5 of the Most Haunted US Cities to Visit

The US has many very famous haunted cities; some of them are among the most haunted cities in the world. If you believe in haunting and spirits then you can easily understand why we would have so many haunted places since we are an old country that has seen many battles and tragedies through the years. There are literally hundreds of lists that can be found online that cover these haunted cities, and many of the ones listed here will be found among these. This is a short list of 5 extremely haunted cities that are also great places to visit for a vacation, even if a couple you might only want to visit in the warmer seasons.

St Augustine, FL
St. Augustine is a beautiful city to visit and explore since it is full of all kinds of history, the city is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. St. Augustine was first occupied by Spanish settlers in 1565, and has been occupied ever since. The city is also the oldest port in the continental US, so you can only imagine some of the battles that took place in this city hundreds of years ago. That was a time when the city constantly had to defend itself against many attacks, especially from invaders like pirates and others trying to claim the land for themselves.

Salem, MA
Massachusetts is a beautiful State and is home to the city of Salem, which is known worldwide for the Salem Witch Trials and hangings that took place there in the latter part of the 17th Century. The first 2 accused girls were actually the daughter and niece of the local preacher, this turned into a mass hysteria for the village and in the end approximately 24 people were put to death because they were accused of witchcraft. Most of them were hung at Gallows Hill in Salem Town, the rest were locked away and died in prison. There is a lot more haunting Salem than just to victims of the witch trials, and it is a place anyone into the paranormal needs to visit.

Gettysburg, PA
Gettysburg is another town that is considered one of the most haunted in the world, and another place where you could easily understand the haunting because of all the hard fought military battles that took place there during the Civil War. Some of the bloodiest battles took place here and many soldiers died for their bravery, it is estimated that around 50 thousand people lost their lives over a 3 day period. The Battle of Gettysburg is well known between the Confederate troops under General Robert E. Lee and the Union troops under General George Meade. The battle took place at an area called Devils Den, and this is the exact place where the most paranormal activity has been witnessed, but the rest of the town has its fair share of haunting also.

Savannah, GA
Savannah, Georgia is a beautiful city that is right in the heart of the Southeast US; it is also an old city with a lot of history. Since it is such an old city and has such a long and storied history it is another city you can almost assume is haunted if you are a believer in the supernatural, many that do believe consider Savannah to be the most haunted city in the States. Savannah has a very beautiful historic district, and this is where most paranormal activity has been seen and heard by thousands of people. They say that pretty much every establishment in the historic district are haunted. The city, like many others thrives on this though, and many tourists take advantage of the ghost tours and even the haunted pub crawls they offer in Savannah.

New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is also said to be the most haunted city in America, much like many of the others in this list, but more people agree about New Orleans than any other city. There is almost something in the air while in New Orleans that just gives you that creepy, eerie feeling that is hard to explain. The cemeteries in New Orleans all have an extra creepy feeling when you see them and the architecture you will see in the cemeteries just help to contribute to the eerie feeling. The city is also loaded with many haunted mansions, hotels, restaurants, bridges and many homes that are occupied to this day. Thousands of people have seen and heard things in the city on numerous occasions, and when you learn about some of the history in the city you will understand. The city has seen numerous tragedies over the hundreds of years it has been a city, and it was also well known for the Voodoo that has long been practiced there. New Orleans has a rich history and was also another favorite city of the pirates when they were looking for cities to raid and loot, so this also contributed to many gruesome deaths in the past. Another thing many people think of when they think of this great city are vampires, and the Vampire lore also comes from the Voodoo history in New Orleans.


Image Courtesy of PD Photo

Travel Deal: Oceano Sueno – A Luxury Beachfront Boutique Condominium With Heated Infinity Pool And Complimentary Private Concierge Service

View from guest bedroom balcony

Enjoy unparalled luxurious accomodations at affordable rates! Weekly rates presently from $1,100!!! You will also find a very favorable Peso/USD exchange rate!

Oceano Sueno (Ocean Dream) is a newly built (2008) impeccably decorated 3BR/2BA direct beachfront luxury condominium with unparalleled panoramic views. Located on the 9th floor of Cobalto a 28 unit boutique complex in Nuevo Vallarta this property defines perfection and total relaxation.

Relax in the heated beachfront infinity pool with two separate jacuzzi tubs or work out in the ultra modern gym while taking in the ocean views. Just steps away a picturesque beach awaits. Stroll and feel the soft sugar sand underfoot or walk out on the nearby breakwater and reach out to the sunset or capture the beauty of the Sierra Madre mountains that ring the Bay of Banderas.

While enjoying a cocktail or a meal on the terrace watch the humpback whales and porpoises at play or ocean birds dive for a meal. Or simply just lay back on one of the lounges relax and listen to the lapping of the waves.

From this corner unit choose from one of three separate balconies for spectacular views of the ocean, mountains, marina and breathtaking sunsets.

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

In the early morning and evening watch cruise ships majestically glide in and out of nearby Puerto Vallarta.

Located on a quiet cul-de-sac you are just steps away from the marina with all of its boats and magnificent yachts. Over 5 restaurants are within a casual 5 minute stroll. Also nearby is Vallarta Adventures and swimming with the dolfins.

A unique feature of this boutique complex is that there are only 3 units per floor.

Guest Bedroom

Guest Bedroom

A golfing enthusiast will find the manicured Paradise Village El Tigre golf course just 1 mile away or simply walk to the nearby Mayan Palace course. If you like to jog or bike there are miles of palm-lined vistas that interlace the inland canal waterways of Nuevo Vallarta and the beautiful homes and villas.

