Beach Maniac Blog List

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  • Beach of the Week: St. Pete Beach, Florida Also named the sunset capital of Florida, the beautiful St. Pete Beach is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, just west of the city of St. Petersburg and just 30 miles from Downtown Tampa. It came to being from merging four beaches including Pass-A-Grille Beach, Don CeSar Place, Belle Vista Beach and St. Petersburg Beach. It’s white sand and gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico make it a popular tourist destination. Three different boardwalks are available to take visitors across sand and sea plants to enjoy its popular swimming area. Endless activities are available on the beach, and you can kayak through the calm waters or take a ferry to nearby Caladesi Island State Park. St. Pete Beach Pier, another popular attraction on the beach, is open 365 days a year and offers an even more entertaining and fun experience. Not only does the Pier encourage dolphin watching and pelican feeding, but has bike rentals available for one, two, or six people to tour the beach and other areas of St. Pete. If you’d rather walk, many of the restaurants and shops in the area are within walking distance. A somewhat longer of a walk, or a shuttle ride, to ...
  • Hanauma Bay, Oahu, tops Dr. Beach’s list of Top Beaches for 2016 Hanauma Bay is the number one beach in the 26th annual Top 10 Beach List, complied by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, professor at Florida International University. Below are Dr. Beach’s Top 10 Beaches of 2016, including his photos and description of each: 1. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu, Hawaii. Hanauma Bay Beach Park is located on the eastern end of Oahu. There is limited parking so the best way is to reach this stunning white sand coral beach enclosed in a breached volcano is to take the Waikiki Beach Shuttle. The marine protected area, which has the best accessible snorkeling in Hawaii, is closed on Tuesdays to give the fish a chance to rest. In fact, this became the first no-smoking beach in Hawaii because of the necessity to protect the thousands of beautifully-colored tropical fish which span the rainbow. There are lifeguards along this crescent-shaped beach along with full amenities. 2. Siesta Beach Sarasota, Florida. According to Dr. Beach: “With some of the finest, whitest sand in the world, this beach attracts sand collectors from all over. Siesta Beach has clear, warm waters ideal for swimming. The beach is hundreds of yards wide in the shape of a crescent, due to anchoring ...
  • Beach of the Week: Hollywood Beach, Florida Bustling. It’s the perfect word to describe Hollywood Beach, Florida. With the addition last fall of the Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville Beach Resort and the Margaritaville Entertainment District – complete with an outdoor beachside music and entertainment stage and FlowRider Double waterslide – added life has been breathed into this already vibrant destination. Put on your beach shirt, shorts and sandals and stroll two and a half miles up and down the palm-tree lined promenade past dozens of outdoor dining and drinking venues on one side with the umbrella-decorated sand and bubbling surf on the other. Or rent a bike – we recommend Skip Rogers and the good people at The Bike Shack – and soak it all in while gliding past the crowd. I visited Hollywood Beach recently and took the video above and the pictures below. Hollywood Beach Weather:   Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about Miami Beach at TripAdvisor
  • Beach of the Week: Poipu Beach, Kauai Poipu Beach, on the sun-drenched South Shore of Kaui, is widely recognized as one of the best beaches in the world. It is actually made up of three crescents of golden sand that – when combined with reef formations – provide the perfect environment for swimming, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, boogie boarding, or just wading in the clear, turquoise waters. The abundant sunshine on the South Coast draws sun-bathing tourists to the resorts and parks along the shore but it never feels crowded on Poipu. At the heart of Poipu Beach is the Sheraton Kauai Resort, where you can relax amid swaying palm trees or answer the call of the ocean. Don’t be surprised if you spot a seal or two relaxing on the sand, or in season (winter and early spring) see humpback whales splashing across the top of the open waters. Poipu Beach is great destination for families, with a lot to offer kids of any age. At Poipu Beach Park, you’ll find a lifeguard on duty to help watch over the kids. The park also offers showers, restrooms and picnic areas. Poipu Beach has often been named one of the world’s top beaches, including being dubbed America’s Best Beach by The Travel Channel. Dr. Beach, ...
  • Beach of the Week: Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas Yes, Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas has exactly what its name suggests – beautiful soft sand with a pinkish glimmer – but there are a lot of other reasons as well to love this three-mile stretch of paradise. The clear, gentle turquoise waters are protected from the Atlantic waves by a coral reef, making for great swimming and snorkeling.  The food choices include everything from fine restaurants to more casual bayside cuisine, and the lodging ranges from comfortable and charming to luxurious. This recent review on TripAdvisor says it all: “Having seen this on the list of the 10 most outstanding beaches in the world, I had to check it out for myself….. “It hit all the right spots for a perfect beach for me. Gorgeous pink sand that shimmers in the sunlight and changes hue with the light from the sun or with the water crashing against it. Turquoise clear waters with nary a large wave but smooth as silk sometimes and wonderful to swim, jump and just generally play in. What makes this spot even better is that the beach stretches for more than 2 miles I think with very little to distract from the wonder of the beach ...
  • Beach of the Week: Cozumel, Mexico Without a doubt, Cozumel has some of the most beautiful, clear waters in the world. The white-sand sea floor brings out turquoise shades from afar, and the clear waters provide glimmering up-close views of underwater sea life. With more than 30 dive locations and barrier reefs to explore, scuba diving and snorkeling are as popular in Cozumel waters as they are anywhere in the world. Cozumel has a variety of beach features. On northern and southern ends of the developed west (leeward) side of the island, you will find white-sand beaches, perfect for relaxing, sunning and just digging your feet in. The west side of the island features calmer waters than the east side, and a lot more resorts, restaurants and beach clubs. Some beaches are more rocky and less conducive to just walking right into the water. However, these are the beaches that will likely produce much better snorkeling. In some locations you will find a hybrid of these two types of beaches as developers brought in sand to cover up the rough limestone edges. You’ll find these hybrid beaches at many of the resorts, hotels and condos so that visitors can have both a comfortable spot to sunbathe and swim while ...
  • Beach of the Week: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Cabo San Lucas, at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, has become Mexico’s elite tourist destination – largely a playground for U.S. vacationers. With sandy beaches, luxury hotels, world-class scuba diving locations and golf courses, Cabo is a perfect weekend or weeks-long getaway. Tourists come to Cabo for swimming, sightseeing, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, boating, fishing (it is home to the largest marlin tournament in the world), and the sizzling nightlife. The Los Cabos Corridor – from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo – is tourist central, with resorts, timeshares, restaurants and more. The bay of Cabo San Lucas – now filled with luxury yachts – has a rich, rowdy history as a spot where pirates seized Spanish treasure ships. Although it was a quiet fishing village a little as 20 years ago, the bay is now lined with multi-million dolar homes, palm trees and exclusive golf courses. The most popular beach in Cabo San Lucas is Playa El Medano (the Dune Beach), which fronts the main hotel zone and is packed with activity. This is the area to rent waver runners, kayaks and diving equipment. If you’re looking for something quieter and on the romantic side, rent a kayak and ...
  • Beach of the Week: Panama City Beach, Florida   The good people of Panama City Beach, Florida, like to say they have the most beautiful beaches in the world. And while that may be a bit of an exaggeration, they have a good point that the wide expanses of soft white sand stretching 27 miles along the Gulf Coast are a beach lover’s dream. Do you like beaches with lots of resorts, bars, restaurants, shops and sports activities? This is the place for you. Do you like more quiet stretches where you can relax and get away from it all? Well, yes, PCB offers lots of that as well. What it all has in common in the sand. The beautiful, seemingly endless sand that reflects the sun, brightens your spirits and provides nature’s soothing foot massage. If you’re a college student, of course, there is no better place to spend spring break. If you’re a young family or an older couple, you will probably want to stay far, far away in the spring. But any other time of year, PCB is the place to be. My wife, Diane, and I just got back from a few days in Panama City Beach – our “Fall Break” – where we enjoyed walks along the ...
  • Beach of the Week: Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands The most famous beach in the Cayman Islands is Seven Mile Beach, a beach that repeatedly makes lists of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Seven Mile Beach is home to many luxury resorts and condominiums, restaurants and beach activities, including wonderful snorkeling. Despite its name, the beach is actually only 5.5 miles long but there is plenty of space for walking and people-watching, along with a wealth of water activities. Seven Mile Beach is near the capital of George Town. One of the unique attractions in the Cayman Islands is Stingray City, where visitors can wade through the shallow waters and pet the stingrays. The stingrays began gathering in the area decades ago when fisherman used to clean fish on the shallow sand bars. The stingrays would forget their normally shy dispositions and feast on the guts of the cleaned fish. Soon the stingrays began to associate the sound of a boat motor with food. In the late 1980s, divers started feeding squid to the stingrays, which is one of their favorite dishes. Today, the stingrays casually swim with people in the shallow waters of Grand Cayman. As visitors enter the crystal clear turquoise waters and the graceful southern stingrays ...
