The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island

boardwalkThe Boardwalk is conveniently situated next to the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier. The Pier is a landmark in the area. If you love fishing you will love the pier. Simply Google Okaloosa Pier to see the many fishing stories of what has been caught off the pier or spotted off the pier. Yesterday it was said that the catch was Spanish, hardtails, and bonito. Why not see what is running today? A pass for adults is $7.50.
For those who aren’t into fishing, the Pier itself is visit worthy. If you want to catch the best sunrise and sunset views, you want to buy a $2.00 admission to the pier and make sure you go to the end of it. Once you’ve paid, it is good until midnight and you can leave and return all day long.

Why hold on to that pass?
Situated around the Pier is The Boardwalk of Okaloosa Island. It offers fantastic restaurants and intriguing shops and retail stores. It also has a public park to enjoy the beach with all the conveniences you will want. With a children’s playground you know the family will be entertained. There are volleyball nets for beach sports and play. It has covered picnic tables, outdoor showers, and public restrooms.
Access to the Boardwalk with beach and pier is easy with loads and loads of parking available. Avoid those long treks to get to the beach and that dreaded ‘march back’ from the beach with such assured parking.

Since the Boardwalk with all its restaurants and shops are right there, you can always take a break from the fun in the sun for an ice-cream. Or plan to relax from a rousing volleyball game with a happy hour special on one of the Boardwalk decks overlooking the gulf.

The Crab Trap is a great place to enjoy during your day at the beach. It is a favorite to locals and visitors alike. You can enjoy Crab Dip and Seafood Gumbo (the local’s favorite) and daily specials like Grilled Sirloin to Alaskan Crab Legs. Your kids are guaranteed a good time with a special menu designed just for them, an opportunity to express their ‘creative side,’ and a treat to take home that will help them remember their great time on the Emerald Coast.

Anglers Beachside Bar and Grill is at the entrance of the Fishing Pier and offers a roomy deck for gulf side views while you eat the best of seafood. Or you can choose to eat in its large booths inside that offer privacy and comfort. Its décor boasts vintage photos and is a tour all in itself. With excellent food, beach music and games, your family is assured a great experience. If you are sports fan it also offers a super sports bar. Voted Best Sports Bar four years in a row by Emerald Coast Magazine, you and your friends can watch your team play on one of the nine foot screens, or shoot a game of pool or challenge each other to a game of corn hole.

When Is the Best Time of the Year To Visit the Emerald Coast?

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We know… ANY time of the year is a GREAT time to visit the Emerald Coast.

The Emerald Coast is still home to the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches no matter what month it is – and each season brings with it different reasons to visit, that appeal to different people.

All year-round, chances are there’s SOMETHING  happening – from the Winter Guest Fest Convention, Mardi Gras Masquerade, Spring Break, Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival, the Destin Fishing Rodeo or any one of the countless other events that make our beautiful vacation destination as interesting and fun as it is beautiful. Even if you don’t come for any of the events, there’s always the sugar white sand, clear blue skies, endless sunshine and warm emerald waters…

So how do you choose when to visit? Well, how about a time of the year when;

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Rates are almost 50% lower than the peak of the busy summer season;

The weather is still warm and there are no crowded beaches;

Our Activities and Entertainment schedule is just as jam-packed as it is during the summer season…

Lower Rates

Just like any other vacation destination, when the peak summer season finishes, rates continue to drop as the year comes to an end. Tempting rates encourage you to make one extra trip to the beach before next year. Check our rates and you will find some amazing deals.

These are all good reasons why we think the Value Season is the best time of the year to visit the Emerald C… But if you’re not convinced just yet, read on; there’s more!

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Less Crowded

It’s not just the financial incentives that make this the perfect time of year to visit the Emerald Coast. The Summer season is typically busiest because that’s when many School’s are out and families can take time off work to make a beach vacation possible. So, when the School’s are back, the beaches are much less crowded – giving you your own slice of paradise to enjoy all to yourself!

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Warm Weather
It’s always been known as the local’s favorite time of the year… With all the beautiful warm sunshine the Emerald Coast is known for but cooler than it gets during the height of the summer season. It’s just perfect!

Less Humid
Sunshine is great and an essential ingredient in any beach vacation – but most people would agree that the humidity can be a downside. Well, if you’re visiting during the value season, the humidity is gone along with the crowds. So lay back in your hammock and feel the cool breeze and warm sunshine on your skin.

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What are you waiting for?

Call us today at 1-877 256-0966 and find out just how much you could save by booking your vacation with us during this incredible Value Season. Our friendly Reservations Team are ready to help you!

Take Advantage of Our 10% Discount For Week-Stay Special – July 26 or August 2

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If you have been waiting for special pricing for a beach condo vacation, your wait is over. Take advantage of our 10% discount for a week stay on July 26 or August 2. The weather is great, the sun is warm and the Emerald Green water is just right. But hurry, units are filling up fast!