A visit to the area would not be complete without experiencing the vibrancy, culture and charm of Puerto Vallarta which is a mere 7 miles (15 minutes) away. Walk the meandering malecon, follow the art walk to various galleries. Go to one of our recommended restaurants or simply “chaulkboard” a lunch or evening special. There are many shops selling a full spectrum of goods. Stop by the Mercado a two block maze of shops and barter for a bargain.

View From Ocean Terrace Balcony

View From Ocean Terrace Balcony

In the evening Puerto Vallarta excites the senses with outside music, performers on the malecon, fireworks as the local people and tourists come out to enjoy another beautiful sunset.

A stay at Oceano Sueno will leave one relaxed and rejuvenated and planning ahead on how soon you can return.

3 of the Best Surfing Destinations in the World

Surfing is an extremely popular water sport that is a favorite of many beach lovers worldwide, and there are many beaches around the world that cause hardcore surfers to salivate just thinking about having a chance to surf some of the best waves in the world. These 3 vacation hotspots are favorites for surfing and because of this they attract surfing enthusiasts from around the globe, and they are also home to some of the world best surfers and surfing competitions.

Australia’s Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is in the Queensland area of Australia and it is world reknowned for having the best beaches and the very best waves for surfing. Thousands and thousands of surfers vacation here every year just to get a chance to ride the waves of the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast City is loaded with beaches that are great for surfing, some of the most popular beaches for surfing are South Stradbroke Island, Mainbeach, The Spit, Surfers Paradise, Mermaid Beach and many more. Duranbah Beach is probably the most popular surfing hot spot worldwide and it is very close to the Queensland Gold Coast City, many people think it is actually part of the Gold Coast City but it is actually a short distance away in the town of Duranbah. The official name of the beach is actually Flagstaff Beach but it has unofficially been known as Duranbah for many years.

Oahu – Hawaii’s North Shore

Oahu is another extremely popular surfing destination, and Hawaii is actually where surfing was first invented by the Polynesian people over 500 years ago. There are many amazing beaches with great surfing waves throughout the Hawaiian Islands but Oahu is the best of the best for the big waves and plenty of surfers. The North Shore of Oahu is about 20 miles of gigantic waves that average 20-30 feet. The North Shore consists of many beaches along the 20 mile stretch of paradise, and the most popular beach on the stretch is called Ehukai Beach, or the “Banzai Pipeline” as it is known to surfers worldwide. The second most popular beach in the area is Waimea Beach, and this is the home of the world famous Quicksilver Eddie Aikau Invitational competition which takes place here every year because of the spectacular surfing conditions.

Jeffreys Bay, South Africa

Another famous surf destination that every surfer should know, Jeffreys Bay is another one of the Worlds very best surfing locations. Jeffreys Bay is located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, which is about an hour southwest of Port Elizabeth. The area is home to many amazing beaches with names like the Super Tubes, the Boneyards, Magna Tubes, Point and Albatross as well as many others that are in the area. Jeffreys Bay is also well known for being the host of the annual Billabong Pro WCT surfing event, which takes place at Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay every July.

Photos – Kid-ding around…heh.

by Jenny Blake - Lonely Planet author

by Jenny Blake - Lonely Planet author

I thought this was photoshopped – so I decided to do a little research.   And apparently so have a lot of people as I had barley typed in “Moroccan” and the text-prediction wizards over at Google suggested “Moroccan tree goats” to complete my querry.  Dang they’re good!

And these little goats of Morocco seem to be good too – they don’t even have hands, yet they manage to hoof it into the tippy top branches of these rickety looking trees.

Their motive?  The fruit of the argan tree, which is similar to an olive, is one of their favorite snacks!

Travel Deal: Bayview Luxury, Fort Myers Beach, Florida

15% OFF January 2010 Bookings – Inquire Today!

A peaceful bayfront paradise. Whether you are enjoying the heated swimming pool and outdoor whirlpool or “sitting on the dock of the bay”, this 2-story 5 Bedroom, 3.5 bath home is almost sure to please any guest. Laundry facilities are located on both floors. Game room with pool table, bar, and TV to keep guests entertained if they get too much sun. there is even an outside shuffleboard court as well. Just a couple hundred yards to the nearest beach access, guests get the proximity to the beach that they want with the privacy of the bay that they need to relax.

In a house with 5 bedrooms, you almost need 2 separate living rooms. With the game room on the first floor and the living room on the second floor, guests can enjoy some quiet relaxation time while the kids are downstairs watching TV or playing games. The living room one of the largest rooms in the house with 3 sets of doors that open onto a screened lanai, an entertainment center with a 36″ TV, DVD Player, VCR and Stereo. Off the living room, guests will find the kitchen and breakfast nook, the formal dining room, the Upstairs Queen bedroom and a half bathroom.

The dining room is seldom used in a vacation home like ours, but you just never know when you are going to have to do some entertaining in a more formal setting. The table is large enough to fit 8 people comfortably, although it only has 6 chairs. Folding chairs for additional guests can be found in the master bedroom closet. It’s a perfect place for a holiday dinner or to entertain friends that live in the area or are vacationing nearby. Conveniently located directly opposite the kitchen, you don’t have far to walk to bring in the food or take out the dishes.

