Tag Archives: Florida Travel Series

Florida Travel~Sanibel

18 Jul

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

Oh Sanibel. I love this place. The white sand beaches and beautiful clear water are spectacular.

 

 

We so enjoyed our stay there.

 

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g34481-Activities-Captiva_Island_Florida.html

Sanibel is a city on Sanibel Island in southwest Florida. One of the features on the island is a beach with a fishing pier called Lighthouse Beach.

 

 

The Causeway Beaches are a water-sports hub and have picnic facilities.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge covers about half of the island. Popular for wildlife enthusiast and bird watching.

The Sanibel Island Light or Point Ybel Light was one of the first lighthouses on Florida’s Gulf coast. The towering, 19th-century Sanibel Lighthouse and a boardwalk winds through marshes.

 

 

The light, 98-foot above sea level, on an iron skeleton tower was first lit on August 20, 1884 and has a central spiral staircase beginning about 10 feet above the ground. It is located on the eastern tip of Sanibel Island, and was built to mark the entrance to San Carlos Bay for ships calling at the port of Punta Rassa, across San Carlos Bay from Sanibel Island.

 

 

The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

 

 

The northern part of Sanibel is a little quaint town of Captiva. Different than the lower part. Colorful shops and restaurants. The beaches seem to be even better.

 

 

Below is a list of things to do.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g34481-Activities-Captiva_Island_Florida.html

One of my favorite events was the Sanibel Thriller boat ride. If you love dolphins you will be delighted to see them riding the boats waves and jumping out of the water. It’s a bit of trouble to get there, but so worth it.

 

 

Join me next week for a trip to the Keys.

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Florida Travel~Panama City

4 Jul

A Time to Love

Melody Hendriv

 

 

 

We arrive at the Florida pan handle beaches and our hotel Osprey on the Gulf.

 

Trip Advisor attractions and activities Panama City Beach, Florida 

Walking down to the beach was heaven.

 

 

These beaches are so breathtaking with their clean white sand (most of the time) and beautiful, tropical green, crystal clear water with gentle waves that sooth the soul. It is a natural tranquilizer created by this peaceful environment.

 

 

There are many nice piers along the way. Russell – Fields Pier was just a short distance from our hotel.

 

 

It was fun exploring the public beach accesses from Panama City beach to Destin on SR 30 (Front Beach Rd) to Highway US 98 to Destin. Each access is a little different and all are stunning.

 

 

 

another beach access.

 

Continuing west, we stopped at Rosemary Beach. This mini resort town is gorgeous with it’s little shops and restaurants.

 

 

It’s worth a stroll. Then we continued sight seeing and stopping at beaches until we got to Destin.

The next day we visited St. Andrews State Park.

 

 

There are so many awesome features of this park. The dunes are spectacular.

This is a nice pier and jetties, and a perfect swimming area, concession and gift shop.

You can take a short boat tour to Shell Island State Park.  There is just majestic sand dunes and a gorgeous beach and water.

 

You have to bring food and water and a warning is the distance you have to walk uphill in the sand, no boardwalk, can be a bit challenging.

 

However to be in this gem is worth the effort.

 

 

You can see dolphins in the distance and many sea birds. You may even see some man made birds from Tyndall Air Force Base.

 

There is an amazing freshwater lake in the middle of the island.

 

It is like an oasis of a totally different fresh water environment. Nature is so amazing to have a relief for all the creatures in the harsh saltwater conditions.

As you walk along the white sand, you can see little creature tracks leading inland to the oasis.

 

 

You are restricted from some areas.

There is so much to do in the panhandle. Here is a link to find your interest here.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g1438845-Activities-Florida_Panhandle_Florida.html

Join me next week as we explore beautiful Sanibel Island.

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Florida Travel~St. Augustine

27 Jun

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

St Augustine. This is one of my favorite places for photography.

