6 Secret Islands to Visit Near Palmetto, FL

6 Secret Islands to Visit Near Palmetto, FL

6 Secret Islands to Visit Near Palmetto, FL Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

6 Secret Islands to Visit Near Palmetto, FL

Looking for a quick weekend getaway or a new destination for your family’s next vacation? Look no further than these six secret islands for your next adventure!

All six of these secret islands are within three hours of Palmetto, FL, so you can choose to take a quick day trip or opt for a longer weekend or week-long stay.

1. Gasparilla Island

Embrace the slower Gasparilla Island lifestyle via golf cart, like a true local. Enjoy shelling, swimming and even snorkeling here. Take a visit to the restored Port Boca Grande Lighthouse, and bring your picnic lunch for a bite in the scenic Gasparilla Island State Park.

2. Jupiter Island

Stretching less than 4 miles, Jupiter Island is a private barrier island home to celebrities including Tiger Woods and Celine Dion. Lounge on the island’s beautiful white beaches or go for a stroll through the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge where you just might meet a loggerhead sea turtle.

3. Merritt Island

Though not as “secret” per se, birders will enjoy a getaway here as they traverse the thousands of acres at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge also hosts Beginner Birder Tours that you do not want to miss! You’ll also enjoy an interactive afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and may even get to witness a rocket take off!

4. Cedar Key

If there were two words to describe Cedar Key, they would be ‘calm’ and ‘clams.’ Venture through the National Wildlife Refuge by kayak or cast a line at the local pier, but whatever you do, don’t leave without a bowl of their local clam chowder.

5. Pine Island

Cruise into Pine Island for optimal relaxation and a getaway immersed in art and local culture. Spend the day at the 300-foot-long fishing pier, peruse local art galleries, and dine at the freshest seafood spots. If you choose to stay overnight, you’ll find plenty of charming hotels and cottages with beautiful views of the water.

6. Cabbage Key

For a truly secluded and hidden getaway, enter a nature lover’s paradise at Cabbage Key in Pineland. Panoramic views of the sound and nature trails await you as you exit the ferry. That’s right, the island is only accessible by boat.

Next: Free Fun in Sarasota and Bradenton

 

6 Easy Tips to Better Outboard Performance

6 Easy Tips to Better Outboard Performance

6 Easy Tips to Better Outboard Performance Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

6 Easy Tips to Better Outboard Performance

Wondering what’s best for your boat’s outboard performance? From taking an inventory of your boat’s gear to simply keeping up with its maintenance, here are six easy tips that you can take today to better your outboard performance.

  1. Leave your engines alone. While it’s tempting to modify the speed, it’s best to leave the setting to how it was manufactured. Modifying the engine, even by just a couple miles per hour compromises its reliability and voids its warranty as well.
  2. Straighten your outboard’s posture. Situate your boat so that its outboard points straight ahead. This allows the thrust to be guided to point up as well, which will increase efficiency and use your fuel more conservatively.
  3. Find the prop that works for your performance. The prop will differ very much if you’re racing one day and going on a fishing trip the next day. Try out different props to meet your desired purpose.
  4. Jack plates are your friends. When you mount your outboard on a jack plate, you’re able to achieve the optimal position for your engine. Another great benefit for using jack plates is being able to adjust the distance of the motor from the transom, which ensures that water isn’t entering the prop.
  5. Check your gear. Take an inventory of the gear that you carry on your boat. Too much gear can slow down your boat’s efficiency and speed. Boat racers estimate that 100 pounds of gear is the equivalent of 4 mph.
  6. Keep you with your boat’s maintenance. While it sounds like a no-brainer, the more you keep up with your boat, the better your outboard performance and the longer your boat’s lifespan will be. For instance, make sure you’re using the correct octane fuel and a high-quality two-stroke oil, and don’t forget to replace the lower unit’s oil. These are just a few of the many checks and balances you can make on your boat to ensure the best performance possible.

Next: Top 5 Palmetto Boating Safety Tips

Why You Should Vacation to Palmetto, FL this Winter

Why You Should Vacation to Palmetto, FL this Winter

Why You Should Vacation to Palmetto, FL this Winter Riviera Dunes Marina

Why You Should Vacation to Palmetto, FL this Winter

While Palmetto, FL and the surrounding areas are great places to vacation to during any season, the winter season is especially favorable for both you and your wallet.

Though you probably don’t need to be reminded why you should vacation to Palmetto, FL, here are some of our six favorite reasons to further motivate you.

1. The winter season goes easier on your wallet.

Yes, it’s true. There are much lower rental rates for beach houses and condominiums in Palmetto, FL during winter. Come stay for a great deal, and you’ll have more allowance to enjoy all of the fun activities, delicious dining and more.

