Great surf spots you’ve (probably) never heard of…courtesy of Budget Travel

Surfing Steamers Lane 1 - by Jim Bahn

Surfing Steamers Lane 1 – by Jim Bahn

* re posted from BudgetTravel

In honor of International Surfing Day on June 20, and another ‘endless’ summer (shaka!), we asked the Surfrider Foundation to put together a list of some lesser-known surf spots around the country that everyone from the novice to the experienced rider can enjoy.

“I tried to pick spots that are legit from a surfing standpoint, but for various reasons don’t get the attention that they deserve,” explained Matt McClain of the Surfrider Foundation, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of coastlines.

McClain put together this list from West Coast to East:

1. Pine Trees, Kauai, Hawaii: Located off the sleepy surf town of Hanalei on the north shore of Kauai, Pine Trees offers an escape from the circus-like atmosphere of Oahu’s North Shore. It’s a fun break for intermediate and advanced surfers, while beginners can find gentler waves in front of the nearby pier.

2. Yakutat, Alaska: If you want to get away — far away — then Yakutat is the place. Don’t let the towering Sitka spruce and bald eagles fool you. Yakutat is a bona fide surfing destination that has drawn some of the biggest names in professional surfing.

3. Cowell’s, Santa Cruz, California: Located just inside the famous break at Steamer Lane, Cowell’s is the perfect spot to learn how to surf. This break is renowned for its gentle peaks and long, rolling waves. A number of surf schools operate here.

4. Burnout, Torrance, California: Despite being one of the most photographed spots in Southern California, Burnout is still relatively unknown outside of the South Bay. A quintessential California beach break, on any given day pro surfers like Alex Gray and Holly Beck can be found pulling into the barrels at Burnout.

5. Trails, San Clemente, California: Technically part of San Onofre State Beach Park, Trails is often overshadowed by the park’s other spots, Trestles and San Onofre. The surf itself is not the most amazing you’ll ever ride, but the laid-back atmosphere and dog-friendly policy make it worth the trip.

6. Reef Road, West Palm Beach, Florida: With it’s clear, warm water, Reef Road is about as good as Florida surfing gets. A popular spot with local surfers, the sandy bottom break can range from three- to six-footers, up to two times overhead on a storm swell.

7. The Cove, Cape May, New Jersey: If The Cove were located in California or Hawaii, it would probably be as famous as Malibu or Waikiki. The Cove is primarily a longboard spot and attracts surfers of all ages and abilities.

8. Alamo, Montauk, New York: Located out on the tip of Long Island, Montauk pulls in all kinds of waves and weather. The hearty souls that are willing to brave the wind and strong currents are rewarded with thick heaving lefts (waves that break from left to right when you’re looking out from the beach). This spot is for experienced surfers only.

There’s also a whole host of activities taking place around the country, and around the world, over the coming days in honor of International Surfing Day. For a schedule of events and additional information about the day set aside for celebrating the sport of surfing, go here.

In Beachhouse.com’s Backyard: Dolphin soars; wipeouts galore at the wild Wedge

It was another wild day at the Wedge, with more surfers and bodyboarders in the water getting worked on Friday morning, as waves in the 15-foot range and bigger slammed the shore.

More spectators lined the shoreline today, with news crews out and the echos of “ohhhhh” ringing loud when one of the insane riders was pummeled by a huge wall of water. There were big-time wipeouts, as well as some amazing rides. If you were stuck in your office and couldn’t make it to the sand, be sure to check out our slideshow HERE.

Wild Wedge thrills and spills on Friday as swell stays strong

Wild Wedge thrills and spills on Friday as swell stays strong

It was a big day for thrills and spills as the guys out in the water tried to take on the big bad Wedge before the swell starts to drop over the weekend. It was day 2 of the swell, a bit cleaner today but more crowded.Check out images from Thursday if you missed them (with newly added evening shots after it cleaned up.)

After you check out the photos, below is a can’t-miss video that hit Facebook last night by photographer and Wedge local John Minar.

A few of us were on the sand Thursday morning when the swell started to hit hard, and all of a sudden a huge dolphin came flying out of the top of a wave, propelling itself way up in the air.

I pulled up my camera and hit the button, but it happened so fast the dolphin was gone in a split second. Another photographer and I looked at each other, mouths dropped “DID YOU GET THAT?!” Neither of us did.

Fortunately, John Minar had the camera rolling, and said he didn’t even see it until he was looking through his footage later that day. It goes to show that the dolphins are the original locals out there, and none of us can compete. Definitely take a few minutes to watch; it’s guaranteed to make your Friday:

*article from orangecounty.com

June 25, 2011…It’s coming!

beachapedia

What is it?

Hands Across the Sand is a movement made of people of all walks of life and crosses political affiliations and the borders of the world.

What’s it about?

This movement is not about politics; it is about the protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife and fisheries. The accidents that continue to happen in offshore oil drilling are a threat to all of the above. Expanding offshore oil drilling is not the answer, embracing Clean Energy is.

Let us share our knowledge, energies and passion for protecting our planet from the devastating effects the burning of filthy fuels and offshore drilling present.

What can I do?

On June 25, 2011 the people of the world will join hands to champion clean energy solutions to our filthy fuels problem. Embracing a clean energy future now is the path to a sustainable planet.  Click HERE to find an event near you, or to help organize an event in your area.

What are we trying to accomplish?

On a local, national and global level, Joining Hands sends a powerful visual message of human solidarity to our nation’s leaders. We are unified in the defense of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we consume from dangerous, dirty energy sources. Every time we join hands that message is reinforced.

It’s simple and logical. Embrace clean energy. A line in the sand is a powerful thing.

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Have you heard about Beachapedia?

beachapedia

See what all the buzz is about:

Beachapedia captures decades of experience and knowledge gained by Surfrider Foundation activists, scientists and staff through hundreds of environmental and educational campaigns on our coasts.  By sharing this resource with the public they hope to provide tools and information to help communities make a positive impact on their local beaches.

With cool features like the “Coastal Factoid” of the day and continually-updated “State of the Beach” report, Beachapedia is an awesome resource for anyone and everyone who loves the beach, ocean, waters, or the environment.

Check it out today!  http://www.beachapedia.org/Main_Page

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Property Spotlight: Casa Morocco in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Casa Morocco - Street View

Casa Morocco – Street View

Welcome to the majestic Casa Morocco, newly constructed in 2011. Casa Morocco exhibits meticulous and intricate detail blending rich African and middle-eastern architecture of the highest quality and craftsmanship. Imperial archways and elaborately hand-carved mahogany doors all come together creating an exotic charm certain to carry guests away to another world. Custom-designed, hand-painted tiles of the richest colors contrast the pristine white walls on every level of this extravagant Moroccan palace which sits just steps from turquoise Caribbean waters. Atop Casa Morocco’s stately architecture stands a magnificent dome illuminated nightly, creating a spectacle of beauty and grandeur against the Caribbean’s star filled sky.

Casa Morocco - Beach View

Casa Morocco – Beach View

One of the most stunning features of Casa Morocco is its private pool, fully laid with iridescent tile, unveiling shimmering brilliance in the island sun. Overlooking the glistening pool stands an impressive iridescent wall fountain, adorned with a majestic lion head surrounded by a dazzling 24-carat gold dial.

Casa Morocco is located on Isla Mujeres and offers the epitome of versatility for travelers in search of an affordable, yet exquisite luxury retreat. This Moroccan-themed haven boasts four superb suites; each fully furnished with en-suite baths and fully appointed kitchens. Guests can lease from one suite up to the entire ocean-front property which accommodates up to 8 guests for a memorable island experience. Three ocean-front suites and one bay-view suite all showcase extraordinary vistas and the ultimate in comfort and privacy.

Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool with Grand Ocean View

Imagine your own personal beach graced with white sands where you can sunbathe, eased by the sound of ocean waves caressing the shoreline, or go for a dip in the luxuriant pool with its majestic Moroccan flair and commanding view of the open ocean, or grab your gear and snorkel in the crystal blue waters found in your own backyard. Enjoy an evening of Al-fresco dining under the third level terrace palapa as you watch the sun set upon the Cancun coastline. There you can entertain your guests with a barbeque or enjoy an intimate rendezvous. There is generous space to lounge with a glass of wine on integrated sofas, or hide away in the bubbling jacuzzi. Take in an awe-inspiring and dramatic 360 degree view of the island beauty surrounding you.

Make this the most unforgettable vacation getaway you have ever experienced by making Casa Morocco your tropical island vacation destination.

Casablanca Master Suite

Casablanca Master Suite

Casablanca Guest Suite

Casablanca Guest Suite

Tangier Suite

Tangier Suite

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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

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

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

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

Puerto Penasco‚ Mexico

Puerto Penasco‚ Mexico

Property ID#20335 - Cabo San Lucas‚ Baja California Sur‚ Mexico

Akumal, Mexico

Property ID#5353 - Puerto Vallarta‚ Pacific Coast‚ Mexico

Puerto Vallarta‚ Pacific Coast‚ Mexico

Property ID#5239 - Cozumel‚ Yucatan Peninsula‚ Mexico

Cozumel‚ Yucatan Peninsula‚ Mexico

Beachhouse.com 2010 JAYO International Team Player, James Pribram – In the News!

Yahoo News: Pro surfer rescues woman swept out to sea

Call it coincidence, serendipity or divine intervention, Maira Khan’s alive today thanks to a stranger’s last-minute change of plans.

Swept out to sea, non-swimmer Khan was rescued by a pro surfer who wasn’t supposed to be there.

“The fact that a pro surfer came and saved my life? It’s a miracle.”

James Pribram is a pro surfer. He was supposed to be in Canada that day, but an injured family member had him in California earlier than expected.

While standing on the balcony of his parents’ Laguna Beach home, Pribram saw Khan climbing on the rocks below when a 6-foot-wave knocked her off-balance.

The waves battered her body against the rocks, sweeping her out to sea.

Pribram saw the distressed woman. He called for his mother, told her to call 911, and ran toward Khan.

In the very waters where he learned to surf, Pribram pulled a scraped and bleeding Khan from the water.

He handed her over to the care of paramedics and quietly left without introduction. Only after a lifeguard told Khan her rescuer’s name did Khan discover that her good Samaritan was a professional surfer with an already heroic reputation.

Dubbed “The Eco Warrior” by one journalist, Pribram was named Laguna Beach’s 2011 Athlete of the Year for his work teaching school kids to care for their ocean.

Khan told the Orange County Register, “I feel like he was sent from God to see me at that moment and save my life.”

Khan has since reunited with her hero; she accepted his offer of swimming lessons.

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Beachhouse.com Clients go GREEN!

This video shares the story of the Anna Maria Historic Green Village, the pioneering sustainable development and one of the most exciting projects Anna Maria Island has seen.

Click HERE to view some great vacation rental properties on Anna Maria Island!

Through the Historic Green Village, we aim to create a new standard for sustainability by developing the first LEED Platinum and the first Net Zero Energy campus in the Florida.  LEED means Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a rating system with certification for “green” buildings developed by the Green Building Environmental Council of the United States (USGBC) and provides certain environmental standards for construction.  Being Zero Net Energy, means the Green Village, will generate more energy on-site than it will consume in a given year.

The Green Village covers 6 lots on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria City and when completed, will contain 7 commercial buildings and 2 rental units.  Our goal is to showcase the best in sustainable design and technologies while maintaining the unique charm of our historic seaside community.   Over the last six month we have planned and designed a wide range of strategies and technologies that demonstrate how we can foster a sustainable future while preserving the historic charm and scale of Anna Maria Island and set a new benchmark of performance in energy, water and sustainable design.

The project will feature:

  • HOT Technology: 100 kilowatts of Photovoltaic’s (PV) panels to generate electricity on-site and solar thermal panels to produce a steady supply of hot water for our café
  • COOL Technology: Geothermal Cooling & Heating – using the constant temperature of the earth to reduce the energy required to cool & heat our buildings
  • SMART Technology: from the simple – using cisterns to capture rainwater to irrigate our site and flush toilets, to High Performance equipment: all fixtures and appliances will be either EPA Energy Star or Water Sense certified; ensuring that only the most-efficient equipment is used
  • REUSE & RECYCLING on a big scale – historic buildings, recycled materials, low-emitting paints, sealants and solvents, and a range of other sustainable design choices and material selections choices that reflect our desire to have minimum impact on our environment.

We hope that you might find this video interesting in regard to the projects and programs you are currently involved.  For more information, please visit the Anna Maria Historic Green Village Website.

Some History on the Chickee

Seminole Indians gathered under a chickee

Seminole Indians gathered under a chickee

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

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

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


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St Barth News Bytes

Check out these beautiful photos taken at The Bucket Airshow, the first of it’s kind in St Barth, and held in conjunction with the bucket sailing regatta, a very popular spectacle!

The Round Point or La Tourmante was covered with hundreds for the low level passes at the airport, featured at the bottom of this section.  There were also thousands on hand each day at Shell beach to view the flybys and aerobatics each day of the bucket.  Photos published in St Barth News Bytes Newsletter and taken by Captain Daniel Harper who was aboard a couple of the planes in flight.

Click HERE to view Beachhouse.com’s inventory of beautiful
beach vacation rental properties
in and around St Barth!

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Invasion of the Single-Use Plastic Bag

They invade our homes, lurk in our backyards, wander our streets, swim in our ocean, float down our rivers and streams, and find shelter amongst trees and bushes.  They are found in the most populated and the most remote places on Earth.  They need no resources to persist and may indeed outlive the human race.  We cannot ignore them, we cannot escape them and we cannot destroy them.

Gull With Plastic Bag

So what can we do?  We can stop producing them.

Single use plastic grocery bags are the most widely distributed product in the world.  The average family accumulates hundreds of plastic bags per year without realizing the harm single use plastics cause to humans, animals, and the environment.  In fact, it is estimated that, world-wide, approximately one billion plastic bags are used every minute!  It is easy to think of plastic bags as free, abundant and disposable tools for improving our quality of life.  They are in fact environmentally expensive; one cost is that both land and ocean animals die from entanglement or ingestion of plastic bags.  They are persistent; plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to photo-degrade (break up into small pieces), and do not ever biodegrade.  And they reduce our standard of living; plastic bags disrupt our appreciation of nature’s pristine landscapes.  More significantly, they clog storm drains, increasing the chance and severity of flooding during rainy seasons.

The overwhelming prevalence of plastic bags on Earth has created a problem so extensive that many countries around the world are taking action to prevent plastic bag distribution.   As early as 1988 environmentally minded people realized the costs of single use plastic bags far outweighed the benefits.  By 1998, thirty Alaskan villages banned the plastic bag.  Now, in 2011, multiple countries in Africa including: Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa have banned the plastic bag.  African countries are not the only ones catching on: Bhutan, Brazil, Italy, Macedonia and Taiwan have all instated plastic bag bans.  Multiple cities in the United Kingdom, France, India, Canada, Australia and the United States have also officially banned plastic bags.  And those are just the places that have prohibited plastic bag distribution.  Many other countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Israel and the Netherlands, have implemented a plastic bag tax to slow the proliferation of the bag.

