Category: TRAVEL

The First Trip I Want To Take After Covid // Scuba Diving at Wikkid Resort // Roatan, Honduras

After five months of going no where except a no-contact trip to the grocery every eight weeks to have food dumped into the bed of my truck, and four weeks back to work in person; I’m ready to start planning our first Post-Covid scuba diving trip. It might not happen for over a year, but usually we plan about six major trips a year. The place I’m yearning to spend some time in the most is Roatan, Honduras, specifically, Wikkid Resort!

Counterfeit Tourniquet Are More Dangerous Than Improvised // I Confiscated Another One

I “confiscated” another counterfeit tourniquet. It upset me so badly that I put off writing about it for months. Strangely, I seem to have a nose for sniffing them out and identifying them for certain. However, the infuriating part is that I realized that people don’t understand how counterfeit tourniquets are actually more dangerous than improvised versions. So, I’m going to tell you a few more times.

Visiting Cuba // The Island of Doors // Beyond the Tourists

Just the word almost gives me chills – an island, the one island where I could not go. I have flown over it, sailed past it, cruised near it but never set foot on it. I was never free to openly visit. It seemed that door was closed, legally to me, until 2016. Actually, there were other doorways that could have led me to that door; flying through the Bahamas or Panama, but I chose to wait until it was legal. When I finally arrived, I sobbed.

The Summer I Got Poisoned by Chemical Sunscreen // Captain Kim Walther // Toxic Ingredients

I got poisoned by sunscreen; I know, it’s just bizarre, right? The very potion designed to protect me poisoned me brutally. Rudely. Summer before last, I was teaching sailing class. I was on the last day of a seven-day stint teaching in small open boats, and it had been hot, humid, and very bright. There is no shade on our keelboats. So, I wear a hat or visor, and sometimes, a long sleeved shirt.

Stream2Sea Love Letter & Haul // Physical Barrier for Ecoconscious Sun Protection // Neck Gaiters // Dive Buffs

Last week I was cruising one of my favorite websites, the Stream2Sea website just in case… just in case they had anything new in production. Well! Shocker! Neck gaiters, also called dive buffs, pocket sprayer of hand sanitizer, and gel hand sanitizer had snuck into the product line without my knowledge. I love that Stream2Sea promotes not only reef-safe sunscreen, but also some alternatives for supplementing sun exposure coverage and prevention.

Back 40 Urban Cafe // Great Food With a Social Consciousness // St. Augustine Florida

Our eternal quest for “off the chain” restaurants led us to Back 40 Urban Cafe in St. Augustine, Florida. Everyone we spoke to gave them glowing reviews – “the tacos!” – “the sandwiches!” – so we were eager to sample the menu, a mixture of Caribbean, vegetarian, and Tex-Mex. The results? We keep going back to Back 40 Urban Cafe every time we’re in St. Augustine!

St. Augustine Lighthouse // Sunset Moonrise Celestial Event // Champagne Toast and Hors’d’Oeuvres

Once a month – just once – a very special evening event takes place at the St. Augustine, Florida Lighthouse. It’s a 360° event at 165 feet in the air, with horizon-to-horizon views. The spectacle occurs when the sun sets to the West over the Intracoastal Waterway, then the moon rises in the East over the Atlantic Ocean. This natural experience is like no other, and the views from the historic landmark make the monthly event extra celestial.

Schedule for Scuba Diving for Eight Days in Cuba

If you’ve wondered what the itinerary for a Scuba Diving trip to Cuba would include, here’s a sample schedule. Our trip this year is postponed, however, last year’s trip was an incredible experience of a lifetime. We can’t wait to go back and see all our new lifelong friends. Into each 18-hour day, we packed at least five miles of walking, 1,000 photos, at least three glorious meals, a brilliant sunrise, a colorful sunset, and best of all; such positive interactions with Cubans everywhere we went. Oh – yeah – and some of the best scuba diving on Earth. Pristine water, fully-developed reefs, tons of tropical fish. This is a quick day-by-day guide.

Week-Long Dive Trip in Key West // Scuba Itinerary

After six weeks home, I’m finally ready to start some planning for future dive trips. We cancelled our Spring Break week to Key West. Until now, I hadn’t wanted to even think about what we missed. It just seemed too selfish to even contemplate pining for a trip that didn’t happen. We’re pretty good about being realistic. When we made the decision to cancel the afternoon we were supposed to leave, and we never looked back. No regrets, no self-pity. It was a far better choice to not jeopardize the lives of health care workers by traveling. Instead, we concentrated on bettering ourselves; reading more, working out more, and taking online Scuba safety classes. Now I’m ready to think about planning a week-long trip for Scuba diving in the Florida Keys! Here’s our plan!

