Save our Beaches: Rain Gardens – An Easy Way to Minimize Storm Water Runoff

Every day water mixes with common household (cleaning products, fertilizers) and environmental pollutants (oil, pesticides) that flow from our homes, offices, roads and landscapes and, eventually, into our oceans.  Compound this daily, times our population, and multiplied over years and years, and our oceans, lakes, rivers, streams and ponds are paying the price.

And when you stop and think how much of a part our water plays in our everyday lives, it behooves us to keep it clean.  On The Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens page of their Website, they reports that, “runoff from residential landscapes affects the quality of our oceans and the quality of our lives. The sediment in water reduces clarity; nutrients increase algae populations and red tides; bacteria close beaches; debris can choke and suffocate aquatic species; and pesticides picked up off a landscape can poison fish consumed by humans — all of which degrade the natural beauty, and our enjoyment, of the ocean.”

One of the ways that each of us can do our part to minimize polluted run-off from reaching our waters is by opting to plant a rain garden in your yard instead of a conventionally landscaped garden.

Rain gardens incorporate native shrubs, perennials, and flowers planted in a small depression, which is generally formed on a natural slope of your yard.  The natural design temporarily holds rain water runoff that flows from the roof of your house, patios and the rest of your lawn, allowing your garden to drink from the accumulated water…water that would usually run off into the streets and gutters, picking up pollutants along the way, and eventually landing in our oceans.

Want to make a rain garden at your home or office?  Here are some rain garden tips:

  • Dig a 6 – 12 inch ditch where you want to make your rain garden – typically on the downside of your property so that the water drains away from your house – or you can check to see if your space has a natural depression – any small valley or dip will work perfectly.
  • If you are creating your own ditch, orient it so that it runs parallel (lengthwise) to the widest part of your house – this will help maximise the amount of rainwater runoff you will be able to capture from your roof.
  • Size:  the square footage of your rain garden should generally equal about 20% of the area draining into it – for example, if your roof covers 800 square feet, a rain garden designed to collect all of the roof’s runoff should cover 160 square feet.
  • Any native plants will do well in a rain garden – and they will not need fertilizer to thrive.  Opt for shrubs and grasses over trees and trees tend to hog all of the water.
  • Create your garden at lest 10 feet from your house or basement in order to avoid water damage to these structures.

As rain gardens gain exposure and popularity, many landscaping companies are becoming rain garden advocates and experts and home improvement centers often host “how to” seminars on rain gardens if you need more information.

Rain gardens are effective in removing up to 90% of nutrients and chemicals and up to 80% of sediments from the rainwater runoff. Compared to a conventional lawn, rain gardens allow for 30% more water to soak into the ground, making them an easy and beautiful way to help preserve our oceans and waters.

The 10 Greatest Sea-Side Cliffs in the World

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, 217 m above Atlantic Ocean

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, 217 m above Atlantic Ocean

#10 – The cliffs of Moher – rise 120 meters (394 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach a maximum height of  about 214 meters (702 ft) just north of O’Brien’s Tower. The cliffs boast one of Ireland’s most spectacular views and are probably the most famous cliff  (if not rock formation) in the world.  Not the tallest cliff on our list, but certainly a crowd favorite.

Vixía Herbeira, Northern Galicia, Spain, 621 m above Atlantic Ocean

Vixía Herbeira, Northern Galicia, Spain, 621 m above Atlantic Ocean

#9 – Vixía Herbeira – is a mountain range in north Spain known for it’s beautiful rock formations and hundreds of sheer cliffs…some small some large.  This made our list not because of a single sheer drop, but for the tremendous views all along the coastal mountain.  A must see!

Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland, 668 m above Atlantic Ocean

Croaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland, 668 m above Atlantic Ocean

#8 – Croaghaun (Irish: Cruachán) - is a mountain in County Mayo, Ireland. It has the highest cliffs in Ireland and the third-highest sea cliffs in Europe at 668 m.  The most satisfying part of these cliffs lie in the fact that they are not reachable by car and you must either park at Keem beach and make the trek from there or park at the supply lake on the way to Keem bay, or go by boat on a rare calm day.

Los Gigantes, Tenerife-Canary Islands, Spain, 637 m above Atlantic Ocean

Los Gigantes, Tenerife-Canary Islands, Spain, 637 m above Atlantic Ocean

#7 – Los Gigantes - or “the Giants” is a resort town in Santiago del Teide residing on the west coast of the Canary Island Tenerife. The town is named after the Giant (literally) cliffs that make its spectacular coast line. Not to be mistaken for the cliffs of Moher, these rise from the sea to a height of 500-800 metres (1,640–2,625 ft) more than twice the size of #10 on our list.  We seem to mention the Canary Islands a lot…and why not?

