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!

    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!

    Travel America – Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

    Kitty Hawk is a lovely town located in Dare County, North Carolina.  It is an old city that was established in the 1700s and was previously known as Chickahawk.  At one point, Kitty Hawk was a remote area; today it is one of the most thriving beach communities where thousands of vacationers visit every year.  The town has both a laid-back, romantic atmosphere and exciting attractions including sandy beaches, great shopping, superb dining, entertainment facilities, and enjoyable aquatic activities.  Kitty Hawk is an ideal town to relax and to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

    By far, what attracts most vacationers to Kitty Hawk is the beaches! Particularly in the spring and summer, you can sunbathe, take a nice nap, read a book or people watch at the beach.  For ultimate relaxation, you can take a yoga class or get a massage.  In addition, you can hunt for shells or sea glass, swim, fly a kite, build a sand castle, surf, and boogie board.  You can literally spend your entire vacation at the beach without experiencing a dull moment!

    Kitty Hawk is also a great city for fishing; TW’s Bait and Tackle is an impressive facility that provides fishing paraphernalia.  Besides aquatic activities, miniature golf is a popular attraction for the family.  You can also enjoy golf at the popular Seascape Golf Course.  Kitty Hawk Woods is a great attraction that has a maritime, forest, swamp, and marsh.  You can explore this 461 acre area and find a variety of animals including gray foxes, white-tailed deer, amphibians, river otter, hawks, and herons.  For hiking lovers, there is an impressive trail as well.   

    Along with the outdoor activities, Kitty Hawk also has indoor attractions.  Kitty Hawk is a great city to eat out in; there are great restaurants that have Eastern North Carolina barbecue and local seafood is definitely a favorite!  You can relax while sipping on a cocktail at the patio of Ocean Boulevard and enjoy breathtaking views from the Black Pelican.

    Shopping in the city is enjoyable as there are a bunch of locally owned and interesting shops in town.  Whether you are looking for homemade dog biscuits, local artwork, funky clothing, accessories, beach souvenirs, you are bound to find something of interest at Kitty Hawk.  For some entertainment, you can go to the Outer Banks Music Showcase that offers shows featuring live music and comedy.  The Music Showcase plays diverse music including pop, country, and beach hits.  During the winter, special shows are offered like Bluegrass and Elvis tribute.

    Kitty Hawk has a great location because popular attractions like Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head are only a short drive away.  Kitty Hawk is a lovely city that provides a wonderful vacation experience.  A vacation at Kitty Hawk in a beach house will leave you with a lifetime of memories!

    The Secluded Abaco Island – Bahama’s Little Paradise

    The beautiful Abaco Island, also called “the top of the Bahamas,” is located in the northernmost portion of the country.  The south of Abaco Island is comprised of a group of small islands and settlements including Casuarina Point, Elbow Cay, and Little Harbor.

    Each settlement is worth exploring because of its uniqueness.  However, all the islands share the beautiful warm weather year-round and spectacular views.  Vacation homes are popular among tourists as they capture the true essence of the island and make you feel at home away from home.

    Casuarina Point is a small, exclusive settlement that is located on the breathtaking beach.  The beaches are usually secluded and they are perfect for couples and also for families to spend private, quality-time with each other.   Luxurious beach houses are ideal for family reunions and for couples looking for a getaway.  At the beach, this is right outside your doorstep, you can enjoy gorgeous views of sunrises and sunsets, have privacy in a serene atmosphere, and observe the tropical landscape.  You can also indulge in snorkeling, fishing, scuba diving, and fishing.

    Elbow Cay is a nice island that stretches to the renowned Tahiti Beach.  You can go to restaurants and bars that you can reach by rented boats of golf carts.

    Little Harbor is a laid-back, tranquil community of South Abaco Island.  It has a captivating deserted lighthouse that you can explore.  The beautiful sandy beach along the community has a number of boats and great rock cliffs to observe.  Little Harbor is a haven for people that like to fish and it is also a perfect idea for bone-fishing.  You can turtle watch which is an enchanting experience as the serene waters are replete with sea turtles.  The different communities of South Abaco Island make fantastic vacation destinations.  At Elbow Cay, you can visit nice restaurants and enjoy Tahiti Beach.  Casuarina Point is a little taste of paradise with its privacy and pristine beauty.  While staying at a beach house in this beautiful location, you will feel as if you are on your own island!

    Life’s a Beach in St. Croix!

    St. Croix is a beautiful island in the Caribbean Sea and a county of the US Virgin Islands.  St. Croix, the largest of the Virgin Islands, has two different towns to explore – Christiansted and Frederiksted.  Each town is distinct and scenic, and carries all the offerings of a lively destination.  The gorgeous beaches, sunny weather, vibrant culture, and exceptional beauty contribute to making St. Croix a popular tourist hotspot!