A luxury house requires a spacious kitchen. This house is no exception. With breathtaking views of the bay, the kitchen is the center of the 2nd floor. Guests will enjoy the extra elbow room for cooking on our center island. Staying in the house with a big group requires a lot of food – and we’ve got enough cabinets for you to keep a month’s worth. If you’re staying with just a couple of friends, eat a casual meal at our 4-seat breakfast nook or at the counter with bar stools off the living room.

The recreational/game room is where most children spend their time (when they’re not swimming in the pool, that is). Guests may enjoy our pool table, TV, bar with a separate sink and refrigerator, as well as a table for playing board games. Located directly off the pool deck, it is also a convenient place to relax if you need to get out of the sun for a few hours.

FortMyersBeachFlorida3The Master Suite: Truly the highlight of staying in this home. With a screened in lanaioff this spectacular bedroom, you can wake up each morning watching the sun rise over the bay, listening to the sounds of nature. A King-size bed seems too small in this extra-spacious room. A dresser and dual king-size walk in closets will be plenty of space for you to store your clothes in while you are our guests. A small sitting area with a TV allows you to unwind in private after a busy day at the beach.

The master bath is just as spacious, including double sinks, a shower/steam room, toilet facilities and a bath that overlooks the bay. Additionally, laundry facilities are located off the master bathroom. Enjoy a relaxing bath in our extra-deep tub overlooking the bay or maybe nice hot shower after a long day at the beach. The master suite has an oversized bathroom with luxury facilities like the extra-deep soaking tub, our steam & shower room, double sinks and vanities and laundry facilities. Fresh sheets and towels are included in all rentals.

By far the most relaxing part of staying in this bayfront home is the view of the bay as you relax by the pool. Unlike other houses on the bay, the view from this house is unobstructed and contains only what nature provides. The heated pool and outdoor whirlpool are very relaxing and perfect for families. Our bayfront dock has a boat lift, should you decide to rent a boat for the week or if you happen to have one that you’ll be sailing in on. Our pool deck also has a separate patio complete with seating for 6 and a gas grill for your enjoyment.

See every beach in the world – in one day!

You’ve backpacked through Asia, hiked the America’s, hopped the Eurorail across Europe, safaried in Africa and dog sledded your way throughout Antarctica…and you have a foggy recollection of spending some time in Australia, although you can’t be 100% sure – there may have been a lot of lager involved…

If you’re feeling a case of the been-there-done-that’s, you only have to wait a few more years – which is probably the amount of time it will take you to pawn off all of your possessions,  shake down your family and closest friends, and climb the ranks in your local mafia so that you can amass enough money to afford a trip to the final frontier… space.

Virgin Galactic (see what they did there?  Galactic sounds kinda like Atlantic?  clever.) has announced that, estimated to begin in the year 2012, you will have the opportunity to travel into outer space – an opportunity that, so far, only professional astronauts have had.  Their Website can’t stress “safety” enough – new technology and a 3-day pre-flight training seminar will supposedly leave you ready to board one of their state-of-the-art spaceships (complete with comfort-first seats and amenities and panoramic windows) and venture out into the wild black and blue yonder.

Virgin Galactic’s affordable pricetag:  $200,000 – with plans to reduce the cost as much as possible as quickly as possible in order to maximize the number of people who will be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

Another company, Galactic Suite Limited, is also set to voyage into outer space, although both Galactic Suite Limited and Virgin Galactic are adamant that there is no race – both companies are independently financed and will start their engines only once exhaustive test flights and trial runs have been successfully completed.

While Virgin’s trip is a there-and-back, relatively quick journey, Galactic Suite Limited’s experience will allow amateur astronauts an extended stay in orbit aboard The Galactic Suite Space Resort.

The experience will begin on a private tropical island where your “challenging and exhilarating” briefed astronaut space training program will take place.  After that, it’s go time and you will be launched into space on their SpaceShip, on track to join up with their SpaceResort.  Once there, you will spend 3 nights in a private lux pod room – all for the low, low price of $4,000,000!

…imagine…going from 0 km/hr to 28,000 km/hr in 10 minutes…traveling around the world in 90 minutes…watching 15 sunsets in one day…experiencing total weightlessness…

5 of the Dirtiest U.S. Beaches

On this blog we’ve profiled some of the most wonderful, exotic and captivating beaches in the entire world. Beaches that entice travelers to come and experience their mystic appeal. We’ve shown you travel destinations tucked away in tropical havens and waters so clear that they practically beckon you to visit through your monitor. If only they were all so picturesque.

The sad truth is that for every amazing beach, there exists it’s negative counter-part. The truth of the matter is that there are just as many sad beaches as well that tempt no one. Call them dirty, polluted, whatever you like. Just don’t call them your vacation spot.

Here’s your list of 5 of the dirtiest beaches in the U.S.

"Honey, call the travel agent. I want a refund. This is NOT the Hawaii they promised."

"Honey, call the travel agent. I want a refund. This is NOT the Hawaii they promised."

1. HANALEI RIVER, KAU’I (HAWAII)
Located on the north shore of the island, the beaches on the Hanalei are littered with pollution. According to The Natural Research Defense Counsel (which monitors beach quality). How bad is it? According to the report, it exceeds the accepted level of bacteria by a whopping 100%. That is to say that there is TWICE AS MUCH bacteria present on the beach and swimming area that is normally acceptable. Hawaii is known for is magnificent beaches, but the northern beaches on the Hanalei river should not be included with them. The good news is that in 2003, the area was a recipient of over $900,000 in grant money designed to counteract sediment and waste-water problems. Because that’s the last thing that you want to think of at the beach…. ‘waste water.’ Eeewww!