10 Tips for an Enjoyable Beach Vacation

img_2623This year, don’t think of your family beach vacation as just a time to swim. That sun-drenched stretch of sand is a giant playground where your children can learn about nature, play games, and do craft projects that will let them bring home mementos of your fun-filled days together. No expensive equipment is needed to embark on these ten activities. They’re nice and simple. So put on your bathing suit, make sure you’re all wearing plenty of sunscreen, and get set to have a fun day in the sun.

1. photograph beach treasures
Give each child his own disposable camera for the day and let him take pictures of whatever he wants. The caveat: only one camera per youngster. Kids will learn patience by waiting for good photo moments. Explain that it’s important not to let sand get into the camera and that it should be kept in a plastic bag in your tote when not in use. Later, develop the pictures and encourage your photographers to arrange their best shots in a special photo album or scrapbook. This is a great way to preserve happy memories!

2. construct a sun shade
This is an easy way to teach about the sun’s trajectory. You need four long, pointed sticks or bamboo poles from a home-and-garden center, large rubber bands, markers, and a sheet. Before heading out, let your kids decorate the sheet with colorful designs. At the beach, measure off an area a few inches shorter on all sides than the sheet. Drive the sticks into the sand where you have marked off the corners. Knot a corner of the sheet around each pole and secure the knots with rubber bands.
Once your sun shade is in place, youngsters can learn about shadows during the course of a day, says Tom Peters, director of a resource center for science and mathematics teachers at Clemson University. “Follow the sun’s shadow during the day, and you’ll see that it changes its angle,” he says. “The shadow is longer in the morning and shortest at noontime.” Each child can pick one pole and mark off the change in shadows every 15 minutes with shells, making a graph of the path of the sun.

3. explore a tidal pool
Just after high tide, when the water recedes and pools up at the ocean’s edge, is the best time for this educational observation. Look for small sea life like starfish, snails, and other mollusks. Think of tidal pools as minicommunities filled with living creatures that should be treated with respect. Ask your child what he sees, what different roles these organisms might play in that little community, and how he thinks they manage to stay put when the tide goes out. Starfish, for instance, have rows of small, suckerlike projections and attach themselves to rocks. You may want to find a library book on the subject and read it together.

4. design a “zen” sandbox
Take a sturdy box (even a shoebox works well) to the beach with you. Fill it with clean sand, spread out evenly. Kids can collect shells and stones and use them to make a garden. They can design different groupings by maybe arranging pretty shells in one section of the box, colorful stones in another, and so forth. It’s relaxing to look at and doesn’t need to be watered!

5. decorate a kite
You’ll need: wooden dowels (one-quarter inch or less in diameter), found at hardware and art-supply stores; a large brown paper shopping bag, cut open and flattened, or colored paper; markers or stamps and an ink pad; a stapler; crepe paper; and string. Make two lengths of dowel, one longer than the other, by scoring them with a knife and then breaking them on the cut line. The lengths depend on how big a kite you want: we suggest dowels of 36 and 18 inches. To form a cross, cut a groove in one dowel where the two overlap. Lay the other dowel in the groove; secure with a metal twist-tie (the kind that come with some garbage bags). Lay the cross on top of the paper. Mark off a diamond shape by drawing lines connecting the ends of the dowels; then add about one inch all around. Cut out the shape. Place the cross on the paper and fold the edges over about one inch; staple the edges. Staple the paper to the dowels. Let your child decorate the kite. Cut strips of crepe paper and staple to the kite for a tail. Tie string securely where the dowels cross and have a contest for the highest flying kite or the one that stays up the longest.

6. create a shell necklace
You’ll need smallish shells and colorful dental floss. Look for shells that have a tiny hole at one end so that you won’t have to drill holes in them. Let kids string the shells onto a length of floss, tying a knot through the hole on each one to secure it in place. Tie the ends together. Want to get fancy? Kids can paint the shells before stringing them. Or if you have colorful, mini-pom-poms or large beads on hand, encourage your budding jewelry designer to alternate them with the shells.

7. make a tape recording of the waves
The best time for this is when the waves are noisy, so go before a storm or during high tide. Have your child stand close to, but still a safe distance from, the water’s edge. Put the tape in the recorder, press “record,” and have her hold the mike directly in front of her. She might want to sing along for part of the tape. Play her masterpiece at night and don’t be surprised when the relaxing, rhythmic sounds help her fall right to sleep!

8. play tic-tac-toe in “wave time”
You need two sticks and a level stretch of wet sand where, say, every tenth wave washes over it. Step one: Draw a giant tic-tac-toe board in the sand by making two vertical lines crossed by two horizontal lines. Step two: One player draws “X’s,” the other “O’s.” Take turns making the letters on the board — the first person to get three X’s or O’s in a line (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally) wins. Time is of the essence. You must finish the game before it gets washed away by the next wave!

