Tag Archives: Beachlife

Life is like a box of chocolates…

Utility is when you have one telephone,
luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three
….and paradise is when you have none.
Doug Larson

image

Got a few millions to spare? Then why not buy a super yacht and waterfront mansion to park it next to! Unfortunately we don’t, but it’s always fun to sit on the Water Taxis that transport tourists up and down the Intracoastal Waterways in between Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood. It’s a great way to travel around the area where you can hop on & hop off, but the Captain also gives you snippets of information on who lives in the properties and own these luxury yachts. We saw Amphitrite the $22 million yacht previously owned by Johnny Depp and recently purchased by JK Rowling, Harry Potter definitely is a girl’s best friend for JK. Sleek and luxurious the Azteca is owned by the Mexican Salinas Piego family, we know the department store Elektra well from our time in Mexico and this $83 million super yacht certainly sparkles in the water.

image

One of the fun stories is about US business man Wayne Huizenga a multi – billionaire. He was having trouble with his neighbours complaining about his helicopter landing, so he bought their house, knocked it down and built a designated landing pad – problem solved! Then there is the story of the house now owned by 2 former High School teachers who decided to open a chicken wing restaurant. Their well endowed waitresses in tight vests and short shorts proved to be a big hit, Hooters restaurant chain has ensured the teachers now live that luxe lifestyle we all dream of. Back in the heyday Sonny & Cher, Lucille Ball and Jonny Weismuller all owned properties in this stretch of prime island lands.

After a day on the water it was time to wave Liz and Derek off from our two weeks in Florida together. They were driving upwards to visit St Augustine and Savannah before flying home. It was a fun time and even nicer to be able to say to them “We’ll see you in two weeks!”

For the last part of our Florida trip, we were staying in Fort Lauderdale in preparation to board The Independence of The Seas. After 18 months away our travels were coming to an end and it was time to head home to the UK.
Now I’ve mentioned a few times in my blog posts what a genius Mr E is at finding travel bargains and once more he surpassed himself! . When he knew last year we’d be travelling home in May, he booked a two week repositioning cruise with Royal Caribbean, get this – It was the same cost as 2 economy seats with British Airways. From the window of the Courtyard Marriott we could see the ship in Port Everglades ready for 3500 people who would all be travelling to Southampton.

image

But before we tried out cruising, we had a couple of days to make the most of the Florida sunshine.We rode the water taxi down to Hollywood Beach from Fort Lauderdale. Along the way we passed Port Everglades home to south Florida’s thriving cruise ship industry and port of call to thousands of merchant ships from around the world.

image

It’s a busy port and provides thousands of jobs for the region. We disembarked at the mammoth hotel resort of Margaritaville and wandered along the Hollywood Broadwalk.

image

There are 2.5 miles of pristine white sandy beach, restaurants and nightlife, old style beach front motels and it’s a popular destination for sunbathing. Back at the  Margaritaville water taxi stop we hummed the lines ‘Wasted away again in Margaritaville’ and was glad I hadn’t ‘blew out my flip flop’

image

For some old time charm we took the free trolly north to Lauderdale-by-the Sea. This cute beachside town is located on a barrier island just north east of Fort Lauderdale. We had stayed in a motel here back in 2002 it’s now been replaced by a large swanky condo building, the fishing pier remains and of course we had an ice cream sat on the beach for old times sake.

For our last night in America, we didn’t go far and ate dinner in Bubba Gump’s next to the hotel.
Forrest Gump “My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get”

image

In all our 18 months away we certainly didn’t know what we were going to get, but I can honestly say it’s been far sweeter than we ever would have hoped for!

And now it was time to cross the pond…home was calling.

Shelling & Shopping in Gulf Coast Florida

For the second part of our Florida trip with my sister Liz and Brother in law Derek, we left The Florida Keys and crossed Alligator Alley to spend a night in glamourous Naples with its white soft sandy beaches, millionaire mansions and rather gorgeous sunsets. In Tin City we perused the gift shops and ate at one of the seafood restaurants where Derek who doesn’t do fish, tackled the first large plate of ribs of the holiday!

We have visited this side of Florida many times before, but usually staying on Sanibel next to the beach. For this trip we had booked through Airbnb to stay in a great value inland property in Cape Coral. The Tropical House was excellent with plenty of room, outdoor seating next to a covered pool and located right next to the canal where Brad & Derek made use of the kayaks. It’s a location we didn’t know but was only a 30 minute drive from most places we wanted to visit for days out.

image

To reach the Gulf, the Cape Coral area is closest to laid back Pine Island with its fishing boat marinas and water taxis that transport day trippers and campers to one of the many nearby islands and Cayes. To reach Pine Island you cross the bridge, driving through the tiny stripland of quaint Matlacha where shrimp boats dock, old fishing shanties have been converted to rustic B&B’s and an arty community sell their creations. We stopped for drinks and supper at legendary Bert’s Bar which dates back to the 30’s.