Ahh... Lake Michigan. Home of the American Pie Movies.

Ahh... Lake Michigan. Home of the American Pie Movies.

2. NORTH POINT MARINA – N. BEACH (ILLINOIS)
When samples were taken from this beach in 2003, 56% of the time the bacteria levels were at failing levels. That means that better than 1 out of 2 times you take a dip you could contract an infections disease. The Great Lakes don’t seem so great when they’re teeming with bacteria. It just goes to show that we’re not content with simply violating and polluting the oceans, we’ve decided to move inland and hit our fresh water lakes as well. The pollution of this (and other inland beaches) is likely the direct result of decades of heavy commercial shipping that takes place in the lakes.

Vitamin Water bottle: OK if YOU brought it, gross if the lake did.

Vitamin Water bottle: OK if YOU brought it, gross if the lake did.

3. YMCA BEACH (WISCONSIN)
Take two of the blandest, safest and most vanilla words and places in America (YMCA and Wisconsin) and put them together and you think that you’d have the most perfect beach… right? WRONG! In fact, the YMCA Beach in Wisconsin is the exact opposite. Unless you think of E. Coli bacteria which has caused serious illness as ‘safe.’ Lest we get too far without talking about it again, E. Coli is the direct byproduct of human and animal waste. So while you’re in the north country trying to enjoy a nice summer day at the beach and you wonder what that tangy thing is on your tongue and that stinging sensation on your skin it’s best not to dwell on it for too long.

"The beaches in New Jerseyyyy...."

"The beaches in New Jerseyyyy...."

4. BEACHWOOD BEACH WEST (NEW JERSEY)
According to Saturday Night Lives’ Governor Patterson parody, no dirty beach list would be complete without a New Jersey spotting. I personally think that New Jersey get’s a bad rap for a lot of things, and I love going to Wildwood and enjoying the boardwalk every summer. That being said, Beachwood Beach West is certainly no Wildwood. It’s the anti-vacation beach if ever there was one. With a 60% failure rate for bacteria sampling, this beach recently showed up on a “most dangerous” beaches of the world along with some shark infested beaches in Australia. But the danger here isn’t sharks…but rather the risk of infection.

LA Beach

That's a lot of pee-pee!

5. ALL LOS ANGELES COUNTY BEACHES (CALIFORNIA)
I got a kick out of putting this one down. As I researched for this article and I found the NRDC’S report I scanned over the results. A beach from Florida here, one from Ohio there… and then I saw this. EVERY beach in Los Angeles County was lumped into one giant category. Basically what the Research Council is saying is that Los Angeles is in fact a cesspool…. LITERALLY! I always use literally incorrectly but not in this case. It is a literal fact that the beaches of Southern California are bacteria ridden, having a bearly 60% failure rate for safe level testing. I’m sure that there are beaches in Southern California that are lovely and safe to enjoy, but apparently not in Los Angeles County (at least according to this report).

This Halloween, visit one of America’s top haunted hotels

1891 Castle Inn – 1539 Fourth Street, New Orleans, Lousiana
The Inn is currently for sale and only accommodating long term stays, however, chances are this historic treasure will be sold with its permanent residents in place…at least 2 Big Easy residents who passed away over 100 years ago. This historic guest house is located in the historic Garden District and has views of the Mardi Gras parade route. The “translucent man” was a driver staying in the guest quarters of the hotel when he accidentally set his room on fire and was killed. Known for loving ladies, music, practical jokes and a stiff drink in his day, he continues to reside at the hotel. He is thought to be responsible for the coughing and whistling heard in the hallways, objects moving or being hidden and is seen in mirrors or out of the corner of guest’s eye. He loves to tinker with radios, televisions, ceiling fans, and lights. If you can’t find an object in your room, look in a drawer or in a place where you would not leave it…one guest, upon checking out, could not find the receipts of the past four days of shopping and travel which the husband had collected in his wallet. His wife found them all in the microwave after they searched the room from top to bottom. Other reports tell of a little girl who drowned in the pond behind the house and still wanders the grounds and surrounding neighborhood, presumably in search of her mother. Guests report a feeling of brushing against bare legs (especially women), beds bouncing up and down, and the sound of bare feet running down the hallway.

Queen Mary – 1126 Queen Hwy., Long Beach, California
The Queen Mary ocean liner sailed the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967, and is now permanently moored in Long Beach, CA.  Her beautiful salons and staterooms are a testament to the Art Deco era…and to a host of unexplained sightings, sounds and spooks.  The Queen Mary has been a constant source for stories, articles and documentaries about supernatural sightings and other unexplained activity aboard the historic ship, the engine room and pool being the most active locations.  In 1966, 18-year-old engineer John Pedder was crushed by a watertight door in the engine room during a fire drill – to this day his ghost is said to haunt the ship.  Other accounts recall seeing the spirit of a young girl named Jackie who haunting the first class pool on board the ship.

The Menger Hotel – 204 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, Texas
The oldest hotel west of the Mississippi still in operation, The Menger got its start as a boarding house and has played host to a colorful bunch of famous figures throughout its history, including General George Patton, Robert E. Lee, Oscar Wilde, Ulysses S. Grant, “Teddy” Roosevelt, to name a few.  Ghostly sightings range from guests feeling a maid smoothing the bed sheets with them still in them, to voices of a woman repeatedly calling for room service.  A few years ago, a guest wanted extra towels, so he opened the door of his room and asked a maid who ignored him. The guest called the front desk to report the rude behavior and described the maid and her uniform, to find it was one that was worn in the late 1800s!