Cape Enniberg, Faroe Islands, 750 m above North Atlantic

Cape Enniberg, Faroe Islands, 750 m above North Atlantic

#6 – Cape Enniberg Cliff - extends 754 m above sea level, which makes it the second highest sea-cliff in Europe.  Views from the water are (clearly) spectacular, but if you want to conquer this giant cliff, you’ll likely need an a trained local guide (especially if you intend to scale it from seaside). Normal hikers can only reach a certain height on a designated trail without a problem, and relentless fog can often be a problem. Regardless, this is one of the most spectacular sheer cliffs over water in all of Europe…and #6 (on our list) in the world.

Mitre Peak, New Zealand, 1683 m above Milford Sound

Mitre Peak, New Zealand, 1683 m above Milford Sound

#5 – Mitre Peak - is an iconic mountain in the South Island of New Zealand and is one of the most photographed peaks in the country.  At over a mile tall (yup that’s right) it’s the tallest peak on our list.  The name comes from the distinctive shape which resembles th mitre headwear worn by Christian bishops.  While this may be the tallest peak on our list (as it’s the tallest seaside peak in the world), it may not have the most sheer “cliff” feature, so we’ve demoted it to #5.  Still, however, its height alone is worthy of the placement.

Hornelen, Norway, 860 m above Frøysjøen

Hornelen, Norway, 860 m above Frøysjøen

#4 – Hornelen - is the highest sea cliff in Europe, and has been used throughout history as a landmark for naval navigation. While the horizontal distance from the summit to the sea shore is around 500 metres, it features sheer cliffs at the top and again at the base which put most single cliffs to shame.  Probably one of the most beautiful spots in Norway, it proudly sits at #4 on our list of sea-side cliffs.

The Lion, New Zealand, 1302 m above Milford Sound

The Lion, New Zealand, 1302 m above Milford Sound

#3 – The Lion – or Mount Kimberly, gets it’s appropriate nick-name from its distinct shape which resembles a crouching lion.  This (nearly) sheer cliff rises to over 1300 feet in a very short distance directly up from the famous Milford Sound and is certainly one of the most impressive seaside cliffs in the world.  This is the second cliff from the Milford Sound (NZ) on our list, and while it’s not as tall as Mitre Peak, its cliff side makes it one of the most impressive cliffs in the world.

Kalaupapa, Hawaii, 1010 m above Pacific Ocean

Kalaupapa, Hawaii, 1010 m above Pacific Ocean

#2 – Kalaupapa – is located on the island of Molokai, it is one of the most impressive rock formations in the state of Hawaii (and probably the world).  These 1000 m tall cliffs stretch for miles along the island plateau from end to end and overlook the peninsula village of Kalaupapa and the pacific ocean.  With all there is to see in Hawaii, this one MUST make it to your list of cliffs.  Helicopter ride anyone?

Norway, 604 m above Lysefjorden

Preikestolen, Norway, 604 m above Lysefjorden

#1 – Preikestolen - or Prekestolen, in english means Preacher’s Pulpit or Pulpit Rock, and also goes by the old local name of Hyvlatonnå.  It is a massive cliff 604 metres (1982 feet) above Lysefjorden, opposite the Kjerag plateau, in Forsand, Norway. The top of the cliff is approximately 25 by 25 metres (82 by 82 feet) square and almost flat, and is a famous tourist attraction in Norway.  The mere shape, size, and beauty of this cliff speaks for itself.  It’s the largest straight down cliff into water in the planet and overlooks one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  The unique shape also gives it brownie points for us as it sticks out as if to say: enjoy this view…

Honorable Mentions: Some that did not make our list, but deserve special mentions:

 

Cliffs of Dover, United Kingdom, 100 m over Atlantic Ocean

Cliffs of Dover – not impressive in size, but certainly beautiful (for obvious reasons)

 

Talus Cones, Isfjorden, Norway

Talus Cones, Isfjorden, Norway – Another not so large, but uniquely beautiful cliff side in Norway.

Norway, 604 m above Lysefjorden

At the Beach: the Surfrider Foundation 25th Anniversary Gala

WHO: The National Surfrider Foundation, along with host Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, will be honoring actor David Chokachi, and the members of Incubus and Pearl Jam with the organization’s prestigious Keeper of the Coast Award – an award that is presented only once every five years to those celebrities who have made significant contributions towards helping the Surfrider Foundation fulfill its mission of protecting and preserving our world’s oceans, waves and beaches

WHAT: Think of it as Surfrider’s annual gala event on steroids as the event celebrates this quarter-century milestone.  The event will also present the third installment of their Art for the Oceans auction series – Surfrider has commissioned some of the leading contemporary artists to create interpretations of 25 of the world’s most notorious and iconic waves.  Click here to preview some of the pieces that will be up for auction

WHERE: California Science Center’s Wallis Annenberg Building in Los Angeles, CA

WHEN: Friday, October 9th, 2009 at 7pm

Contest: Vote for Stacy & Jeff – Beachhouse.com’s Guest Bloggers!

