Escape the hustle and bustle!  Castaway for the day on Cayo Costa Island.

Escape the hustle and bustle! Castaway for the day on Cayo Costa Island.

If you’re looking for a hideaway from the excitement of Southwest Florida for the day, Cayo Costa Island State Park is the perfect oasis. This barrier island, accessible by boat or ferry, is tucked away near Punta Gorda and North Fort Myers, making it the ideal private retreat. This remarkable Gulf Coast location, renowned for the white sand beaches and shelling, is a seclusive and relaxing getaway.

Getting to Cayo Costa Island

Cayo Costa Island lies at the entrance of Charlotte Harbor, nestled between North Captiva Island and Boca Grande, and is reached by boat or ferry. If you don’t have a boat to visit this breathtaking island, Captiva Cruises, the official state park concessionaire, has you covered! The ferry accommodates all kinds of family fun, offering private cruises for special events and conveniently running from several locations including: Captiva Island, Punta Gorda, Boca Grande, and Pine Island.

Cayo Costa State Park Features

The ferry docks at the State Park and from there it is a short walk (a free tram service is also offered) to the captivating white sand beaches and shelling. Booking your trip in advance is encouraged and can be done by phone (239) 472-5100 or on the Cayo Costa Ferry website.

When you get to the island, you will certainly see some aquatic life, as the beaches are a sea turtle nesting area from May-September. These nests are marked with wooden sticks, so be sure to get some pictures, but not to disturb the nests, as they are protected by law.

What To Do On Cayo Costa Island

Once you dock on the island, you will see 9 miles of sparkling and immaculate white sand beach, untouched and ready to be explored. This island features sand dunes and peaceful pine forests with tranquil oak-palm hammocks tucked in with the mangroves. If you’re looking for the perfect picnic spot, the island is full of grassy spots hidden under the shade of palms or pine trees.

Cayo Costa Island has gems tucked all over and is considered to be one of the best beaches for shells in the world, so if you want a unique and memorable souvenir, look no further. The island  ends in over six miles of trails, which are perfect to enjoy fishing, biking, birdwatching or snorkeling.

If you want more time on this tranquil island, you can rent a cabin with bunk beds or bring your own camping gear for the full island experience and enjoy your fresh catch on the grills at the campsites.

Castaway For The Day!
Castaway For The Day!

McCarthy’s Marina in Captiva is your last stop on your way to Cayo Costa Island, so be sure to have picked up all of your essentials before you become a castaway for the day!

Original article here

3 Date Night Ideas Near Riviera Dunes Marina

3 Date Night Ideas Near Riviera Dunes Marina

3 Date Night Ideas Near Riviera Dunes Marina

3 Date Night Ideas Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Looking for date night ideas near Riviera Dunes Marina? Look no further than Sarasota, where there are plenty of activities for couples! Whether you and your special someone want to catch a sunset, enjoy a great meal or create a masterpiece, Sarasota is brimming with unique date night ideas. Here are three date night activities near Riviera Dunes Marina.

Sunset Cruise

While the sunsets around Sarasota are captivating on their own, see them from a whole new perspective aboard a boat! Pure Florida Sunset Cruises offers a front row seat to the sunset overlooking the Caloosahatchee River. Bring your own picnic and non-alcoholic beverages as you catch views of Fort Myers, mangroves and more! If you’re looking for sunset with dinner and drinks included, book a sunset cruise with the Naples Princess yacht. When you reserve their romantic sunset dinner cruises, rest assured you’ll get to enjoy spectacular views and a gourmet meal.

Food Tour

Speaking of gourmet food, Sarasota is chock-full of delicious dining spots where food lovers’ dreams will come true! If you head to St. Armands Circle, discover fine dining restaurants offering Italian and Greek fare, then make sure to save room for dessert! St. Armands Circle has a creperie, French macaron shop and even a gourmet popcorn company! And if you visit on the right night, you can catch some live jazz music! There are also plenty of restaurants in Downtown Sarasota that not only offer a romantic atmosphere, but they are known for their exquisite bites.

Sips and Artmaking

Perhaps you’re interested in approaching your date night with a creative spin. Create art while imbibing! Local businesses like Painting with a Twist and Paint Nite Sarasota offer a unique way for you to spend your date night near Riviera Dunes Marina. The best part about these experiences is that the classes are led by an instructor, so all levels of expertise will be able to enjoy them, all while indulging in their beverage of choice! All you have to do is head to their website, choose what you’d like to paint from their list of masterpieces and reserve your spot online. From painting your pet to capturing our lovely Florida sunsets on canvas, you’re guaranteed to end your date night with a true work of art and a fun night out with your loved one!