2. There’s always an exciting event happening!

Just because the temperatures are milder doesn’t mean the fun is compromised. Next month, the Bradenton Area River Regatta will amaze you with thrilling boat races. Then, make sure you don’t miss the Circus Sarasota Winter Performance beginning on Feb. 10 through March 5. Fisherman and water lovers alike will of course enjoy the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival held Feb. 18–19 in nearby Bradenton. As you can see, there is much to see and do during winter near Palmetto, FL.

3. You don’t have to fight the crowds.

While it’s certainly popular to visit during the summer, this of course makes for more lines for you and your family to wait in. Save your precious vacation time and visit us during the winter for shorter lines and more time to enjoy yourself!

4. Snag a deal when dining.

During the off-season, there are fewer visitors to local restaurants. This is why many will often offer more happy hours, winter specials and other dining deals to entice more customers. It’s better for their business and for your wallet—a win-win situation, if you ask us!

5. The outdoor fun never stops.

From boat tours to hikes, there’s plenty of adventure to be had in Palmetto, FL during the winter season. Check out some of our favorite nature areas and boat tours, and explore all that our beautiful area has to offer!

6. Dock your boat at the most luxurious marina in town!

Here at Riviera Dunes Marina, you have the luxury of storing your boat while you’re out exploring the sights. Whether it’s for the day or week while you’re visiting, our marina is equipped with top-notch services including free pumpouts, 50-amp electrical services and much more. Call us today at 941-730-9806 to learn more about our boating amenities and more!

We hope you enjoy your stay here in the Palmetto, FL area!

Next: Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta Riviera Dunes Marina

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta

Attention, thrill-seekers: Prepare to be amazed at boats racing more than 120 mph! Witness daring events like this and so much more when you join in for the 3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta just a few weeks away on Feb. 4.

If you haven’t been to the Bradenton Area River Regatta previously, you’re in for a real treat! The schedule is still not concrete, but there are many exciting surprises in store for all of the Bradenton and Palmetto locals.

Head to the Manatee River for thrilling events including the Powerboat Super League Formula 2 events and the XHydro Cross Jet Skis and Disc Connect K9 show. You’ll also get to hear from the Nashville Yacht Club, Tampa’s own Soul Circus Cowboys and the ZBTB, the No. 1 Zac Brown tribute band, as the headliner. One thing’s for certain, the Powerboat Super Leagues will return for another spectacular performance that you do not want to miss. Other exciting events include extreme sports stunt shows, a family fun zone, a 5K river race and so much more!

Of course, don’t leave the kiddos at home! All ages will enjoy an art activity at the art center, activities at the South Florida Museum, the Little Anglers Fishing Tournament and more.

This free, family fun premiere event will also feature a variety of food vendors for you to refuel throughout the day. Then, make sure you stick around for the fireworks show and awards ceremony in Bradenton.

The Bradenton Area River Regatta will be held rain or shine. New this year will be the two Sarasota trolleys that will transport guest from Bradenton to Palmetto throughout the day.

Stay tuned as more details will be released. Visit BradentonAreaRegatta.com for the latest information.

Next: Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Anglers, Download this App and Help Track Invasive Fish

Anglers, Download this App and Help Track Invasive Fish

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Anglers, Download this App and Help Track Invasive Fish

Florida recently partnered with the Swedish app, Fishbrain. Fishbrain allows fishermen to connect and share the best fishing spots, tide changes and any other fishing-related news that interest anglers.

Though, the partnership between the state and the app stems from Florida’s interest in locating invasive fish using the app’s data. With approximately 250,000 Floridians using the app already, the data will assist the state and wildlife officials to track down freshwater exotic fish.

Local fisherman, if you’re interested in joining the state in their research for invasive fish or simply connecting with fellow anglers, here’s how the free app works.  You can follow another angler, a type of fishing or fish species as well as view other helpful tidbits of information including the local weather report. Users can view and post photos as well as leave comments. The map feature also provides accurate locations of where fish are being caught, which is where you can help, local anglers!

In the state’s pilot project, they’ll be using the data taken from the mapping feature to track 15 species of fish. Fish include tilapia, bullseye snakehead and catfish, among others. As anglers log their catches in the app, this information is then delivered to wildlife officials. While anglers can choose whether or not to share their locations, as some fear the best fishing spots will become less of a secret, the state is hoping this will not deter them from assisting them in the project.

Fishbrain is free, but you also have the option to upgrade to the premium version, which includes special features like the fishing forecast and a species tracking map. The premium version costs $5.99 per month or $60 for an annual subscription.

