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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Discovering the Natural Beauty and Charm of Boca Grande, Florida


If tropical secluded beaches where you can swim, snorkel, fish, and find tons of beautiful shells sounds good to you, then Boca Grande is the perfect place.

Boca Grande was recommended to us by an older couple that spend the winter in Florida every year. They told us that is was absolutely beautiful. Well, they were right! The area is amazingly beautiful and the beaches are loaded with shells. I have found tons of shells every time that I have been there.

 Boca Grande is a small residential area located on the southern end of Gasparilla Island. To get onto Gasparilla Island, you will cross the Boca Grande Causeway where you will stop at a toll both.  There is a toll fee of $6 to get onto the island.

The island is small and has no traffic lights. Bicycles and golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation on the island.

The drive to the beach is simply beautiful!  Most of the homes are surrounded by tropical foliage and flowers.

Just north of Sanibel and Cayo Costa, both know for the great shelling, Gasparilla Island beaches are usually loaded with shells. And the best part is that there are no crowds, so you can look all day and find good ones.

There is a public beach access with parking on the right 2 miles before you get the the lighthouse beach.

This is a great place for swimming. This beach usually does not have many shells.

The Boca Grande Rear Range Lighthouse is located on the beach at this access point.

Around the jetty is a good place for finding shells and fishing.  It is located behind the South Beach restaurant, but you will have to park at the public access just a short distance on the right before you reach the restaurant. 

The main road ends at Gasparilla Island State Park.

 This is the best beach to finding shells. It is also home to the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and museum.

In addition to tons of large shells, we saw hundreds of starfish and sand dollars this particular day.

My mother is almost as crazy about shells as I am! 😊


880 Belcher Rd
Boca Grande, FL 33921

The park is open from 8:00 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.

Lighthouse Museum Hours:

November through May
Monday – Saturday 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Sundays 12:00 pm-4:00 pm

June through October
Wednesday – Saturday 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Sundays 12:00 pm-4:00 pm

Museum Closed all of August

Admission Fee:

$3.00 per vehicle using  the honor box method

Happy Travels! 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Exploring the Natural Beauty of Hamilton Pool Preserve in Texas

Hamilton Pool is one of those places that deserves a spot at the top of your Bucket List! It's hard to believe you are in Texas when you are standing in front off the massive Grotto and pool!

The hike to the pool is 1/4 mile. Areas of the trail are steep and rocky. We did not find it to be a difficult hike though.

 The natural pool is the result of a collapsed cave due to erosion thousands of years ago.

A natural stream of water flowing over a limestone outcropping creates a 50 foot waterfall, which continually adds fresh water to the pool. During dry times, water flow decreases and the waterfall is at a trickle.

The pool water is constantly monitored and will be closed for swimming if the bacteria count is too high. There is currently no swimming at Hamilton Pool due to some swimming related accidents.

Admission Fee:

$15 per vehicle
add $11 if you reserve online

Hours : 9am - 6pm daily


24300 Hamilton Pool Rd.
Dripping Springs, TX  78620

I have been to Hamilton Pool three times now and continue to be impressed each time. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Happy Travels! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Honeymoon Island State Park: A Hidden Gem in Florida

Formally known as Hog Island, Honeymoon Island acquired its current name when a New Yorker purchased the island in 1939 and built bungalows for honeymooners.

The island is a barrier island on the gulf coast of Florida and is home to Honeymoon Island State Park. The beautiful undeveloped beaches make it a favorite place for both visitors and locals.

My favorite shells to collect are the turban shells. I have never seen them on any other beach in Florida, or any beach anywhere. I'm sure they other places, I just haven't seen them.

The main beach area is great for swimming and beach activities. The sand is soft with very few rocks in that area. That is also where the restrooms are located.

The pet beach is on the south end of the island. It is a good distance from the parking area to the beach and we had to walk around several puddles of water to get there. The beach is nothing spectacular to look at, but the fur babies will love it. Unfortunately, I do not have the photos that I took of the pet beach. They were on my brand new phone that I dropped in a pool right after we left the park....😭

A fun thing to do is to catch the ferry to Caladesi Island. You can read about our trip here.


#1 Causeway Blvd.
Dunedin, FL 34698


The park is open from 8:00 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.

Admission Fee:

$8.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.

$4.00 Single Occupant Vehicle.

$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

$4.00 per vehicle: sunset fee, starting one hour prior to sunset.

Happy Travels! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Exploring Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys

Bahia Honda State Park, one of Florida's southernmost state parks, is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the Florida Keys! It also has the best beaches anywhere in the Keys.

The most iconic photo of the park is the old Bahia Honda railroad bridge. The bridge was originally built by Henry Flagler as part of the Overseas Railroad in 1912.

The park has three beautiful white sandy beaches . Calusa ,located on the bay side of the island, is a small beach with a great view of the old bridge. It's great for swimming, but there is a strong current as you get close to the channel.

Loggerhead beach, located on the south side of the island, is the shallowest beach. It is popular for the large shallow sand bar just off the shore. It is calm and great for children.

Sandspur ,located on the southeast end of the island, is the largest beach. This is usually the least crowded. This is one of the few beaches in the Keys that you can find sea shells and sponges. I was really excited to find several basket sponges on our last visit!

Snorkeling tours to Looe Key are available through the park concession.

 Daily departures are 9:30am, 1:30pm and 4:45pm.


Adult $29.95
Children (under 18)   $24.95


Camping and lodging are available at the park.



36850 Overseas Highway
Big Pine Key, FL 33043


The park is open from 8:00 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.

Admission Fees:

$8* per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
$2* Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.
$4* Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.

Happy Travels!