Next: Summer Bucket List Part 1: 5 Must-Dos in Sarasota

4 Boating Adventures in Sarasota, FL

4 Boating Adventures in Sarasota, FL

4 Boating Adventures in Sarasota, FL Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

4 Boating Adventures in Sarasota, FL

If you’re not on a boat as a resident or visitor in Sarasota, you’re missing out on plenty of fun adventures on the water! From snorkeling to exploring the wildlife and luxury waterfront homes here, there are far more boating adventures than just coasting along Sarasota Bay. If you don’t own a boat, there are plenty of facilities where you can rent a boat, too. And if you’d rather not travel by boat, take out your kayak or canoe to enjoy these boating adventures in Sarasota.

Tour Sarasota’s fabulous luxury homes.

Sarasota has some beautiful mansions that you can see when boating along the Intracoastal Waterway! From luxury tiki huts to grandiose artwork in the backyard, if you go at a slower speed, you’ll get to take in all of your surroundings. Look to Bird Key and Northern Siesta Key to begin this unique boating adventure!

Cast a line at the Middle Grounds.

The Middle Grounds are one of fishermens’ favorite fishing spots in Sarasota, and it’s also a sort of hidden gem. Just head to the New Pass area in Sarasota Bay, and you will find an area brimming with spotted seatrout, pompano and cobia, just to name a few! Use shrimp as bait or try fly fishing to capture these fabulous game fish. If you need more bait, there are several bait shops nearby carrying the best in bait and any other fishing supplies you might need.

Explore the underwater communities

Anchor your boat, canoe or kayak in a sandy spot adjacent to one of Sarasota’s seagrass beds to do some exploring! You’ll likely find these these seagrass beds when you snorkel in water that’s within 7 feet deep. From underwater landscapes, spotted seatrout or even manatees, snorkeling is one of the most thrilling boating adventures you’ll want to carve out time for while in Sarasota. Just be mindful when you’re snorkeling as to not disturb these beautiful underwater communities.

Capture the natural surroundings and wildlife.

When you’re boating in Sarasota, you’ll come across a plethora of unforgettable nature views and wildlife. Capture these moments by taking your professional camera on your boating adventure and waiting for the perfect shot! Watch as dolphins come to the surface, and don’t forget to look up to see great blue herons in flight!

Next: 5 Boating Etiquette Guidelines to Follow

5 Tips for Stress-Free Traveling to Palmetto, FL

5 Tips for Stress-Free Traveling to Palmetto, FL

5 Tips for Stress-Free Traveling to Palmetto, FL Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

5 Tips for Stress-Free Traveling to Palmetto, FL

Ready to vacation to Palmetto, FL? Vacations are certainly a time for relaxation, however it’s not uncommon to return home realizing we need a vacation from our vacation! Don’t let that be the case this summer as your travel to Palmetto, FL. Here are our top five tips to ensure you have a stress-free and fun vacation this summer.

Make a list.

Among the kids toys, bottles of sunscreen and beach towels, in can be hard to maintain peace of mind when it comes to making sure you’ve packed everything you need for your vacation. The key to stress-free traveling? Make a list of everything you’ll need. From your beach essentials to the trip essentials, including important documents and chargers for your electronics, a list will maintain stress-free traveling for the whole family. Not sure where to start? Look to our list of top seven beach essentials here.

Make an itinerary.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the fun activities to be had here and in neighboring areas, Sarasota and Bradenton. Instead of arriving here and winging it, do a little research and make an itinerary of activities for the whole family. This way, you can choose your favorite things to do and not be at the end of your vacation feeling like you’ve missed out.

Be strategic with your carry-on.

Baggage can get lost or left behind between plane transfers. Pack a carry on with the essentials including a change of clothes, toiletries and other necessities just in case this happens to you while traveling. Of course, don’t forget to pack an extra swimsuit so that you can just make your way to the beach and leave your lost baggage worries behind.

Notify your bank of your upcoming travels.

The last thing you want happening during your vacation to Palmetto, FL is for your funds to be halted due to your bank being unaware of your travels. Save yourself from the headache, and contact your bank to let them know you’re going to be traveling. Nowadays it’s quite easy to do this and can be done online within minutes.

Be flexible.

At the end of the day, sometimes our best planned vacations encounter unforeseen circumstances. Instead of sulking in the unplanned situation and getting down in a rut, remain calm and just head to the beach.