Next: Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Top 5 Places to Spend New Year’s Eve Near Bradenton

Top 5 Places to Spend New Year’s Eve Near Bradenton

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Top 5 Places to Spend New Year’s Eve Near Bradenton

Still looking for the most exciting place to spend New Year’s Eve that’s near Bradenton? We’ve got you covered here at Riviera Dunes Marina. Let’s ring in the New Year near Bradenton at one of these fabulous parties.

1. The Seafood Shack Marina Bar & Grill in Cortez

Head to the Neptune Room at The Seafood Shack Marina Bar & Grill for a New Year’s Eve party with country music performances and more! The Eric Von Band will be bringing the tunes. Opening for country music stars including Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert, Eric Von is also a native of Cortez. Other features of the party include cash bars, drink specials and a special menu.

  • Price: $15 (includes cover, fees and taxes).
  • Time: 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Band begins at 9 p.m.
  • Where: The Seafood Shack Marina Bar & Grill, Cortez.

2. Fishermen’s Village

For a family-friendly environment, head to Fisherman’s Village! Enjoy music and dancing with Gator DJ in Center Court as well as with singer and guitarist Michael Hirst. Visit with Pamela, the radio host of “Tropical Tarot & Beyond” for a tarot reading. Get festive with hair glitter designs from Brian and Lori. Then, the kids will enjoy magic shows, balloon art, face paintings by MaryRose, a photo booth and so much more.

  • Price: Free parking and admission.
  • Time: 5 p.m. to midnight; Michael Hirst at 7:30 p.m. to midnight.
  • Where: Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda.

3. Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town

New Year’s Eve is your last chance to galavant around Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. Though nearly an hour from Bradenton, Christmas town is the perfect place to end the year with a bang! Marvel at the two million festive lights and decorations and enjoy holiday entertainment that’s fit for all ages! Visit with Rudolph and Santa and hear live performances featuring holiday classics!

  • Price: $92.99 and up.
  • Time: 9:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Where: Busch Gardens, Tampa.

4. Sarasota Pineapple Drop

If you’re in Downtown Sarasota, head to their annual New Year’s Eve party, the Sarasota Pineapple Drop! Hear live music from Big Night Out on the Mattison’s Stage, beginning at 8 p.m. Jah Movement Reggae Band will be on the east stage near Evie’s at 8 p.m. Then, hear DJs on the Lemon Avenue stage. There’s also plenty of kids entertainment including carnival rides and games beginning at 1:30 p.m.! At midnight, head to the intersection of Lemon Avenue and Main Street for the Pineapple Drop countdown into 2017!

  • Price: Free admission.
  • Time: 1 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
  • Where: Downtown Sarasota.

5. Main Street Live in Downtown Bradenton

Our area’s most popular street party, you won’t want to miss Main Street Live for hours of live music. Bands include The Dram from 6–10 p.m. and Have Gun, Will Travel playing from 10 p.m.–midnight. You’ll also get to the opportunity to peruse a variety of vendors for a festive end to 2016!

  • Price: Free.
  • Time: 6 p.m. to midnight.
  • Where: Old Main Street, Bradenton.

Next: Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto FL Riviera Dunes Marina

Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

With the weather forecast looking beautiful and sunny for the next week, it’s the perfect time to take a boat or water tour in Palmetto, FL! Here are the three best boat and water tours our area has to offer.

1. Riverside Tours Inc

1005 Riverside Dr., Palmetto. | 941-779-3606

At Riverside Tours Inc, get the chance to cruise the Historic Manatee River! There are a variety of cruises to choose from. Their day cruises will take you to see mansions along the river, and you’ll even get to learn about the history of the thriving mangrove islands. Evening cruises are perfect for date night or a night out with friends since these are adult-only. In addition, you are welcome to bring your own libations and picnic to enjoy while cruising. The boats are also weather-protected and are equipped with an on-board restroom facility to ensure the most comfortable ride.

2. Bass N’ Bay Charters

752 Manatee Ave W., Holmes Beach. | 941-722-2033

If you’re looking for an exciting fishing trip, then you’ve come to the right place at Bass N’ Bay Charters! Captain Brady Nelson will take you on a saltwater or freshwater fishing excursion that you’ll remember for a lifetime. Brady’s boat is equipped with top-of-the-line fishing and safety equipment, so you can always be in for a smooth ride. Fishing trips are very customizable. View the full list here. There’s also a special running right now! If you choose to book a saltwater trip for two, you can bring one additional guest for free.