Big Cat Rescue // Tampa Florida // Exotic Animal Sanctuary

For years, I’ve wanted to visit the non-profit Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. I must have made a donation years ago, because I’ve received their newsletter for about a decade. It’s full of success stories of exotic cats rescued from abusive situations, as well as news of medical care given to the big cats and the passing of long-term rescue resident cats. When I visited recently, I had no idea there would be a television show about BCR. Hopefully the Netflix show will make more people aware of the abuses of exotic animals including inappropriate cub petting practices. Currently, they are closed to the public due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

BEST DIVE TOWEL // LIGHT, COMPACT, FAST-DRYING PACK TOWL // Deep Water Happy

On a trip last weekend to the Bahamas, we realized we really needed compact, efficient towels.

We thought of the courtesy towels by Shark that we used in Cozumel with Blue XtSea Diving, could not find those offered on Amazon, so Bill found what Kara and Nate recommended.

Pack Towl is the brand, and we ordered the beach towel size. They come in four sizes; face, hand, bath and beach. We wanted to be able to use these in a variety of situations, so we ordered the largest; beach.

They come in a variety of sizes and patterns; different colors are different prices! https://amzn.to/2WiBmiX

Biodegradable Spray Hand Sanitizer // No Microplastics // Green Hygiene for Covid 19

Until I ordered some Stream2Sea Spray Hand Sanitizer, I did not know that the reason many hand sanitizers are thick and viscous is because they contain microplastics. Plastics! I decided to do some research on unsafe ingredients found in our newest must-have item for protecting ourselves from sickness and viruses; hand sanitizers, aka antiseptic rubs.

BIG CAT RESCUE // EXOTIC ANIMAL RESCUE & RETIREMENT SANCTUARY // Deep Water Happy

I’ve been to wildlife rescue facilities from Florida to South Africa. I’ve wanted to visit Big Cat Rescue for years, and finally did. Big Cat Rescue sends a magazine regularly; I think I’ve been receiving it for over a decade. Over the years, I’ve followed the successful care of abused, abandoned, orphaned, retired, and surrendered big cats by this non-profit accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Sometimes I even receive emails asking me to help with petitioning lawmakers to end the private possession and trade of exotic cats. Always, I do my part and write and call.

ECOCONSCIOUS BIODEGRADABLE HAND SANITIZER // STREAM2SEA // EUCALYPTUS AND CAMPHOR // DeepWaterHappy

Our favorite reef safe sunscreen company saves the day and their employees by introducing hand sanitizer to their product line. Stream2Sea is a small Florida-based, woman-owned company. When orders for reef safe shampoo and conditioners for the cruise ship industry plummeted, the owner, Autumn Blum, realized she could ensure her employee’s jobs while meeting a dire need for hand sanitizer. The result is a hand sanitizer of completely safe, biodegradable ingredients; no synthetic fragrances or preservatives.

Making Money By Renting Your Dock to Boaters // Airbnb Your Dock // Passive Income Wins

If you have a dock, and you’re not using it – you can rent it out with PierShare to bring in a bit of income. It’s already there, and besides, you get to look at a pretty boat and have someone watching your property for you. What could be better? The best innovation ever for boaters and waterfront homeowners is here; the ability to search for privately-owned dockage worldwide using an online system similar to Airbnb for finding a slip for your boat. It’s called PierShare, and the benefits and the advantage this provides for boaters is immense. In fact, it’s even better than the benefits of home sharing. If you have a dock – you can get started earning an income from it immediately!

Jacksonville Waterfront Airbnb

WACKY WATERFRONT AIRBNB // JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA // Deep Water Happy

One of the most unique, eclectic, fab Airbnb’s we have seen! And waterfront! The only Airbnb for miles around, this St. Johns River waterfront cabin was part fish camp, part pure Floridiana. The cabin was only steps from the water and a dock. There’s even a small beach or sandy kayak launch. It’s difficult to find affordable, unique, fun waterfront lodging in Jacksonville. So, this was a great find.