Stanley Hotel – 333 Wonderview, Estes Park, Colorado 80517
Heeeeeeeeere’ s Johnny!  The Stanley was the inspiration behind Stephen King’s “The Shining.”  For a real fright, request room 217 – this was the room where King stayed while working on the novel.  However, the former servants quarters, located on the 4th floor (room 418 in particular) have the most ghostly activity reported.  Past guests have reported hearing children playing in the halls – yet when they speak with the front desk, they are told that no children are currently staying at the hotel.

Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast – 230 Second St., Fall River, Massachusetts
After it was built in 1845, Andrew Bordwn bought the home for his family, including his youngest daughter Lizzie.  During the morning of August 4, 1892, around 10:45 AM, Borden’s father, and her stepmother, Abby Durfee Borden, were murdered in the family home with a hatchet.  Lizzie was the prime suspect and, although she was tried and acquitted of the crimes she was ostracized by the community of Fall River.  For the first time since the murders, the public is welcome to view the murder scene, and spend a night in the actual house where the murders took place…and get the opportunity to run into any ghosts that may be still bound to the house.

The Heathman Hotel – 1001 SW Broadway at Salmon, Portland, Oregon
Centrally located in downtown Portland, The Heathman has been named “One of the best  places to stay,” according to Conde Nast Traveler and “One of the 500 best hotels in the world,” by Travel + Lesiure’s 2009 awards.  It has also been the scene for many paranormal experiences by its guests, specifically the rooms in one column that end in 3 (room 703, 803 and 1003 in particular).  Guests of the hotel will leave their room clean, and upon return find a towel used, a glass of water out, a desk chair moved…yet the hotel’s records report no one used the electronic key to get in to the room.

The Landmark Inn – 230 North Front St. – Marquette, Michigan
Located on the shore of Lake Superior, this hotel’s history spans a century…plenty of time for spirits to have accumulated and taken up residence at the Inn.  In 1930, when the hotel first opened, a librarian in town fell in love with a sailor who was to make one last journey before coming home to marry her.  But the ship and crew never returned.  The librarian is said to still haunt the Lilac Room, which has a view of Lake Superior, and is believed to be watching for her sailor’s return.  Guests of the Lilac Room report screws being left in their sheets (even after room service changes them), men have trouble getting their key to work in the door, and employees
receive calls to the front desk from the room, even when it is unoccupied and vacant.   One guest was dining with her husband noticing another woman standing at the bar whose skirt was being pulled out “like someone had pulled out the skirt to examine the fabric, but no one was there.”   Thinking that she might have imagined, she had her husband look and once again it happened.  Upon relaying this story to a bartender during another stay at the hotel, the bartender told the visitor of the reports of ghosts in the hotel and the woman said, “I always thought so, to this day I still remember the skirt, covered with lilacs.”  Startled, the bartender told her about the stories of the Lilac room.  The woman got so shook up that she felt ill and had to leave.

Travel Deal: Grand Outlook Castle in Anguilla

Best Rate on Anguilla! As low as $229 per night!!! (Rates are per couple or per bedroom)

Welcome to the Grand Outlook Castle estate; an ultimate Anguilla villa rental. 4 huge bedrooms, all masters, large baths, individually controlled A/C and each with sliders onto private balconies. Secluded and private but with easy access to all of Anguilla’s world famous beaches, the airport and The Valley (downtown). 50″ Plazma TV in the living room has open gallery ceiling, with large video library, surround sound, iPod hook-up and pool deck tunes.

Grand Outlook Castle’s performance kitchen is large and spacious with room for multiple chefs to play, prepare and entertain. Four bar stools allow others to join in on the fun and activity comfortably and makes it easy to feed the children; it’s the best of all worlds. GE Monogram appliances, gas stove with convection oven, huge granite counter tops, wine cooler and excellent lighting make this kitchen a dream come true. *** SAVE HUNDREDS IF NOT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS DURING YOUR STAY BY BRINGING IN YOUR OWN MEATS FROM HOME AND GRILLING BY THE POOL ANYTIME. *** Ask about the easy details!!! Remember, all the beer and libations at Grand Outlook Castle cost about the same as home and the kitchen has a blender.

Gas grille and two burner stove out by the infinity edge pool makes for an outdoor area where enjoying the spectacular views and feeding the family and friends is a pleasant experience. It too is the best of all worlds. ***Anguilla allows for the import of frozen meats without ANY duty. Love to grille great? Love a butcher back at home? Freeze your best choices, pack in a cooler and check it. You will LOVE the grille! You will LOVE the view! You will LOVE to save MONEY!

Nestled near the top of the second highest point on the Anguilla, the views are simply Spectacular! Not only does the sunrise embrace you during your breakfast, your evening meal is enhanced by the kaleidoscope of colors during the sunset by the pool. Sometime we even forget to eat as the sunsets are so entertaining; don’t want to miss a moment. A fairly short walk to famous Little Bay Beach. A little longer walk to Crocus Bay beach and Limestone Bay Beach. Beach chairs, beach umbrella, COOLERS and some SNORKEL EQUIPMENT are at the castle.

The view carries over to the back side of the island where you can observe St Barts, St. Kitts & St. Martin. You can observe both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from this “top of the world” location. You will ever be bored with the ever changing and awe inspiring views!