  • Beach of the Week: Clearwater Beach, Florida Clearwater Beach, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is one of the Sunshine State’s real gems. With a great location near Tampa and sporting some the widest most beautiful white sand beaches in the continental United States, Clearwater Beach has become an attraction for beach lovers throughout the world. At Clearwater Beach, it’s all about the fine-grained white quartz sand, which provides the perfect backdrop for lounging and sand-castle making. Kids love Clearwater Beach because they can play in the sand before jumping into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Or they can see a dophin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and then join the family for the nightly sunset festival on Pier 60, where the music fills the air and performers keeps smiles on the kids faces. As you cross the bridge into  Clearwater Beach, you can feel yourself entering another realm. Great hotels to choose from, a nice assortment of restaurants and shops, and multiple attractions make this a well-rounded vacation spot. Tampa attractions – Busch Gardens and spring training baseball games among them – are nearby, and Orlando is just about a two-hour drive. Read more about Clearwater and its great resort hotels.
  • Beach of the Week: Kaanapali Beach, Maui Nothing beats feeling the gentle tropical breeze as you walk along the softly lit Kaanapali Beach walkway past beautifully landscaped hotels, refreshing swimming pools and inviting beachside restaurants and bars. The three-mile white-sand Kaanapali Beach is one of the most popular locations on Maui, with a string of resorts connected by the beachside walkway and featuring Black Rock (photo above), where you can snorkel right from the beach in crystal clear waters and watch local cliff-divers celebrate the sunset nightly. GoHawaii says Kaanapali was Hawaii’s first planned resort and has become a model for resorts around the globe. It features the open air Whalers Village shopping complex, with shops, restaurants, a whaling museum and free Hawaiian entertainment. Kaanapali Beach provides the perfect location for a day at the beach or pool or the backdrop for exploring all of Maui. At the end of the day, return to Kaanapali for a luau, a relaxing stroll or dinner overlooking one of the top-rated beaches in the world. Find out more about the resorts along Kaanapali Beach.
  • Beach of the Week: Eagle Beach, Aruba Aruba, covering 70 square miles of land, belongs to the Lesser Antilles and is located in the Southern Caribbean near the coast of Venezula. Considered one of the three ABC islands (together with Bonaire and Curacao), Aruba is 2.5 hours from Miami by air. In addition to have some of the world’s most beautiful beaches – including Eagle Beach pictured here – Aruba benefits from an amazing beach climate, with a year-round average temperature of 82° Fahrenheit and low humidity. In addition, it is south of the hurricane belt. Read more about Aruba’s great beaches and beach resorts.
  • Work done. Picture taken. Time to relax for the evening. Thanks to Linda Wilkinson of Punta Gorda, Florida, for sharing this beautiful picture she took on her deck overlooking the Peace River before relaxing for the evening. Great shot, Linda!
  • Turks & Caicos: Closer than you might think Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands just may be the best place for Americans to go for their beach vacation. This is the third in a series of posts as to why I think it is. When I tell people I recently visited the Turks & Caicos Islands, they almost universally say, “Hmm. Where is that?” It sounds exotic, and it sounds like it is far, far away. But it is not. The Turks & Caicos Islands are in the eastern Caribbean, just east of Cuba, north of the island that makes up Haiti and the Dominican Republic and southeast of the Bahamas. In fact it is only a one hour-forty minute flight from Miami. I live in the upper Midwest, and a flight to Providenciales, the main tourist island in the Turks & Caicos, is a one-stop flight, with a changeover in Charlotte on U.S. Airways (American Airlines). The islands are in the eastern time zone, which means just one hour difference from my home in Wisconsin and, of course, none at all for the entire eastern U.S. It took us about six hours to get to Providenciales from Milwaukee. Now compare that to a trip to Hawaii, which can take ...
  • Turks & Caicos: Great Resorts Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands just may be the best place for Americans to go for their beach vacation. This is the second in a series of posts as to why I think it is. Reason Number Two: Great Resorts When we visited Providenciales recently, Diane and I stayed at the Beaches Resort on  Grace Bay, and we loved it. You can read more about it in the blog I posted shortly after we returned. Beaches is great if you are looking for the advantages of an all-inclusive resort and, of course, if you have children you really want to spoil. With its great pools and restaurants and beautiful grounds on a prime beach location, you just can’t go wrong. If you don’t have kids – or at least aren’t bringing them along – and are looking for a more relaxing experience, be sure to visit during a period when most kids are in school. We went in late April-early May, and the resort was relatively quiet. But Beaches is not for everyone, and Providenciales has several other great options. Here are the top-rated Grace Bay resorts on TripAdvisor: The Tuscany Aquamarine Beach Houses The Venetian on Grace Bay Harbour Club Villas & Marina Seven Stars Resort View ...
  • Turks & Caicos: Clear Water Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands just may be the best place for Americans to go for their beach vacation. This is the first in a series of posts as to why I think it is. Reason Number One: Clear water Yes, there is clear water elsewhere in the Caribbean, but can it possibly be as clear as in Providenciales, the vacation center of the Turks & Caicos islands? I don’t think so. The white sand bottom and the calm, turquoise waters make the the Turks & Caicos islands among the best in the world for finding a beach to take a refreshing swim, snorkel, or participate in virtually any water activity. The picture above was taken just offshore at Bight Reef on Grace Bay. Bight Reef offers extraordinary snorkeling from shore. Or you can just walk a little to the right or left for rock-free, crystal clear waters and soft sand. Stand in four feet of water and look down for a clear view of your feet caressing the sand. The picture to the left shows Diane stand-up paddleboarding in about 10 feet of water. Note the clear view of the paddleboard’s shadow on the ocean floor. Amazing! Read more about our recent visit ...
  • Beaches Resort + Grace Bay = Heaven on Earth If you create the checklist of the perfect beach vacation, Beaches Resort at Grace Bay on the Turks and Caicos Islands just might have it all: Crystal clear, calm, refreshing turquoise waters: Check Water free of common ocean “ick factors” such as algae or jellyfish: Check Expansive beach with soft but firm sand free of stones and debris: Check Great snorkeling, even from shore: Check (Diving too if you are a diver) An all-inclusive resort with multiple outstanding pools and restaurants, quality food, beautifully landscaped grounds, comfortable and clean rooms and friendly staff: Check Simply put, Beaches at Turks & Caicos is all-around amazing! The beach is amazing! The water is amazing! The pools (and there are a lot of them) are amazing! The landscaping is amazing! My wife Diane and I have been to several all-inclusive resorts and have liked them all, but Beaches takes it all up a notch. Now, we are not typical Beaches visitors. Our children are grown and we came to celebrate my wife’s 60th birthday and originally were looking at Sandals resort, but we really wanted to visit Turks and Caicos (recently named best island in the world!) so we figured we could make the family oriented (kids oriented) resort work for ...
  • Is Tulum the best beach in the Caribbean? The editors at Islands Magazine have put together a list of the 5 best beaches in the Caribbean, and Tulum, about two hours south of Cancun, Mexico, tops the list. Tulum, they say, “is where ancient Maya ruins line the coast atop 39-foot cliffs that overlook turquoise water and cotton-soft beaches. The views from the bluff impress, but a look back at the iconic Pyramid El Castillo is worth a swim out to sea.” I’ll never forget the day I visited Tulum with my wife and sister. It was in late June and perhaps the hottest, most humid day I have ever experienced. We had an excellent tour guide, who was Mayan and very proud of his heritage and filled with valuable and interesting information about the ruins. However, 45 minutes into our tour, we were so hot and the beach was so close that we politely excused ourselves from the tour and climbed down the stairs to the welcoming waters of the Tulum Beach. It was the most refreshing swim I think I have ever had! I since found out that while you can access that small beach from a wooden stairway from behind the center of the ruins, the better beaches are ...
  • Honolulu is top U.S. beach destination TripAdvisor’s list of top U.S. destinations for 2015 includes some of our favorite beach locations. Mixed in with urban locations such as New York City (#1) and Chicago (#2) are few great beach locations in the areas we tend to favor at beachmaniac.com, including Florida and Hawaii. The top beach destination in our top areas on this year’s list are: Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii (#13). TripAdvisor says: The mere mention of Hawaii is enough to prompt visions of grass skirts and colorful cocktails with tiny umbrellas. While you will find some kitsch in Honolulu, you’ll also find art museums, bike paths, and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Popular Waikiki Beach has soft sands and great surf. For majestic Oahu views scramble to the top of Diamond Head – a 350-acre volcanic crater. Historic structures like Iolani Palace and Ali’iolani Hale are worth a visit on a non-beach day. Miami Beach, Florida (#14). TripAdvisor says: At the shore in Miami Beach, visitors can swim, surf and jet ski in the warm and crystal-clear Atlantic waters. You can also nap on the white sands, work on a tan or simply watch the beautiful people, especially at South Beach, a favorite of models and celebrities. We ...
