Archive for the ‘Beach’ Category

5 Best Sunset Photography Hotels on Southwest Florida Beaches

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Are you a photographer, professional or amateur, who loves to take pictures of nature, beaches, and the sunset? If not, WHY NOT? That’s besides the point.

On the west coast of the Florida peninsula runs a long strip of photogenic beaches on the Gulf of Mexico perfect for sunset photography. Sugary-white sand beach with the calm, sea-blue water offers the best backdrops for an level photographer.

The following is a list of hotels directly on the beach with optimum camera positioning.

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, Florida

Ritz Carlton Sarasota

Ritz Carlton, Sarasota, Florida

As the photo shows, the Ritz-Carlton is conveniently located directly on the beach. My bets are, with the impeccable service the Ritz provides, you’ll have no problems setting up a private location from which to capture the perfect shot.

Holiday Inn St. Petersburg Marina Cove, Florida

Holiday Inn, St. Petersburg, Florida

Holiday Inn, St. Petersburg, Florida

Imagine the foreground of your sunset shots with the palm frond-covered huts shown above. Near perfection, if you want my opinion. Stay at the Holiday Inn St. Petersburg Marina Cove for an affordable rate with the same sugar-white sand and the more expensive hotels.

Marriott Key Largo Bay Beach Resort, Florida

Marriott Key Largo

Marriott Key Largo, Florida

Arguably, one of the world’s most perfect tropical locations, the Florida Keys are home to some of the best photography-taking opportunities in all of Florida. Palm trees on the beach are in abundance as you capture your photograph of the sunset with the perfect silhouette of a sailboat heading out for a night-time cruise.

Edgewater Beach Hotel, Naples, Florida

Edgewater Hotel Naples, Florida

Edgewater Hotel, Naples, Florida

Tropical elegance is the selling point of the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Naples. It’s hard to get closer to the beach than the few steps it takes to make it to the water’s edge. As one of the Waldorf=Astoria’s Collection hotels, top-notch service is worth the visit.

Harbour Master Hotel, Cedar Key, Florida

Harbour Master Hotel Cedar Key, Florida

Harbour Master Hotel, Cedar Key, Florida

Rustic, classic Florida beach hotel is the best way to describe the stay at the Harbour Master Hotel in Cedar Key, Florida. Located on Cedar Key at the boat harbor, you can capture the best of the small-town, Florida flavor with the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico as your backdrop.

Photos Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Edgewater Naples, Harbour Master Hotel

Hammocks Beach State Park – No Hammock Necessary

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Le sigh - I could get used to that

Hammocks Beach State Park in North Carolina one of those places that is only accessible by passenger or by private boat. Talk about pristine beaches unsullied by, well, I guess everything.

Sounds perfect for just laying around on the beach with a good book.

The cost of the ferry is $5 for an adult ticket and $3 for seniors and kids. The ferry is only available April through October. The camping rates start at $12/day for primitive camping. The primitive campsites for group camping are still $12/day for up to 9 people but you add $1 for every additional person.

Hammocks Beach in North Carolina is great place to fish and/or hunt, but I think I’d appreciate a nice picnic and a good book more.

Photo 1, 2

Hammonasset State Park, Connecticut

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Hammonasset State Park

Hammonasset's marshy side

Here’s where you can kick it old school like Native Americans did before settlers came in 1639.  This is a beach with a long history.  Hammonasset means “Where we dig holes in the ground,” and it was where the natives farmed corn, beans, and squash, and fished and hunted.  Since then, the beach has been a rifle testing site, an army reservation, and an aircraft range, but now it’s just a plain old state park.

I grew up in Connecticut on the Long Island Sound, where there’s barely ever any surf and the beach smelled like sewage in the 70’s.  It’s better now, but I do remember that if we wanted to go to a “real” beach, we went to Hammonasset.  But it’s not just beach-type things you can do there although you can fish, sail, and bodyboard because the surf gets a bit bigger than elsewhere in Connecticut and there are spots where there are less rocks.  There’s a nature center, a kick-ass campground, and hiking and biking trails, too.

Families with young kids will like: Meigs Point Nature Center, and the ample facilities.

Families with teenagers will like: The bigger waves, relative to other beaches nearby.

Other travelers will like: If you are into rocks, there’s a lot of information about the geology of Hammonasset Beach available on the CT State Park website.

Best months to visit for weather: May through October

Nearest major cities: New Haven, CT

More info can be found at the always helpful California State Park site.

Photo courtesy of: msgsti217 via Flickr

Tags: Huntington Beach State Park, USA, things to do, California

Parking is $20 per car for state residents and $30 per car for non-residents.  That same type of pricing applies to the camping, which is amazing and beautiful in this park, and priced at $30-$70 per night.

Photo courtesy of slack12 via Flickr.

Wisconsin’s Peninsula State Park

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

stunning bluffs are a highlight of Peninsula State Park

Door county boasts unbelievable beauty from every angle but no place highlights Wisconsin’s natural wonders better than Peninsula State Park.  Famous for being the state’s most complete park,  Peninsula State Park offers not just outdoor activities but an outdoor theater as well.  Located in beautiful Fish Creek, admission stickers for out of state vehicles are $10 daily and $5 for one hour. State trail pass fees are $4 daily.