The four air conditioned ensuite bedrooms provide plenty of room and privacy for each guest with very large baths and individual balconies if anyone should want to be alone. Two of the bedrooms have outdoor showers with outstanding views so if you make the reservation you get your choice of bedrooms/baths. If you’re a little bit shy, the other two baths are very spacious and have private but well lit glass block enclosures.

Like many other castles, Grand Outlook Castle has a tower atop its structure from where the views are unrivaled. Zero gravity chairs there afford true comfort while observing the stunning night sky and embracing the experience of “chillaxing” as one guest aptly described the result. Guests have often been known to become so very comfortable there, they fall asleep embraced by the stars and soothing breezes. Now that’s a vacation!

The infinity pool at Grand Outlook Castle is truly “grand”. In the morning sun, the cliffs of Anguilla glissen anew and Sandy Isle appears as a truly tropical aberration; a spit of glissening pure white sand with seven palm trees announcing its existence.

At sunset, if you line up the infinity edge of the pool with the horizon, it gives you the appearance of the sun setting in the pool with you.

Huge private vessels drop anchor for the night in Crocus Bay Beach below and provide you with a continuous parade of multi-million dollar watercraft. Last New Year’s eve, our guests estimated there were over $2 Billion dollars of “ships” in the bay; what a sight!

Once you arrive at Grand Outlook Castle, you’ll find all the cooking, dining and entertaining amenities you’ll require. The gas grille with two burner stove out by the pool is VERY popular and you can bring your own meats from home for the perfect barbecue in the perfect location. “Honey, the filets are ready!”

It really is very simple and easy on Anguilla at Grand Outlook Castle. Many guests simply find little reason to leave the “castle” at all.

You can hike the trail down to Crocus Bay beach below or walk over to famous Little Bay Beach for some of the best snorkeling in the world. Remember to bring sturdy shoes as the trip down into Little Bay beach requires a rope climb or you can see Calvin down below in Crocus Bay Beach and he’ll motor you over and back for $12 each.

Grand Outlook Castle can be rented in either a 1,2,3 or 4 bedroom configuration to accomodate your party’s specifc requirements and still have full access to all the castle’s ammenities. Even if your party is just 2.

We can also accomodate honeymoon couples in a most romantic and intimate style. One honeymoon couple has already booked for their first anniversary return; keep the love breathtaking and intense!

Grand Outlook Castle has been described as one of the most romantic locations in all of the Caribbean. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to share this unrivaled experience with family and friends.

Strange things that have washed up on the beach…

1) Giant Lego Man

On October 29, 2008, to the delight of children playing on a Brighton beach, an 8 foot tall man wearing a green top washed ashore…an 8′ tall Lego man that is. Lego denies having any knowledge of the missing giant (although that’s what they would say, were this the result of a genius marketing ploy) and is content to let him remain on the beach where he has become somewhat of a local legend. Other theories surmise that the Lego man started his swim off of the coast of Denmark where there is a Legoland park, while others think he simply fell off of a cargo ship.

2) Rubber Duckies

Destined for bathtubs around the world, a flock of 29,000 rubber duckies ended up getting more of an adventure than they had bargained for.  Boxes of the ducks, along with blue turtles and green frogs, were washed overboard in the eastern Pacific Ocean in January, 1992 on their way from China, where they were made for the US firm, The First Years Inc.  Since then, the little guys – dubbed the “Friendly Floaties” – have drifted over 17,000 miles.  Some circled the northern Pacific, before washing up on the Alaskan shore, while the others traveled through freezing Arctic waters, past the tropical Hawaiian Islands, and even passing over the location where the Titanic sank, before heading down the West coast of Canada and the US.  Watertight and formed from durable plastic, the toys have helped researchers to chart ocean currents, and are now quite valuable.  So keep an eye out for them – the US firm that made them is offering a reward for finding one.

3)  BMW Motorcycles

While en route from Belgium to Portugal, on January 18, 2007, a windstorm brought down the MSC Napoli.  Soon after, the ships cargo began washing up at Branscombe, luring hundreds of people to scavenge the loot, which included several BMW R1200RT motorcycles!  As crowds became unruly and began removing anything that wasn’t nailed down from surrounding personal residences, the police closed the beach, and announced that they would force people to return goods they had salvaged as per the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 such actions constituted an offence equivalent to theft.

4)  Human Feet

On August 26, 2007 a beachgoer was strolling the beach in Jedidiah Island in British Columbia when he stumbled upon a human foot, still in its shoe.  Immediately authorities began looking into missing persons reports and conducting DNA tests in order to find the body that the foot belonged to.  Police remained tight lipped in regards of any findings and the incident was thought to be unfortunate, but not unusual, as human body parts will sometimes wash ashore, victims of plane crashes, drownings, etc.  However, on August 26, 2008, the investigation took an unusual turn as a second food washed up on nearby Gabriola Island.  Since then, 5 other human feet – all wearing socks and shoes – have washed ashore, 7 total, all in relatively close proximity to each other.  Here is a timeline:

1) Aug. 20 2007 – right foot, male, Jedediah Island (Campus brand)
2) Aug. 26, 2008 – right foot, male, Gabriola Island (Reebok)
3) Feb 2 2008 – right foot, male, Valdes Island (Nike)
4) May 22 2008: right foot, female, Kirkland Island, Richmond (New Balance)
5) Jun 16 2008: left foot, male, Savage Rd, Ladner (only left foot) (Nike) (same man as Valdes foot)
6) Aug. 4 2008 – right foot, male, Pillar Point Beach, Washington (hiking shoe)
7) Nov. 12 2008 – left foot, female, Finn Slough in the south arm of the Fraser, near the end of Garden City Road, Richmond (New Balance)