  • Best beaches near Orlando For all the great entertainment the Orlando, Florida, area has to offer, its location in the north-central part of the state leaves it somewhat separated from what we here at beachmaniac.com feel is Florida’s greatest attraction: its beaches. But the good news is that if you are visiting Orlando, and you can tear yourself away from the amusement parks, you are a short drive from some great beach locations. VisitFlorida.com recently pulled together a list of six nearby beaches on the Atlantic Coast, some of them just a one-hour drive from Disney World. We are not only sharing that list – and linking to TripAdvisor reviews of the beaches – but we are adding a few Gulf Coast beaches as well, since you can get to the Gulf Coast from Disney World in roughly an hour and half. Atlantic Coast beaches near Orlando: Daytona Beach (58 minutes) Ponce Inlet (1 hour, 8 minutes) New Smyrna Beach (1 hour, 3 minutes) Canaveral National Seashore (1 hour, 15 minutes) Cocoa Beach (1 hour, 9 minutes) Satellite Beach, Melbourne Beach, and Indialantic (1 hour, 13 minutes) Gulf Coast beaches near Orlando: Clearwater Beach (1 hour, 28 minutes) North Redington Beach (1 hour, 41 minutes) Madeira Beach (1 hour, 36 minutes) St. Pete Beach (1 hour, 33 minutes) Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley
  • Top 9 spring break party destinations to enjoy, or avoid No matter your age, if you are traveling during spring, you definitely want to know where the top spring break party destinations are. Why? Well, either you want to be where the party never stops, or – if you’re over 25 – you may want to stop being where the party is. With that in mind, here are 9 top spring break party destinations to enjoy, or avoid, as ranked by Fox News Travel (we link to TripAdvisor for more information about these beach destinations and so you can compare hotel prices): Panama City Beach, Florida Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Las Vegas, Nevada Miami Beach, Florida Cancun, Mexico South Padre Island, Texas Lake Havasu City, Arizona New Orleans, Louisiana  
  • Siesta Beach does it again: Named America’s best beach   This kind of attention is nothing new for Siesta Beach, with its pristine, sugary white sand and wide expanse, but this Florida Gulf Coast slice of paradise has been named the best beach in America by the 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards. “I was totally blown away by how fine, soft, clean and uncrowded the beach was. My feet were in heaven,” wrote on recent traveler. And while the sand is the main attraction at Siesta Beach, the island that serves as its home is also a big draw. The beaches of Siesta Key, just south of Sarasota, are lined with condos and hotels, but the island nonetheless has retained a quiet get-away atmosphere. You won’t find a lot of restaurants and bars on the beaches of Siesta Key, but that keeps it quiet and family-fun oriented. The other top 10 American beaches in the 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, in order, are: Saint Pete Beach, Florida Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii Wai’anapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii Pensacola Beach, Florida La Jolla Cove, California Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, Hawaii Clearwater Beach, Florida St. Augustine Beach, Florida Panama City Beach, Florida The Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley
  • Restoration project adds gleam to Space Coast beaches It’s easy to walk along Florida’s beaches and just assume Mother Nature did all the work to make them so expansive and beautiful. And while Mother Nature certainly deserves a great deal of credit, these beaches get a lot of help from the communities that line them. One of the state’s biggest recent beach restoration projects points to the importance of putting a lot of work – and money – into expanding and maintaining these great beaches. Cocoa Beach recently added 4.7 million cubic yards of beach sand as part of a $39 million beach restoration project. In a ceremony in Washington D.C., this proud seaside community was recognized for being one of only four U.S. beaches named a 2014 “Best Restored Beach” by The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. Once a narrow, sandy strip lined with concrete seawalls, the iconic beach known for surfing and space exploration has expanded its shoreline by an impressive 160 additional feet. “Get ready to be impressed,” Florida’s Space Coast Executive Director Eric Garvey said in a news release rightfully bragging about the project.  “Our beach improvement program has dramatically enhanced the beach experience here, from surfing to sand-castle building to soaking in the sun.” Check out these impressive ...
  • Pier House, Key West, tops Conde Nast Traveler list of Florida resorts The Pier House Resort & Spa in Key West is one of the two best resorts in Florida, according to a new ranking by Conde Nast Traveler. The magazine says the iconic Key West resort is an especially good getaway for “couples who like the seclusion of a private beach but still want to be close to the Duval Street nightlife.” It ranked the Pier House Number One among resorts in a category that covers the Atlantic Coast and the Florida Keys. (The top resort in the Gulf Coast and Central Florida region was the WaterColor Inn & Resort on Santa Rosa Beach.) The Pier House also gets top ratings from TripAdvisor travelers. “Best Location in town,” writes one visitor. “Duval St. at your feet and historic seaport restaurants and bars steps away. Close to Mallory Square and Sunset Pier for the nightly sunset revelry. Hotel is beautifully landscaped. Pool and private beach are beautiful with a lovely bar and great service. Room was clean and well maintained.” Key West is one of my favorite places, and, yes, I have stayed at the Pier House and it definitely lives up to its ranking. If you’re looking for a great resort within walking distance of everything Key ...
  • Magen’s Bay, St. Thomas, named one of Caribbean’s best beaches USA Today has just named its Top 10 Beaches in the Caribbean, and one of them is one of my favorites: Magen’s Bay on the Island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I recently had the opportunity to visit Magen’s Bay with my wife, Diane, and we loved the soft sand and clear, calm water. You won’t find hotels and bars on the shores of Magen’s Bay, which is protected much like a national park and is run by the Magen’s Bay Authority.  There is a small ($4 when I was there) entrance fee, and the authority provides a rustic park-like concession stand. It also rents snorkeling equipment, lounge chairs, kayaks, paddle boats and other non-motorized boats. The bay is surrounded by an arc of mountains and islands, protecting the waters from the rough waters of the Atlantic and creating a calm respite of beauty and relaxation. Many say Magen’s Bay is more like a salt-water lake than an ocean. Walking from one end of the mile-long white sand beach to the other reveals stunning views of cliffside mansions (one, we’re told, owned by Bill and Hillary Clinton and another by Adam Sandler) scattered on the hills, green and blue ...
  • Marco Island is most expensive beach destination in Florida Marco Island, located a few miles from the Florida Everglades and close to Naples, is the most expensive beach destination in Florida, according to the latest survey from CheapHotels.org. The survey specifically compared the hotel rates of 20 popular Floridian destinations for this year’s February and March time period, the high season for most beach destinations in the Sunshine State. In Marco Island, travelers will have to spend an average of $302 per night for the most affordable double room. It bears pointing out that only hotels located close to the beach and with a positive average client rating were considered for the survey. The following table lists the 10 most expensive beach destinations in Florida. The rates indicated reflect the average rate for the cheapest available double room (minimum: 3-star hotel) at each locale for the time period spanning February 1 through March 31, 2014. Although this survey comes from CheapHotels.com, I am linking out to TripAdvisor pages where you can compare prices from multiple sources for your specific vacation dates. Marco Island $302 Sanibel Island $287 Key West $254 Delray Beach $253 Fort Myers Beach $214 Islamorada $198 Anna Maria Island $197 Key Largo $184 Sarasota $183 St. Pete Beach $181 For the full results of the survey, visit http://www.cheaphotels.org/press/florida2015.html
  • Gorgeous Maldives hotel tops new TripAdvisor list TripAdvisor has come out with its The Best Hotels of 2015 That Transport You to Other Worlds, and its top hotel is Gili Lankanfushi, a gorgeous resort on a tiny coral island in the Maldives. It’s a place where your villa sits on stilts above the water “and your days are spent gazing at blue as far as the eye can see.” And travelers love this hotel, giving it a near perfect traveler rating, with comments such as this: “This place exceeded our expectations. Everything about it is just incredible. The villas, staff, food is exceptional. We would go back in a heart beat. It’s a world class resort. You won’t find better.” Of course, you have to have deep pockets to stay at a hotel like this. A quick search on Expedia for dates in late March reveals prices of $1,484 per night. And that’s not including the flight to the Indian Ocean islands, which will cost you $1,200 to $4,195 per person roundtrip from Chicago. But hey, we can dream, right?   Find out more about the amazing Maldives Islands Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley
  • Singing animals lure overworked Americans to Costa Rica beaches Which is more of a jungle – the lush tropical woods of Costa Rica or the stressful concrete jungle of the Big City in the United States? Costa Rica tourism officials pose that very question in a clever and entertaining new video with singing sloths, turtles and parrots. Using the catchy tune from the classic The Lion Sleeps Tonight, the video is part of a campaign titled Save the Americans, designed to bring Americans to the relaxing jungles and beaches of Costa Rica. “Forced to work long hours in stressful environments, increasingly estranged from their natural habitat, the American worker grows more endangered every day,” they say. “As resident animals of Costa Rica, we happily offer our country as sanctuary. If you or someone you know is endangered, we can help.” Check out this fun new video: The Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley Find out more about Costa Rica on TripAdvisor
  • Baha Mar opening is game-changer in the Bahamas Watch out Atlantis, there’s a new luxury resort in town. The long-anticipated Baha Mar Casino & Hotel Rosewood at Baha Mar and SLS LUX at Baha Mar will begin hosting paid guests on March 27, 2015, and it’s a game-changer for the Bahamas tourism industry. Baha Mar will feature 2,200 luxury guest rooms across four hotels – Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, Rosewood at Baha Mar, Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar and SLS LUX at Baha Mar – along with the Caribbean’s largest casino, a 100,000 square foot masterpiece featuring a full array of the latest slots and table games. In addition, the resort’s TPC at Baha Mar Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, ESPA spa, pools, beach experiences, and many restaurants and luxury shops will be part of the highly anticipated resort experience upon opening. Baha Mar also recently launched a new digital campaign with its short-film, ‘The Voyage,’ that debuted on an updated website (www.bahamar.com) on January 5. After years of planning and building, it is not surprising that Baha Mar has a series of opening celebrations, including a Ribbon Cutting Gala and a Grand Opening Event scheduled for April and May 2015, respectively. Baha Mar will also kick off Riviera Summer, a four-month ...
