Grab Your Share of Great Ocean Views From Your Amelia Island Hotel

Amelia Island sports a lovely and lively downtown area designed in Victorian style with 13 miles of beach shoreline dotted by sea-oat covered dunes. Some of the best FL Beach Hotels have doors opening to simple beachside pleasures such as the hunt for an elusive shark tooth or building that dream castle in the sand. Since human feet have left imprint and impact for more than four centuries on the isle, many a vacationer keeps a watchful eye upon the sandy shore seeking something deposited long ago by history.

Go Hunting at Fort Clinch State Park

Standing at the water’s edge at one spot for a half hour allowing the surf to tickle you toes may reveal a coveted shark’s tooth – if you have the patience to wait and the eye for discovery. At the north end of the island sits some shark teeth hunting grounds near the pier in Fort Clinch State Park. Helpful hint: Go hunting at midday when these black ancient teeth come a glistening under a strong Florida sun. Teeth never tumble about in the surf but tend to float. Practice “locating” ancient shark teeth floating in the surf can result in a good hunt. Some people claim they can really focus well coming away with a dozen or so teeth from one hunting session when participating in this fun-filled beachcombing activity.

Go Afloat Touring

Amelia Island is the most southern member of an archipelago of barrier islands that number 100 stretching from the Santee River in South Carolina to the St. Johns River in Florida. Since there is a nearby submarine base that requires consistent dredging of Cumberland Sound, the Navy keeps replenishing the island’s northern stretch of beaches with fresh sand and historic artefacts. That’s right, often very old items dredged from the bottom where they have sat for hundreds – and some for millions – of years get deposited on Amelia Island beaches awaiting discovery from the next history hunter.

Check Out the Tooth

When you take a scenic Amelia River sightseeing boat tour, ask the captain to show you a tooth from a megalodon, a prehistoric version of the modern day shark that was an estimated 45 feet long living millions of years ago. If you wish to pick up something nautical and collectible but don’t want to labor in your quest, go a hunting through the shops found along the main thoroughfare of Fernandina Beach where many curiosities may be found just a shell toss away from your Amelia Island Hotel. If a sightseeing boat tour is too tame for your liking, take part in a kayak-driven tour that will guide you deep into the marshes, inlets and creeks for a nature lover’s view.

Amelia Earhart – Cold Case For a Hot Lady

In Jane Mendelsohn’s imaginative 1997 novel “I Was Amelia Earhart” she fictionalized what happened to the famous aviator, and it was a good read. There are countless non-fiction versions of “Lady Lindy’s” last days, some more bizarre than any fiction I’ve seen. But like the ghost of Elvis Presley, Amelia Earhart is back. All the mystery, drama and romance surrounding the beautiful woman who vanished over the Pacific Ocean seventy years ago, has returned to haunt us again. Strictly speaking, the case was never officially declared closed.

After taking off from Lae, New Guinea on the last leg of her round the world trip, Amelia Earhart and her navigator friend Fred Noonan disappeared while trying to find tiny Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean. Photos taken just before takeoff revealed an ailing and exhausted Earhart. It was July 1937. They’d already traveled 22,000 miles and had 7,000 miles remaining, all of it across the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve never crossed the Pacific-up close where you can see it-you cannot begin to imagine the sheer magnitude of this unforgiving sea.

(An Aside)
Once during a dark night aboard a large ship in the Pacific ocean, I watched the birth of an island in the form of an erupting volcano as it thrust itself out of the sea to begin the formation of an atoll. It was one of those moments that make you feel very small. I cannot conceive of the audacity of those two hearty souls making that lonely crossing over that colossal body of water in a tiny aircraft. Earhart wrote a book called “The Fun of It.” Maybe that explains her.

More Clues
Last fall, on a tiny Pacific atoll now called Nikumaroro, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) reported finding parts of an aircraft they say could be from Earhart’s Lockheed Electra; also a man’s shoe heel, a woman’s shoe with a 1930s Cat’s Paw heel of the type Earhart had been wearing when she took off from New Guinea. Since the islanders did not wear shoes back then, these are substantial clues. After eight previous visits, funds permitting, the team headed by Rick Gillespie will return to the island this July to search for human remains, which hopefully will reveal DNA.

A Diary?
The most intriguing angle of this very cold case is the emergence of yet another clue, the diary of 23-year-old James Carey, an Associated Press reporter who took notes while the radio crew of the Coast Guard cutter Itasca was trying to contact Earhart and guide her to Howland Island. Included in the diary’s notes is a shortwave distress call. “This is Amelia Earhart …” Recently, a member of the TIGHAR team saw a copy of the diary for sale on eBay and bought it for $26. There are other quotes in the diary. James Carey has died, but his son Tim Carey verifies the diary, which he says is part of his family history. How’s that for destiny? The Itasca could hear Amelia’s distinctive Kansas voice, but she could not hear them or their code signals. Why? She and Fred Noonan were unaware they’d lost their outside radio-reception antenna during takeoff from the Lae Airport in New Guinea, and that would prove disastrous.