The spectacular scenery will immediately grab you once you enter Peninsula State Park.  Rolling waves and towering bluffs make for truly magnificent vistas.  Families with young children will like the American Folklore Theatre, which performs whimsical musical productions from June through July. They’ll also have fun on a guided tour of  the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, which was built in 1868. Teens will enjoy kayaking in Nicolet Beach as well as a boat ride to Horse Shoe Island, the only island that’s part of Peninsula Park.  Other activities include  20 miles of hiking trails, two bike routes an an 18-hole golf course.  Campers should remember that Peninsula State Park is Wisconsin’s most popular camping destination and make reservations for one of the five campgrounds.  The camp supplies a total of  468 family sites, of which 101 are electric and three group areas. The Camp Store at Nicolet Beach sells supplies and ice and the Snack Bar features pizza, burgers and ice cream.  Camping fees are $14-$17 a night for non-residents.  To grab a little more relaxation, stroll across the street to Homestead Suites, which provides close proximity to Fish Creek stores and restaurants.

Photo courtesy of  Friends of Peninsula State Park

Wisconsin’s Copper Falls State Park

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Copper Falls

Featuring dramatic gorges, foot bridges and waterfalls, Copper Falls State Park is famous for being a major highlight of Wisconsin’s North Country National Scenic Trail.  Rolling over 3,068 acres,  Copper Falls State Park  owes its name to the Native Americans and European settlers who mined copper in the area.  Admission for vehicles require a sticker that costs $7 daily for Wisconsin residents and $10 for non-residents.  State trail passes are $4 daily and camping fees are $12-$15 for Wisconsin residents and $14-$17 for non-residents per night.  Located two miles Northeast of Mellen in Ashland County, the park also boasts charming 1930s era log buildings.

Families with young kids and teens will like the 300-foot sand beach along Loon Lake in the summer and the eight miles of cross country ski trails in the winter. Copper Falls State Park also supplies a 21-acre picnic area with 55 picnic tables, a log shelter and concession stand, as well as 27 grills. There’s rainbow, brown and brook trout fishing in Bad and Tyler Forks Rivers and large mouth bass and northern pike in Loon Lake.  Eight miles of nature and hiking trails and 7.5 miles of bike trails provide the most scenic ways to enjoy the park. For campers, there are two campgrounds with 54 individual sites and one backpack site. If you long for a little more pampering, check out  nearby Northern Bay Golf Resort and Marina, for lake views and an 18-hole golf course.

Photo courtesy of  Great Lakes Waterfalls and Beyond

Puerto Viejo Bay in Mazatlan, an Endless Ribbon of Shimmering Sand

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

With its 2.5 miles of shimmering golden sands and gently lapping turquoise waters, Puerto Viejo Bay is perhaps the best choice for a day at the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico. The beach is within walking distance of the center of  town and convenient to many of the smaller upscale hotels located in this area. It is also quite near Mazatlan’saquarium, which is worth a visit.

Puerto Viejo Bay Beach

Shaped like a fishhook lying on its side, this endless ribbon is dotted with thatch-roofed beach palapas that serve up mounds of fresh ceviche or fresh grilled fish, washed down with the local cerveza or a lucious fruit smoothie whipped up from fresh-picked fruit. Vendors roam Puerto Viejo Beach, seeking customers for their handicrafts, but graciously disappear at a shake of the head. There is simply no pressure here.

Beach palapa at Puerto Viejo Bay

Most times of the year this beach is virtually deserted. However during carnival, Semana Santa (Holy Week at Easter), and on other holidays, locals from all over the country flock to this beach. Many are poor peasants from the interior who arrive with only the clothes on their back and huge bags of food; they sleep on the beach, swim in their clothes, and grill food over open fires. During these times, barely an inch of sand remains and strolling down Mazatlan’s Puerto Viejo Bay Beach is a feast for the senses.

Photo Credit: Barbara Weibel

Article by Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut Travels

The little black bikini

Friday, March 5th, 2010

During a recent conversation, my friend (who wears black exclusively) expressed that it is surprisingly difficult to find a black bikini. Most are embellished with metal, plastic, stone, beading, or jewel accents to add oomph to the simplicity of the design and color. Always up for a challenge, I set out to find black bikinis that rely on fabric and construction to make their designs unique and interesting.

All the two-pieces below are shown in, or available in, black fabric.

Retro Black

The cut, draping, and fabric appliques up the ante on the little black bikini.

Retro-chic Black. Images courtesy of Eres, Seafolly, and Betsey Johnson

Left: Belem-Santiago by Eres (available in black on black)
Center: Goddess by Seafolly
Right: Ladies & Gentlemen by Betsey Johnson

Affordable and Chic
Victoria’s Secret offers chic selection for under $40. Look for details such as stitching and side ties to make your black bikini more interesting.

Affordable and Chic. Images courtesy of Victoria's Secret.

