Galapagos Islands – Spotlight Santa Cruz

The second largest island in the Galapagos archipelago is the island of Santa Cruz, which might be called the focal point of Galapagos’ Tourism. 

Santa Cruz’s popularity among tourists may have to do with the fact that it is very close in proximity to one of the only two airports in the Galapagos or that it is one of only four islands that accommodate overnight guests.

The island of Santa Cruz is also where you can find the famous Charles Darwin Research Station.  Virtually all tours of the area will offer a visit to this branch of the non-profit Charles Darwin foundation where research and scientific investigation is conducted to further preservation efforts on the island.  Visitors can also check out the tortoise breeding and rearing that takes place right in the facility, along with the most famous inhabitant of the islands, Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island tortoises.

Lonesome George

Lonesome George

Santa Cruz is probably the most tourist friendly of all the islands, and is where you can find the port city of Puerto Ayora (named for the former Ecuadorian President).  Puerto Ayora is a vivacious sea-side town where vistors will discover many hotels, restaraunts, bars, and shops.  It is the most populated town in the all of the Galapagos with a staggering population of just over 10,000 inhabitants!

Nevertheless, Puerto Ayora’s spirited environment and assortment of activities and entertainment makes the town deserving of at least a two-night stay.

Like most of the Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz is also home to a wide array of animal life, including a large tortoise population nearby at Black Turtle Cove.  Pelicans, land iguanas, Darwin’s finches, wild tortoises, and other creatures roam free in the area and virtually every bird native to the Galapagos has been seen at one time or another on the island of Santa Cruz. 

Sharks, rays, sea lions and sea turtles are just a few of the aquatic inhabitants visitors will come across during their stay.  You will likely also catch a glimpse of the marine iguanas which swim and slither through the sea – an amazing sight that you may have previously seen in movies like Russell Crowe’s Master and Commander.

There is no shortage of entertainment in Santa Cruz – visitors can go mountain biking, kayaking, scuba diving, horseback riding, surfing, or take a jeep tour on land or a glass bottom boat tour on the ocean.  If you need a break, have a drink at an outdoor bar in Puerto Ayora.

In any event you will never find yourself bored on the dynamic and always active island of Santa Cruz!

Homeowner Brings New Meaning to “Pet Friendly” Vacation Rentals 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: 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:



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 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 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 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: 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, Property ID# 21520

Castillo Del Candelabro, 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.

Kamikaze Iguanas


Fallen Iguana - Photo: AP

When the usually sunshiny state of Florida’s temperatures dipped into the 30′s early this morning, it caused an unusual weather related phenomena.  But it wasn’s snow that was falling – it was…iguanas?

No, this isn’t a page out of some sick Sci-Fi creator’s mind.  It’s sad but true.

Iguanas, like most reptiles, are cold blooded and are therefore dependent on environmental heat sources – mostly the sun – to warm their bodies.  When the temperature drops low enough, their bodies go into a state of shock.  In order to conserve energy, the iguanas body functions - all but the heart – switches off and blood flow is cut to a minimum, causing the little guys to lose their grip on branches and fall from the trees.

Don’t worry – they’re not dead, it’s almost as if they have fallen asleep. Once the temperatures rise most of these little guys will be just fine.

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!

Photo Journey through SE Asia 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!