5)  Message in a Bottle

In August 2008 a team of volunteers cleaning up a beach at West Sands in St Andrews happened upon a bottle with a message in it that had been written by an 11 year old boy – 23 years ago.  Donald Wylie had originally thrown the bottle into the sea off Orkney in Northern Scottland.  His message contained his name, age and the request that, if discovered, its finder pass it onto a boy of similar age.  The University of St. Andrews students and staff tracked down the not 33 year old Mr Wylie, who was, remarkably, still living in Orkney.  Once it had been confirmd that he was, indeed, the sender, Wylie went to the University to see the bottle and where it had been found.  Wylie told the students that he had thrown several bottles out to sea after his mother suggested the idea…and that to this day, his mother encourages her grandchildren to do the same.   Other bottles that Donald has thrown into the ocean have been found as well – he has recieved calls from Norway and Denmark – but this was the first bottle to be found so close to where it had started its journey.

6)  Hindu Statues

September 2006 – Devotees in Bombay celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi, a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Ganesh.  Traditionally, a few months prior to Ganesh Chaturthi, clay models of Lord Ganesha is various poses are made and decorated, ranging in size from 1 inch to over 25 feet.  On the 11th day, worshipers carry the statues through the streets, dancing, singing, before immersing dozens of these colorful statues into a river or ocean.  As was the case when statues were sent off in the Arabian Sea at night.  The next morning, the tide brought them back, some chipped, some missing appendages, making for a spectacular, if not cartoonishly macabre scene.

7)  Cocaine

Love combing the beach for treasure?  How about $1 million in treasure?  In August 2009 the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office received a call – someone had found a suspicious package that had washed up on the shores of Sebastian Inlet in Florida.  When authorities arrived, they discovered the package contained 60 pounds of cocaine – 24 bricks – with a street value of about $1 million!  And while the owner of the narcotics is not known, the Deputy on duty said that, while the loss would be substantial to the smugglers, they would probably just consider it the cost of doing business.

8 )  Tons of Timber

In January of 2008 thousands of pieces of timber – more than 2,000 tons in all – washed ashore along England’s southern beaches after drifting 100 miles from a cargo ship that sank off of the coast.  The Ice Princess, en route to Egypt from Scandinavia, was carrying thousands of tons of untreated saw timber when she hit rough weather and the cargo shifted causing her to drifting east and eventually sink.  Twenty crew had to be rescued by helicopter and lifeboat.  The local coastguard said that the timber had washed up all the way from Littlehampton in West Sussex to Beachy Head in East Sussex.  Time for a beach clean-up?  Maybe, but not by just anyone…the Sussex police warned than anyone caught removing the timber – aside from contractors authorized by the Maritime Coastguard Agency – were subject to prosecution and arrest!

5 of the Strangest Festivals in the World

5) Lopburi Monkey Buffet Festival
Lopburi, Thailand


The Monkey Buffet fest is an interesting festival that takes place yearly in Thailand where the attendees lay out a buffet of fruits and nuts for the local monkeys. The festival is more of a tourist attraction festival but it is still quite interesting to witness and many people visit every year to do exactly that. The fest is located in a town called Lopburi, which is just north of the very popular Thai city of Bangkok. Food fights also break out during the monkey buffet fest, so if you plan on traveling to witness the spectacle be sure to wear old clothes just to be on the safe side.

4) La Tomatina
Buñol, Spain

La Tomatina is the world’s largest food fight which takes place for one week every year at the end of August in the town of Buñol, which is in the Valencia region of Spain. The festival draws a huge crowd from around the globe and the crowds range from 20,000 – 50,000 participants every year. Every year during this infamous food fight festival there are over 100 metric tons of tomatoes flung at each other in the streets of Buñol, in addition to the food fight there is plenty of music, games, fireworks, and dancing that takes place during the week long fest. La Tomatina has been going on in Spain since the 1940’s, and it has grown to a huge festival since, the food fight is only a small part of the fest and after that ends is when the real partying begins.

3) Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Cheung Chau, Hong Kong

The Cheung Chau bun festival takes place annually in April-May on the small island of Cheung Chau, about 7.5 miles south of the mainland of Hong Kong. The island is the most popular place for the festival and it is also the largest, but there are other places that you can find this celebration because it is traditionally a Taoist sacrificial ceremony. The festival draws thousands of people from all over the world because of the festivities, and there are many fun things to watch that will entertain as well as lots of good vegetarian food to eat. In fact, the festival is a complete vegetarian festival and people that celebrate it only eat vegetarian food for 3 days during the period. You will see all the locals, including children, all dressed up in colorful costumes and large towers of buns which are located in the main area of the celebration, which is always in front of the Pak Tai temple. The festival honors Pak Tai, the Taoist god of the sea.  He is honored in this festival for helping save the island from pirates that attacked the island hundreds of years ago. The towers of buns are the towers they use for “bun snatching”, and this is where men climb the towers and snatch as many buns as possible. People attending will have plenty of sweet buns to eat as they are flung and showered over people during the fest and especially during the bun snatching ceremony.