Rumors of a Legend
As a young child I heard the Earhart buzz around the dinner table. Over decades the press churned out rumors. Amelia Earhart was sent by President Roosevelt to spy on the Japanese. Amelia and Fred Noonan were romantically involved; they crash-landed on an island and showed up in New Jersey. Natives reported seeing them captive in the hands of the Japanese. Their twin-engine Lockheed Electra ran out of fuel and fell into the Pacific. Noonan was a drunk and should never have gone with her.

As the stories grew, so grew the legend. Bones were found that eventually proved not to be theirs. As for Fred Noonan, he did have a drinking problem, but he was a veteran of Pan American Airways with a reputation for being the best navigator in the business.

Woman of Firsts
Feminist icon before there were feminists, aviation editor at Cosmopolitan Magazine, book author, first woman to solo the Atlantic (more than once), first woman to fly non-stop across the U.S., a zillion other firsts and groundbreaking awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross-Earhart was going to be the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. Instead, she inspired books, motion pictures and people who wanted to believe she was alive somewhere-anywhere. My first set of luggage simply had to be-you guessed it.

She Married a Man Just Like Her
Earhart’s husband was explorer, author and publisher George P. Putnam. Rugged individualist and promoter par excellence, Putnam and Earhart had been lovers when she finally broke her engagement to another man to marry Putnam. He became her personal manager, organized all of her races and record-breaking flights including her last, for which he never forgave himself. A mid-1970s television movie about Earhart and Putnam featured Susan Clark and John Forsythe in a quite believable portrayal of their lives, and her role as an advocate for women in the work place. Not surprisingly, Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt whom she taught to fly, were pals.

Seventy years later, the Lockheed Electra’s radio remains silent but the Itasca’s signals linger on.

Winter on the Island of Hvar

The island of Hvar is well known by its gentle winters, warm summers and plenty of sunshine. An average of 2724 hours of sunshine per year makes this island one of the sunniest places in Croatia. Sunny weather is almost guaranteed all year long on the island. Average air temperature during the summer months is 25°C and 9°C during the winter. During the winter, air temperatures rarely fall below 0°C and snow occurs very rarely. In January, there were three snowy days in the last ten years and in February just one. When snow falls it is a real festivity to all residents of Hvar. Also, some hotels in Hvar offer free accommodation if it snows.

Guests are coming to the island of Hvar during the entire year, even in the winter. Mild and moist winters make Hvar an excellent spot for winter tourism. The island is an ideal place for a dream vacation.

Guests are attracted with plenty of sunshine, the beauty of nature, sport and leisure facilities. There is a plenty of available accommodation during the winter and prices are much lower than during the main season. The island of Hvar brings peace into a life and helps to achieve true relaxation of mind and body in the winter.

About 11000 permanent islanders live on the island during the winter. A true island spirit awakes in the winter time and the island becomes a world for itself. Mild winter brings a stimulating freshness and slower lifestyle. Islanders live in harmony with nature and in peace with themselves and each other.

The island’s climate is pleasantly mild and healthy which is great for the development of health tourism. People think that the effects of the sun are therapeutic and this phenomenon attracts many tourists with different health problems. This climate is suited for taking long walks and enjoying the tranquility and silence. People can also enjoy in lush vegetation and miraculous changes that are brought by jugo (sirocco) and bura (bora). Healing properties of Hvar are essential for an ideal vacation.

Your Dream Florida Family Vacation

Families just can’t get enough of Florida, the sun city. Beautiful beaches and exciting theme parks are abundant in this part of the world. Family resorts are numerous that offer a variety of packages for your family.

Some of the places you must consider for that wonderful vacation you have in mind is Amelia Island. It has lovely beaches and a historical fort with actors playing period characters. Sea foods are oh-so-heavenly in this island. Kids’ Camps can also be found in Amelia Island plantation that would have activities planned out for the whole family.

Here are some other places the family will definitely enjoy. The Blizzard Beach Waterpark, Sea World, Discovery Cove and Universal Studios are all in this wonderful state. And of course, the world-famous Walt Disney World Resorts are must-sees. Your children will surely have the time of their lives in these places.

The Space Coast and the Kennedy Space Center are must-see places especially for your future-astronaut kids. Ecological tours will also serve to be educational and fun for your kids as you visit saltwater estuaries, wildlife refuges and marshes.