You’ve enjoyed their blogs and photos as they’ve traipsed about SE Asia, kindly taking time out of meeting great people, eating amazing food, and seeing some gorgeous sites to report to us along the way – now you can see a collection of their gorgeous photos and VOTE for your favorite!  Just go to OpenTravel.com’s contest page, register if you don’t already have an account, browse their photos and VOTE on your favorite(s)!

Here is a sampling of some of my favorites – too see the rest, sign up and VOTE!

Thanks!

Travel Deal: Crystal Sands Villa On the Beach, Turks & Caicos

Last Minute Cancellation! Book your vacation for the week of November 28th – December 5 and SAVE $200!!!

Crystal Sands Villa is a HUGE 4200 square feet!! Each of the two Crystal Sands Villa suites has two master suites with king beds and ensuite baths. (One king is convertible to two twins.) Each master suite has a direct view of the beach! The rooms are large, open and airy. In the Beach Level Suite, a third nursery/children’s room has an extra twin bed! (villa sleeps 13)

Vacation comfort is a given, with the villa’s large living area with extra sofa bed and well planned baths, with large vanities, large walk in showers and fabulous storage! The balcony is magnificently 50 foot long and it is covered! Whether you choose 2BR/2baths or 4BR/4baths, comfort and luxury are assured!

Our fresh water swimming pool is nestled in a beautiful garden setting for privacy. The gardens feature dozens of tropical flowering plants and plenty of shady places to sit. Our palapas offers a restful setting for enjoying our hammocks.

Expect a fully equipped kitchen, linens, including beach towels, cable TV, CD/DVD, washer/dryer, ceiling fans, beautiful furnishings!

Crystal Sands Villa is located in the most exclusive residential area on Providenciales, on Sapodilla Bay Beach on the South side. It is peaceful, quiet and calm. Yet, it is only minutes away from the commercial area on Grace Bay Beach, from the restaurants throughout the island and from the many activities that Provo has to offer. It is truly the best of all worlds! Our ocean bay is serene….and the stars at night are so magnificent; it is just dark enough to really see the spectacular star scene! The sunsets at dusk are also spectacular; the view is unencumbered by tall buildings! The sand is pure crystal white!
The water is clear, sparkling aqua! Our guests have ALL indicated that the photos simply do not do justice to our spectacular villa! We have dozens of varieties of flowering plants which cascade throughout the garden. The pure white sand and crystal clear water are indescribable! The villa is perfectly set up for a truly elegant vacation with all the comforts of home!

Although tropical breezes keep the villa pleasant, air conditioning is available at extra charge for those who must have it! Please see our rates page for details.

Fodor’s has named our beach the best on Providenciales!

At the Beach: Billabong Presents 10th Annual Cosmic Creek Surf Festival

Reserve October 3rd and 4th for Billabong’s 10th Annual Cosmic Creek Music and Art Extravaganza.  Highlights will include a retro-style surf contest, on-the-beach BBQ and silent auction.  And what better way to wrap the event than listing to the fresh and soulful music of Donovan Frankenreiter?

Judging from past festivals, Donovan won’t be alone.  Cosmic Creek will also have appearances by an amazing gathering of famous artists, musicians and surf legends.  In previous years these unannounced superstars have included Jackson Brown, Pennywise, G-love, Warren G, & Sugar Ray.

“Donny and surprise guest musicians will play their hearts out,” says event creator Eric Diamond.”It’s just a super positive symphony of Art/Music/ Food & people all gathered together for Charity,” says Diamond. “Get your tickets now – this will sell out fast.”

Silent auction items such as Italian Cordoba guitars and ukuleles, brought in by Frankenreiter and painted by well known artists including John Van Hamersveld, Wolfgang Bloc, Andy Davis, Tyler Warren, Herbie Fletcher, Jay Alders, Kevin Short, Daniel Chang, Timmy Patterson to name a few, will be on display at 7-Degrees in their outdoor event space.

The event is being billed as “part Woodstock/ Warhol Factory/ surf stomp/ & great Charity event all rolled into one evening.”  Proceeds will help local charities, along with Surfrider’s clean water campaign.

Click here for tickets and here for information about entering the surf contest.


5 of the Most Beautiful Beaches in the World

Jose Ignacio, Uruguay

Jose Ignacio is an old fishing village in Uruguay that has now become a popular tourist destination. The beach is very beautiful and relaxing and there are plenty of fun things to do, including many water sports, fishing, horseback riding along the beach and some of the best seafood restaurants in the world. There are also many fun nighttime activities on the beach with all kinds of fun music and dance. You may even be surprised and see a celebrity while on vacation there, as it has become a hot bed for famous vacationers because of the breathtaking beauty.