  • Exploring Key West Ah, yes, Key West Florida. What better place to get away from the hectic life on the mainland, sit back and relax, sip a Margarita, listen to live music, walk the beaches or just get out and explore. My adult son, Ryan, and I just got back from a few days on the island and enjoyed every minute. Here are a few insights from our trip: Southernmost Hotel: This was our headquarters for the week, and it was perfect. The location at the quiet end of Duval Street allowed us a break from the busy shops and bars (and cruise ship crowds) but left us close enough (half mile to one mile) to enjoy them any time we chose. The hotel is adjacent to a modest but well-kept beach, a great café overlooking the water, three great pools among the two properties, ping pong, foosball, bean bag toss, and an evening sunset celebration with live music. The staff are friendly and helpful but not intrusive. We got a room with a balcony to enjoy the great Key West weather even while relaxing in our room. Not only did we have wi-fi in our room but it was available in the outdoor game ...
  • Kanhanamoku Beach at Waikiki is top beach for 2014, according to Dr. Beach A relatively quiet stretch of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, is the Number One beach in the United States, according to the 2014 ranking just released by Dr. Beach, a well-respected researcher who compiles the list annually. Kanhanamoku Beach is located at the west end of Waikiki Beach, far from the large crowds elsewhere. It is widest beach on this stretch of famous sands and protected by an offshore coral reef, making it a good beach for families with children. This is a safe beach with no known drownings. Official lifeguards are not present, but the beach and pool concessionaires have lifeguard training. The nearby Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is also a favorite bathing and swimming spot. Public access is via Kalia Road and Pahoa Place. Surprising to most visitors, this beautiful beach where smoking is not permitted, was created more than half a century ago by dredging through the shallow reef and importing sand. Dr. Beach is Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. Dr. Beach has studied and evaluated America’s coastal beaches for more than 22 years, and issues an annual listing of the best, based on 50 factors that include sand softness, ...
  • Atlantic City, Miami Beach top list of East Coast beach destinations for kids Looking for a great beach location where the kids will be entertained by more than just the shells and the sand, while offering plenty for Mom and Dad too? ABC Travel Guides for Kids has named Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Miami Beach, Florida, the top East Coast beach destinations for 2014. Here is their Top 5 and their rationale: 1. Atlantic City, New Jersey – AC is within a day’s drive of 1/3 of the country’s population.   AC’s unique attractions include a Surf School and the country’s third tallest lighthouse.  Even transportation is unique: Jitneys and Rolling Chairs.  More adventurous? Consider a Helicopter or Parasailing adventure.   But this resort city offers so much more: Joe Holiday’s magic show, Steel Pier, Ripley’s Odditorium, a White House (famous for submarines), Tony’s and Gilchrist for breakfast.  Ready for the original salt water taffy and fudge?  It started here with Steel’s, James and Fralinger’s.  The Caesars Pier water show, Boardwalk Hall light show and the Waterfront Sculpture Walk are hidden treasures.  The AC Sheraton’s location (near the Tanger Outlets) is the perfect launching pad to DO AC. 2. Miami Beach, Florida – We love Miami in the summer because the water is so warm.  Miami is about great food and diverse culture.  Start with a Grace Della food tour to learn ...
  • Top 5 waterparks in the Caribbean If you love the beach, chances are you love waterparks too. And while we know there are plenty of awesome waterparks with incredible rides throughout the United States – even in Wisconsin Dells where Noah’s Ark boasts the nation’s largest waterpark – did you know there are some really good ones in the Caribbean as well? Yes, if a few days on the beach leaves you looking for something a little different, you can head to the waterpark. USA Today has culled the list of Caribbean waterparks down to the top five, where you can slide and splash your way to aqua overload. The Top Five are: Jamaica’s Kool Runnings in Negril. Pirate’s Island at Beaches Turks & Caicos. Aquaventure at Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Sirenis Aquagames in Punta Cana Dominican Republic. CocoLand at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa in St. Lucia. Get wet at the top five water parks in the Caribbean // Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley
  • Groupon Getaway: Grand Palladium Bavaro, Punta Cana Groupon Getaways is offering a 4- or 6-night stay at the Grand Palladium Bavaro Suites in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, with airfare for as low as $749 per person, double occupancy, including taxes and fees. Expires May 16. Set on the eastern shores of the Dominican Republic, this all-inclusive resort presents a diverse array of attractions to keep you busy both day and night. You can spend your days lounging by the pool or windsurfing on the Atlantic Ocean. After dark, the action moves to the 15 bars onsite, where guests sip cocktails to the sultry strains of live music. 13 restaurants: Options range from Brazilian-style grilled meat to Japanese teppanyaki. Four outdoor pools: Some feature swim-up bars. Turkish baths and couples’ massages: You’ll have access to a sister resort’s spa, which administers relaxing treatments and has a vapor bath and jacuzzi. Feel the ocean breeze from your suite’s private balcony. FIND OUT MORE! The Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley
  • 10 unique beaches you need to see to believe The Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley TripAdvisor’s latest list of unique beaches is one you just can’t miss. From Hidden Beach in Mexico (pictured above) to an iceberg beach in Iceland, it’s not only for the inquisitive but for the adventurous. Which ones would I be most likely to visit? That’s easy. Being a fan of warm weather and sunshine, Iceland, for all its beauty, is not going to make my list. My favorites are Hidden Beach, Mexico (yes, you’ll have to click on the link to find out where in Mexico this hidden beach is); The Baths in the British Virgin Islands; Maho Beach, St. Martin; and Horsehoe Bay Beach, Bermuda. Which would you most like to visit? 10 unique beaches you need to see to believe //
  • Susan Smoaks wins a Beach Maniac hat! Congratulations, Susan Smoaks of Quincy, Florida, for winning a Beach Maniac hat. Wear it proudly! Susan’s name was selected in a random drawing from among people who subscribed to the Beach Maniac newsletter in April. The sweepstakes had ended but you can get your own Beach Maniac clothing at the Beach Maniac store!
  • 10 Florida beaches make TripAdvisor’s list of 25 best in U.S. The Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley We previously reported on TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Beaches for 2014, but the travel site has now expanded the list to the Top 25, and Florida beaches receive a lot of well-deserved recognition. Among the Florida beaches in the Top 25 are Siesta Key Public Beach (#3), St. Pete Beach (#9), Caladesi Island State Park (#11), St. Augustine Beach (#14), Bahia Honda State Park and Beach (#17), Pensacola Beach (#19), Panama City Beach (#20), Clearwater Beach (#21), Lido Beach in Sarasota (#22), and Navarre Beach (#25). In this article, the Palm Beach Post and VisitFlorida.com expand on the news: 10 Florida beaches make TripAdvisor’s list of 25 best in the U.S. //
  • Beaches to avoid this spring if you are over 24 If you are in your early twenties, there is nothing like Spring Break. Crowded beaches, loud music, splashing beer, bikini clad women and buff men. Parties early, parties late and parties in between. But if you’re a little older and looking for a quieter spring break vacation, or maybe a family vacation, that scene may be one you desperately want to avoid. Fortunately, you have a lot of choices when it comes to finding a beach vacation without leaving the United States. But in March and April, be careful which beach you choose, or you may end up in the middle of a wild Spring Break Blowout. This article from the ABC Good Morning America website lists beaches you will want to avoid if the wild college-age Spring Break frenzy is not on your agenda. Note that some of the beaches are on both the list of beaches to avoid and the list of family-oriented beaches, so don’t just pick a beach, find out where on that beach the party never ends and where it never begins. Beaches to Avoid This Month if You’re Older Than 24 // The Beach Maniac Blog by Bill Hurley
  • 7 of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 U.S. Beaches for 2014 are in Hawaii Hawaii has seven of the top 10 beaches in the United States, including the top beach: Lanikai Beach in Kailua on the island of Oahu, according to TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards for 2014. The other Hawaii beaches in the Top 10 are Ka’anapali Beach, Lahaina; Maui (2), Hanalei Beach, Hanalei Kauai (4);  Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana, Maui (5), Wailea Beach, Wailea, Maui (6); Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay), Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii (8); Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Honolulu, Oahu (10). Two Florida beaches made the Top 10: Siesta Key Public Beach and Saint Pete Beach. Hunting Island State Park in Beaufort, S.C., was the other Top 10 beach. Other non-U.S. beaches in our part of the world that made the list of the Top 10 Beaches in the World are Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (2); Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico (3); and Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico (10). Top 10 beaches in the U.S.: 1. Lanikai Beach, Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii 2. Ka’anapali Beach, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 3. Siesta Key Public Beach, Siesta Key, Florida 4. Hanalei Beach, Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii 5. Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana, Maui, Hawaii 6. Wailea Beach, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii 7. Hunting Island State Park, Beaufort, South Carolina 8. Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay), Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, Hawaii 9. Saint Pete Beach, Saint Pete Beach, Florida 10. Hanauma ...