    St. Croix is known for its breathtaking beaches.  Due to the wide variety and uniqueness of the beaches, the term “life is a beach” particularly rings true in St. Croix.  The island is surrounded by many distinguished beaches which are globally ranked.  Some of the beaches include the Hibiscus Beach, Turtle Beach on Buck Island, Cane Bay Beach, and Coakley Bay Beach.  Hibiscus Beach is ideal for snorkeling; Turtle Beach, which is accessible by one of the ubiquitous charter sail boats on the island, was declared a national monument by President Kennedy because of its indescribable beauty; Cane Bay Beach has clear waters, beautiful views, snorkeling, and diving on the reefs; and Coakley Bay Beach is a gorgeous and secluded beach.  

    Scuba diving is an extremely popular activity at St. Croix as the island has more than 50 beautiful diving sites to choose from.  St. Croix is considered “undiscovered” to some extent, hence, there are a lot of hidden treasures waiting to be unveiled in this island.  St. Croix is known in the Caribbean for its eco – tourism opportunities – you can explore an untouched environment from the mountain peak all the way down to the coral reef!  In addition, the Caribbean island is a paradise for golf-lovers with three scenic, award-winning courses to choose from.

    The culture of the city is portrayed in its colorful flora and fauna, the authentic arts and crafts, the music, and the nightlife.  St. Croix’s stunning plant life decorate hillsides and roads and add a dimension to the culture of the island.  The beautiful plants are used for many practical and medicinal purposes in the island.  St. Croix art is displayed in many different forms including painting, sculpture, pottery, crafts, photography, and woodwork.  Each form captures the essence of St. Croix in a unique manner and depicts the island’s sea, sunset, sunrise, plants, and culture.  You can enjoy St. Croix’s nightlife at buzzing beach bars, bistros, or balcony cafes while you can dance the night away to reggae, rock or jazz tunes. 

    St. Croix has excellent dining – there are many restaurants that serve excellent food, and have beautiful balcony views.  Mouthwatering, fresh seafood is a specialty of the island and you cannot go wrong with a clawless Caribbean lobster.  Calypso Daiquiri made with Cruzan Rum or mango salsa flavored drinks are very popular in the island. 

    The island is a festive place that celebrates events with a lot of zest.  The Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a memorable event with parades of colorful displays of floats, and costumed characters.  The St. Croix Food and Wine Experience in April is a weeklong event that features the well-known people of St. Croix’s food and beverage industry. 

    You can experience fine dining, wine tasting, and spot a few celebrities as well! St. Croix is a beautiful and exciting destination that promises a memorable vacation!

    Teriffic Vacation in Seaside, OR!

    Seaside is a beautiful city located in Clatsop County, Oregon.  Seaside is a tourist hotspot because of its fabulous beaches, chic vacation homes, close proximity to Portland, and interesting events that occur throughout the year.  During the summer, you can watch the widely-known Hood-to-Coast Relay or the beach volleyball tournament; and during the winter, you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and serene atmosphere.  You are bound to have a wonderful vacation experience in Seaside no matter what time of the year you visit!

    The terrific beaches of Seaside will keep you coming back to this city.   Seaside Beach is a scenic, sandy beach with clear waters.  At the beach, you will find volleyball, sandcastles, swing sets, kites and much more!  Seaside Promenade is a beautiful two-mile long walkway along Seaside Beach that you must check out.  You can embark on a soothing, beautiful stroll and watch the sunset or relax and soak in the beauty of the beaches and the glow on the sand produced by the reflection of the street lamps.  You can also start a little fire and listen to the sounds of the waves at night for a truly romantic experience.

    Two notable state parks are located near Seaside: Del Rey State Park to the north and Ecola State Park to the south.  At the beautiful Del Rey State Park, you can relax, watch the view of the ocean, and have a wonderful family picnic.  The famous Ecola State Park includes Indian Beach and has unrivaled views of the Oregon Coast.  The park also has a historic dimension to it because you can walk along the Clatsop Loop Trail that has footsteps of Captain Clark and his men.

    Seaside offers a variety of sports including swimming, surfing, volleyball, golf, tennis, kite-flying, and crabbing at Seaside’s 12 Avenue Bridge.  Fishing is a popular pastime in the city—anglers will encounter steelhead, trout and salmon in the waters!

    One of the prime attractions of Seaside is the Seaside Aquarium which is one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast.  At the aquarium, you can feed the seals and observe fascinating, native sea creatures.  In some of the underwater areas, you can see some exotic life forms including a spectacular 20-Ray StarFish, a brutal Wolf-Eel, or a deadly Moray Eel.  The Seaside Aquarium is most definitely a fascinating place to check out during your terrific vacation at Seaside!

    Seaside has a variety of scrumptious restaurants and eateries.  Fresh seafood and well-known Oregon wines are the specialties at restaurants in Seaside.  Doogers Seafood and Grill is a great restaurant for seafood and Guido & Vito’s Italian Cuisine is a superb Italian bistro.  Seaside is a fantastic city for a vacation for the whole family.  By staying at a beautiful beach house, and exploring the different aspects of this city, you are bound to have a terrific vacation!