There is clear evidence that taxes and bans do reduce the amount of single use plastic bags in the environment.  In 2002 the government in Ireland introduced a plastic bag fee called PlasTax. The law resulted in a 90% reduction in plastic bag consumption, a huge reduction in plastic bag litter and a significant decrease in oil use. Individual corporations and companies have proven that they can make a difference too. Whole Foods Market banned plastic bags on Earth day in 2008 and has since estimated that reusable bag use tripled in just one year!

The Plastic Bag MonsterHere in California, we are fighting for change with hope and determination.  In 2007, San Francisco jump started the bag-ban trend in the United States.  Upon learning that plastic bags cannot legally be taxed in California, San Francisco became the first city in the state to pass a full ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags in major grocery stores and pharmacies.  Since San Francisco’s legendary decision to ban the bag, a cascade of anti-bag campaigns aiming to eliminate single use plastic grocery bags have swept through California.  A few other California cities that have effectively “banned the bag” include Malibu, Fairfax, Palo Alto and San Jose.  In November 2010, Los Angeles County passed a plastic bag ban affecting unincorporated areas, but as the ban is not applicable to LA cities, the cities are currently working for bag bans independently.  On January 25th 2011, Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance that will ban plastic bags and charge a five cent fee for paper bags beginning in 2012.  Also in late January, Santa Monica approved a ban that will be enacted in September of this year!  Calabasas joined the many cities striving towards sustainability by eliminating plastic bags in February.  Most recently, Albertson’s in Carpinteria has agreed to run a pilot program that will test the practicality of banning plastic and paper bags from all Albertson’s stores.  Albertson’s is not the first corporation to take this approach.

Although battles are being won at the local level, the opposition is not going down without a fight.  Oakland, Fairfax and Manhattan Beach have all met major resistance by the American Chemistry Council, the main proponent of single use plastic bags.  The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, as well as the Coalition to Support Plastic Bag Recycling have both filed and won lawsuits against the cities, claiming that the bans were passed without sufficient Environmental Impact Reports.  While plastic bag bans enacted by Oakland and Manhattan Beach are currently ineffective due to this complication, Fairfax avoided being sued by passing a voter initiative to ban plastic bags.

Small-scale successes have given us the hope and the knowledge essential for large-scale change.  Although Californians’ previous campaigns for a statewide ban have failed, defenders of the environment are not giving up.  The movement away from single-use plastics and towards sustainable practices is continually gaining speed. Education campaigns and recycling programs are steps in the right direction, but statistics have shown they are not enough to change shoppers’ behavior. Experience is telling us that in order to get results, make the plastic bag a valuable commodity, or get rid of it.

Plastic Bag In TreeAt Ocean Futures Society we support banning single use plastic bags because we stand behind the principle, “There is no waste in nature.”  This means that in nature everything is recycled in one way or another. Even the harmful chemical defenses of plants and animals are naturally broken down in to harmless raw materials that become available for reuse in another form. With this valuable lesson from nature we conclude that we should only produce materials that can be easily rendered harmless after use and then become raw materials for another use.

We strongly believe it is crucial to stop producing disposable plastic bags that create waste neither humans nor nature can adequately dispose of.   There are more environmentally friendly materials that can be used to carry our groceries and belongings. We are not against the use of durable plastic for long-lasting products, it just does not make sense to use a plastic bag for ten minutes to carry our groceries and then throw it away, liberating it to linger on our planet for thousands of years. We are smarter than that. But it takes a willingness to create change. We need to rise up the challenge and support those companies and cities that are moving in the right direction; the direction we need to follow so we can all enjoy a more sustainable future.

Warm Regards,

JMCSignature_1.jpg

First Photo: Gull with Plastic Bag. © Jamie Persoon

Second Photo: Plastic Bag in Tree. Public Domain

Third Photo: The Bag Monster © Holly Lohuis, Ocean Futures Society

Vacation with your Pet & Save!

$50PetDiscountLandingPage

Love to travel, but hate to leave your furry friend at home?  With Bluewater, not only can your dog come along, he can save you money!

Receive a $50 discount on your pet fee with a new weekly booking made on any of these PET FRIENDLY beach vacation rentals in the month of March!

MENTION BEACHHOUSE.COM to REDEEM THIS OFFER.

These great pet friendly vacation rental properties and many MORE:

Getaway

View pet friendly rentals on BeachHouse.com

Bella Vista

Bella Vista

Sea Song

Sea Song

Pelican View

Pelican View

North Carolina Beach Rentals


Remodeling to Get the Most Out of Your Vacation Rental

bluegull_7Your vacation rental should be the place for you or your tenants to relax and enjoy coastal luxury. However, it can be somewhat difficult to enjoy the pleasures of a stunning property when the interior of your house is outdated, poorly equipped or unattractive. If you retreat to your own vacation property, you want to be able to enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of the area and of your home without having to worry about dilapidated cabinets or old fashioned decor. The same is true of your renters. Whether you are looking to sell your vacation rental, lease it to a new owner or simply enjoy its merits on your own, it is vital that you remodel your property so that it can fulfill its true potential.

Many property owners are reluctant to pour too much of their hard-earned money into their vacation rentals. Oftentimes they fear that they will not be knowledgeable enough to properly renovate their home without construction management experience, or they may worry they will not see a return on such an investment, especially if the property is only occupied for a portion of the year. However, vacation home remodeling does not have to be costly, nor must it be time consuming. So long as you focus your efforts on the right areas of your property, you can get the most out of your vacation rental with just a few home improvement projects.

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First of all, you must attend to the property’s master suite. A home’s master suite is its center of relaxation, and most people are looking for an escape from the trials of their everyday lives when they travel to their vacation rentals. Consider these possible improvements:

  • You should ensure that your master suite is as lush and luxurious as your budget will allow. If possible, make room for both a sleeping area and a sitting area in the master bedroom.

  • Accentuate any special features such as large windows or a balcony with adornments that will draw the eye. For instance, floor length curtains can be used to emphasize exquisite French doors framing a beachfront view.

  • Make sure that the master bath is in excellent condition. Update all plumbing features, add high-end counter tops and flooring, and install a separate tub and shower if you have the room.

It is also important to make a vacation property’s kitchen appealing and functional. Although some choose to refrain from cooking when taking a break from their regular lives, many travelers prefer renting over a hotel in order to save money by cooking for themselves.

  • Outfit your vacation rental’s kitchen with updated appliances (and make sure they work!).

  • Replace battered or unappealing countertops and floors with new, durable surfaces.

  • Consider a fresh coat of paint to tie the kitchen together and create a pleasant cooking space.

3167603732_0f05a4ec61Above all else, it is vital that your vacation property exudes convenience and comfort. Keep these general pointers in mind during and after any renovation projects:

  • Maintain a stock of clean sheets, bathroom supplies and other necessities for the master suite.

  • Be sure to furnish the kitchen with paper towels, dish soap, utensils and a full stock of non-perishable cooking supplies and some food.

  • Don’t over-clutter. Keep all the house’s spaces open, airy and beachy.

  • Provide a list of resources for your renters including who to call in case of plumbing or electrical issues (new appliances can’t always be trusted right off the bat).

  • Most importantly, make sure everything is CLEAN! Any renovation or remodeling work will produce dust and debris, and lots of it. Clean up the whole house thoroughly after making any improvements.