Hotels and resorts can be found at strategic locations that are accessible to most of the popular travel spots in Florida. Finding a home-base while at the area will not pose a problem for your family, there’s a lot to choose from.

If you’re looking for activities for you and your young ones, Club Med along the St. Lucie River may be the right place for you. Your family will enjoy waterskiing, trapeze, golf and wakeboarding. Snorkeling is available in the Florida Keys for your children as young as eight.

For the nature lovers, Sanibel and Captiva Islands are two beautiful spots that include unpolluted beaches with shallow shorelines. Captiva Islands also boasts of a mangrove forest that is a habitat of sea turtles and even hawks. You can go fishing, boating, hiking and parasailing in this beautiful spot.

There are many more beaches and spots resorts in Florida that you may want to visit like Clearwater Beach, Radisson Sand Key, Sheraton Sand Key and the Tradewinds Island Resorts.

Busch Gardens at Tampa Bay offer thrilling roller coaster and water rides with an African twist. Swimming with manatees is one of the highlights when you visit Crystal River Wildlife Refuge.

Since your Florida family vacation will not be complete if you don’t visit Disney World, make sure that you have the following in mind:

It is essential that you pick the best time of year for your visit. Note when is the time when it is not too hot for the kids and there are not too many people so you could truly enjoy all the perks.

Base your visit according to the Extra Magic Hour when one of the theme parks open early. If you cannot make it early, just don’t go there for the day because of the rush. This, therefore, necessitates the need to be early when visiting the theme parks. Don’t forget to consider their closing time as well, as this might affect your schedule for the rest of the day.

It is good to avoid the most heated part of the day. This would be the perfect time to take a rest at your hotel and just go back early in the evening to complete your adventure.

Fastpasses will save you a lot of time to avoid standing at long lines for the most famous rides. Just use these passes for the most popular rides.

Bring snacks and lots of drinks for the entire family to save on cash. Dehydration is a common problem when walking all day and enjoying. If you have to eat in the park, go for the power buffet meals, they may come out cheaper.

Advanced reservations at restaurants may be very helpful and very easy. To get that seat, reserve ahead of time.

Disney World has a transportation system that allows you to take the rides every hour of the day and night that will bring you from one park to another.

Most importantly, dress down. Use cool and comfy clothes and shoes while doing all your visits to the exciting places of Florida State.

Mackinac Island – Leave Your Car at the Ferry

Mackinac Island is located at the confluence of Lakes Michigan and Huron. Purchase tickets for the Arnold Line Ferry from St. Ignace to the island. They are one of three companies, which service the island from either St. Ignace or Mackinaw City, a twenty minute trip across the Straits.

The island has been an important stop for hundreds of years. Originally called Michili Machinac (Turtle Island) it was a major trading post during the beaver fur days from the 1600s. Being so close to the US Canadian borders, the island has great historical value, besides the resort it is today.

What can you say when you step from a picture postcard into the real thing? Horses pulling carriages or wagons, people riding bicycles, or walking, narrow streets with quaint looking shops selling fudge, souvenirs, antiques, etc. To avoid either getting trampled by the throng of humanity on the narrow sidewalks of Main Street, go one block up to Market Street, the main non tourist thoroughfare.

Your destination is the Grand Hotel. Follow their livery up the hill. Everything about the Grand Hotel yells old traditional values. Because they want to keep out the wandering tourist, they charge ten dollars just to go on their property. For an additional thirty-five dollars, you receive a delicious buffet luncheon. Opt to do the Jane Seymour, Christopher Reeve scene from Somewhere in Time on the front lawn of the hotel. The real front yard of The Grand is completely different from the Hollywood version. There also is no theater at the bottom of the lawn. Instead are beautiful gardens, a swimming pool with sauna and a Swedish physical fitness course winding through the cypress trees. The lawn area itself is set for lawn bowling and croquet, to be enjoyed at one’s leisure.

Leave the beautiful gardens of the Grand Hotel for a stroll down Market Street, less crowded with tourists. Mackinac Island boasts three of the oldest houses in the State of Michigan. Because of the island’s location where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge, a fort was built by the English to guard their territory. The Fort overlooks the town and the Straits of Mackinac from the top of a steep hill.

The pace of Mackinac Island is very idyllic. No one is in a hurry. There is no toot of an angry horn. The island is almost like Eden. There is one drawback for island living, however. Everything costs more, because everything has to be shipped onto the island from the mainland; a small price for beauty.

Did I mention about The Big Mac; not the ersatz food, but the Mackinac Bridge. This bridge is five miles long, connecting lower and upper Michigan. Before the bridge was erected cars and trucks would be backed up twenty-three miles waiting for the ferry. The bridge is open to pedestrian traffic one day of the year: Labor Day