Currimundi Lake, Queensland, Australia

Currimundi Beach is located on the sunshine coast of Australia and is famous for its amazing surfing and fishing. It is a must visit for anyone travelling to the area that enjoys beautiful beaches and fun in the water. Currimundi Lake is what the area is mostly known for, but there are many other exciting things to do that are close to the famed saltwater lake.

Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, the Bahamas

Pink Sands Beach is located on Harbour Island, which is one of the less known islands in the Bahamas. It is still popular among tourists, just not as commercial and busy as the larger islands that are always very busy with casinos and many other tourist traps. If you are looking for a laid back vacation with a beautiful beach then Harbour Island and the Pink Sands Beach is probably perfect for you.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora is home to another beautiful beach and is another popular getaway for many tourists because of this. The island itself is very secluded and relies heavily on tourism to sustain. Given how beautiful the island is they have no problems attracting thousands and thousands of visitors from around the world year round. If you are a fan of snorkeling or scuba diving then you will definitely want to consider Bora Bora since the lagoon there is one of the best places in the world for these activities.

Anse Source D’Argent, La Digue, Seychelles

Anse Source D’Argent is considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in the world. The beach has beautiful pink sands and huge granite boulders arranged naturally around the beach, and these do nothing but enhance the beauty of the beach. These boulders are shaped by the weather over many many years and they have some very unique and interesting shapes and curves. The beach is surrounded by reefs, so there is great snorkeling and scuba diving here as well, and the beach is also one of the most photographed beaches in the world because of it’s beauty. It is a popular tourist island but it is not as commercial as many other well known beach getaways, and it is not loaded with huge hotels and casinos like many other islands that are similar.

Insider Interview: Destin, Florida

John and Dawn Foy have been in the vacation rental business for 23 years – 10 years in Destin, Florida alone.  After vacationing in Destin for a couple of days, John and Dawn fell in love with what they have heard described as, “a Hawaii in the States,” moved a couple months later and still haven’t left.  Now they are the owners of 14 rental properties.  The Foy’s were some of Destin’s first property managers to recognize what exactly vacationers look for when choosing the perfect vacation rental.  ”The number one requirement is that the house have a private pool, so we added pools to our properties,” said Dawn.  ”At first, people thought we were crazy.  Now almost everyone is adding pools to their rental properties.”

“They also want King size beds,” Dawn adds, “and views.”  And if you’re vacationing in Destin, Florida, how could you not want views once you’ve seen Destin’s almost blindingly white sand in bright contrast against the clear turquoise ocean?

“Members of Destin’s Chamber of Commerce collect little bottles of sand from wherever they visit and Destin’s is the whitest,” explains Dawn.  ”It literally squeeks when you walk on it because it is so fine and powdery.”  It’s not just local bias that makes the sand seem so white and sparkeling.  The sand comes from the Appalachian Mountains, and is made of finely ground quartz crystal, which gives it the appearance of sugar.

But there is much more to Destin than the white sand and teal ocean.

One of Destins Jettys

One of Destin's Jettys

Destin is home to virtually every water sport and activity imaginable.  The water is consistently warm with temps reaching 86 degrees in October.  Vacationers can go boating, parasailing, jet skiing, or snorkel with some of the local marine life including manatees, dolphins and sea turtles.  You don’t even have to take a charter out of the harbor to find a great snorkeling location.  Dawn offers this local’s tip: snorkel on the jettys off of Gulf Shore Drive on Holiday Isle, where you can park for free and walk down to the water.

“The snorkeling here is amazing!” Dawn says.  ”We tell our vacationers to bring frozen peas or Cheerios to feed the fish.  You’ll see fish in all colors – bright yellow, royal blue, and black and white striped ones…they’re everywhere!”

For other activities, there are dozens of golf courses, the Big Kahuna waterpark, the Gulfarium (“A cute mom and pop type aquarium that is popular with kids and families” according to Dawn) or the Harbor Docks in downtown Destin, offering free parking and a variety of specialty shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors – a great place to rent boats and snorkeling equipment.

Destin is also known for its great dining and shopping.  On the East end of town there is the Silver Sands Outlet Mall, the largest designer outlet mall in the US, and in Mid-town Destin is the newly built Destin Commons, which is home to a Hard Rock Cafe as well as a 14 screen cinema and other retail shops.

The Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin, a bustling sub-community of Destin, has lots of shops and it is a great place to take the family or head out to for a night on the town.   At Christmas they even bring in an ice skating rink and put up lights!