Improvements to your vacation rental are a wise investment so long as they provide your renters with the relaxing ambiance they need after months of hard work. By remodeling your vacation rental to heighten its functionality and atmosphere, you will be adding both value and pleasure to your property.

Beachhouse.com Homeowners go GREEN!

Beachhouse.com is lucky enough to work with some of the best homeowners in the world…they never cease to amaze us.  One of our clients, PineappleFish, is so committed to doing good for the planet, that they went green for the Holidays.  We are happy to present to you…

The Greenest Christmas Tree in Florida!

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PineappleFish wanted to celebrate the holiday season with a beautiful tree at the site of the Anna Maria Green Village, but of course, being Green they did not want to use electricity to power the lights.

The Result?  The first Zero Net Energy Tree ever seen on Anna Maria, with power for the lights generated by the sun!

Tom Stockebrand, their solar expert, took a very simple solar panel, generating 175 W of energy over 5 hours.  He hooked it into a bunch of 24-volt batteries to store the energy and an inverter, which converts the energy into an electrical current to turn the tree lights on.  Then they set the tree lights onto a timer – from 6pm to 11pm each night.   Only 5 hours of sunshine charges the batteries!   They switch the lights on when the sun goes down and get 5 hours of electricity to light the lights!

The panel actually generates more than they need because the tree lights don’t need very much (and Florida has plenty of wonderful sunshine).
If you’re on the Island, check it out, and perhaps take a photo with the only sun-powered Christmas Tree in Anna Maria (maybe the whole of Florida!)

Click HERE for more information on the Anna Maria Historic Green Village and all of the Green initiatives on Anna Maria Island.

Homeowner Brings New Meaning to “Pet Friendly” Vacation Rentals

BBBlabel3Beachhouse.com homeowner and owner of Mermaid Cottages, Diane Kaufman, has combined 2 of her loves – property management and dogs – in her latest “pet” project, Beach Bum Biscuits.  These delectable all-natural bakery-made dog biscuits are currently on sale in Tybee Island, Georgia at Seaside Sisters, and will soon be available in a beach town near you.  As if you needed any more reason to spoil your furry friend, proceeds from the sale of Beach Bum Biscuits also go to support service and guide dogs!IMG00114-20100605-1443

Also,  by staying at any Mermaid Cottage vacation rental property, you help to support 2 great guide dog foundations:  the Southeastern Guide Dogs’ Puppy Sponsorship Program, and The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.

Stay up to date on the latest Beach Bum Biscuit news by following their blog!

Beach Bum Biscuits are also a great Holiday gift for your pet or that special pup in your life!  To order in time for the Holiday’s, contact Diane at:  Diane@MermaidCottages.com or call her at:  912-313-0784.

Mermaid Cottages has always sponsored Guide Dogs.  Read below for bio’s and information about a few of the dogs they have sponsored:

Clarke2

Clark

Clarke is one of the first dogs we sponsored who trained at Southeastern Guide Dogs’ School in Palmetto, FL. Clarke has proven to be easy going, extremely comfortable with people of all ages and very quick to learn new tasks. We are all hoping for a great career for her as a guide dog for a deserving blind individual. Clarke is also from the Southeastern Guide Dogs Program.

(Update)  It is with great joy we tell you that Clarke was matched in June 2009 with her blind partner, Joyce. They both are quite laid back and easy going and from all appearances will be great companions for a very long time. Clarkes’s truest challenge might be living with Joyce’s six birds!! No doubt, she’ll do just fine.

Erik

Erik

Erik was given a career change in 2007 due to medical issue. We are happy to report that Erik is currently embarking on a new career as a Hearing Dog for 5 year old Jay Lommel. Jay, born deaf, recently received a cochlear implant, and with his new pal Erik will hopefully be on his way to speaking as well as hearing. Erik is receiving his new training at Polite Paws in Bluffton, SC, courtesy of owner, trainer Robin Walter.  Erik is also from the Southeastern Guide Dogs Program.

Tony

Tony

Tony is one of our newest guide dog sponsees for spring 2009 from the Southeastern Guide Dogs Program. Our update on Tony is that he is a great pup! He will be a year old in November. He is sweet and has a great work ethic. He lives with his new owner’s other dog, Sherlock, who is 8 years old. They go to work together, play and enjoy each other’s company.  Tony is a beautiful black lab, who loves to please.

Berkeley

Berkeley

Berkeley is our newest Service Dog from the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc since Fall of 2009.  Here is a great pic of him at Diane’s cottage.

Spotlight: Casa Piazza, Manzanillo, Mexico

Christmas & New Years weeks: Book Now & SAVE $1,000 OFF regular Holiday rental rates AND get $1,000 to use towards meals cooked by Casa Piazza’s Chef!

Welcome to Casa Piazza, a striking blend of Mediterranean and Mexican style in a peaceful natural setting. Our home is truly your vacation fantasy come true.

Located in in the exclusive gated community of La Punta which features controlled 24-hour security, Casa Piazza is a stunning 8000 square foot multi-level blending of Mexican and Italian Mediterranean architecture. Created by owner Scott Piazza and Italian designer Paolo Cressini, Casa Piazza is spacious and airy, designed for relaxed tropical living and lively entertaining.

Unusual and well-thought-out touches catch your eye everywhere, like custom made hardwood furniture, Mexican tilework, American antiques and Malaysian chairs. Some beds are adapted from antique farmhouse doors and the floors are tile, hand-peened brick and stone.

Relax poolside under the PalapaThe property has sculpted grounds, a tiled swimming pool, two separate palapas (outdoor living areas) wet bar and spa tub. At every turn you’ll find striking views, comfortable furniture, balconies and large windows that admit the cooling sea breezes.

Easily accommodating ten guests, the main house offers 5 master bedrooms with 6-1/2 baths. Every bedroom has a private balcony, comfortable King bed, air conditioning and ceiling fan. The outdoor dining pavilion seats 12 guests adjacent to a modern, fully equipped kitchen with gourmet appliances. The sprawling living and family rooms are perfect for relaxation with comfortable sofas, satellite tv’s, vcr/ DVD player, a film library, games, ping pong table, books and recreational diversions galore. Up on the 1600 square foot rooftop terrace, life is good as you watch the afternoon slip into evening and enjoy after-dinner drinks.

The tiled pool terrace features chaises, deck chairs and tables with large umbrellas to shade you from the afternoon sun. Just across the street are 4 semi-private tennis hard courts with night lighting. The Casa Piazza staff includes a manager, chef, houseman and maid. They are all dedicated to making your vacation perfect in every respect.

Palapa Life
In Mexico, outdoor living areas are called palapas and traditionally shaded by native-style thatched roofs. Our two palapas let you enjoy pleasurable outdoor living in the mild climate of Mexico’s Pacific Riviera, which shares the same latitude as Hawaii but offers more consistantly good weather.

Mexican and Italian Mediterranean architectureThe 1600 square foot rooftop terrace palapa has comfortable sofas, tables and chairs, a wet bar plus a second kitchen and dining area. There are also padded sunbathing chaises and a spa tub. The covered outdoor dining palapa adjacent to the main kitchen has a massive table and chairs for 12 guests to dine in comfort and style.

The rooftop palapa offers an incredible view of our glorious Mexican sunrises and sunsets. Relax with a tropical drink and you might see a migrating whale, wild parrots or frigate birds drifting lazily past. The night sky is so soft and clear you’d swear the stars are just within your reach.