Next: Summer Bucket List Part 1: 5 Must-Dos in Sarasota

Summer Bucket List Part 2: 5 Must-Dos in Bradenton

Summer Bucket List Part 2: 5 Must-Dos in Bradenton

Summer Bucket List Part 2: Must-Dos in Bradenton Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

Summer Bucket List Part 2: 5 Must-Dos in Bradenton

Summer officially starts tomorrow! In this second installment of our summer bucket list, we’re going to dive into all of the must-dos in Bradenton! Brimming with a wealth of water activities, historic attractions, art and, of course, beaches, you can see it can be difficult to narrow down the must-dos in Bradenton. Here are the top five things to do when you’re in Bradenton, FL this summer!

1. TreeUmph! Adventure Course

Looking for some fun in the treetops of Bradenton? Swing through the trees then traverse suspended logs and wobbly footbridges and more at TreeUmph! Adventure Course. TreeUmph! is easily one of the top must-dos in Bradenton because it’s a unique way to both have fun and sightsee from great heights at the same time! The best part about their adventure courses is that all skill levels are welcome. Courses vary from easy to moderate and challenging to difficult. There’s even an “extremely exciting” course called ‘Summit’ if you really want to test your climbing skills!

2. Eco-Tours

If you’re looking for one of the more tranquil must-dos in Bradenton, look to the many eco-tours offered here. At Palma Sola Botanical Park, walk among 10 acres of paths lined with shells and exotic fruit, and admire the gardens as you take in the lake scenery. Then you can take a pause and enjoy lunch beneath the screened pavilion! And if you have your furry family members with you, they’re welcome as long as they are leashed. Also in Bradenton, Robinson Nature Reserve offers over 450 acres of lush nature where you can kayak, hike, bike and fish! Make sure to take a peek from the observation tower for an unforgettable view of Bradenton.

3. Bradenton Riverwalk

It’s not a visit to Bradenton unless you walk along the 1.5-mile Riverwalk overlooking the Manatee River! In addition to the river views, public art abounds on the Riverwalk. From sound sculptures to handmade ceramic tiles and murals among the 19 pieces of art, you’ll be able to get a taste of Bradenton history through the artwork of our local artists.

4. LECOM Park

Did you know that Bradenton is the destination for its own minor league baseball team and the spring training location for a Major League Baseball team? That’s right! Bradenton’s LECOM Park is where you can catch the Pittsburgh Pirates training in the spring and the Bradenton Marauders playing in the summer. Plus, there are some great weekly specials at the ballpark that you don’t want to miss, such as the Tampa Bay Times Family Pack where you get a special ticket and meal deal for just $16. Just make sure to check the Thursday Weekend paper for the coupon! And if you come on Saturdays, there’s always a firework show!

5. The Beaches

Of course Bradenton’s own beaches are reason enough to visit! From Anna Maria Beach to Coquina Beach, Bradenton’s beaches are lush with white sand and captivating views of the water for you to kick back and enjoy all summer long.

Next: Summer Bucket List Part 1: 5 Must-Dos in Sarasota

Summer Bucket List Part 1: 5 Must-Dos in Sarasota

Summer Bucket List Part 1: 5 Must-Dos in Sarasota

Summer Bucket List Part 1: 5 Must-Dos in Sarasota Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

Summer Bucket List Part 1: 5 Must-Dos in Sarasota

Just a short drive from Riviera Dunes Marina lies Sarasota renowned for its beautiful beaches. However, Sarasota has much more to offer than sun and sand! From museums to lush botanical gardens, there are plenty of must-dos in Sarasota that you’ll want to add to your summer bucket list!

Here’s part one of our summer bucket list when you’re in Sarasota.

1. Sarasota Farmers Market

The summer season welcomes a bounty of bright vegetables, fruit and other specialty foods local to the Sarasota area. Discover fresh ginger, microgreens, lush beets and you guessed it—Florida oranges! In addition, the Sarasota Farmers Market features plant vendors selling everything from herbs to flowers as well as artisans offering handmade soap, artwork and more eclectic goods! When you’re done perusing the exciting vendors, stick around for lunch at one of the food vendors serving up steak, German food and burgers . . . just to name a few. The market is located at 1 N. Lemon Avenue and operates every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

2. Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

One of the most unique must-dos in Sarasota is to visit Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, an animal sanctuary for large, exotic animals. In addition to caring for exotic animals in need, the sanctuary is also an educational opportunity where you can learn about animal care and habitat preservation. Some animals you might see are bears, birds, ligers, lions and tortoises! There is also a petting zoo where you can get up close with goats, llamas and chickens.

3. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Surround yourself with beauty and nature when you visit Selby Botanical Gardens. Enter the gardens’ seven acres of tropical bliss as you traverse the Children’s Rainforest Garden where visitors can learn about this unique environment. Then, in the Tropical Conservatory, this is the gardens’ public greenhouse where you will see the first blooms of the plants. Of course, you won’t want to miss the koi pond, fern garden or the Towering Bamboo garden, where bamboo can grow up to 40 inches per day! See it all for yourself and more at the botanical gardens in Sarasota.

4. The Sarasota Classic Car Museum

Antique car lovers will be mesmerized at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum, the second oldest antique car museum in the country! Admire over 75 antique cars from Bentleys to Cadillacs. You’ll even get to see cars owned by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and a collection of cars owned by John and Mable Ringling. Then make sure you make a stop in the gift shop to take home a treasure and remember your visit for years to come!

5. The Beaches

Of course one of the top must-dos in Sarasota must include a visit to the beach! Popular beaches to visit are the No. 1 voted beach, Siesta Key Beach, Lido Beach, Venice beach, among other beaches and their islands. Learn more about Sarasota’s beaches and islands in this previous post

Next: 4 Tips for Protecting Yourself from the Florida Sun

What to Bring on Your Bradenton Fishing Trip

What to Bring on Your Bradenton Fishing Trip

What to Bring on Your Bradenton Fishing Trip Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

What to Bring on Your Bradenton Fishing Trip

Summer is right around the corner, which means there’s plenty of time to take a day or more out of your schedules for a good ol’ Bradenton fishing trip. Here’s a helpful checklist to assist you when you’re ready for a day fishing out on Bradenton waters.

Your fishing license or permit

Whether you are a local or a visitor during your Bradenton fishing trip, you’ll need a fishing license or permit, which you can get on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website. However, you might not need a fishing license or permit if you meet the exemptions listed here. Make sure to do your homework before embarking on your fishing trip.

Rods and tackle box

What’s a Bradenton fishing trip without your rods and a stocked tackle box? Whether you have your single lucky rod that you always reach for or a few favorites, make sure to bring them on your trip! Then, check your tackle box to make sure you have extra fishing line, scissors, pliers to remove hooks, gloves and plenty of bait.

GPS and backup maps

Navigate your Bradenton fishing trip with ease when you have a GPS. If you don’t have a GPS within your boat, check out Google Earth on your phone in order to view a topographical map and find the best fishing spots in Bradenton. And though you might never need it, bringing the old paper map will certainly come in handy should your mobile devices fail.

First aid kit

It never hurts to be prepared in the event that there is an accident when you’re fishing. Check on your first aid kit to ensure there are bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze and adhesive tape to mend any unfortunate fishing accidents.

Stocked cooler

Even if you’re spending just a half day on the Bradenton waters for your fishing trip, you should always bring a stocked cooler. Make sure your cooler is packed with plenty of water and food. Plus, you might need a cooler if you’re fishing with live bait.

Protection from the sun

It’s likely there will be plenty of sun when you’re fishing in the Sunshine State. Don’t leave home without sunscreen, hats and polarized sunglasses to sufficiently protect yourself from the sun.

Next: 4 Tips for Protecting Yourself from the Florida Sun

3 Places for Shelling Near Riviera Dunes Marina

3 Places for Shelling Near Riviera Dunes Marina

3 Places For Shelling Near Riviera Dunes Marina

3 Places for Shelling Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Did you know that when you visit Bradenton, you’ll get to take home a “piece” of it with you? That’s right! One of our most beloved pastimes—other than boating, of course—is to visit the lovely beaches near Riviera Dunes Marina in search of shells! Shelling is not only a fun activity in and of itself, but it provides built-in souvenirs for you to take home to remember your trip for years to come. Here are our three of our favorite places to go shelling near Riviera Dunes Marina:

Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island is brimming with shells! From lovely turkey wings to the smaller coquinas, and even sand dollars, there are plenty of treasures to discover when you visit the beaches of Anna Maria Island. Whether you’re shelling along the shores of Manatee Public Beach or at Anna Maria City Beach, it’s not uncommon to find shells that are in perfect condition. Larger shells are known to be found when you’re on North Bay Boulevard at Bayfront Park during low tide. Then when you head to the more southern end of the island, Coquina Public Beach is popular for finding both seashells and shark teeth.

Siesta Key

When you visit the beaches of Siesta Key, wonderful shelling opportunities await you! Though you are bound to find shells on all of Siesta Key’s three beaches, Turtle Beach is known to have the greatest abundance of shells among the three beaches. Plus, this beach is much less crowded, so there are always plenty of shells to take home with you!