Taken off of Dewey Destins dock

Taken off of Dewey Destin's dock

For food, here are Dawn’s picks:

  • The Back Porch – known for their fresh seafood and oysters
  • The Crab Trap – on Scenic 98, on the beach, has a bar, restaurant (inside and outside dining), play ground on the sand for kids, ice cream bar, regular bar and is part of James Lee Park which has a public bath house, picnic tables and plenty of parking for the public
  • Dewey Destin’s (the town was named after his family!) – located on the harbor and serving up large portions of great downhome cooking
  • Pompano Joes Restaurant – its right on the beach on Scenic 98, and also has outside as well as inside dining, casual entertainment and a casual beach bar
  • Captain Dave’s on the Gulf – has been around for over 30 years and is one of Destin’s favorite waterfront restaurants
  • Bonefish Grill – good service, consistently great food, and a nice, quiet ambiance – perfect for a romantic dinner or special occasion
  • Donut Hole – a popular locals spot that has been a staple since the towns conception  - makes a great keylime pie
  • Broken Egg – fresh and nutritional food, over 130 menu items, great for breakfast, brunch or lunch
  • Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ – great southern food made from scratch
  • Fudpuckers – perfect for the family, kids can feed alligators, play in the arcade, and there is a great souvenir shop with unique local gifts
  • Ciao Bellas – they have the best pizza!
  • Cafe Grazie’s – real Italian food, great kids menu

Destin’s peak season runs from the end of May through the first part of August but “the luckiest fishing village in the US” as Destin is also known, hosts one of its main annual events in October – the annual “Fishing Rodeo” where the person with the largest catch nets $100,000 in prize money!

Angler, Jeff Satterwhite from Niceville, Florida hooked this 108.8 lb. Yellowfin Tuna

Angler, Jeff Satterwhite from Niceville, Florida hooked this 108.8 lb. Yellowfin Tuna

What keeps people returning to Destin year after year for a great vacation spot?

Dawn thinks it is the “beauty of the water – it’s turquoise, clear and breathtaking.  People can’t believe it when they first pull up to the water.”

“It’s still family oriented,” describes Dawn.  ”A quaint town – no crowds or high-rises – and the people are down to earth…good ‘ol boy people.”

Destin has managed to maintain this small-town feel, yet is only 55 miles from the Spring Break-type of vacation one can find in either Pensacola, Florida and Panama City, Florida.

And the sluggish economy hasn’t hit Destin as hard as other popular vacation destinations – perhaps due to its central location on the Froida panhandle, making it easy to get to on not too much gasoline from southern Florida, and the neighboring states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.  Destin is about to get much more accessible thanks to the addition of an International Airport that is already in the works for Destin, set to be completed by Summer 2010.

At the Beach: 25th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day

What: The 25th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day. Now is your chance to be one of the tens of thousands of Californians that will gather along the beaches, shorelines, and inland waterways of the state to clear away the debris that has been deposited over the past year.

Last year, 73,461 Coastal Cleanup volunteers (a 20% jump from the previous record for volunteer turnout) collected over 1.6 million pounds of trash and recyclables. Covering over 2,800 miles of coast and inland shoreline in 45 counties around the state, the 2008 cleanup also had the largest geographic reach ever achieved.

When: Saturday, September 19th, from 9am to Noon in most locations.

Where: Cleanups will be held at over 750 sites on California beaches, bays, rivers, creeks, parks, roadsides, and highways. Contact your local coordinator for exact locations and other site-specific information, or, for further details, visit www.coast4u.org.

Why: “Coastal Cleanup Day is an opportunity for every Californian to feel their connection to our coast, no matter where they may live,” says Eben Schwartz, Outreach Manager for the California Coastal Commission. “By pushing the Cleanup into every corner of the state, we can clean up a lot of trash before it has a chance to reach our ocean, and in doing so, bind every Californian to one another through our collective stewardship.”

How: Pre-register with your local Coordinator, or show up at any drop-in site (find one close to you at the county contact pages).  Or you can call 1 (800) COAST-4U or visit www.coast4u.org for more information. You can further support Coastal Cleanup Day, by shopping at any Northern California Whole Foods market on Tuesday, September 22nd – 5% of all sales from that day will be donated to the Cleanup Program.

California Coastal Cleanup Day 2009 is supported by the California Coastal Commission, California State Parks Foundation, and the Ocean Conservancy. This event is made possible by the hard work of hundreds of local non-profits and government agencies throughout the state and tens of thousands of volunteers annually.

*content is from CA.gov and the California Coastal Commission site

At the Beach: West Beach ’09 Music & Arts Festival

WHO: All of your favorite artists preforming over one weekend – including Steel Pulse, Ozomatli, Donavon Frankenreiter, Ben Harper, G. Love & Special Sauce, Slightly Stoopid & Pepper!