Amenities

  • Masterful combination of Mexican and Mediterranean architecture
  • Designed for comfort, relaxation and easy living
  • Total living area 8000 square feet
  • Main house & casita have total of 5 bedrooms and 6-1/2 bathrooms
  • Rooftop palapa w/kitchen, wet bar, dining area, Jacuzzi Tiled heated swimming pool 3.5 to 5 feet deep
  • Poolside lounging area w/ chaises, chairs, outdoor dining pavilion
  • All bedrooms have King beds, private balconies, a/c & fans
  • Purified water system throughout
  • Chef-prepared meals to your taste included (you pay food & beverage costs only)
  • Satellite tv/vcr, DVD player, video library, internet email, direct phones, book library, games, ping pong table, croquet, darts, fishing poles, snorkel equipment and more
  • Staff: chef, manager, houseman, maid
  • Offsite administrator
  • 5 star daily housekeeping, all meals prepared on-site, your special dietary needs graciously accommodated

View from the 1600 square foot rooftop terrace palapaActivities Nearby
Golf: There are 4 golf courses nearby. The world-famous La Mantaraya at the Las Hadas resort is just over the hill from Casa Piazza. Other courses include Isla Navidad, Club Santiago and El Tamarindo.

Tennis: Right across the street. 4 semi-private hard courts (open only to La Punta owners and their guests). These are well-lighted for night play. Racquets provided at the casa.

Beaches: It’s an easy four-minute stroll to our very own La Escondida Beach Club which has an 800 feet long beach with ocean & bay frontage, a lap pool and gym. Much of the time you will be the only one on this hidden gem of a beach. There’s a stunning view of Manzanillo in the distance, plus great snorkeling or sunbathing on our floating pontoon just offshore.

Other nearby beaches include Playa de Audiencia, where Dudley Moore and Bo Derek cavorted in the film “10,” and Las Hada, La Boquita and Salagua, plus Miramar and Olas Altas for surfing. Some beaches offer boat trips, paddleboards and kayaks, boogie and surfboard rentals, waverunners and other on-or-under-water experiences.

Fishing: Manzanillo is world famous for sailfishing, with international tournaments held every year in November and February. You can charter a private boat or share one with other anglers.

Tours: We can arrange shopping, cultural, sightseeing and nightlife tours of Manzanillo. You may want to visit the colonial town of Colima to see ancient tombs and caves plus the twin volcanos Nevado de Colimo and Volcan de Colima. Shop at local native bazaars for crafts, silver and textiles and see the protected bird islands. It’s possible to visit exotic plantations and see bananas, mangos, papayas, and coconuts being grown.

07top4“El Centro”
The downtown area of Manzanillo consists of a Malecon, or boardwalk, about a mile long.

You can walk along the harbor, enjoying the view of anchored fishing boats, from the motor cruisers chartered for tourist sailfishing, to small pangas, used by local fishermen. Along the way there are numerous benches, shaded by palm trees, and sculptures done by local artists. An old ship’s anchor (a cargo ship sunk in the hurricane of 1959) is an interesting conversation piece, and a good background for a photo.

As you get to the downtown area, you’ll see the “Jardin,” or garden, which is the town square. If you’re driving, the best parking is on the north side of the Jardin. The Jardin is where everyone congregates–to have lunch, get their shoes shined, or “people watch.” On many evenings when it’s cooler, bands play in the gazebo, and folks dance in the plaza. Feeding pigeons is a favorite pastime, too.

Just off the Jardin is Av. Mexico, with its numerous shops offering tourist treasures. In fact, all around the Jardin are storefronts offering everything from silver to T-shirts. There are also several restaurants offering a variety of Mexican dishes and seafood at reasonable prices.

The “Mercado”
Manzanillo’s mercado, or market, offers a variety of items for consumption. If you want the freshest seafood, fruits or vegetables, go from 8-10 in the morning. This is mainly a “locals” market, but tourists love it for its authentic Mexican flavor. Of course, other items, such as pi๑atas, pottery and leather goods are available. The mercado area is located on Av. Francisco I. Madero, behind the Club de Leones (Lions Club), one block south of Av. Mexico.

Additional Activities (Extra Fee)

  • Fishing charters
  • Sailing/boat rental
  • SCUBA
  • Jet skis
  • Kayaks
  • Massage

Guided Tours

  • Beach
  • Forest
  • City
  • Shopping
  • Cultural
  • Mountains Golf
  • Spa services
  • Restaurant dining

Policies

Weekly Rental Rates
Weekly Rate ……………..$11,750
Holidays …………………..$14,000

  • One week rental minimum
  • Maximum 12 person occupancy
  • Saturday to Saturday stay

Terms & Conditions
50% deposit secures confirmed reservation. Security deposit of $2000, returned after your party has vacated the casa in good order. Full rental fee and deposit due no later than 60 days prior to arrival date.

Cancellations

  • 50% of total forfeited 30 days or more prior to arrival date.
  • 75% of total forfeited 15-30 days prior to arrival date.
  • 90% of total forfeited 7 days or less prior to arrival date.

Laguna Beach, Three Arch Bay & Tidepools

Laguna Beach, CaliforniaWhen I decided to move to Orange County, I was excited and nervous.  This was going to be my first time living away from the Central Coast town that I was born and raised in, had gone to college in, and had started my career in.  I had barely settled and homesickness hadn’t even had a chance to kick in, and my family and some of our close family friends came down to visit – it ended up being one of the best weekends I have ever had…

Our family friends have a house in Three Arch Bay, a private beach community on the southern end of Laguna Beach, that was established in the 1930′s.  We started the weekend at the property and headed down to check out the private beach.  A few hundred steps later (maybe only a slight exaggeration) we found ourselves on a quaint, private, and uncrowded crescent of sand, sheltered by bluffs on one side and open to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean on the other side.  Once I had staked out my spot on the sand, I started checking out my surroundings.  There was a handful of other groups at the beach that day – a couple groups of teenagers and skimboarding, some 20-somethings working on their tans, a couple families with young kids playing in the sand and jumping in the shallow whitewater…and a crew setting up what looked to be a stage.

One of the crew members told us that they were setting up for a birthday party that one of the homeowners was having at the beach that evening.  Sure enough, as the day went on, the stage was completed, and the party site really started to take shape.  Tables and chairs were arranged, tents were erected, decorations were thrown up…so, of course we decided to stick around to see what all the fuss was about!

Tide-poolGuests started showing up around 4, and by 5 or so, sound checks started to sound over the microphones.  By this time, there were maybe 50 party guests, the ten of us, and only about 15 other beach-goers.  When the music started we all wandered over to hear who was playing.  We recognized the classic surf rock immediately once The Beach Boys started crooning and proceeded to play all of their best hits – we had stumbled upon a private Beach Boys concert!

The night eventually wound down and we made our way back up to the beach house.  The next morning, we woke up to sunshine and clear blue skies – another perfect beach day!  We went into Laguna Beach, where we had lunch at Goko Cafe (great Greek food – very fresh and mostly organic) before visiting the tide-pools at Picnic Beach (also known as Heisler Park Reserve).

As a kid I remember being fascinated by the sea creatures I found in the tide-pools – starfish, sea urchins, tiny fish, and my favorite, hermit crabs.  At Picnic Beach that day, there were several families with small children – all of the kids were enjoying exploring the rocks, looking for their favorite tide-pool critter.

Laguna Beach also has a variety of shops – everything from vintage boutiques and candy shops, to jewelry stores and art galleries.  It is a great beach town to vacation to and there are tons of beach vacation rental properties to stay in.

What stores and restaurants do you hit up when you are in Laguna Beach!  What is your favorite stretch of sand?  Leave us a comment!