image

As we were out of season, we reviewed the upcoming weather reports and headed out on what looked to be a rainy day for shopping! So we’ve eaten noodles, made picnic lunches and generally tried to not spend too much money over the last year whilst travelling, but then the Evans literally went nuts spending on the credit card in the Miromar Outlet Shopping Centre. For the last 2 weeks of our trip we would be taking a Royal Caribbean Cruise to get us home to the UK (more to come on this snippet of excitement later..) so Mr E was in need of trousers, shoes and a jacket. Birkenstocks and shorts probably wouldn’t meet the formal dinner requirements! I purchased some sandals and OMG!..a pair of high heels ready for work, my flip flop wearing feet are not going to like being squished into shoes once again. Between us all we packed our purchases into The Town & Caravan and headed home, exhausted from the excess of spending, too tired even for a round of Adventure Golf!

image

Time for a picnic! With a well packed cool bag we drove down through Fort Myers and into Lovers Key State Park. For just $8 we parked up and took the land train across the mangroves to find a spot on a very white sandy beach. Once our day camp was set up we did the stoop..bending over walking the Lovers Key Beach looking for top notch shells. At the end of the beach in the fast flowing inlet, we were utterly delighted to watch a group of fishermen in their boat catching tilapia, while two dolphins practically held their flippers out for cast offs and handouts as the guys were just copiously reeling the fish in, of course it was the one time I didn’t have my camera in hand!

image

I totally love these desolate outer beaches where plovers and sandpipers probe for food along the waters edges huddling together in their respective groups. Herons and Egrets just hang out, paddling in the soft waves waiting for their next big catch.
Washed up bleached tree trunks are now organic beachy art installations, long gone leaves have been replaced with jangly white shells that resemble white blossom from a distance. We hung shells on high branches and made wishes that we’ll return again one day.

image

Away from the beaches we spent a pleasant morning at the Edison Ford Estates located next to the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers. These beautifully restored craftsman houses were the family winter destinations for Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. The museum, laboratory and houses exhibit their lives and inventions. Edison, Ford and Harvey Firestone formed a botanical research corporation to research a natural source of rubber that could be grown in the US and remove dependence on foreign rubber being imported.

image

The Botanical Gardens flourish with a massive Banyan Tree still growing today that was one of the original 17,000 plant samples that were tested for the rubber research. Edison spent time in his laboratory and study perfecting his inventions. One of his most famous patents was for the long lasting electrical light bulb. The estate is in a beautiful spot looking out over the river and I’m sure the creativity of two of the finest American minds was fast flowing here.

One of our favourite holiday spots to visit is on Sanibel & Captiva Islands. So we were keen to show Liz & Derek where we have spent many happy holidays. We packed a final picnic and headed over the Sanibel Bridge to spend a lovely day on these perfectly formed Floridian islands. We started out at the south end of the island at Lighthouse beach. On this corner of the island people fish from the pier, there’s plenty of shells to collect, sandcastles to be built and a couple where getting married.

image

Posing for photos, two baby Osprey watched as Mum & Dad soared over the waves swooping on unlucky fish destined to become Osprey lunch. After a wander on the beach we stopped at Pinnochio’s for yummy ice cream topped with one of their signature animal crackers. From there we drove north through Sanibel up to Captiva. This tiny island feels totally tropical, with its pink and green Florida coloured houses nestled in the palm trees. We stopped at Jensen’s Marina hoping to see Manatee in the sheltered bay, we got lucky and Liz nearly did a ‘Sarah cry’ when they popped up their cow noses to take a breath. The whole Manatee family bobbed up and down for our amusement.

image

image

After picnicking on the beach, we headed down to drive through the Ding Darling Refuge. Lots of winter snowbirds have now left Florida, so the park was pretty quiet but we still enjoyed this sanctuary and the fresh air.
image
Our day was completed by a visit to one of our favourite spots The Island Cow for dinner. Derek tucked into more ribs and opted for additional ribs instead of shrimp, boy he loves his meat!

Soon enough it was time to move on and over to Fort Lauderdale for the last part of our trip. I know our wishes will come true and we’ll definitely return to this wonderful part of Florida in the future or until we win the lottery when we buy our own spot of paradise in Captiva!

Beachlife..

Life is better at the beach..

Beachlife is joyous; walking on sunbaked grainy sand, feeling hot sunshine from bright blue skies beat down on your shoulders, getting your hair blown about in hairdryer heated winds, drinking cold beers in coozies, relaxing on loungers watching families laugh and play at the waters edges, eating super fresh delicious seafood and sipping  from cold green coconuts.  Life at the beach is happiness!

We’re already thinking about our return to the UK, moving back into our little Corsham house and getting back into work mode. It’s exciting to return (my daily mantra as I click my heels and cry is “I’m happy to go home, I’m happy to go home”..) how could I not be sad to be leaving fabulous Mexico? So this blog post is totally selfish and just for me! I can look back on sunny photographs and relive those beach moments in a heartbeat.