Lido Key

Known for its two miles of pristine shoreline, the barrier island of Lido Key is also a hotspot for shells. Roam Lido Key’s beaches, whether it’s North Lido Beach, Lido Key Public Beach or South Beach, and you’re bound to find heaps of shells. However, if you want to find the most shells on Lido Key, head to the less busy northern end. With less hotels and less foot traffic, the more shelling opportunities there will be for you and your loved ones!

Next: 4 Tips for Protecting Yourself from the Florida Sun

4 Tips for Protecting Yourself from the Florida Sun

4 Tips for Protecting Yourself from the Florida Sun

4 Tips for Protecting Yourself from the Florida Sun Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

4 Tips for Protecting Yourself from the Florida Sun

With the sun in full force and the last day of school right around the corner, we can predict that you’ll be spending much more time outside! And with the additional time outside, this of course means that you have to be even more on guard when it comes to sun protection. Here are some tips for protecting yourself and your loved ones beneath the Florida sun.

1. Dress for the occasion.

When you’re beneath the Florida sun, you don’t want to be wearing dense clothing. In order to stay cool, wear breathable clothing made out of fabrics such as linen and cotton. Items such as flowy dresses, pants and tops are preferable. Open-toed shoes or sandals are better options and preferred over sneakers.

2. Take frequent breaks from the sun.

As much as our beaches here in Bradenton are breathtaking, you stil have to make sure you’re taking a break from the sun. Too much sun could cause heat stroke or sunburn, among other issues. Whether you move to a shaded area or to an air-conditioned room, make sure to give yourself breaks from the Florida sun so that you can enjoy time at the beach!

3. You can never overdo the SPF.

Local beachgoers know that applying sunscreen has to be applied often when spending a day in the sun. Experts say that you should reapply sunscreen every two hours. In addition, you should also reapply your sunscreen after you get out of the water, as it’s washed away when swimming. It’s also important to keep in mind that sunscreen is not waterpoof or sweatproof.

4. Hydrate.

Staying properly hydrated is crucial when it comes to protecting yourself from the Florida sun. Drinking alcoholic beverages is not recommended while on the beach since these can quickly dehydrate you. Another tip to ensuring your body is getting enough fluids is to try to avoid salty or overly sweet snacks since these cause fluid loss and result in dehydration.

Next: How You Can Stay Safe at the Bradenton Beaches

How You Can Stay Safe at the Bradenton Beaches

How You Can Stay Safe at the Bradenton Beaches

How You Can Stay Safe at the Bradenton Beaches Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

How You Can Stay Safe at the Bradenton Beaches

With our state’s endless sunshine and beautiful beaches, it’s rare that you can have anything but a great day while vacationing here in Bradenton. Among collecting shark teeth to shelling and of course enjoying time in the water or on a boat, staying safe at Bradenton beaches is our top priority. Resource yourself and your loved ones with these tips for staying safe while on your vacation.

Protect yourself from the sun.

When you’re out enjoying the Bradenton beaches, this of course means you’re spending a lot of time in the sun. Make sure to regularly apply sunscreen every two hours. And if you’re taking a dip in the water, make sure to reapply it right away in order to protect your skin. If you’re going to be spending an extended time on the beach, particularly at midday when the sun is strongest, bring an umbrella, hat and sunglasses so that you can take a break from direct sun exposure.

Stay hydrated.

Staying hydrated with plenty of water is key to staying safe during your beach day. While you are surely well aware of this safety tip, it never hurts to be reminded because it is so vital when spending a full day in the sun. In addition, make sure to avoid alcoholic beverages.

Pay attention to the flags.

When you arrive at one of our Bradenton beaches, you’ll notice there will be raised flags to signal the current beach conditions. Flags can be a sign of a number of water conditions including harmful marine life (such as jellyfish) to high hazard and strong current conditions. Assess the flags before you make way to your spot to ensure the water’s safe for you and your little ones.

Be wary of rip currents.

Speaking of strong currents, rip currents are channels of water that can quickly pull you away from the shore. Even though a red flag should be raised to signal for rip currents, you can identify them when you see a change in the water color, rough channel conditions or breaks occurring in the waves. If you do find yourself in a rip current, make sure that you remain calm and swim with the current’s direction parallel to the shore, not against the current as this will just pull you out further.

Pay attention to poor weather.

Before you venture to the Bradenton beaches, check the weather report so that you can be aware of any storms or other severe weather. If you’re expecting stormy weather, it might be best to reschedule your beach day. If you find yourself already at the beach, and you hear thunder, immediately exit the water and vacate the beach while you wait out the storm by retreating indoors.

Next: Get to Know the Islands ands Beaches of Sarasota