 

https://www.visitstaugustine.com/venue/visitor-information-center

 

Go to the visitor center when you get there or online and make your plans for the day. It will save you a lot of walking and help you discover the tours and unique places and restaurants to visit. I recommendthat you get the trolly for the day. It’s a good way to get around. You cannot see everything in one day.

 

 

There is so much amazing history here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_St._Augustine,_Florida

 

 

 

 

Painted ceiling and dome inside Flagler College

 

There are other great places in the area too, like the St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

 

https://www.alligatorfarm.com/

 

If you go in the spring you can get close up images of nesting birds and their young. You can safely get very close ups of alligators and other wildlife.

 

 

The beaches in St augustine are quite beautiful.

 

There are many nice hotels to stay in right on the beach or you can camp at Anastasia State Park. The beach and sand dunes are gorgeous

 

 

and be sure to visit the lighthouse and museum.

 

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/anastasia

http://www.staugustinelighthouse.org/

Back on the road again, we will be heading west across north Florida to the Suwannee River.

 

 

Our stop is a quaint resort I have gone to for years. There are many nice places to stay, but River Rendezvous is very special to me.

http://www.suwanneeriverrendezvous.com/

 

It is now a wonderful rustic family resort right on the Suwannee, but when I stayed there many years ago it was a resort for scuba divers.

You see this area of north Florida is the cave diving capital of the world because of an extensive cave system of porous marine limestone. The underground limestone has miles of “Karst” cave formations where cool crystal clear water flows from the Floridan Aquifer through numerous springs into majestic Suwannee River.

 

and other scenic rivers and streams.

In my younger, adventurous days I came here many times to scuba dive in these amazing caves. It was thrilling.

I would like to describe this adventure to you and take you with me. It’s an experience most people have never lived.

It was so long ago that I do not have pictures to share unfortunately.

There are many beautiful springs in this area. Peacock Springs is one of the popular springs and is now a state park.  The link below shows fantastic pictures of the springs and underwater caves.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/photo-gallery/peacock-springs

Check out those pictures, then let’s go diving. Are you ready?

First we put on our wet suits and gear in the parking area and walk down very uneven ground to get to the waters entrance. This is most exhausting from the heat, struggling to get into your wetsuit and the weight of the tank and equipment. Before we go in, everyone must spend time checking each others equipment. You don’t want anything to go wrong down there. Safety is top importance. Once you make it in the water, the 72 degree water rushes in your wet suit. It is really cold at first, but will warm and insulate you the rest of the time. We put on our mask and fins, regulator in our mouth and lower ourselves into the crystal clear water. Looking around you are mezmerized by the fish, rocks, vegetation and sunlight making the water sparkle. You feel that you are totally weightless and have a sense of flying. You see the cavern entrance and go inside. You stop and look around. It is dark, but is illuminated by the light streaming in from the entrance. Fish are swimming in the sunlight outside and inside around you. The plants are undilating from the current of water flow from the cave. The water is gently flowing across your skin. It’s a beautiful sight and you are flying around in it. Your dive buddy signals to head inside the cave tunnel and attaches his line to a connection in the rock.

This line is life or death. It goes with you and you follow it back out. It is totally dark ahead. You turn on your flash lights and you can see the porous limestone, perhaps an albino shrimp or catfish. You may even see an eel laying on the rocks. The whole area looks like honeycombs as you fly through the cave tunnel. At some points along the way, you are only feet from the surface and you become lighter, other times you are deep and a great distance from the surface and you become heavy due to the pressure. You adjust your boyancy and continue. Sometimes the tunnel opens up to a large room. The tunnel  ends and before you realize it, you are past it and you’re looking down 50 feet below you. Like a cartoon charactor that runs off a cliff and realized they are suspended in mid air. It’s a frightening feeling at first. But then, it is so cool to be hovering in space. The water is perfectly clear and it looks like air.