  • Parents Magazine identifies the 10 Best Caribbean Destinations for Families To help you figure out where to take the kids in the Caribbean, Parents Magazine consulted travel experts and looked at information on flights, safety, weather, cost, and activities. The magazine’s Number One Caribbean destination for families is the Turks and Caicos Islands, and what a perfect choice it is. You can’t talk about Turks & Caicos without talking about Grace Bay, often ranked among the very best beaches in the world. Parents Magazine says: “For beach fun, this network of islands — especially the popular Providenciales (aka Provo) — is unbeatable.” TripAdvsior says: “White-sand beaches, calm clear water and a bountiful barrier reef make the Turks and Caicos island of Providenciales a hot spot for families, snorkelers and divers,” according to TripAdvisor. “Some call rock-free Grace Bay Beach the best in the world. For an unusual experience, divers can walk along the ocean floor at Smith’s Reef, where underwater signs describe the reef’s ecosystem. Additional destinations include Iguana Island (home of endangered rock iguanas), the country’s only golf course, art galleries and a casino.” As you would expect, Providenciales has some amazing beach resorts, and while they can be pricey you will find affordable options as well. Be sure to check out the ...
  • TripAdvisor’s Top 25 All-Inclusive Resorts This list is in! TripAdvisor – the world’s top travel website – has put together a list of the Travelers’ Choice Top 25 All-Inclusive Resorts throughout the world, and they are a Beach Maniac’s dream! The list covers resorts from Mexico to Jamaica to the Maldives. You will be sure to find one in your budget and in your favorite location. Here’s a chance to check one off your Bucket List. Links below open up TripAdvisor traveler reviews, ratings, photos and price comparisons. The Top 25 All-Inclusive Resorts for 2013-14 are: Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Playa Paraiso, Mexico Royalton Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba The Beloved Hotel, Playa Mujeres, Mexico Iberostar Grand Rose Hall, Rose Hall, Jamaica Excellence Playa Mujeres, Playa Mujeres, Mexico Le Blanc Spa Resort, Cancun, Mexico Iberostar Grand Bavaro Hotel, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Playa Maroma, Mexico The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado Don Pablo Collection, Samana Province, Dominican Republic Voyage Belek Golf & Spa, Belek, Turkey Adler Thermae Spa & Relax Resort, Bagno Vignoni, Italy Sandals Royal Plantation, Ocho Rios, Jamaica Kurumba Maldives, Vihamanafushi, North Male Atoll, Kaafu Atol Club Med Egypt – Sinai Bay, Taba, Egypt Excellence Riviera Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Mexico Live Aqua Cancun All Inclusive, Cancun, Mexico The BodyHoliday, LeSport, Castries, St. Lucia Club Med Ixtapa Pacific, Ixtapa, Mexico Club Med Palmiye, Kemer, Turkey Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun, Puerto Morelos, ...
  • Fodor’s Travel identifies the Top 10 Hawaiian Resorts If you’re going to visit what may be the most beautiful place on Earth – Hawaii – what could be better than staying at one of the top resorts while you’re there? Well, if you have the money, or just want to dream a little,  be sure to check out one these amazing Hawaiian resorts that made it onto a  new list of Fodor’s Travel Top 10 Hawaiian Resorts. A couple of my favorites – the Hilton Hawaiian  Village Waikiki Beach Resort on Oahu and the Sheraton Kaui on Poipu Beach – did not make the list, but be assured that you just can’t go wrong on any of these incredible paradise resorts. In the list of Fodor’s Travel Top 10 Hawaiian Resorts below, I link to TripAdvisor pages that provide extensive traveler reviews of each site, as well as opportunities to compare prices and find the best deals: Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa on Oahu. Travaasa Hana (Maui) Four Seasons Resort (Maui) Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa Grand Wailea (Maui) Hilton Waikoloa Village (Big Island) Halekulani (Oahu) Four Seasons Resort Lanai The Royal Hawaiian Hotel (Oahu) Koa Kea Resort Hotel & Spa (Kauai)   Read the Fodor’s Travel article.   – The Beach Maniac Blog by Beach Maniac Publisher Bill Hurley –
  • Best Caribbean islands for beach lovers There are a lot of great reasons to visit Caribbean islands. Warm weather, new cultures, lots of beautiful hills and sometimes cliffs, not to mention interesting and welcoming people. But there is one reason above all to visit the Caribbean: BEACHES! The Caribbean has some of the best beaches in the world, from the pink sands of the Bahamas to the inviting white sands of Aruba. USA Today has compiled a list of what it believes are the Best Beaches of the Caribbean, a list that you could definitely argue with depending on your personal preferences but that at least highlights some of  great islands and beaches you will want to add to your bucket list if you haven’t already had the pleasure of experiencing them. Below is the USA Today list, with links to some TripAdvisor pages where you can find out more about the islands, beaches and the hotels/resorts and restaurants that line them. The links will also allow you to read reviews from travelers who have been there and compare prices on places to stay. Happy beaching! Anguilla Aruba The Bahamas Barbados Grand Cayman Providenciales, Turks & Caicos St. Barths St. John Spanish Virgin Islands (Culebra and Vieques) Read the USA Today article.
  • Sheraton Waikiki among Sunset Magazine’s Top 20 Beach Hotels in the West Sunset magazine has come up with a list of the Top 20 Beach Hotels in the West, and it includes many of our favorite beach destinations in Hawaii, California and Mexico. The first on the list is the Sheraton Waikiki, which the magazine says “stands midway along the 2-mile-long beach, and while its high-rise architecture shouts 1970s, a $187 million renovation has given it 21st-century polish.” As far as I can tell, the magazine actually only lists 18 more, but who’s counting? Below are the rest of the magazine’s “Top 20” Beach Hotels in the West. We link to TripAdvisor reviews of each, which you might want to check out because not all of them get as good of a review from TripAdvisor travelers as they do from Sunset Magazine: La Jolla Shores Hotel, La Jolla, California Ocean Park Motel, San Francisco, California Hotel La Casa del Camino, Laguna Beach, California Venice Beach Eco Cottages, Venice, California Hotel Shangri-La, Santa Monica, California El Colibri Boutique Hotel, Cambria, California Hotel Encanto, Acapulco, Mexico St. Regis Princeville Resort, Kauai, Hawaii The Andiron’s, Little River, California Point-No-Point Resort,  Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada Petit Hotel Hafa, Sayulita, Mexico Lakedale Resort, San Juan Island, Washington Puakea Ranch, Big Island, Hawaii Pacific Edge Hotel , Laguna Beach, California Cottages at Camp Kiwanda, Pacific City, Oregon Tu ...
  • 64% say they plan to take a beach vacation in the next 12 months Nearly two thirds (64%) of all respondents worldwide in an Expedia.com-sponsored survey indicated that they are either “very or somewhat likely” to take a beach vacation in the next year. Expedia.com, the world’s leading online travel company, released the results of the 2013 Flip Flop Report, an annual study of behavior and preferences among beachgoers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. 8,606 consumers who had either taken a beach vacation in the past year or plan to do so in the next year participated in the 2013 study across 21 countries. Harris Interactive, conducting the study online on Expedia’s behalf, asked global consumers to opine on a wide range of beach-related questions, such as comfort with nudity, fear of sharks and tolerance of bathing suits such as a Speedo. Among those who have taken a beach vacation or are likely to take a beach vacation in the next 12 months, the beach, unsurprisingly, remains the top vacation type, outranking “historical/cultural sightseeing”, “visits with friends/family”, “theme parks”, “skiing”, “adventure sports”, “spectator events” and “casino/gambling trips.” Nearly one third (31%) of Americans prefer the beach, while 28% prefer historical/cultural sightseeing and 17% prefer seeing friends and family. The French, Spanish, Dutch, Australians, Japanese and Singaporeans elevate cultural sightseeing ...