Spotlight: Cabo San Lucas Vacation Rentals

Villa Montecristo in Quivira Private Residence Club

Villa Montecristo in Quivira Private Residence Club

Have you had the opportunity to experience Baja California in style? Check out these deluxe villas located in Cabo San Lucas!

Casa Luca De Pedregal

Casa Luca De Pedregal

The “Casa Luca De Pedregal” Villa is a private and exclusive luxury property in the guard-gated community of Pedregal, showcasing expansive 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. It is a custom designed Tuscan villa, with no expense spared in design, construction, landscaping and impeccable furnishings. Step foot in the dramatic Italian-styled entrance hall and marvel at the huge entertainment area, custom-designed staircases, private library, fully equipped gym, massage room with steam shower and sauna, and expansive living and dining areas leading out to the infinity pool and Jacuzzi spa. Step outside the gourmet state-of-the-art kitchen and enjoy lunch with panoramic views of Baja and the Pacific.

The “Villa Montecristo In Quivira Private Residence Club” is located in the Montecristo Estates, next to the Pedregal in Quivira. This spacious “Hacienda-Style” villa . It is built on and into the highest peak on the southern-Baja, and boasts its own private swimming pool in the villa, a BBQ on deck, plus indoor & outdoor jacuzzis. Constructed with gorgeous marble, granite, cantera and mahogany, this Villa brings you all of the comforts of home with a luxurious twist. You will have access to all the Quivira has to offer: the European Health Spa, 7 pools with swim-up bars, kid-pools and jacuzzis, championship golf courses, in addition to shopping and fine dining. Venture to Cabo; there is a free shuttle every hour leaving Quivira!

Casa Contenta Vacation Villa

Casa Contenta Vacation Villa

The “Casa Contenta Vacation Villa” is an ultra-deluxe architectural marvel, not to mention the former private residence of past Cabo San Lucas Mayor, Carlos Cota. One of the Villa’s many distinct features is the authentic display of artisan crafted artwork from Mexico, along with indigenous art collected from countries all around the globe. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling windows and doors bring the spectacular, unobstructed views of Land’s End, Medano Bay and the Sea of Cortez. Step onto the shady pool level terrace and you’ll find the views expand to include the desert, the town of Cabo San Lucas and the Sierra Laguna Mountains. Seek refuge in the luscious garden, or use the lower decks and hammocks to read in private. Cool off with a dip in the pool or work on your tan, reclining in one of many padded chaise lounges with umbrellas waiting for you poolside.

Sunsets from the rooftop terrace are nothing short of spectacular. Honeymooners and Groups love this special terrace, because the fire pit, lounge chairs and gas tiki-torches make this a great spot for an impromptu social hour or evening star-gazing.

Casa Contenta is perfect for quick and easy access to the exciting nightlife that Baja California has to offer, in addition to sport fishing, golfing (guests staying at Casa Contenta will receive a 50% discount at the Dye Cabo San Lucas Country Club, only a mile away!), a wide variety of restaurants, bars, shopping and good old people watching. Casa Contenta looks down on Medano Bay and Medano Beach, the safest swimming beach in Cabo and only minutes away.

Take advantage of the current special booking incentives, and not only will you read of Baja’s stunningly spectacular views and lavish villas, you’ll experience the real deal!

The California Surf Project

The California Surf Project

The California Surf Project

“Random Observation No. 3463: It’s illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon!”

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to quit your job, pack your boards, and surf your way down the California coast?   Though it may sound like a daydream, The California Surf Project is a fully photographed travel diary of two surfers who decided to take the 50 day journey of a lifetime.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Dan Malloy - timeless

Dan Malloy – timeless

“These guys gave us a bushel of apples and a sandwich — I think they thought we were homeless.”

The adventure unfolds through the eyes of two passionate individuals: Eric Soderquist, a professional surfer, artist and world traveler whom resides and surfs in Shell Beach, CA, and Chris Burkard, also an accomplished central California native whose photography has appeared in over 35 international publications.

“A grown man crawled up the beach vomiting:  a sign we shouldn’t have gone out.”

Feel like you are along for the ride as you follow Soderquist and Burkard as they trek along Highway 1 from the Oregon border to the Tijuana Sloughs in their increasingly broken-down Volkswagen bus.  While discovering everything that our Golden State’s legendary coastline has to offer, they treat the reader to their observations of world around them, and their musings of the road behind and in front of them.

“This wave will give you all the speed in the world to launch as high as you want — the only problem is finding the road to get there.”

Santa Monica, circus music, and the flying fish

Santa Monica, circus music, and the flying fish

The California Surf Project paints a vivid experience of their incredible adventures catching perfect (and not-so-perfect) surf, sharing campfires with complete strangers, and rigging the bus with makeshift Duct tape repairs.  The book spans over 200 gorgeous photographs, chronicled with soulful text and a professionally produced DVD.

“Dry sand blowing like a desert.  Heat waves on the horizon.  Must be winter in California.”

If you’ve ever been curious about the liberating experience of west coast surf culture, grab yourself a copy of this book!

Big Sur postcard or just another average turnout along Hwy 1?

Big Sur postcard or just another average turnout along Hwy 1?

Check out the Project’s website, read about these talented and accomplished guys, and take a look at their gallery of stunning photos!

Spotlight: Bluefields Bay Jamaican Seaside Villas

15% OFF Adult Rates When you Book Through Beachhouse.com!
(you must mention “Beachhouse.com” when you make your reservation to receive discount. Offer valid for stays before November 1, 2010)

Imagine boarding an airplane, taking a scenic helicopter transfer and reaching Bluefields Bay, Jamaica, in time for a refreshing beach swim followed by sunset cocktails and a gorgeous candlelit dinner.  Located 34 miles south of Montego Bay and less than an hour from Negril, Bluefields Bay whisks you away from the hustle-and-bustle of urban life, with mesmerizing vistas of sugar cane fields, mountain ranges and vibrant blue sea.  For a luxurious, yet authentic Jamaican experience, consider planning your stay at Bluefields Bay Jamaican Seaside Villas.

Villa San Michele

Villa San Michele

Villas:
Whatever they may be, Bluefields Bay has the vacation property to suit your needs.  Milestone Cottage, dramatically perched 30 feet above the Caribbean Sea, has spectacular panoramic sunset views and is the perfect spot for a secluded romantic getaway.  In addition to its fabulous vistas and private terrace overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Cottonwood Cottage features a king-size, four-poster canopy bed, an exotic marble shower that opens out to the tropical garden and sea view, and a new infinity-edge swimming pool with whirlpool jets. Mullion Cove boasts rich mahogany furnishings, with silver, crystal and fine china, in addition to a private seaside patio with staircase directly into the sea and hammocks set in a luscious grove of trees.  San Michele is not only beautifully decorated, but also features a private island, reached by footbridge, with a pool pavilion, lounge chairs and hammocks, freshwater shower, stereo system and bar.  The majestic Hermitage is always a favorite, with its impeccable attention to detail in furnishings and phenomenal views from every room.   Each of these five distinctive villas offers exquisite hideaways to relax by the sea, stocked with beverages and included service too.

The Hermitage

The Hermitage

All Inclusive:
Your all-inclusive stay provides the highest level of service, and includes a full staff of cooks, waiters, chambermaids, drivers and nannies, as well as meals, liquor, beverages, airport transfers, sports equipment, clubhouse/beach use, and night-lit tennis courts.   Each villa has a headman who ensures that all aspects of your vacation are smooth and “irie”, and who also meets with his guests daily to plan menus, timing, and location for meals.  Shopping, cooking, and cleaning are taken care of by the staff, with meals and drinks catered to guest wishes.