9. craft a driftwood boat
Find some of your materials at the beach: driftwood, flat stones, reeds, and sticks. Bring other supplies: string or wire and a plastic bag. First, sandwich a stone (the keel) between two long pieces of wood (the hull). It should be in the center and protrude downward. Sandwich a smaller stone (the rudder) an inch from one end of the hull. Place a large stick (the mast) between the two stones, sticking upward. Tie all of this together tightly with string. To balance the boat, tie one end of another large stick to the hull at the base of the mast at a 90 degree angle. At the other end of this stick, tie a piece of wood parallel to the hull. Punch holes in a plastic bag and weave a thin stick through the holes. Tie the top and bottom of the sail to the mast and the top of the mast to each end of the hull. Now your boat is ready to sail.

10. have a scavenger hunt
Give each child a bucket with a camera like the Polaroid I-Zone or the OneStep Express and a list of things to find. Include items that can be placed in the bucket, like sea glass, shells, and stones. But for a twist, add some things the kids can’t take with them — a red beach umbrella or two girls in blue bathing suits. The scavengers use the camera to take pictures of these items to complete the list. The first one to collect all the elements and arrive back at home base (your beach blanket!) wins. Have the older kids “buddy up” with younger ones; little players should have parents accompany them on their search.

July, National Park & Recreation Month

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July is Park & Recreation Month and we have plenty of Florida State Parks in the area for you to visit:

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Welcome to Henderson Beach State Park

Pristine white sugar sand beaches and more than 6,000 feet of natural scenic shoreline border the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Natural features of the park include sand pines, scrub oaks, and dune rosemary. Boardwalks provide access to the beach for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Four large and two small pavilions allow for picnicking and grilling. A playground is the first stop on our nature trail and is sure to be a success with the kids. The nature trail provides visitors a rare glimpse of the coastal dune ecosystem and abundant wildlife and is pet friendly. Camping at Henderson Beach State Park provides 60 campsites that are located in our secondary dune system. The sites include water and electric hookups and access to air conditioned and heated bathhouse facilities. A separate beach access boardwalk with outdoor showers and a playground are included in our campground. Henderson Beach is A.D.A accessible and includes beach wheel chair availability. Visitors can enjoy truly breathtaking sunsets while relaxing by the warm crystal clear water of the Gulf of Mexico.

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Welcome to Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park

U.S. Air Force Colonel Fred Gannon was instrumental in preserving this site with beautiful old-growth longleaf pine trees, several more than 300 years old. Rocky Bayou, the main feature of the park, is the trailing arm of Choctawhatchee Bay and is popular for boating and fishing. A double-lane boat ramp makes this one of the best boat-launching locations on the bay, where saltwater fish is found. Other opportunities for recreation include hiking, bicycling, picnicking, canoeing and wildlife viewing. A well-shaded campground is available for full-facility camping. Camping reservations may be made by visiting ReserveAmerica.com or by calling ReserveAmerica at (800) 326-3521, TDD (888) 433-0287. Annual special events include Pioneer Day in November and Estuary Day in May. Other events and ranger programs are available. Located on State Road 20, five miles east of Highway 85.

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Welcome to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Topsail Hill offers a wide variety of natural resources including 3.2 miles of secluded, white sand beaches with majestic dunes over 25 feet tall. Three rare coastal dune lakes provide excellent freshwater fishing. Although boats are not allowed, fishing from the shoreline yields bass, bream, panfish, and catfish. Lakes, pristine beaches, old-growth long leaf pines, sand pine scrub, and a variety of wetlands offer a bird-watching and hiking paradise. Visitors may bike, walk, or enjoy a quick ride to the beach on our timely tram service to swim, fish, sunbathe, or beachcomb. Gregory E. Moore RV resort features a (non-heated) swimming pool and shuffleboard courts. Furnished bungalows are available for weekly stays. A camp store offers a variety of camping items, as well as snacks and drinks.

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Welcome to Blackwater River State Park

A favorite destination for canoeists and kayakers, Blackwater River State Park offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor activities. The river is one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the nation, making this park a popular place for swimming, fishing, camping, and paddling. Shaded campsites are just a short walk from the river and a picnic pavilion overlooks the river. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy strolling along trails through the more than 600 acres of undisturbed natural communities. In 1980 the park was certified as a Registered State Natural Feature for its exceptional illustration of Florida’s natural history. One of the largest and oldest Atlantic white cedars stands among the many that line the river and, in 1982, it was recognized as a Florida Champion tree.

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Welcome to Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach consistently ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. The beach provides an idyllic setting for swimming, sunbathing and surf fishing and is the backdrop for golden sunrises and silver moonlit evenings. The nearly 2,000-acre park features a boat ramp that provides access to the lake’s brackish waters for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Visitors can paddle a canoe or kayak on scenic Western Lake to get a closer look at a salt marsh ecosystem. A nature trail winds through a coastal forest where scrub oaks and magnolias stand, bent and twisted by the salt winds. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy more than four miles of trails throughout the pine flatwoods. Options for overnight stays include modern cabins and a full-facility campground.