  • A dream vacation at the Barcelo Maya all-inclusive resort Our family stayed at the Barcelo Maya Colonial in Riviera Maya, Mexico, in May 2013, and had a wonderful time! The Barcelo Maya, made up of five side-by-side resorts, is nothing short of spectacular. It has just about everything you could ask for in an all-inclusive beach resort. Oh, it might not be perfect, but consider:  One of the best long stretches of beach you will find anyplace. The water is turquoise clear, with a mix of waves on some days and much quieter, smoother waters on others. The sand is soft and gentle on the feet, both on the beach and in the water (but watch out for the rocks: more on that later). There is quality snorkeling at two locations along the Barcelo beach: 1. under and alongside the pier where you will find thick schools of fish hiding from the sun and waiting for food from tourists. There is a float here for you to rest on while fish gather around you, or you can wander off a short distance in the shallow water along a small reef to see some more types of fish. If you swim under the pier, you will likely see dozens or hundreds of ...
  • Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Cabo San Lucas, named best hotel in Mexico U.S. News & World Report has released its inaugural ranking of the Best Hotels in Mexico . Out of the 340 luxury hotels across Mexico evaluated for the 2013 rankings, 34 properties scored high enough to earn a place on the list of the Best Hotels in Mexico . The top five are: Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort; Cabo San Lucas Rosewood San Miguel De Allende; San Miguel de Allende The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort; Punta de Pita Capella Pedregal; Cabo San Lucas Banyan Tree Cabo Marques; Acapulco See full list: Best Hotels in Mexico About the Rankings Luxury hotels in Mexico were ranked based on an unbiased methodology that includes the collective opinion of travel experts and guests, expressed through awards, recommendations and ratings. The U.S. News approach reflects the core goal of all of our rankings, which is to help take the guesswork out of choosing the right hotel by providing travelers with an impartial analysis of luxury hotels. “Hotels that consistently meet the high expectations of experts and travelers are recognized in our rankings,” said Chad Smolinski, Senior Vice President at U.S. News. “Applying an unbiased approach to identifying these hotels lets us give travelers to Mexico recommendations they can count on.” Awards Best Hotels in Mexico : Top 10 percent of all ranked luxury hotels in Mexico Best Hotels in : Top 30 percent of all ranked luxury hotels within ...
  • Travel Channel’s ‘Best Beaches’ is a list of dream vacations The Travel Channel’s 2013 list of the Best Beaches includes a few I have been fortunate enough to visit already, and a few that are high on my bucket list. Among those I have already visited, my favorite on this list is Hanauma Bay on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, which was named the Best Beach for Adventure. On the far side of Diamond Head volcano from Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, this tranquil bay has amazing coral reefs just offshore, allowing for incredible snorkeling right off the beach. To protect the coral, all visitors are taken through an instructional tour before being allowed onto the beach. What I liked best is you can snorkel for a while, climb up on shore and rest and then go right back in whenever you want. Another spot I have been fortunate enough to experience is Rick’s Cafe in Negril, Jamaica, named the Best Beach Bar. I only visited for an hour or so as I swam to the bar from a catamaran docked just offshore as part of a snorkeling trip but it was an experience I will never forget. No, I did not take the adventurous (and dangerous) 30-foot dive off the rocks ...
  • For many, the Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi is the manifestation of Paradise The Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi is situated in the most Northern Atoll of the Maldives on a private 52 acre island surrounded by turquoise lagoons and the wide open seas of the Indian Ocean. White sandy beaches merge with abundant tropical vegetation creating a cocoon for the villas that are nestled along the beachfront or creates a wonderful backdrop for those that are perched on stilts. The resort is accessed by a remarkable seaplane journey. The large majority of TripAdvisor travelers rate the Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi as “excellent,” with many saying it is the manifestation of paradise. Said one recent visitor, “We were so excited for this trip and looking forward to some great sun, relaxation, and beautiful beaches. This place exceeded our expectations in every way. The beaches and the water are the best we have ever been to. You can snorkel right off the beach (or off your water villa if you stay in one) and see some of the most colorful tropical fish. We took a walk around the island every morning and then went to the huge breakfast buffet, which had everything.” The Maldives are a nation of 1,192 coral islands in the Indian Ocean consisting of a double chain of 26 ...
  • Ready for a beach dreamer’s escape? Pick up a copy of ‘I’m Gonna Live My Life Like a Jimmy Buffett Song’ We beach lovers tend to be dreamers. I know I am. My newly released song, Beach Maniac, is all about dreaming. Dreaming about escaping to the beach and away from the snow and cold of the north, of course, but also dreaming about escaping from the many stresses of daily life. If the song Beach Maniac were a book it would probably be “I’m Gonna Live My Life Like a Jimmy Buffett Song” by Anthony Bjorklund. Bjorklund has a real down-home writing style – peppered with clever observations and perspective – that connects with the average person, especially if that average person is a beach lover and a Jimmy Buffett fan. Despite the title, the book is less about Jimmy Buffett and more about the lead character, Jack Danielson, who discovers after a car accident that he is stuck in a life in Minnesota that just isn’t working for him. So, in fulfilling a fantasy that many of us have just about every day, he quits his job, leaves his depressing life behind, buys a cheap (but cool) car and drives south to see if he can find himself, while lapping up a lot of warm weather, sunshine and tropical beverage. ...
  • Beach Maniac song gets great response! As many of you know, I recently released the Beach Maniac song, including a homegrown video that has already – just  few days after release – been viewed more than 1,400 times. I am getting very positive response to both the song and the video.  Everyone I know who has listened to the Beach Maniac song has said they love it! My adult son, Ryan, and I wrote the Beach Maniac song in November on a vacation to Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island, Florida. After an hour or so on our flight out of  Milwaukee, we started talking about the Beach Maniac website and the need to do more promotion of it. Ryan suggested out of the blue that we write a Beach Maniac song. “Sure,” I said dismissively, “we should.” “No, really,” he said. “Right now?” I asked. “Why not; we got nothing else to do.” So right then and there on the plane we half jokingly started writing a Beach Maniac song. Now you have to realize that neither one of us is a musician and have never written a song before (although Ryan is very artistic and has written many poems and performed as a Spoken Word artist). Nonetheless by time we ...
  • It’s official: USA Today readers pick Clearwater Beach the Best Beach Town in Florida I’m not biased; I love all the great beach towns in Florida, and I have scenic photos from a lot of them. But when I wrote earlier this month about a USA Today reader poll designed to select the Best Beach Town in Florida, I decided to accompany it with the photo above from Clearwater Beach. I had to pick something, right? And I love this picture, which I took about a year and half ago, standing out on Pier 60 and looking back at the wide stretch of beautiful sand. Well, now we find out that the USA Today readers did indeed pick Clearwater Beach as the best. Was I clairvoyant in picking that picture, did I actually inadvertently influence the vote, or could it have been mere coincidence? Well, I think we all know the answer to that question, don’t we? (Definitely coincidence.) The USA Today readers were working off a list provided by Dr. Beach, the famous Florida International University professor Stephen P. Leatherman, who is well known for visiting and analyzing beaches every year to determine which are the best. If you recall, I was personally surprised and a little disappointed that  Fort Myers Beach and Daytona Beach weren’t ...
  • Hawaii’s Four Seasons Resort Hualalai named best hotel in the world The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu on the Big Island of Hawaii is the world’s best hotel, according to the 2012 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice awards. “The site of the hotel is beyond lovely—nestled on the shore among the blackened lava flows and banyan trees,” says one TripAdvisor traveler. “I can’t speak to the area around the resort, because it’s so beautiful that honestly, you don’t feel the desire to venture out.” This amazing hotel is consistently rated among the best in the world, and was also recently named the best luxury beachside hotel in the US in the 2012 rankings by U.S. News & World Report. Read more The hotel is set in the exclusive Kona-Kohala Coast, where you find water sport rentals for kayaking, body boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving and more. Of course, the Big Island – which is the youngest in the Hawaiian chain and by far the biggest – is home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea, and offers everything from lush rain forests to volcanic deserts, snow-capped mountaintops to beautiful black sand beaches. Read more A quick online review of sample rates for the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai reveals you pay for the luxury of this extraordinary resort, with prices ranging ...