Activities:
Whether you’d like to stay close to home, or venture out and about, Bluefields Bay provides endless entertainment.   Mingle with company at the Manager’s Cocktail Party every Monday, or over Jerk Chicken Lunch held Wednesdays at The Treehouse.   Hold a match on the night-lit, competition-sized Laykold tennis court, or hike the Bluefields Mountain with expansive landscape views.   Catch Tuna, Kingfish, Mahi-mahi, Snapper and Marlin while deep-sea fishing, and your chef will prepare it for dinner!  Discover a rich world of tropical fish, coral, rays, and much more while snorkeling in Moor Reed or South Coast. Paradise Plantation offers horseback trail excursions across Sweet River for stunning vistas of tropical foliage, the coastline and mountains.  Chukka Caribbean Adventures offers a 2.5 hour long breathtaking canopy tour via zip line, mixing amazing views of flora and fauna with an exhilarating adrenaline rush.   Don’t forget to pack your clubs- Jamaica is home to Negril Hills Golf

Milestone Cottage

Milestone Cottage

Course and Tryall Golf & Country Club, which hosted the Johnnie Walker Open for many years.   Explore YS Falls, boat up the Black River for crocodile-watching, or visit Treasure Beach, Appleton Estate’s Rum Bottling Plant, and Negril, among other popular locales.   Return home in the peak of health after enjoying Bluefield’s spa services, which include massage, scrubs, wraps, manicures, pedicures and cornrow braiding.

As a family friendly destination, children are welcomed at Bluefields.   Kids will love building sandcastles on the shoreline, taking nature walks, swimming, sea-kayaking and snorkeling at the beach and in the pools with our beach staff and nannies.   Nurturing nannies will read and tell stories, give baths, plan child-friendly meals, launder clothes, clean rooms, and put children to bed so that parents can enjoy a worry-free vacation.

It’s time you enjoyed the best Jamaica has to offer; leave “tourism” behind and treat yourself and loved ones to a week in this flourishing tropical oasis.

Bluefields Bay

Come Party with Us and Adopt a Shark!

ShowcaseJoin Beachhouse.com at The Great Shark Affair, a special public awareness event demonstrating the effects of our actions on our oceans, coastlines, bays, reef systems, and the blue eco-systems. Enjoy delicious gourmet food and beverages while learning about sharks & our oceans, bidding on auction items and playing “Shark Jeopardy”!

header-adoptasharkYou should also check out AdoptAShark.com is a fun way to make a difference, learn about the ocean ecosystem, and get involved in conservation. Not only can you actively contribute to their preservation, you can actually track and name your own real, living shark!

Why protect sharks? Sharks are an essential part of the ocean’s food chain, and they are currently threatened by overfishing, finning and bycatch. They are needed to maintain balance by preying on sick and weak animals, preventing the spread of disease and keeping population sizes in check. These creatures seem to have an ability to resist cancers and other diseases, and further research may yield lasting benefits to all humans.

Croix

adopt "Croix" today!

Your Adopt a Shark donation is used to purchase new tags for continued research on the movement and behavior of sharks. You will learn about and be able to see tracking maps of your shark, depending on when and how the shark was tagged. If your tag is “live”, each day you can come back to our website to see where your shark is, and if any new information has been posted about your shark. Satellite track can show movement of your shark for 3-6 months! In addition, you will also receive a Shark Adoption Kit, including an Adoption Certificate, a picture of your shark, an Adoptashark T-shirt, information about your shark, and lots of fun stickers and activities!

What can else can you do to help? Avoid shark products, make responsible seafood choices, keep our beaches and oceans clean, write your government representatives to protect sharks, and spread the word to raise awareness!

Click HERE to adopt a shark now, or find them on Twitter & Facebook!


Click here to Adopt a SharkPowered by SharkBreak.com

Spotlight: Kona, Hawaii

Kailua BayKailua-Kona, often referenced as simply “Kona”, is an infamously beautiful tropical getaway located along the shoreline of Kailua Bay and up the southern slope of Hualālai volcano.  Reputed for the region’s bold Kona coffee beans, which are cultivated on the slopes of Mount Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts, this exotic Hawaiian destination is also hosts popular events such as the annual Ironman World Championship Triathlon and the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.

Stay at one of the island’s gems, The Dolphin House, located in the exclusive, gated and security-guarded community of Kona Bay Estates!   The Dolphin House is situated directly on the deep sapphire blue waters of Kona Bay and is just steps away from a private sandy beach (not to mention within walking distance to tennis and town!).  This stunning oceanfront home, known as “Ka Naia” in Hawaiian, is an upscale 4 bedroom, 4.5 bath home that boasts an atrium entry with cathedral ceilings, skylights, large living room, family room, convenient indoor/outdoor dining, and a game room with a fully equipped bar.  Take a dip in the heated swimming pool and splash under the spectacular pool waterfall!

The Dolphin House, Kona Bay Estates, Kona, Hawaii

The Dolphin House, Kona Bay Estates, Kona, Hawaii

A short oceanfront stroll leads you to a sandy, reef-protected beach cove lagoon, great for swimming, snorkeling, and playing in the sand.  Tide pools offer great exploration for children and teens, and can be found scattered along the lava rock shelf.  Enjoy nature’s marine creatures and catch a glimpse of turtles, dolphins, and whales!

The Big Island of Hawaii offers a myriad of activities for every age.  Exciting and exotic island activities include visiting the Kona Coffee Farms, Botanical Garden Tours, Sunset Dinner Cruises, Parasailing, Whale Watching, Hawaiian Luaus, Horseback Riding, Submarine Rides, Snorkeling and Volcano Viewing, just to name a few!   Take one look at this slice of paradise and you will instantly fall in love with The Dolphin House!

At the Beach: Kahuna Kupuna Surf Contest

kahunaasz

In Hawaiian, “Kahuna” means “Big Chief” and “Kupuna” means “Grandparent” or “Older member of the community to whom everyone goes for advice and counsel.”  So, “Kahuna Kupuna” means “Big Chief Grandparent” in Hawaiian.

Kahuna Kapuna is the only amateur surf contest in the world that focuses on surfers age 40 and over by offering separate shortboard and longboard heats (pending demand) for men and women in the following age divisions:

  • 40-49
  • 50-54
  • 55-59
  • 60-64
  • 65-69
  • 70-74
  • 75-79

The suggested entry donation is $65 and all net proceeds support Pacifica’s Environmental Family, a 501(c)(3) non-profit fiscal sponsorship organization.

Driftwood trophies, crafted from driftwood collected at Pescadero State Beach, south of Half Moon Bay and Moat Creek Beach up near Point Arena, will once again be given to the top 6 finishers in each division.

There will be a post-contest reception with live music, a full buffet dinner featuring delicious organic mexican food from the Green Enchilada and another lollapalooza of an award ceremony starting at 5:30 PM at the Pedro Point Firehouse. Each contestant’s entry will cover admission for the post contest festivities. A sliding scale suggested donation of between $10 to $20 is requested from additional guests who want to join us at the Firehouse. Will call tickets for your guests are available in advance or during the day of the contest.

For more information visit the official contest website:  Kahuna Kapuna

Spotlight: Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Isla Mujeres aerial viewCrowded beaches and congested airports, all factors in a typical vacation that makes us a little apprehensive to book that flight and take the time off. What if you could find the ultimate escape, without sacrificing the luxury and service of a resort? Let me offer a suggestion.