WHAT: A 100% on-the-beach music festival with 4 stages and over 50 sets to be played!  Tickets range from $30 – $50 depending on the day, or $115 for a 3 day pass.

WHERE: It’s all taking place right smack dab on West Beach, in between Stearn’s wharf and the beautiful harbor!

WHEN: This weekend – September 18, 19 & 20.  The first bands kick off Friday @ 3pm.

WHY: Great music, cold beer and a hot beach…why not?!

Now in its 3rd year, the West Beach Music Festival has established itself as the annual event for Santa Barbara.  Rallying after its dissapointing debut event in 2007  (the then one day event got sacked with rainy weather) 2008′s event saw increased crowds, thanks in part to gorgeous weather and the likes of Jason Mraz, Natasha Bedingfield, Ziggy Marley and George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelicthis.  This year is sure to top even last year’s successful turnout.

Brothers (and twins) Jeremy and Joshua Pemberton, the events orginizers, worked with hundreds of event staff to cure the few complaints that event-goers had from last year:  large event grounds, sound bleed, and poor vendor setup.  “They spoke and we listened,” said Josh Pemberton. “We took a survey last year after the fest, and we were able to make a few stellar changes. The biggest change is we are now allowing ins and outs. We didn’t allow it last year because we didn’t want to impact the neighboring businesses, but nearly unanimously, they are all in support of it. So, you can come and go as you please until 7 p.m. We’ve also brought the footprint down by 33 percent. Walking in the sand can be pretty tiring, [so] this was a no-brainer. We’ve got a great team and careful programming to ensure our stages aren’t competing with each other.”

Another factor that contributes to West Beach’s success is that the whole event focuses on the “community first” mentality – something that goes a long way in a close-knit community like Santa Barbara.  Jeremy says, “If we ever ignore the amazingly talented local acts, we’ve lost track of where this whole thing started—with the locals.”  Orginizers have conciously extended the offer for local bands to dominate some of the most sought-after positions on the lineup.  Isla Vista artists Rebelution and Iration are opening for Pepper and Slightly Stoopid, and Santa Barbaras own Sunshine Brothers are playing before G. Love & Special Sauce and Ben Harper and Relentless7.

2009′s event will also be more integrated with the Downtown Santa Barbara businesses – there will be afterparties following the final preformances each night:

Friday: @ Velvet Jones – S.B. stalwarts Shades of Day and The Naybrhood
@ Sandbar – The Aggrolites and Marc B.
@ EOS – after-party

Saturday:  @ Velvet – SOJA, Passafire, and The Movement
@ Wildcat – Shwayze
Sandbar - Sashamon

Sunday: @ Wildcat – the official post-fest shindig

*For $20, festival attendees can score a VIP After-Party Pass, which gets you into all the festivities without paying a cover fee.

Offbeat Vacation Spot: Huacachina, Peru

Huacachina is a small village located in the Ica Region, in southwestern Peru with a population of only 115.  It’s built around a small isolated lake in the desert called the “Oasis of America,” and has long served as a resort for local families from the nearby city of Ica and a stomping-ground for Peruvian elite.  Those familiar with Peru’s currency may recocnize Huacachina fromt he back of the S/50 note.

Increasingly though, Huacachina has become a popular destination for offbeat thrill-seekers and backpackers who come to shread the hundred foot+ sand dunes that surround the oasis villiage.  These sandboarding tourists have somewhat come to run the show.  What was once towering palm trees, lush foliage and buildings from days gone by has been virtually transformed as a majority of the hotels, restaurants and businesses are now catering to these new tourists that are known for their all night parties.


Not that the Peruvians are unacustomed to some wild nights.  Back when the Spanish ruled Peru and grew tired of waiting for their beloved wine to be shipped to them every 6 months, they planted their own grapevines and began making, what turned out to be, quite the tasty vino.  The Peruvians, however liked their spirits a little stronger, which resulted in some of the wines being distilled and turned into waht is now their national drink of choice – pisco (named after the important nearby port of the same name).  The pisco sour, a delicious drink made from pisco, whisked egg white, lemon juice, syrup or sugar, crushed ice and a little bitters, is delicious and refreshing.

If you’re interested in visiting Huacachina, there are a grip of hostels and inexpensive accomodations to be discovered (try El Huacachinero) that make Huacachina a perfect stop for those traveling throughout Peru, perhaps on their way to Cusco and the Incan Trail.

At the Beach: Meet Quiksilver Surf Team Riders 9/17 in Laguna Beach

Over at Quicksilver’s blog they just announced that some of their team riders will be dropping by the Laguna Beach Quicksilver store – now’s your chance to meet the dreamy Dane Reynolds, Freddy Patacchia, Jeremy Flores, Aritz Aranburu, Miky Picon, and Nic Muscroft!  The action takes place this Thursday (9/17/2009) from 6 – 7pm @ 255 Forest Avenue in Laguna Beach – the first 100 people will get a signed poster.

