c. We had the tuna watermelon ceviche and the Yucatán ceviche w shrimp and octopus both so so good. Cassava chips, corn chips, and plantain chips. I had a local rum Caipirinha. Kirk had Malbec. Dessert: molten chocolate cake.
Omg the BEST! Caramalized bananas. Vanilla ice cream. Worth coming back for !

Went to dinner at Blue Water Grill. Waterfront. Sushi night. Pinot Grigio from Italy. Santa Christina. Wasabi Basil Tuna. Portions were extremely small for $16. No rice in either one. Thinly sliced shashimi-ish tuna. Oh well. Saving room for dessert. Everyone had dessert. 3 espresso creme brûlée’s. Troy has strawberry banana ice cream. Just okay. Wouldn’t order again. Thin pudding texture. Decent size.

Day 5

Dove with Charlie At Chimney and Tackle Box
Deep dive 102’ went thru a swim thru. Nurse shark followed us
Next dive we saw reef shark
Lobster. Tyler n Kirk saw a crab.
Peterson shrimp. Juv basket Star

Dinner at the Dive Bar.
App: ceviche
Almond breaded grouper ala carte for $14 no sides.
Pinot Grigio
Tyler and Troy ordered a pitcher of Sangria.

Day 6

5:30 am going out with Amigos Del Mar. Huge comfy boat with 20-22 total on board. Crows nest. Fresh water shower, Bluetooth stereos that I can play my zumba music on.
Dives at Tuneffe :
2-Jack Barrow wall
Nurse sharks, green moray eel, lobsters, lotsa colorful fish . Many fairy basslets, Queen angels, big schools of blue tangs, huge coral sponges, barrel sponges, purple sea fans, yellow jawfish, beautiful Santa Rosa style walls. So much color! Orange corals, anemone
Lunch was rice/beans, potato salad, stewed chicken, Fanta, coconut pie on the boat.
3rd Dive:?
Not much to see different. Brown frilly arrow crab on the brown lacy coral. Lobster inside a barrel sponge. Coral banded shrimp, Nurse sharks Water 81 degrees 50 min. Dive. No current. Almost no waves.

The dive masters served us Coconut rum n pineapple juice on the way home.

For dinner we headed to town.

golf carts in san pedro
The guys wanted to play pool @Lilys Treasure Chest. I ordered the ceviche because the author said it was the best. But not so. It had shrimp, lobster, snapper and octopus. It was good but not great. Victoria House’s and The Dive Bar’s are better.

Left and ate at Caramba’s for dinner where the fish market was in the street side.

carambasDeep sea red snapper, lobster, stone crab claws. It was a feast that we only ate half of.

day 7 – rest day

Dinner at Truck Stop. Coconut lime mohito. (Rum, coconut cream, mint)
Octopus and pork belly soft tacos omg good! Played ping pong and corn hole. This was one of our favorite places. Outdoors, lively, food trucks, live music, a swimming pool, games, etc.
truck stop

day 8

Dove at Cypress Gardens. Spotted drum
Black Coral Mound
scuba diving in belize
Troy Tidwell

5 sharks! One 7’ big fat bull shark followed. By a school of jacks. Big groupers! Spotted eagle ray

scuba diving in belize
Tyler Tidwell

Lunch at MataChica. What a beautiful peaceful place. We were headed to Rojo but it’s closed Sun n Mon. Pinot Grigio. Ceviche and snapper skewers. Bananas foster dessert with coconut ice cream. Tyler had caramel flan. Yum! Troy had a fruit plate. Drove to the Secret beach. Down a long hot dusty pothole road. What a waste of time. It’s just a lot of bars and loud music. There was supposed to be live music at Blue Bayou but there wasn’t. So we left.

Dinner at The Dive Bar
Coconut shrimp (not great) I only ate 3 of them.
Baileys Colada
Troy had chicken Alfredo.
Kirk had shrimp Alfredo.
Cheese sauce wasn’t great either.
Tyler liked his jerk coconut lobster.

Day 9

Dove at High School Caverns. Saw turtle lobster pufferfish , Fireworm , nurse sharks almost constantly around us. Lion fish. Cleaner shrimp in curly cue anemone. Green moray, Christ statue. 91’ max depth 54 min. 82 degrees

2nd Dive (Esmeralda North)
2 reef sharks remoras, many nurse sharks – up to 5-6 at a time, lobster, SPOTTED DRUM !