Left: Adjustable triangle top with Brazilian bottom

Right: Triangle top with double-string bottom

Look to the bottom for details

Two-piece suits tend to emphasize the top but these suits add interesting details to the bikini bottom, such as delicate tassles and sassy ruching.

Look to the bottom for details. Images courtesy of Eres and Vix

Left: Severa-Fado by Eres (available in black)
Right: Ripple Rio by Vix


The construction of the top makes this my favorite by far.

Construction details are subtle and super chic. Image courtesy of Eres

Wanda-Mescalito by Eres (available in black)

Just for Fun

The design is too clean and the fabric too luxurious to let a teeny, tiny metallic detail (that can easily be taken off with a stitch remover) get in the way of Ondademar’s hot black two-piece.

Beach Solids by Ondademar. Image courtesy of Ondademar

The tie knot and the draping detail on the bottoms make Jubilation by L*Space all-around adorable.

Jubilation by L*Space. Image courtesy of L*Space

Fringe Benefits Dolly Bandeau by L*Space is au courant and balanced with a simple design on the bottom.

Fringe Benefits by L*Space. Image courtesy of L*Space

El Morro Masterpiece Motel, Morro Bay, California

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Delightful! That is how I would describe our recent stay at the El Morro Masterpiece Motel in Morro Bay, California. Dreaming of something other than a typical chain property, I was quite pleased with the uniqueness of this motel located just past downtown Morro Bay.

El Morro Masterpiece Motel

El Morro Masterpiece Motel, Morro Bay

Check-in was easy, and the front desk staff was very helpful, confirming we had everything we needed before ascending the stairs to our room. The hotel is accessible, but without an elevator, so double check with the front desk when booking your room to ensure your needs can be met.

A feature I really enjoyed in the motel is the Art Tour, finely framed prints from the master painters of the Renaissance through the Moderns, which decorate the halls and rooms of the motel. Management has even provided a guide to help identify the prints throughout.

Our room was a standard king room, with enough space to bring in a roll away bed. The balcony overlooked a somewhat-busy street, so earplugs would be a good idea if you are a light sleeper. The shower and toilet are nicely separated from the sink area, and an in-room fridge and microwave are available.

A continental breakfast is served daily from 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. in the lobby, offering cereals, hard-boiled eggs, toast and muffins, as well as a selection of pastries and muffins.

The El Morro Masterpiece Motel is located on the north end of Morro Bay, within walking distance of Morro Rock and the bay. Several restaurants are also within walking distance, and golf courses and wineries are a short drive.

El Morro Masterpiece Motel
1206 Main Street
Morro Bay, CA
(805) 772-5633

Rates from $125 – $199/night. Midweek specials available.

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Photo courtesy of Gudrun Enger, Kitchen Gadget Girl.

Mellon Udrigle Beach in Scotland, UK

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Beautiful Scotland

Surrounded by a landscape of soft blue water, golden sands and rocky coves, Mellon Udrigle is one of the most beautiful hidden beaches in Scotland. Normally, when people think of Scotland they think of green hillsides, historic castles, woolly sheep and snowcapped mountains. But something people tend to overlook is that Scotland is scattered with gorgeous beaches that are perfect for year-round vacations. With the unpredictable weather conditions in Scotland, it isn’t the ideal spot for constant sun-but these beaches are beautiful enough to look past the snow lining the sand in the winter.

Golden Beaches of Scotland

If you are someone who enjoys more than just laying on the beach, this is the perfect spot for extreme water sports, such as kayaking, wind surfing and sailing.

A Beautiful Day at the Beach

There are great lodging accommodations around the beach, but something to consider (which will be cheaper) is staying at the local campgrounds. Only accessible from a solitary road, Mellon Udrigle beach is the perfect spot to relax and truly enjoy the surrounding scenery of Scotland.


Whiskey-Scotland's Signature Drink

Are you looking to learn all about the Scots favorite drink? Make sure to take a tour at “The Scotch Whisky Experience” in Edinburgh to complete your stay in the UK!

Photos (in order of appearance):

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Lake Neusiedl in Vienna, Austria

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Lake Neusiedl

Nestled in a gorgeous landscape of rolling hills, colorful vineyards and bright turquoise water, it is easy to lose yourself when vacationing in Vienna, Austria. Vienna, more commonly known for its delicious food, is also famous for its surrounding lakes and rivers. One of Europe’s largest steppe lakes called Lake Neusiedl has drawn tourists and locals alike by the thousands. With an endless amount of outdoor activities, such as biking, bird watching, kite surfing, and hiking, Austria is definitely a must-see vacation spot.

Vienna Wetlands

Located right near the Hungary border, Lake Neusiedl is most popular for its water sports and natural habitat. With great wind conditions, people come from all over for the amazing sailing, and kite surfing opportunities. If you are not the type who enjoys water sports, there are numerous biking trails around town that you can enjoy. Due to the fact that this spot is partly a wetland, the lake holds extensive reed beds making it an ideal spot to see the three hundred different species of birds that occupy the area throughout the year. With the lake, biking and bird watching opportunities, this is a great destination for your family vacation. Lake Neusiedl will bring both entertainment and relaxation while you enjoy the beauty of Austria.

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Photos by trishhhh