You turn to go back and it’s hard to tell where you came in, openings in the honeycomb all look the same. Oh, but you have the line to guide you back.

The cave is full of silt. Like years of dust on the floor. Once we took a side trip off the main tunnel. We got too close to the floor and stirred the silt with the kick of a fin. In seconds, we could no longer see our hands in front of our face. Because we were weightless, we didn’t even know if we were upside down or not. Luckily, we had our hands on the line and knew it led out. I was following the line out, totally blind, I hit a rock. The line had slipped under a large rock and it took me a while to figure out how to get around it. This was a dangerous moment, but thank the Lord, we came out ok.

Cave diving is extreme, but if you would like to experience it in a better way, try Snuba. Dive in the Keys the easy way. I have tried this and it is truly the way to enjoy the liquid world underwater.

https://www.snuba.com/the-florida-keys/

Please join me next week to a trip to Panama City Beach

 

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Florida Travel~Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

19 Jun

A Time to LIve

Melody Hendrix

 

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is a Florida State Park located near Palm Coast, Florida, along A1A just a short distance north of Ponce Inlet .

 

 

 http://www.washingtonoaks.org/

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

6400 N. Oceanshore Blvd.

Palm Coast, Florida 32137

(386) 446-6780

 

The park is most famous for its formal gardens.

 

It also preserves the original habitat of a northeast Florida barrier island.

 

The park has such amenities as beaches (on both the Matanzas River and Atlantic Ocean), bicycling, fishing, hiking, picnicking areas and wildlife viewing. The original residence has been converted into a visitor center with interpretive exhibits.

The Park’s eastern boundary holds  outcroppings of coquina rock , creating a picturesque boulder-strewn beach. It is full of swirling, sculptured coquina rocks piled along the beach, some sporting circular holes, others forming bowls that create tide pools for snails and anemones.

This unusual beach in Florida is a well-kept secret, hoarded by the locals who refer to it as “The Rocks”.

 

 

One quick stop just before Matanzas is Marineland. Hurricanes Floyd and Irene in 1999 forced the park to close for two months. In 2003, all of the park buildings west of Highway A1A were demolished leaving only the original structures along the Atlantic Ocean. In 2004, the park closed completely for renovations, and reopened on March 4, 2006. In January 2011, Marineland was sold again and is currently being operated as a subsidiary of Georgia Aquarium. The facility, now named Marineland Dolphin Adventure, offers several dolphins encounters, educational programs, and conducts research to help care for marine life in human care and in the wild.

The park has a nice boardwalk and restrooms. The beach is also strewn with outcroppings that appear at low tide.

 

 

A little farther north on A1A is Matanzas Inlet. 

It is a channel in Florida between barrier islands connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the south end of the Matanzas River. The inlet is not stabilized by jetties, and thus is subject to shifting.

 

The above picture shows the inlet at low tide and across it is the Matanzas Monument location. It was designated a United States National Monument on October 15, 1924.

Below is a link to the forts history

https://www.nps.gov/foma/learn/historyculture/the_massacre.htm

Hurricane Matthew caused damage. Below, shows (Sept. 6, 2014) and after (Oct. 13, 2016)  the damage hurricane Matthew did to this area. The storm cut a new inlet between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River near St. Augustine, Florida, stripping away a 12-foot dune and carrying sand into the estuary and altered a part of the northeast Florida coastline.

 

Matanzas Inlet is still a beautiful place. One of the treasures that draws me to this place is the sand. With the changing of tides and blending of the swift moving bodies of water, the patterns in the sand are truly master pieces that are sculpted everyday. Tide pools trap interesting creatures to explore. Lots of birds dine on the abundant food available. This area is loved by fishermen.

 

The rocks that add to the unusual look for a Florida beah appear and disappear with the tide.

 

You must be aware of the tides on the south side of the inlet. You can be trapped by incoming tides and forced to exit through private property.