Isla Mujeres, an island town a short distance off the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea, about 13 kilometers (8.1 mi) northeast of Cancun, is a perfect getaway from the stresses of everyday life. There are ferries that transport you to this paradise from the main land, running every 30 min during the day.

Isla Mujeres offers great activities from scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming with whale sharks, shopping, dinning, as well as various locations to visit. There are two marine parks on the southern end of the island, Garrafon and Garrafon de Castilla. There is also a turtle park that is open to the public, where vacationers can take part in releasing the new born sea turtles into the Caribbean Sea once they have reached the health to survive on their own.

Isla Mujeres also offers another attraction that pulls you back in time, the Mayan ruins on the southern cost of the island. This temple, dedicated to the Mayan goddess of the sun and moon and patroness of pregnant women, Ixchel, attracts visitors and offers a taste of the rich history and culture this island get away has to offer.

Castillo Del Candelabro, Beachhouse.com Property ID# 21520

Castillo Del Candelabro, Beachhouse.com Property ID# 21520

One of the most impressive things Isla Mujeres stands to offer is an embrace of luxury felt through the Castillo Del Candelabro, “The House of The Chandelier.” This gorgeous beach vacation rental property is a home away from home, and boasts impeccable furnishings and sumptuous designs throughout the expanse of its 5 bedrooms, and 4 bathrooms. This inspiring home looks out over the Caribbean Sea offering an infinity pool and a guest home that will comfortably suit a group without asking them to sacrifice comfort. Bask in the sun and enjoy the Caribbean breeze as you experience the ultimate feeling of arrival.

Start planning your vacation today!  Contact the owner of Castillo Del Candelabro today – click HERE to submit a rental inquiry.

Organizations We Love – Vacation Homes for Charity

charityB

We love finding great companies and organizations to blog about.  And even better when the company or organization incorporates a great cause and the travel or vacation rental industry!  We just came across Vacation Homes for Charity, a great organization that partners vacation rental homeowners with charities in need.

From their Website:

dogoodfrontpreview-300x218“There are 1000′s of charities in dire need of live auction items.  Our goal is to make the process of donating time at a vacation home to a charity easy and efficient for all parties.

In the fall of 2008, we at The Society opened up our platform to help charities source vacation homes for their auctions and other fund raising events. We tested this new service in the fall all parties including homeowners, property managers, real estate brokers, and charities were delighted.

We created VacationHomesForCharity.org to highlight upcoming events, success stories and news regarding this new service.  For 2009 we have some audacious goals: we are going to giveaway over 1000 nights to charities! It’s time to go big and the charities need our help.”

If you own a vacation home or know someone with a vacation home, you can CONTACT them or REGISTER today!

Before you donate your rental property, be sure that you’re up on the latest tax regulations in regards to what you can and can’t write off.  For information on the tax benefits, you can check out this ARTICLE.

Cheers to a good cause…

2007 Surfrider Chardonnay2005 Surfrider Red2008 Surfrider Sauv Blanc
The other night, my friend came over for dinner and, being the great friend that she is, she also brought along a bottle of wine…and not just any wine.  An avid reader of this blog (thanks K!) she knows that the Surfrider Foundation is a frequent topic of conversation, so she brought a bottle of Surfrider Chardonnay!

I know…who knew they even made that?!  Well, technically, Surfrider doesn’t make it.  Rosenthal – The Malibu Estate winery is responsible for this delicious wine.  And even better, 85% of the fruit used in the wine was grown in the Edna Valley of San Luis Obispo where I grew up!

After a glass (maybe 2…) I started researching for this post.  Turns out Rosenthal has a whole line of Surfrider wines:  a 2007 Surfrider Chardonnay, a 2005 Surfrider Red,a 2008 Surfrider Sauvignon Blanc, and even a 375 ml 2005 Red Dessert Wine.

labelI am such a wine novice that I wouldn’t feel right subjecting you all to my review of these wines, so I’ll leave it to Randy Fuller, writer of the Now and Zin wine blog:

It’s a pale straw-colored wine.  The nose features a fragrant show of mainly tropical fruit and flowers.  The palate is not belabored by wood, although it is 30% barrel-fermented, with five months in oak.  In fact, it feels quite clean and crisp in the mouth. The fruit comes from Edna Valley, not Rosenthal’s Malibu estate, which may explain some of the minerality.  I even noticed a slight effervecsence on the second day which I didn’t see in the previous night’s glass.  I’m a big fan of Chardonnay with a hint of oak, but I also love a refreshingly unoaked variety.  Surfrider falls somewhere in between.  I’m glad I could hang five – fingers, that is – on a Surfrider Chardonnay.
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Randy Fuller, Now and Zin Wine Blog

Rosenthal supports the Surfrider Foundation by donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each bottle.

Now you don’t have to feel guilty about having that glass of wine…you’re helping to keep our oceans and beaches clean!  Cheers!

Sandcastles – not just child’s play anymore!

15751425_41bbde8e6aIf you’re going to live the beach-house lifestyle, there’s one skill you can’t do without, and that’s the ability to build a respectable sandcastle.  True beach lovers know that there’s nothing more relaxing than feeling the sun on your back, the wind through your hair, and wet sand on your hands as you construct a fairy-tale castle fit for a pint-sized king.

But if it’s been a few years since you dabbled in the sand-related arts, you may need some pointers from the experts.  And strangely enough, there are experts.  A whole community has grown up around the art of sandcastles, with contests, Web sites, and even newsletters.

So before you jet off to your beach-house vacation, get prepared with the following overview of sandcastle building.  It’s all a matter of patience, the right tools, and lots and lots of, you guessed it, sand.

36889676_aa197c203dThe first step to a successful sandcastle is a good water source.  You can either dig a hole down to the water table (so that it fills with water) or get yourself a big bucket of seawater.  You won’t get anywhere with sand that is too dry.

Then it’s all a matter of carving.  Yes, carving.  It turns out that sandcastle experts generally carve sandcastles from large mounds of sand, rather than attempting to build from the bottom up and forming flimsy (read doomed) walls and towers.  They get themselves a nice pile of wet sand and carve it down into a castle shape.

To be a successful sandcastle-carver, you need tools.  Whether you use Popsicle sticks, shells, shovels, spatulas or just your hands, you need a variety of tools to do a variety of different jobs, from carving out a tower to drawing in a window with a little sand princess looking out.

Start at the top of your pile and work downwards, that way the sand won’t roll down and destroy your work.  Carve out a few towers, and pick out a suitable roof for your structure.  Put in a few turrets and maybe a window or two.  As you get to the bottom, add some landscaping, or maybe a moat.

The key is to go slow, and carve off just a little at time.  If you get impatient, and scrape off a big chunk, you’ll have to start over again.  Relax, get into the mood, and watch your dream castle slowly appear.  But don’t get too attached.  High tide will be here soon.

Sandcastle built by Sudarsan Pattnaik, part of the Amsterdam India festival Sandcastle Resource Guide

There’s a whole big sandcastle world out there, with contests, Web pages, even computer games. Check out our selection of links to the online world of sand sculpture:

Contests

  • Comprehensive guide to sandcastle contests, from www.sandcastlecentral.com, your online resource for all things sand sculpture.

Sand Sculptors

  • Home page of Sandscapes – a team of leading, sand sculptors, Brad Goll, Dan Belcher, Fred Dobbs, Kevin Crawford, and Greg & Brandi Glenn.  Lots of information about their technique, links, photos, and more.
  • Kirk Rademaker – sandsculptor / interactive environmental art and more.