Category Archives: Florida

Blogs about beaches in the Sunshine State, the best beaches, recreation, fun activities and dining.

Florida To Have A Wet Weekend From Tropical Storm Erika

The Sunshine State To Get Drenched By Storm

Tropical Storm Erika
Tropical Storm Erika is poised to pounce on Florida but at least it’s not a hurricane.


At least Floridians are not having to reason with a hurricane this early in the season.

But they will have to deal with rain and a wet weekend as Tropical Storm Erika is due to soak the entire state, bottom to top, when it arrives in the Sunshine State.

While Erika is not expected to hit Florida until Sunday, the entire state is going to be wet for an entire week, with possible thunderstorms starting Sunday in the south and reaching the middle and northern parts of the state by the middle of next week.

According to Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, Erika is a very disjointed tropical system at this time and is likely to weaken to a tropical depression as it crosses Hispaniola and part of Cuba Friday night into Saturday.

“If the center of Erika survives the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola and part of the land mass of Cuba, it should slowly reorganize back into a tropical storm this weekend as it drifts over open waters once again,” Kottlowski said.

“If Erica does not survive the interaction with Hispaniola and Cuba, it may never reorganize into a coherent tropical storm again and impact on Florida would be reduced.”

Impact from the central Bahamas to South Florida and the Keys will most likely be less than that of a hurricane and could be similar to a minimal tropical storm.

According to,should the system drift into the eastern Gulf of Mexico and avoid much of the Florida Peninsula it could strike the upper west coast of Florida at midweek, perhaps as a hurricane.

The last hurricane to hit Florida was Wilma in October 2005.

If the system survives as far north as Florida waters, there will be concerns farther north into the Southern states from the Carolinas to perhaps as far west as Louisiana.

There is also the chance the system stalls along the southern U.S. coast after negotiating Florida waters during the middle of the week. Conditions in this area will be favorable for intensification.

California Beaches Buzzed By Airplane Ad Banners Like Florida Beaches

Companies & Movies Advertising Along The Coast Instead Of Bars

Airplane advertising banners at the beach
Planes towing advertising banners are now in California, but are different than in Florida.


Something very “Florida-ish” has come to California.

And that is small single-engine airplanes pulling advertising banners behind them buzzing the beaches.

This has been going on for decades at places like Daytona Beach and Ft. Lauderdale, but it’s fairly recent in California.

In fact, they are  part of the beach culture in the Sunshine State. I had always figured the Golden State would think of itself as too refined to do such things (and to copy Florida – gasp!).

Of course, there’s a difference in the banners the planes are pulling in Florida and California.

In Florida, they are long and thin, have block letters that can be replaced and are all about bars: “2-4-1 Drinks At The Beachcomber!”

I actually like this; I can find out where to get cheap drinks later without leaving the beach. Or picking up my phone.

In California, the planes tow large banners advertising movies, beers and other corporate things. It’s not the same.


Late July Tropical Storms Could Soak Florida & Southeastern USA Beaches

Georgia, South Carolina & North Carolina Coastlines May Get Heavy Rain

Late July weather map for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina North Carolina
This AccuWeather map shows the potential for rain from North Carolina to Florida.


Hopefully, you are not taking your Florida vacation or going to any beaches in the Southeastern USA the last week of July.

Because you may be in for a wet week.

According to, conditions exist that could bring heavy rain and winds to beaches in those areas.

“We suspect that strong winds aloft over the region on the Atlantic side will diminish next week, which could be enough to spur on development,” said AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, “Tropical development on the Gulf side could follow if the disruptive winds diminish in that region.”

This could bring not just rain but storms to the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

And, of course, Florida.

Now the Sunshine State is no stranger to summer storms. In fact, it rains every afternoon at 3 o’clock, or so it seems. But the lingering conditions could produce more than the usual afternoon shower.

According to AccuWeather, the storms could be very slow-moving and unload enough rain to cause flooding problems, travel delays and disruptions to outdoor activities.

If it happens, that means no goofy golf!

The storms forecast to frequent Florida next week will be the result of the stalled front nearby and a pocket of cool air aloft. The setup will make the atmosphere very unstable over the state.

Should a tropical system or two develop next week, potential impacts could include rough surf and strong rip currents in the coastal areas and large swells and gusty winds offshore.

If You #SeizeTheKeys, You Can Win A Trip To The Florida Keys

Islamorada And Key West Are The Contest Winner’s Destinations

Florida Keys scenic waterside location
Does stopping to admire this view count as interacting with the Florida Keys environment!?


This is a no-brainer:  put up a photo, use the hashtag #SiezeTheKeys and then – quite possibly – be sitting back with some conch fritters and rum runner by the water somewhere in the Florida Keys.

A contest from the Florida Keys tourism council could enable you to do just that, and here’s the stipulations.

Share photos of yourself interacting with their environment and exploring the outdoors. Submissions can be a picture taken in the Keys or in the entrant’s hometown.

Submit an entry via the Florida Keys’ Facebook page and you area also required to share it on your Facebook and Instagram channels using hashtag #SeizeTheKeys in captions.

Photos are to be judged on originality, technical ability, artistic merit and how well they embody the contest theme.

The winner is to receive a five-day, four-night trip for two to the Florida Keys & Key West.

The prize includes airline and car rental gift cards, as well as accommodations at The Islander Resort, a Guy Harvey Outpost in Islamorada, and The Gates Hotel in Key West, plus activities throughout the trip.

The winner is to be announced Aug. 5.

Maybe I’ll see you there at poolside!