Let me take you on a trip..to the beaches of Oaxaca

Situated on the Pacific Ocean, Oaxaca is a southern state in Mexico with a coast that has long sandy beaches framed by palm trees, lagoons and where chunky rocks have jutted outwards and upwards over time to form lush turquoise bays.
image
Throughout our travels we haven’t yet found another place with such a gorgeous selection of beaches as in Puerto Escondido.
image
The long stretches of Zicatela and La Punta are home to the famous surfers paradise of the mighty ‘MexPipe.’ World class surfers take the pilgrimage to Puerto whenever a big swell is predicted. Watching these fearless surfers drop and come through huge barrel waves is ridiculously scary and awesome at the same time.
We like to watch sunset and enjoy a cocktail from one of the many bars and restaurants on fabulous Zicatela where horses trot by and surfers bob on the waves.
image
The town beaches of Playa Marinero and Playa Principal are more sheltered, fishing boats drop anchor here and boats whizz up onto the beach over laid out palm tree logs to deliver their daily catch to market. Families and boogie boarders play in the waters edges with much hilarity.
image

image
Further north around the cliffs are the friendly bays of Playa Manzanillo and Puerto Angelito. Coaches unload holiday makers to the many beach bars here where its safe to snorkel and swim. On a good clear day underwater there’s a great selection of fish to view swimming around the rocks. We like to hang out under a shady palapa on the loungers covered with bright Mexican throws, order guacamole and drink cervezas here. It is heavenly.

If you’re feeling energetic you can skip down the concrete steps to the gorgeous cove of Playa Carrizalillo, swim in the deep waters and sunbathe in the glimmering sunlight. You feel a tad out of breath getting back up to the top but it’s so worth it!

Playa Bachoco is one of the more deserted beaches is Puerto, you can walk along the long expanse of sandy ridges while waves crash down next to you. Baby Turtles are released here to battle through the foam and hopefully onto their new sealife.
image
A fun day trip to Playa Roca Blanca is just a 30 minute drive north out of Puerto. There are beachside palapa restaurants where the catch of the day was swimming around that morning. The seafood is as fresh as fresh can be! Swimming can be a challenge as waves can be rough and I’ve yet to visit here when someone hasn’t been knocked over unaware by a rogue salty seawater smack in the face. You can walk here for miles and miles and it’s stunning.
image
South of Puerto there are plenty of beaches to visit, starting with Tierra Blanca and El Tomatal which are very unspoilt and pretty much deserted. Us Brits love to take a picnic, chairs and a sunshade umbrella. It’s a lovely lazy day and we have smugly said to ourselves “There are worst places to be on a Thursday afternoon..!”
image

image
A short 30 minute drive from Puerto takes you to Playa Agua Blanca, this is definitely one of my favourite beaches. When we first visited Puerto back in 1998 this stretch of beach was totally deserted and offered no shade. You couldn’t buy sunshades then so we sat sweltering on towels sharing beers from a coolbox, but now there is a hotel right on the beach offering basic accommodation and plenty of palapa restaurants to spend the day in. When the tide goes out after scoffing a delicious seafood lunch, it’s fun to play in the shallow rock pools spotting tiny bright blue and orange fish, collecting shells and digging for sand dollars.
image
Further south are the hippie relaxed beaches towns of Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite.
There are lots of cabana beachfront rooms to rent and community style campsites are available right on the beach for free and easy backpackers who travel with their guitars and drums. At the far end of Zipolite you can strip off and tan all your birthday suit on the only dedicated nudist beach on the coast, it’s an eye opener as a variety of bits swing by!
image
For my birthday we stayed just around the bay from Mazunte looking over windswept Playa Mermejita. Our hotel OceanoMar had a splendid rustic feel with lovely boutique amenities and decorations. It was a wonderful stay and one of my happiest birthdays spent with our lovely friends Keith and Sue.
image
A ninety minute drive south from Puerto takes you to the main planned resort for Oaxaca. Manicured Huatulco with beautiful tarmac roads has 9 bays with a cute palm roofed International Airport that bring in package holiday makers, to one of their plush all inclusive hotels.
image
There are plenty of smaller hotels and bargains to be had though. It’s a very different town in comparison to Puerto and a fun diversion for a few days away.  At Quinta Bella Hotel each room has a spacious terrace and dip pool that looks out to the beach. We have also stayed on a couple of occasions at Binniguenda All Inclusive Hotel, which is a smaller resort hotel just a few minutes walk away from the beach, with a lovely family run feel and plenty of drinks on offer to sip by the pool.
image
We have totally loved living in Puerto Escondido with healthy outdoor living and happy beachlife. Leaving here is going to be tough,  but we have many great memories that will last long after the tan on our toes has faded.

“At the beach, life is different.
Time doesn’t move hour to hour, but mood to moment.
We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the Sun.”
image