2) Hadaka Matsuri
Japan

This is a very unusual festival that takes place annually throughout Japan; it is called Hadaka Matsuri or the Ohara Hadaka festival.  The English translation: the naked man festival. It is a fest where men in loincloths (or naked if they choose), rush into the water in large groups while carrying Shinto shrines. By doing this it is said to bring the men good luck for the next year and the event is watched by large groups of people. Usually it takes place when it is in the middle of the winter and it is considered very masculine to participate. In some ways you could compare it to other folks around the world who participate in “Polar Bear Clubs” and go swimming in mid winter. The other part of the festival is when thousands of half naked men gather into a large group and then participate in trying to catch sacred shingi sticks which are tossed out by Shinto priests in the local temples. That part of the festival is a separate experience all by itself, and it is even more exciting than watching the men parade down to the sea from the temple before running into the cold water.

Men waiting for the tossing of the “Shingi” sticks

1) Baby-Jumping Festival
Castrillo de Murcia, Spain

This is by far one of the strangest festivals in the world, if not the absolute strangest. The festival itself dates back to the 17th century, and it is an annual event to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. The actual baby jumping is called El Salto del Colacho, or “The Devils Jump”. The men who are the jumpers dress up in various devil costumes and then they actually jump over babies that were born in the last 12 months. They lay the babies on mattresses in the city streets and then the men take turns and jump over them. It is considered a very dangerous festival as you can imagine, and it is rated one of the most dangerous of all festivals in the world. Based on the faith of the people involved they believe that jumping the babies helps to cleanse them from “original sin” and helps them to be free of evil spirits. The festivals origins are unknown and it is not approved by the Catholic Church, in fact the pope asked many priests to not be involved in the ritual. It has gone on for hundreds of years though and is very popular so it will not be stopping anytime soon.

Image Credits:

Photo Journey through SE Asia

Beachhouse.com Guest Bloggers, Stacy & Jeff, traveled across 6 countries in Southeast Asia and were nice enough to check in with us all along the way.  This is their journey by the numbers:

  • 21different airplanes they took
  • 6bus rides (varying from 7 hours to 27 hour trips)
  • 2train trips (overnight)
  • 11boat/ferry rides
  • 46different hotels (not including Cynthia and Fernando’s homes)
  • 12the # of languages they came across (at least!) throughout their trip
  • 0sicknesses
  • 0injuries
  • 1root canal
  • 0danger/trouble they encountered
  • 22# of books they read – each!
  • and we both want more!
  • This is their journey in photos (each photo links to the corresponding blog entry):

    We hope you enjoyed this as much as we did!

    Indonesia Hit Hard – Again – Second Earthquake Strikes Hours After First

    Only one day after the first earthquake shook the Indonesian island of Sumatra, a SECOND one hit on September 30, only 180 miles from the epicenter of the first one, leaving the area devastated.  The second quake measured 6.6 in magnitude.

    Early reports estimate that 500 are dead and thousands more are severely injured, still trapped or missing after buildings caught fire, homes collapsed, airports closed, and residents and tourists became trapped.  In Padang, one of the hardest hit towns, at least 500 homes caved in.

    The Indonesian Red Cross (also known as Palang Merah Indonesia or PMI) has dispatched nearly 300 volunteers, (including 45 doctors to the quake zone to offer first aid services, shelter and other assistance for those in need) and thousands of relief supplies, such as tarps, blankets and sarongs, are also being moved from warehouses in Jakarta to Padang.

    While the American Red Cross is initially donating $100,000 to the Indonesian Red Cross, The global Red Cross network is now responding to five near-simultaneous disasters in Asia Pacific (the Ketsana typhoon of 9/26/2009; an 8.3-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit on 9/29/2009 that rocked Samoa, Tonga and America Samoa; the first 7.6-magnitude quake that hit off the coast of Padang, West Sumatra on 9/30/2009; and the second earthquake that hit 10/1/2009 in the Jambi region of Indonesia) and needs your help!

    Ways to help:

    • Donate now – you can make a tax-deductable financial contribution to the American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief Fund, International Response Fund, or to your local Red Cross chapter.
    • Volunteer your time
    • Give Blood

    For inquiries about relatives living and who have citizenship in Indonesia, please be patient and call repeatedly until the lines clear or contact other family members who live nearby. Telephone, Internet and other communication lines are often disrupted in times of disaster. People trying to locate U.S. citizens living or traveling in Indonesia should contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225.

    You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Donations to the International Response Fund can be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.

    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, Beach Vacation4me, 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?

    Property ID#19623   Tropic Ten - Dunes Of Boca

    Property ID#19623 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 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 - photo courtest of Florida Trend

    Gasparilla Inn - photo courtesy of Florida Trend

    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 Dennis Realy's fishing charter!

    A good catch on Dennis Realy's fishing charter!

    Food:

    • The Boat House Restaurant and the Island Club – chef David Kivel serves up delicious surf & turf eats, making this a great restaurant to go for a romantic dinner or to celebrate a special occasion while on the island.
    • Mango’s Island Grill & General Store – a great place to stop by for breakfast or lunch, grab your food to go or enjoy it on Mango’s waterfront patio.
    • Andy’s Seafood Market – in Matlacha, an old fishing village on the mainland before you take a boat over to North Captiva Island, has great fresh fish for vacationers to buy and take with them to cook at their vacation rental house.

    Activities:

    • Dennis Realy, owner of North Captiva Charters, is the island’s “Best Kept Secret” and a master fisherman.  According to Sarah, “He knows his stuff – red fish, tarpon, shark, whatever you want to catch, he will cast and then hand you the rod.  I’ve never fished and not caught something!”
    • 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 Sarah’s North Captiva rentals that is managed by the Island Club 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 tennis courts, a huge pool, 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!