Lunch at Coco’s Loco bar
Drinking a Three(Two) citrus martini with Titos
Food from the Sandbar
Eh not impressed
Bacon blue cheese burger
Yucky meat overcooked.
Could only eat half of it
Shrimp lobster ceviche

Played corn hole
Kirk and I drove to town to get my anklet at the Artisan Craft mall. We stopped and gave out BeachHouse beach balls to the local kids. beach balls

Ate dinner at Caroline’s Kitchen
I had snapper with coconut cream sauce. yum!

day 10

Dove up north
1-? by Mata Chica
2-Charlie’s reef
No sharks today. Saw spotted eagle ray. Spotted drum. Lobster. Nurse sharks. Harlequin bass video. Very lush. Lotsa corals and sponges. Family photo
Warm towels with eucalyptus
Surface interval at O’s resort. Nice hammocks.
16 total dives

Lunch at Wild Mangos. Here is the view:

beaches of san pedro
Drove north to Rojo’s where we ate 12 yrs ago. Poke Tostones with tuna was too spicy yuck! So we got those sent back and got the Pork belly soft “tacos” instead. Soft white asian bread. Omg. Those were great. The parrot they said was 76 yrs old. Kepi (female). This is not a dinner place. They only have appetizers and pizza. No full meals. And they are extremely expensive. The tuna pokes were $24. Only 1 type of wine and it’s $16 / glass. Pizza is $25.

Day 11 -
Time to go home (boo hoo)
If we ever come here again. Go to the airport early. There’s a darling French bakery nearby for coffee and breakfast.
16 min flight to Belize city
Hot hot! In the airplane. Bring a small battery hand fan.

We enjoyed our stay in San Pedro. I hope you do too! Here is a list of beach house vacation rentals in Belize, Ambergris Caye, San Pedro

Tamarindo, Costa Rica – Pura Vida!

Tamarindo has gradually evolved from a sleepy surfer’s paradise into one of Central America’s most popular tourist towns.  It’s a place where the local’s slogan of “Pura Vida” or “Pure Life” definitely rings true.  For some though, the fact that Tamarindo is now “on the map” is reason enough to avoid the destination.  I suppose many liked the undiscovered charm that the beach town once had.

I visited the area for the first time with 7 of my closest friends in 2001.  At that time, Tamarindo was still seen as quite the exotic locale…I think that Costa Rica as a whole still had many asking, “where is that?” or “is it safe to travel there?”

Pretty quickly after we arrived we figured out that our type of group wasn’t something that Tamarindo saw every day.  We created somewhat of a spectacle wherever we went - there were impromptu “ladies nights” in our honor and other bizarre things that I doubt would have happened had we opted for Cancun or Maui as our senior trip destination instead.

Because Tamarindo was still flying under the radar, besides us, there was only a handful of other tourists; an Australian couple in their mid 30′s who were on an eco-adventure (before they were trendy), an Italian group who was visiting their friends who had moved to Tamarindo a couple years prior and opened a small hotel, and a pack of 7 professional surfers, along with their photographer and videographer, who were filming for an upcoming Quicksilver surf video.

By our third day there, we had down the lay of the land, knew the bartenders at both of the bars, Las Olas and the Monkey Bar, had made friends with the gentleman who owned the great Thai restaurant, Pachanga’s, and had invites to be featured in the weekly open mic night at Pasa Tiempo’s.

Since we had discovered all of the shops, markets and hotels Tamarindo had to offer, and had made enough local contacts, we were therefore able to branch out and explore the surrounding areas.  We hitched a ride with the surf crew to the nearby Witches Rock, Playa Negra and Playas del Coco beaches.

We rented mopeds and rode – in the pouring rain – to Playa Avellana where they serve up some of the most amazing brick-oven pizza and sat with the beach’s mascot, a pig that was so huge it rarely moved and had long ago claimed a spot on the beach under a tree.

We took a side trip to the Arenal volcano and sat in the Tabacon Hotel’s natural hot spring pool while sipping a cocktail and watching the volcano, smoldering, and hoping to catch a glimpse of the lava oozing over the rim, fiery red and traffic cone-orange against the inky dusk sky.

It was amazing – by far the best trip I had ever been on – and one that I have, to this day, had trouble topping.  So good, in fact, that I returned 4 years later, hoping to somehow replicate the experience.  I had heard that the area had changed, been built up, transformed into a ”would you like to buy some silver jewelry” by day and neon sign-streaked hot spot by night.

Once I got there, I realized that, for the most part, what I had heard had been right.  Las Olas was vacant (rumor had it that immigration officials has come through the town scattering the charming beach bum crew that has amassed – albeit illegally – over the years), Pachanga’s was now a so-so Italian restaurant and our favorite dreadlocked bartender had packed up his Guaro shaker and moved on to discover another surf town.  There were dozens of new tiendas, there were now 2 main supermarkets, and new streets altogether had been carved into the jungle that once used to hang over the roofs of the couple shops that had dotted the one main drag.

But it was still beautiful and authentically Costa Rica.  You know how some people claim that Puerto Vallarta is no longer “real” Mexico?  Well I don’t buy that.  It’s still Mexico – just a slightly more influenced and modernized version of it.

I highly recommend traveling to the area – maybe rent a beach vacation home so that you are encouraged to cook and therefore go out and experience the local supermarket.  Tamarindo and the surrounding Pacific coast of the Guanacaste region is breathtaking.   The locals, or Ticos, are generous and welcoming and spirited.  The food is unique, somewhere between Mexican and Caribbean and quite eclectic.  There are still howler monkeys that throw small fruits down from the trees, iguanas that are bigger around than your thigh, and the occasional toucan that you can spot in stark contrast against the trees.

Still Costa Rica…still “Pura Vida!”