Mini Review of Mariner of the Seas // Royal Caribbean Cruise Line // Three Night Bahamas Cruise

Several times a year, we plan dive cruises – that is, we cruise, and wherever we go, we scuba dive! This time, we cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas on a three night cruise to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, Florida. We’ve been cruising on the smaller ships like Rhapsody, Enchantment, and Jewel, and we like the layouts and smaller passenger to crew ratios. We stepped on Mariner, and within an hour or two, we were in love with the layout, the organization, and the many small private areas scattered around the ship.

Unusual Jacksonville Waterfront Airbnb // St. Johns River Florida // Review

When booking an Airbnb, sometimes you just already know you have hit the jackpot of unusual and fab. The photos are quirky, the location is insane, and the description sounds like your favorite crazy aunt is renting out the secret family hideaway. That’s what happened to us this time. Our waterfront Airbnb in Jacksonville, Florida was situated exactly across the street from the Broward House, where we were taking a NOLS Wilderness Medicine class. There were no other Airbnb’s for miles around. Not only was the location perfect for the class, but also, it was on the water. That’s one of one of my main criteria for Airbnb’s wherever we go.

TAKING THE MAYPORT FERRY ACROSS THE ST. JOHNS RIVER AT A1A // Deep Water Happy

A1A goes across the St. Johns River – and the only way across is by ferry! This weekend we took NOLS Wilderness Medicine class in Jacksonville at the Broward House. The fastest and shortest way to travel that area it to take the stretch of A1A that goes across the St. Johns River – by ferry!We loaded our car on the St. Johns Ferry named “Jean Ribault” that is operated by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. The ferry is named for Jean Ribault who was a naval officer, navigator, and colonizer from France. He played a big role in the colonization of Florida. He was commander of the French Huguenot colony of Fort Caroline in Jacksonville, and was massacred by the Spanish soldiers near St. Augustine.

How to Rent a Private Dock Anywhere // Airbnb For Boaters

The best innovation ever for boaters and waterfront homeowners is here; the ability to search for privately-owned dockage worldwide using an online system similar to Airbnb for finding a slip for your boat. It’s called PierShare, and can you even imagine the benefits and the advantage this provides for boaters. It’s even better than the benefits of home sharing.

SCUBA Diving in Cuba // Spectacular Shore Diving

First of all, diving in Cuba is accessible right from the shore, and the wall is stuffed full of incredible fish, eels, sponges, fans and every type of coral drops from 160 to 500 feet. We saw absolutely staggering staghorn coral growths that would make divers in the Florida Keys cry in their masks. Gatherings of huge conch mesmerized me with their size and abundance.

COME BOATING WITH ME // PRIDE OF PALATKA FLORIDA RIVERBOAT TOURS // Deep Water Happy

The Pride of Palatka operates from the City Dock in Palatka, Florida taking passengers on riverboat tours of the St. Johns River. The Pride of Palatka is a 45-foot pontoon boat US Coast Guard certified to carry up to 49 passengers. She operates on the St. Johns River, taking explorers north and south on the river to experience the natural beauty of this river that flows north.

Dive Trip From Havana // Diving the Reefs of Cuba’s North Shore

My article SCUBA Diving in Cuba // Pristine Reefs on the North Shore didn’t have enough room to show you much of the diving. So, here’s to more Cuba Diving! In the previous article, I told the whole story of the dive experience, from leaving the Malecon in Havana to our return and view of our point of origin from the fort across the historic harbor in that article. Now I want to show more of the sea life we encountered while scuba diving in Cuba.

SCUBA Diving in Cuba // Pristine Reefs on the North Shore

We weren’t really sure what to expect with Scuba diving in Cuba, except for probably pristine waters and lots of tropical fish, but we quickly caught on – no trash, no crowds, and absolute rivers of blue fish streaming past. For our first diving in Cuba, we took the elevator down five flights from our casa particulare flat with a view of the Prada, the Malecon, and two enormous Spanish Forts. We jumped into a big VW van with our dive gear.

WEEKEND IN PONTE VEDRA // JACKSONVILLE BEACH FLORIDA // Deep Water Happy

A fun weekend in Ponte Vedra Beach // Jacksonville Beach // Robert Cray Concert at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, and a sleek Airbnb. Not every weekend is sailing, diving, or kayaking! This weekend we stayed on land and headed to a Robert Cray concert – the absolute master of the blues! The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall is a great, intimate venue seating about 500 of you and your closest friends. Dinner at iNoodle was a wonderful change from our usual haunts, and we had a new Airbnb experience – one hosted by a management company instead of an individual homeowner.