  • Couples Tower Isle Resort in Jamaica recognized twice as one of the best all-inclusive resorts I have never been to the Couples Tower Isle Resort in Jamaica, but I do see it come up frequently as a highly rated all-inclusive resort. Now in reading recent reviews in magazines and on travel websites I scour regularly, I coincidentally noticed Couples Tower Isle mentioned twice in one day, so I thought it was time to give it a shout-out. According to Islands magazine, this island getaway “is unbelievably romantic. And as an all-inclusive, it’s especially generous, with snorkeling and scuba diving excursions included in the vacation package.” Not only did it rank #16 on the magazine’s list of Best All-Inclusive Island Resorts in the world, it was in the Top 10 for Caribbean all-inclusives. At the same time, I spotted the Couples Tower Isle Resort in the new Orbitz list of Top 10 International Hotels, based on customer reviews. So I went over to my favorite online travel review web site to see what TripAdvisor has to say about the Tower Isle, and not surprisingly travelers there also rated the resort high – #5 of 34 hotels in the Ocho Rios area. Said one reviewer, who called it a “wonderful” resort, “The staff is great, the food delicious and the hotel ...
  • USA Today searches for the Best Beach in Florida What is the best beach in Florida? There is no shortage of beautiful beaches lining the shores of the Sunshine State, and they offer something for everyone, from quiet serene escapes to those packed with restaurants, resorts and plenty of tourists. Everyone has their own opinion of what makes a great beach, and USA Today is asking its readers to help identify Florida’s best beaches. So they first turned to Dr. Beach, the famous Florida International University professor Stephen P. Leatherman, who is well known for visiting and analyzing beaches every year to determine which are the best. Leatherman provided USA Today with a list of 10 beaches to start with, based on his extensive research. Every one of these beaches is great in its own way, although I know I personally would like to add Fort Myers Beach and Daytona Beach to the list. Do you agree with this list (in alphabetical order below), and which beach – whether it’s on this list or not – would you say is the Best Beach in Florida? Clearwater Beach Cocoa Beach Delray Beach Key West New Smyrna Beach Pensacola Beach Sanibel Island Seaside Siesta Key South Beach Vote on USA Today  or – if voting is completed – find out the results here. Check ...
  • Kaanapali Beach named Hawaii’s favorite swimming beach by Hawaii Magazine readers Kaanapali Beach on the Island of Maui has been named Hawaii’s favorite swimming beach in a survey of Facebook fans of Hawaii Magazine. And although it has been several years since I have visited Maui and had the great pleasure of staying on Kaanapali Beach, I have to totally agree. My wife Diane and I celebrated our 25th anniversary by staying at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort on Kaanapali Beach, and it has remained right at the top of my favorite all-time vacation spots. Yes, this is Hawaii, so it is hard not be in awe of its all-around beauty. But for me, Kaanapali Beach had it all: clear water, colorful fish, lots of activities, great location for exploring the island, wonderful restaurants, beautiful resorts with great pools lining the shoreline, and a winding walkway connecting them. I could walk forever back and forth on that walkway, with the beach on one side and beautifully landscaped and maintained resorts, pools and open-air restaurants on the other side. Palm trees swaying, hammocks swinging, kids swimming and adults just relaxing. But my favorite location is depicted in the photo I took above. At the end of Kaanapali Beach is the iconic Black Rock, ...
  • The simple beauty of a beach wedding During a recent stay at the Pink Shell Resort & Marina in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, I got an insight into the simplicity and the beauty of beach weddings. No, I wasn’t the one getting married (I did that 36 years ago in a chapel), but the resort helped organize three weddings on the November weekend we stayed, one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, and it was hard not to notice while hanging out by the pool nearby. Each wedding that weekend was just prior to sunset, and all three couples struck gold with the weather. The wedding parties marched down the resort steps and across the beach to a makeshift altar as music played softly from portable speakers. Everyone seemed to totally enjoy the venue as they settled into their folding chairs and rubbed their toes in the sand to enjoy both the ceremony and the scenery. As I observed from a distance, I thought the only slight downside I could see to having a beach wedding (assuming you luck out with the weather as these couples did) was that a lot of bare-chested men and bikini clad women are wandering around, either just minding their own business ...
  • Pink Shell Resort & Marina is a gem and has one of the best locations on Fort Myers Beach My adult son Ryan and I just completed a four-night stay at the Pink Shell Resort in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, an expansive beach resort that has just about anything a beach lover could ask for. First and foremost, it has a spectacular location on a beautiful, wide white-sand beach. The main pool is large, and the water temperature is wonderfully warm. There is a tiki bar near the pool, and table seating for standard bar and grill fare. Additionally, there is a kiddie splash pool in front of the Captiva Villas building, with a lot of shooting water to keep the kids cool. (The only thing missing is a hot tub. We would really liked to have had the opportunity to enjoy sitting in a hot tub overlooking the beach as the air cools down late in the day or at night. On the other hand, the pool is so warm it almost makes up for it.) Every room at the Pink Shell has a screened porch overlooking the beach and Gulf of Mexico, but if you are staying in the main building be sure to ask for one of the larger porches. Unfortunately, we got stuck in a room ...
  • Cliff jumping at Rick’s Cafe in Negril, Jamaica I just came across this amazing video of cliff jumping at Rick’s Cafe in Negril, Jamaica, and it brought back some wonderful memories of my visit there a couple years ago. No, I didn’t jump off the cliff, and if you watch the video you will see why. Everyone in this video is much younger and more athletic than me, and obviously a lot more daring as well. I remember hearing stories when we were there about a young lady who had recently jumped and landed less than ideally. The story went that she was in tremedous pain, having broken multiple bones, and it took a long time for an ambulance to arrive. Well, that was the story that was going around at the time anyway, and it was more than enough to make me a spectator rather than a jumper. But to my amazement, my very daring friend Jim (in his 50s) and his daughter Michelle (in her 20s) jumped and came away with little more than a couple bruises, not to mention bragging rights. So, with that background, you can see why this video caught my attention, not to mention the incredible videography, which I understand came in ...
  • Looking for some great free beach wallpaper for your computer screen? As an official Beach Maniac, I am always looking for some great beach pictures to use as wallpaper on my computer screen. And I just came across a fantastic new collection from Caribbean Travel & Life magazine, one of my favorite magazines and websites. These stunning photographs take you away to the Caribbean’s most scenic locations, from Paradise Island, Bahamas, to the beaches of Negril, Jamaica, to the shores of Belize and Curacao. Lush tropical hills, clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches and underwater scenes are all featured. Below is a screenshot of just a little bit of what’s available. To get your free beach wallpaper, to go http://www.caribbeantravelmag.com/wallpapers.
  • A week at The Lake Not all beach vacations are at exotic locations or even on the ocean. In Wisconsin, we love to spend time “Up North” or “At the Cottage,” and a lake vacation makes for a great getaway, and one you can easily share with family at an affordable price. I just spent a week with the extended family at a Lake House on the Chain O’ Lakes in Waupaca, Wisconsin, a beautiful chain of about 20 small clear-water lakes in the central part of the state. Even though this vacation was late in the summer season, we lucked out with great weather that allowed us to do all the things you want to do on a beach vacation: Swimming Fishing Pontoon Boating Sandbar Partying Kayaking Rafting Lakeside Dining We even took a river tubing excursion. If you ever get to the Waupaca area, I highly recommend a tubing trip down the Crystal River, an aptly named crystal clear shallow river that winds through the central Wisconsin countryside. As you float at a slow to moderate pace across the alternately sandy and rocky riverbed, you’ll see plenty of fish, crayfish, turtles, herons, and much more. We rented the most comfortable tubes I have ever experienced (complete with back support for my ...
  • Palm trees brighten up Lake Michigan beach Palm trees in Wisconsin? Yes, it’s true, North Beach in Racine, Wisconsin, is looking more like South Beach in Miami, Florida, these days. Well, not exactly, but it does have what few beaches north of the Carolinas have: palm trees. Thanks to a Kenosha, Wisconsin, company called Northern Palms, you will find about 25 palm trees planted in the sand around the Beachside Oasis concession stand, allowing beach-goers to at least pretend they are sunbathing in an exotic beach paradise. Northern Palms owner Tom Barnhill told the Racine Journal Times that he stores palm trees in an 8,000-square-foot warehouse at 65-degree temperatures year-round. Anyone can lease a tree for a mere $140 for the summer, he said. Several restaurants decorate their establishments with palm trees for the summer, and at least one person has planted them around the outdoor pool in his backyard. Northern Palms takes care of planting and treating the trees; the owners merely have to water them regularly. A small price to pay, northerners might say, compared to the cost of flying to the Caribbean. With the bright summer sun, warm breezes, cool refreshments and the swaying palm trees in the sand, Racine beach lovers can sit back and escape to ...