Florida Keys Hosting Underwater Music Festival For Scuba Divers

Reef Awareness The Reason For This Whacky Event

Florida Keys Underwater Music Festival
The Florida Keys Underwater Music Festival is Saturday, July 11. Photo: Lower Keys Chamber


There are all kinds of creative events in the Florida Keys and this one certainly qualifies – an underwater music festival!

It seems like something right out of a goofy 60s beach movie, but it’s happening on Saturday, July 11, at Looe Key Reef, about six miles south of Big Pine Key.

So what its it exactly? Well, it’s the Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival and it involves Keys radio station WWUS 104-FM piping music underwater with speakers between the reef and boats.

Scuba divers and snorkelers go down to the reef – many of them in costumes – and “play” fake musical instruments sculpted by artist August Powers.

The playlist includes aquatic songs like The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and “Fins” by Jimmy Buffett.

Believe it or not, 2015 marks the 31st year the festival and it attracts hundreds of scuba divers and snorkelers.  It takes place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The point of it is to provide awareness to the environmental protection of the Florida Keys reefs.

Summer Vacations In Florida A Large Part Of Childhood Memories

Clearwater Beach And The Islander Motel’s Distinctive Orange Roof

Clearwater Beach Islander Motel
The Islander Motel with its classic sign and distinctive orange roof was a family vacation destination for years.


It’s summertime and that always brings to mind vacationing in Florida.

That’s what we did when I was a kid. Mom and dad would pack the car, including trying to fill it with things to occupy my sister and myself for the long 12-hour drive from Tennessee, and head to the Sunshine State.

We went many places and I have vague flashbacks of a few spots, but mainly what I remember is when we went to Clearwater Beach.

Clearwater is a kind of an isolated place in the Tampa/St. Pete area across a causeway. A causeway; what can thrill a kid  from an inland state more than traveling along a narrow, two-mile stretch of road with water on both sides to get to a beach vacation spot!?

We always stayed at the same place, the Islander Motel, a classic 50’s-style motor inn.  We could see it from the moment we entered Clearwater Beach, for it had a distinctive orange roof that pointed up at the ends.

As as family, we loved the place. A big part of this was its simple layout – two floors looking down at a pool – which created an intimate atmosphere with the other guests. We quickly became friends with other vacationers and soon began timing our trips to meet them every year.

We became especially good friends with a family from Seymour, Indiana, named the Willies.  They had boys the ages of my sister and myself – I was in my early teens and my sister was approaching high school – and we played endless hours of intense shuffleboard.

We also hung out on the back dock with the well-tanned teenage son of the owner of The Islander, whom we envied very much because he got to do this all the time.

It was on that dock where we were entertained for hours by a crusty 50-something character from St. Louis, who always had a fishing pole in the water but never caught anything, except for a considerable buzz from the cans of Hamm’s beer he was constantly consuming. With each empty, his stories got better and better and he had us roaring into the night.

We also rode the elevators of the other hotels (without my sister; this was boys stuff!).

This provided hours of amusement, especially after I discovered that if I hit the button at the Holiday Inn just after it passed a floor, when the door opened we would be a few inches above the floor.

This would always startle the people getting onto the elevator and while holding back laughter we would give them a “oh I don’t know it’s really strange” look.

After many experiments, we were able make the elevator stop an entire foot above the floor. This pleased us very much.

One night, one of the other vacationing families invited us to their room for dinner. They had caught crabs and were boiling them in a pot. Live!

Well this certainly got my attention and as I peered into a pot, a crab crawled out of it and came after me! The father decided he could use a little entertainment so he put the crab on the floor and everyone laughed as it chased me out the door.

Then we ate it.

I always remember those family vacations when summertime arrives on the calendar. I recall with fond memories the Islander Motel and its pointed orange roof, the shuffleboard, the lively elevator rides, of being chased by a crab and entertained by George on the back deck.

These are certainly memories worth preserving forever.

How To Deal With The ‘Flesh Eating’ Bacteria Affecting Florida Beaches

For Starters Don’t Eat Raw Shellfish In The Summertime

Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Meyers Beach has plenty to do in and out of the water.


There is a potentially harmful “flesh eating” bacteria affecting Florida’s beaches.

But will it affect you? And is it safe to go into the water?

In short, the answers are “no” and “yes.”

However, don’t go in the water if you have an open cut and a low immune system (say, if you’ve been feeling ill lately).  The bacteria is common in the summer months and can cause on serious medical issues; one man in Fort Meyers had to have part of his leg amputated (he had a cut on his foot and has diabetes but that’s certainly an eye-opening incident).

It also affects raw shellfish. That’s why it’s never safe to eat oysters in any month that doesn’t contain an “r” in it. That’s May, June, July and August.

Still, it’s sure a heck of a lot better to be safe than sorry. So here’s Surfside Sam’s advice if you’re headed to Florida for a summer vacation.

• Check With A Lifeguard Before Entering The Water

If you are unsure, then just go up and ask a lifeguard if things are safe. They know the conditions and circumstances and will give you the safest advice.

Also, are other people in the water? Or are they avoiding it  as if “Jaws” is lurking under the waves? Most likely, they are in the water.

• Talk To Locals. Especially Bartenders

Who knows better than locals whether there is a problem – or not – in the community. Talk to shop owners, the people who rent the beach umbrellas, the hostess or waitress in a restaurant. Chances are they will scoff at it.

Bartenders are great sources of information for local issues because they brush aside all the politics and sensationalism and get right to the issue.

• Read The Local Papers

I actually did this to research this post. ABC News did the original story, which prompted some other media outlets to pick it up and suddenly, it had the potential to be a major panic story on the eve of summer.

But then I checked the papers in Florida beach towns and found nothing. If they don’t think it’s an issue then it’s not an issue.