Charming Jacksonville Beach 1BR Apt w/ Parking // Jacksonville Beach Florida // Airbnb Review

This was our first Airbnb experience that was completely managed by a reservations consolidator. We were in the area for a Robert Cray concert at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, so the Marsh Landing area was perfect for us. It was only a couple miles from the venue. With 28 listings in the Jacksonville area, I figured Frontdesk has a pretty established system for bookings, and they did. The apartment was self check in, which is very convenient. We even received a text that the apartment was ready early!

How to Pack For a Cruise // It’s All About the Shoes

Packing for a cruise can be stressful because you are trying to cover all possible weather, an extremely wide variety of activities, and throw in a formal night… It’s hard! The great thing about cruising is that there is no limit to your luggage. However, whatever luggage you pack still must leave your home, be transferred to your transportation, possibly then through an airport, a shuttle, and to the cruise port.

Planning a Budget Three Night Cruise Ship Dive Trip // Budget Dive Trips and Tips

The easiest of Cruise Ship Dive Trips is to plan is a three-nighter due to the limited number of dives and dive connections to be made. It’s a great cruise to “practice” on getting your cruise ship dive trip methods figured out and your routine practiced on a shorter route. Here are the main planning points: travel to the port, parking and hotel or Airbnb at the port, choosing the cruise, booking the dives, travel to the dives, return details. In order to plan a truly budget-mindful trip, it is going to take some planning to get the best deals.

17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives

Aquariums have plenty of benefits and attraction – here’s the list of every aquarium across the US that allows scuba diving in their tanks and exhibits. The opportunity to be guaranteed visibility, sea life sightings, no current, and a bit of practice can be fun! For much of the information, I contacted the aquariums directly. So, not only is the information even more extensive than what is on their sites, it’s up-to-date. International Aquarium Diving options will be covered fully in another article.

CHOOSING LODGING // HOW TO GET THE BEST EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR MONEY // Deep Water Happy

How to get the best experience for you money when choosing lodging is a passion of mine! I’m analyzing the best method for finding an awesome place to stay, ticking off all those “boxes” of features and amenities you most desire, and considering hotels, too! I’m going to show you a “conflict resolution” method to narrow it down to the best possible choice. I’d rather stay somewhere really cool for a lower rate than pay a higher rate for a hotel chain stay. Once you put all the numbers in front of you, including parking fees, you can make an informed decision.

Eating Our Way from Venice to Wauchula // Dining Off the Chain in Florida

This shark tooth dive trip to Venice, Florida was an “every meal out” trip, and we had no idea what to expect in the way of restaurants. Road trips and dive trips are a chance to experience new food. Sometimes we opt for grocery shopping and preparing our own food; but other times, we throw caution to the wind and plan on a total splurge and eat out every meal. Avoiding chain restaurants is our goal, but that doesn’t always work.

Venice Villas Studio #57 // Venice Florida // Airbnb Review

Under five minute’s walk to a private beach, we loved Villa #57 at Venice Villas. We wanted an Airbnb with a small kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, and this was available at a reasonable nightly rate. A weekend of shark tooth diving in Venice, Florida led us to search for something with either a pool or a waterfront view, and this fit the bill perfectly. The beach is a very short walk, about a half a block, and the pool is an even shorter one.

Waterfront on Roberts Bay // Venice Florida // Airbnb Review

We stayed one night at a waterfront home on Roberts Bay in Venice, FL to do some shark tooth diving. This was our first stay at an Airbnb with an owner living in the same house – a first shared space, first room in a house instead of an entire house or living space to ourselves. As our first Airbnb stay at an owner’s residence, we were pretty unsure of what to do – ring the doorbell? Bring wine? Take off our shoes?

St. Johns River // Bartram Frolic // Riverboat Tour in Palatka, Florida

Every September, the Putnam County Bartram Trail in Putnam County, Florida hosts their annual Bartram Frolic commemorating William Bartram’s travels on the St. Johns River in 1774. This year’s frolic was the 245th anniversary of William Bartram’s travels through Palatka. I serve as the riverboat captain, commanding a 45 foot pontoon boat powered with twin 200 hp Yamaha outboard‘s on jack plates. This boat is a dream to operate, and the guided riverboat tours are a favorite part of the historic weekend.

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