 

There is beauty in all sides of the bridge. The inlet side, and the beach side. There is also a long boardwalk and parking on both sides.

If you love beach walks, photography, birding,  beaching, hiking or just exploring, this would be an enjoyable little trip.

Please join me next week on our last northern stop along A1A to St Augustine before we head west to the Suwannee River and some visit some springs.

 

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Florida Travel~Ponce Inlet

13 Jun

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

The Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse and Museum

http://ponceinlet.org/

Located 10 miles south of Daytona Beach in the Town of Ponce Inlet.  4931 S Peninsula Dr, Ponce Inlet, Fl 32127

Situated on the north bank of Ponce Inlet where the Halifax and Indian Rivers flow into the Atlantic Ocean, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum is a must see for anyone interested in Florida, maritime, or local history.

In 1774, the British put the very first lighthouse on the north side of the Inlet. It wasn’t really a lighthouse at all! It was simply a huge bonfire that was kept burning on top of a sand dune. A real lighthouse was built in 1835 on the south side of Mosquito Inlet.

 

 

This was a round tower made of bricks, and it stood 45 feet tall. Amazingly, the lamp was never lit. Why? The governor never ordered any fuel oil for the light. Next, a storm came and damaged the foundation. Then the Seminole Indians raided it and tried to burn the tower. Finally, in April of 1836, the lighthouse toppled over into the sea. This lighthouse lasted only a year and was never even lit!

The present light station was completed on the north side of the inlet in 1887. The new tower had a lamp at the top that was fueled by kerosene. This little light could be seen for more than 18 miles out in the ocean because it was magnified by a special Fresnel (pronounced Fra-NEL) lens.

 

 

The light station had three houses for the lighthouse keepers and their families, as well as an oil storage building and other small buildings. This light station still stands today! The inlet’s name has been changed from Mosquito Inlet to Ponce De Leon Inlet.

Lighthouse Facts:

The tower is 175 feet tall

It is the tallest lighthouse in Florida

There are 213 steps to the top of the tower

The tower beacon flashes six times in 15 seconds followed by a 15 second eclipse

The light from the beacon can be seen up to 18 miles out to sea

Approximately 2.5 million bricks were used to build the Light Station

The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is one of only 12 lighthouses in the country to have been designated a National Historic Landmark.

 Looking up from the ground floor

 

Looking out from the top

 

Staircase and lighthouse window

 

 

Lighthouse Point Park

5000 South Atlantic Avenue

Ponce Inlet, FL 32127

(386) 756-7488

Consisting of 52 acres of pristine land on the north side of Ponce DeLeon Inlet, this park features fishing, nature trails, an observation deck and tower, swimming, picnicking and birding.

 

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The southern tip of Ponce Inlet. The natural beauty of the undisturbed land has been preserved for all to enjoy. Dolphins frequent the shoreline, gopher tortoises can be found in sandy areas, and other wildlife. There is also a designated area for your dog.

The Ayers Davies Lens Exhibit Building houses one of the finest collections of restored Fresnel lenses in the world, including the rotating first order Fresnel lens from the Cape Canaveral lighthouse and the restored original Ponce Inlet lighthouse first order Fresnel lens.

 

 

Smyrna Dunes Park

https://www.volusia.org/services/public-works/coastal-division/coastal-parks/smyrna-dunes-park.stml

From Lighthouse Point Park, you can see Smyrna Dunes Park on the other side of the river.

 

Although only a short distance away across the inlet, it is a distance to drive from one to another. The lighthouse is entered through Port Orange/Daytona and Smyrna Dunes Park is entered through New Smyrna Beach.

The Dunes Park is also dog friendly.

It has long boardwalks to the beach and river.

 

This park is similar as the same activities available and has beautiful dunes also.

 

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Both of these parks are scenic, peaceful and great to spend the day in.

 

 

Next week we will drive north on A1A to Washington Oaks State Park and Matanzas Inlet.

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody
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