5 Underrated Vacation Destinations

Everyone loves going on vacation and most people usually travel to the same destinations every year, or else they choose different places to go but usually these are always popular tourist destinations. There are so many amazing vacation getaways that many people do not know of, and if they do they may have never thought of them as being a nice vacation hotspot. Since there are so many underrated destinations we cannot list them all so we are going to cover 5 of them with a small description and some videos that may make you want to travel there on your next getaway.

Western South Dakota/Black Hills Country

This area of the United States is very well known, and it gets its fair share of tourists but it is still one of the more underrated destinations for vacationing. In the Black Hills country you can see some amazing landscapes as well as some other amazing things such as Mt. Rushmore. There is plenty of history to discover throughout the area as well since this area has a well known town called Deadwood, which even has a show based on the towns history. Some of the other major attractions that may be for you include some extraordinary fishing, camping, hiking and mountain biking.

Dominica

Dominica is one of the lesser known of the Caribbean Islands but it is just as nice as the more popular islands such as Jamaica and Bermuda, many tourists still travel to Dominica and they heavily rely on it, but it is still not as popular as some of the other islands. This is also one of the nicer aspects of visiting the island because there are less people and you can experience much more while vacationing there. Dominica is 300 square miles and full of all kinds of amazing rivers, nature trails, wildlife, and the world’s second largest boiling lake, for these reasons it is often called the Nature Island of the Caribbean.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

The Valley of Fire State Park is the oldest state park in Nevada and it was made a State Park in 1935, and it is only about an hour from Las Vegas. The largest attraction in the park is the huge rock formations that were made thousands of years ago from shifting sand dunes. There is a visitor center there which can help you learn the history of the park and can also help you discover some of the adventures that can be found there. Lake Mead is also located in this area and archeological buffs will be amazed by the petroglyphs that are located throughout the park.

Santander Region, Colombia

One of the most beautiful regions in South America is the Santander Region in the Northeast part of Colombia. The beaches and landscapes of the area are covered in white sand which makes for a beautiful view throughout the region. There are many things to do in the area and you will encounter other tourists, just not as many as some of the more popular getaways in South America. The capital city of Bucaramanga is referred to as “The Beautiful City” and one of the amazing natural wonders you can see while there is the Chicamocha river canyon, where you can ride one of the longest cable car systems in the world and see breathtaking scenery.

Chacala, Nayarit, Mexico

Chacala is not nearly as popular as Mexico’s tourist hot spots such as Acapulco, in fact Chacala is just a small fishing village about 60 miles north of Puerto Vallarta in the Mexican Riviera region. The people that do travel to Chacala consider it one of the unknown secrets of Mexico. It is an amazing and tropical destination where you can see all kinds of wildlife and there are all kinds of jungle trails to hike and nice quiet white sandy beaches to roam to make for a romantic and relaxing escape.

10 Best Beach Moments in the Movies (now w/ less Bette Midler)

Did you ever see a commercial for a burger joint and say to yourself… “I’ve got to have that RIGHT NOW?” I’ve done it more than my fair share of times. And it doesn’t just happen with commercials either, sometimes a good movie can do it.
It happened to me late Spring where I saw a movie with a really good beach on it and I said to myself “I don’t have anything planned for the summer and I’m so going to the beach.” As I got to thinking about it, I realized that there were a bunch of very memorable beach scenes in movies and I decided that it’d be a great idea to compile a list. Here it is and I hope that it meets your satisfaction. Enjoy!

10. “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

Ok, so not your typical “beach scene” but it is certainly the most memorable. It garners a spot because of its power and unflinching look at the heart of war. It also gets a spot because it is probably the single most important event in History to take place on a beach.

9. “Dr. No” 1962

The Bond franchise has spawned over 20 movies and therefore over 20 “Bond Babes”… but for all the excellent scenes of all of the films, none have quite the impact or richness of Ursula Andress walking out of the ocean in a bikini that has become part of pop culture and synonymous with sexy.

8. “Pirates of the Caribean: At Worlds End” 2007

So now let’s get this straight. You’re dead, your heart is stuck in a locker, you have to take command of an undersea ship where you help user lost souls into another world, and you only get to come to a desolate island once every 10 years?!?!? But you have Keira Knightly coming to visit you on your shore leave? Not a bad proposition.

7. “10” 1979

One of the most classic scenes featuring a beach in film history. If you’re over 30 than you likely remember this scene. The humor and appeal of Bo Derek running opposed to Dudley Moore has not diminished at all 30 years later.

6. “Top Gun” 1987

It’s about as classic and memorable a scene from the 80’s can get. The Kenny Loggins backtrack only makes things even more Reganesque. As I look back at it now I realize that the greatest special effect in the entire film is making it appear as if Tom Cruise is actually tall enough to pull off a spike.

5. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” 2004

A brilliant film about love and loss and the lengths that we will go to in order to shield ourselves from pain. Having erased each other from one another’s minds, Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) have killed the memories of each other. But as true love has a way of surviving in even the most tragic circumstances they manage to bring themselves back together again as Clementine tells Joel “Meet me in Montauk.” the beach where they met and shared some of their best times. Without memory of each other they manage to find love again.

4. “Cast Away” 2000

If there is one actor on this planet that can carry an entire movie where he exists by himself and his only co-star is a Volleyball, it would be Tom Hanks. Told in essentially 2 parts being about 4 years apart, the 2nd half of the story opens with a fish being speared and the camera pans out to see Tom Hanks, looking tan and guant, yards away on a beach. The viewer instantly realizes that he has overwhelmingly adapted to his environment and this beach has become his home.

3. “Point Break” 1991

I couldn’t find a video of the infamous “Beach Party Scene” where Keanu Reeves’ “Special Agent Johnny Utah” meets Lorri Petty’s “Tyler”. So instead I’ve left you with the next best thing… Reno 911 and Human Giants awesome attempt to remake “Point Break.” If you grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s you can see how cheesy and delightful Point Break was. The perfect Summer movie.

2. “Rocky III” 1982

Once bitter rivals, Rocky and Apollo Creed meet as friends and compatriots in Rocky III to help Rocky prepare to face the vicious and fearsome Clubber Lang (played with frightening conviction by Mr. T). To help Rocky prepare, Apollo sets him forth in one of the most quintessential training montages in film history, culminating with a beach run and frolic in the surf.

1. “From Here to Eternity” 1953

Without a shadow of a doubt, the most remarkable and memorable film scene including a beach has to be 1953’s “From Here to Eternity.” Featuring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, this film made beach kissing seem infinitely romantic. Never mind the sand in odd places or salt water going in your ears and nose… this film made a spontaneous and passionate kiss on the beach the cornerstone of any great relationship.

5 of the Strangest Places to Visit

Most travelers are looking for new experiences, but what about the TRULY unusual?  For the adventurous travelers there are so many amazing places around the world that you can choose to see, some are man-made and others were formed by nature. The 5 places below are all natural and are (most definitely) some of the strangest places and/or biggest mysteries in the world. For hundreds of years scientists of all kinds have tried to uncover the mysteries of many of these places to no avail, and travelers seeking adventure have visited them to stare in amazement and take pictures of these odd places. Enjoy learning a little bit about some of the most out of this world places on Earth, and maybe you will even be inspired to visit one of them yourself someday.

The Devil’s Bath

This ominous looking pool is located in the thermal reserve of Wai-O-Tapu which is in The Bay of Plenty located in New Zealand. The Devil’s Bath is a pea shade of green and it is caused from many different mineral elements in the water. Devil’s Bath was created from heavy volcanic activity in the region and it is thought to date back approximately 160,000 years. Heated streams run underneath the landscape throughout the area and there are many other amazing sites to see along the way.

Vale da Lua (Moon Valley), Bolivia

The Vale da Lua, or Moon Valley is a place that will literally make you feel like you are on another planet, while walking around you may literally feel like an alien is gonna appear. These rock formations were caused by water erosion over many years and along with the terrestrial landscape there are also natural pools throughout. The rock formations seen are mostly quartz and crystaland they are among some of the oldest on Earth.

The Great Blue Hole, Belize

The Blue Hole in the ocean is just off the coast of Belize and this is one that is a great destination for brave scuba divers, and even on your way to Belize for vacation you may see the great Blue Hole as you fly over. I mentioned scuba above and this is one of the top destinations in the world for experienced scuba divers because of how deep the Great Blue Hole is and because it s full of many different caverns and hideaways. Scuba divers also get a close up view of the tropical fish and schools of sharks that inhabit the hole.

Nazca Lines

The Nazca lines are lines that were etched into the ground thousands of years ago by the Nazca people and they are located in the Nazca Desert of Peru. Many of these are just lines but there are also many that resemble people and animals, and they most likely had to do with the religious beliefs of the tribe. There have been many different theories about the lines though, including many about aliens. The Nazca lines definitely make for a great place to visit no matter who you are, and their wonders can be appreciated by all.

Socotra Island

Socotra Island is located in the Indian Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the coast of Africa. It is part of the Republic of Yemen but it is also one of the most isolated groups of inhabited islands in the world. Socotra Island is full of all types of otherworldly vegetation and almost half of the flora and fauna found on the island is only native to the islands. The islands are an amazing and strange place to visit and are a destination for people, especially those that love to se some of the most beautiful plant life in the world.