  • ‘Chair hogging’ is a top violation of pool and beach etiquette, according to TripAdvisor Survey Have you ever gotten up early at a hotel or resort, gone down by the pool or beach and plopped your belongings on a couple of the limited number of lounge chairs to guarantee your spot for later in the day. Well, you’ve just violated the unwritten rules of pool and beach etiquette, according to a survey of more than 1,400 users of TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site. In fact, you have crossed the line into the rude category. Violations of pool and beach etiquette are on the rise, according to the survey: 83 percent of respondents said they believe people often violate some form of beach or pool etiquette, up from 74 percent in 2011. Thirty-one percent have asked a stranger to stop behaving rudely at the beach or pool, up from 26 percent last year. Here are the details of the survey results from TripAdvsior: Most Annoying Abuses of Beach and Pool Etiquette: Top Beach Violations Top Pool Violations 1.      Blasting loud music (18%) 1.      Pool chair hogging (29%) 2.      People not picking up after their dogs (11%) 2.      Blasting loud music (11%) 3.       Beach chair hogging (9%) 3.      Smoking (10%)  “Reserving” Chairs: an Unwelcome Practice 84 percent get agitated when others save beach or pool chairs by leaving belongings on them. 37 percent maintain there ...
  • 5 things you can do to protect sea turtles during nesting season The marine turtle nesting season runs from May 1 through October 31, and all beach-goers are asked to be very careful to follow some basic rules to protect these wonderful creatures. Sea turtles are one of our coastline’s greatest assets, and their nesting activities are vital to their survival. Our beaches and resorts have encroached on their natural terrain, and it is important that we respect them and go out of our way not to disturb them, or their nesting habits. During nesting season, mother turtles crawl out of the sea during the night, dig a hole in the sand using their flippers and lay 100 to 150 eggs. One mother turtle may create as many as three to eight nests in the course of the season. After a 45 day to 70 day gestation period, hatchlings will emerge from the nest and use the light of the moon to direct them to the sea. It’s one of the most amazing – and adorable – sights on the beach! Most beaches monitor these activities carefully during nesting season to protect nests and hatchlings, so watch for signs and respect the process. In most areas, beachside homes, condos and resorts are asked ...
  • Do not disturb the manatees! I think I’ve just been busted by the Save the Manatee Club. Last month, I blogged about how I had an encounter with a friendly manatee in the Gulf of Mexico off the shores of Fort Myers Beach. Knowing there were a handful of manatees swimming about the shallow waters, I wandered out to chest-deep water in the area they were spotted to see how close I could get, and before I knew it one of the mantees swam up behind me, knocking my legs out from under me and swimming right below me as my body rose above it. It lasted just a few seconds but was, for me, a very unexpected, funny and awesome experience. A couple weeks later, I received an email from the Save the Manatee Club containing an article titled “Keep the Manatees Wild. Do Not Disturb.” I immediately thought to myself, uh oh, did I do something wrong that prompted this communication? Although the email did not include any personal message, I could only think of one reason the Save the Manatee Club decided to send it me out of the blue. Had I unwittingly disturbed these manatees which were just minding their own business when ...
  • Caribbean Travel & Life finds some of the best all-inclusive resorts One of my favorite magazines – Caribbean Travel & Life – just came out with a list of some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, and it makes me long for those carefree days when all you have to worry about is whether to hang out by the pool or on the beach. I love all-inclusive resorts because they make me feel like a king. Except for a cruise, where else does an average guy get waited on day in and day out and provided with so much food and drink for so little, all while basking in the sun and sand – thousands of miles away from the workaday world? Ahhhh! I’ve been to several all-inclusive resorts and while they’ve never been perfect, they certainly were close enough for my taste. It’s pretty easy to overlook some dust in your room when you walk out the door into paradise. Hopefully, Diane and I will get to try out a couple of these awesome all-inclusives on the Caribbean Travel & Life list soon. Below is the list of Caribbean Travel & Life all-inclusive resorts. For more information on each, along with unbiased traveler reviews and cost comparisons, I link out ...
  • Playful manatee swims through my legs as I’m standing in the waters of Fort Myers Beach A group of manatees recently entertained some beach-goers near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as shown in the now-popular YouTube video embedded below. About the same time, I had an amazing manatee encounter straight across the state on Fort Myers Beach. I don’t have a video of my encounter, but I have a story I can tell for years because I had a small manatee actually sneak up behind me as I stood in about four feet of water, scrape against my right left, knocking my left leg upward as he smoothly swam right through my legs. Here’s how it happened: My wife and I were walking along Fort Myers Beach in about the middle of Estero Island when we saw a man in his mid-30s in the water and lots of people on shore pointing into the water near him. “What do you see?” we asked. “Manatees,” they said. “He is trying to see how close he can get.” As the man looked around, we suddenly saw a manatee surface about six feet behind him. Then we saw two, three, four more manatees nearby, surfacing one by one circling him. Since I wearing a swimsuit, I decided to join him, and behind me about ...
  • Dozens splash into Gulf of Mexico for Fort Myers Beach Stand Up Paddle race Dozens of participants splashed into the Gulf of Mexico Saturday, May 5, 2012, to compete and just have fun in the Southwest Florida Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) Race. The sun was shining and the water was inviting as participants jumped onboard to participate in two categories – elite and recreational. Either way, it was a great opportunity to get wet, have a little exercise and meet a lot of people while stand up paddleboarding. Plus, proceeds from the day’s events – sponsored by BodyGlove – benefit Special Olympics. Beach Maniac was on hand to take some pictures on a beautiful morning. The photos below are from the pre-competition meeting on Crescent Beach in the Times Square area of Fort Myers Beach and the start of the elite race: Stand Up Paddleboarding is great for getting a full-body workout and helps develop the right set of muscles for other activities, such as cross-country skiing and snowboarding. While kayaking is great for both relaxing, exercising the upper body and enjoying the water and scenery, stand up paddleboarding puts you up high for better views of everything from birds to fish. And, as they say, it’s almost like walking on water! Are you a Stand-Up Paddle enthusiast, ...
  • Come on down to the beach!     Come on down! There are two chairs just waiting for you on the beach! I took this photo on Fort Myers Beach, Florida, May 3, 2012. It was a perfect day to be at the beach!
  • A beautiful morning at the Gullwing Resort & Spa     Good morning from the Gullwing Beach Resort in Fort Myers Beach! This beautiful view is through a slightly dirty window of an amazing beachside condo unit.
  • The 10 best things about the beach: Beach Maniac’s 10 best things about the beach: 1. Sun. Oh, sure, the sun can shine anyplace. But when you mix in water and sand, it’s like adding the tequila to the margarita. 2. Sand. Is there anything that feels better on the feet than the warm, soft sand on a beach? 3. Swimming. OK enough of this sitting around. It’s hot, let’s cool off! 4. Snorkeling. Put on that goofy mask, stick that snorkel in your mouth and pop your head into the water. You’re about to get a glimpse into a whole new world. The fish look awesome, but did you ever think about how you must look to them? 5. Body Boarding/ Surfing. It’s an adventure just to catch the right wave, and chances are you’ll wipe out. But, really, that’s what you’re there for anyway, right? 6. Cold beer. Sit back on the lounge chair and feel that cool liquid slide down your parched throat. Ahhhhhhhhh. 7. Strolling along the beach. Take the hand of your loved one, slowly skip your toes across the shallow water as it laps onto the shore. Did you even know you’re smiling? 8. Tiki Bars. The thatched hut roof, the stool, maybe a game on the TV over the bar. It not just ...
  • Beach Hopping: How to turn your Caribbean cruise into a tour of the some of the world’s best beaches My wife Diane and I recently enjoyed a seven-day cruise to the eastern and southern Caribbean, and brought back with us literally hundreds of pictures of some of the best beaches in the world. Our cruise on the Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas launched from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and began with a day at sea to the southernmost island on our trip, Grenada. We then island-hopped our way back to San Juan, with stops in St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Croix and St. Thomas. At each stop, at least one of the excursions offered through the cruise line included a stop at one of the great beaches of the Caribbean, and we made sure we visited at least one beach on each island, while also finding time to see other attractions on the islands, visit with locals, browse the shops and learn about the local history and culture. Many of the excursions include island tours, finished off with an hour or so at a beach. Of course, on each island you can simply get off the ship on your own, grab and taxi and head to whatever beach – or other area – you like. Every one of these islands is as ...
  • Daytona Beach Pier finally reopens Photo by Beach Maniac UPDATE: The Daytona Beach finally reopened July 3. Joe’s Crab Shack, the new restaurant on the Daytona Beach Pier, celebrated a “soft opening” on June 5, and celebrated its grand opening on July 3, marking the conclusion of a $10 million reconstruction of the pier and the reopening of it for the first time since November of  2009. Below is a November blog about the pier: About 10 years ago, I took the family to Daytona Beach for the first time. It was a wonderful experience, being wowed by the beauty of the beach, enjoying the many activities from body boarding to fishing to bike riding to miniature golfing to exploring the wide variety of restaurants in the area. Not being race fans, we bypassed the Daytona Speedway, opting instead to spend time on the beach, at the pool (the Hilton), and in the arcade at the Boardwalk. But most of all, we were impressed by the landmark Main Street Pier, along with its beautiful tram that swung out over the water and brought us back for more fun. Recently, I returned to Daytona Beach with my adult son Ryan for a stay at the Wynham Ocean Walk Resort, a ...

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