3. Captain Rachel’s Charter

Hop aboard Captain Rachel’s Charter, where you can fish and have a wonderful time outdoors during an eco water tour! Her 22′ Bayrider can seat up to six guests. With Captain Rachel, you’ll take a trip to Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve, a beautiful area that’s thriving with wildlife, a wide variety of fish and the occasional manatee or porpoise sighting! Because her fishing trips are so flexible and customizable, she is able to take her guests to local restaurants if they wish. Choose fishing trips ranging from four to eight hours. Then depending on the amount of passengers prices range from $350 to $800. Eco tours will run for either two or four hours, with prices ranging from $250–$250.

Next: Live Shrimp: The Best Bait During a Florida Winter

Live Shrimp: The Best Bait During a Florida Winter

Live Shrimp: The Best Bait During a Florida Winter

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Live Shrimp: The Best Bait During a Florida Winter

With the changing seasons, the appetite also changes for the fish in our Florida waters. Have you not been having much luck catching fish lately? Try baiting your hooks with live shrimp.

You’ll find that you’ll have great luck using live shrimp to catch redfish, black drum, sheepshead and other species depending on where you’re fishing.

If you happen to be traveling in the back country areas this holiday season, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see what this seasonal bait will catch you. Look out for catches of flounder and mangrove snapper in these areas.

Perhaps this is your first time using live shrimp as bait. Here’s how to bait a live shrimp depending on your fishing method:

Drifting

Hook your live shrimp through the carapace, avoiding the stomach and pancreas. Your hook should be just under the shell and crosswise through the carapace.

Longer distance casting

For this fishing method, you’ll want to place the hook under the chin and through the carapace’s center. Hooking your live shrimp this way will allow for easier retrieval and a shorter lifespan for your bait.

Another way to bait your shrimp for this method is to go through its tail. By doing so, there is less risk of you losing your bait.

Fishing in grassy areas

To ensure there are no weeds on your casting rig when in these areas, remove the shrimp’s tail fan and insert the hook through the tip of the tail. In addition, going through the center of the tail prevents bottom snags. 

We wish you the best of luck during your holiday fishing trips this season!

Next: Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

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Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

Just a short drive away from Riviera Dunes Marina is Downtown Sarasota with many places to eat, shop and play! From galleries to Vietnamese cuisine, here’s a list of fabulous recommendations when you’re thinking about taking a day trip to Sarasota.

Where to Eat

Downtown Sarasota offers a splendid variety of cuisine, from Vietnamese to seafood. Enjoy a mouthwatering seafood stew or more casual bites at Marina Jack. Accompanied by live music, it’s a fun place to spend some time even after dinner’s well over.

Pho Cali Vietnamese Noodle House is perfect for chillier days when you want to be comforted by a bowl of one of their homemade, signature noodle soups. They also have authentic dishes including rice vermicelli bowls and boba tea for an after-meal treat.

For Latino cuisine, you won’t want to miss Selva, a modern spot where you can lounge and enjoy exquisite tapas, a variety of ceviche and other sensational bites.

Where to Shop

Sarasota is known for its exciting and unique shopping experience! Have you been looking for one-of-a-kind glassware and fine linens for your next dinner party? Look no further than Malbi Décor offering an assortment of Italian items for your home.

For artisanal gifts, Artisans’ World Marketplace is the best spot in town. Products hail from Africa to Asia, so you’ll be sure to find a rare treasure.

The latest fashion trends can be discovered with just one visit to RUE SRQ, where Natalie Rue Morgan offers a carefully curated selection of items including handbags, cocktail rings and much more.

Where to Play

Live music lovers will enjoy The Gator Club! Depending on the evening you visit, you’ll hear Top 40 hits to reggae tunes or rhythm and blues. There’s even something for the whiskey aficionados! In their bar, discover 180 whiskey varieties.

Adorers of art will want to visit Art Center Sarasota, which is home to three galleries with many juried exhibitions. There are also youth programs and classes on Saturday if you and your family are looking for a fun weekend activity. Historic Burns Square is also chockfull of galleries, boutiques and shops.

Get out in nature at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens to see rare orchids among more than 20,000 plant varieties. The young ones will enjoy their own rainforest garden as well, so it’s certainly perfect for the whole family!

If you’re in the Bradenton area, make sure you check out our list of Top Things to Do in Bradenton, FL

Next: Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

Where to Fish During Our Florida Winter

Where to Fish During Our Florida Winter

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Where to Fish During Our Florida Winter

The colder weather may be upon us, but that doesn’t mean that the fishing pauses during winter! Snook, big jack crevalle, redfish and other species are plentiful at this time of year—you just have to know where to go.

Stick to the brackish areas of our area. That means the rivers, creeks and bayous are where you’ll find prime gamefish during a Florida winter. You might be wondering, ‘What’s so significant about the brackish portions of our local waters?’ The deeper, more guarded areas of these bodies of water offer more protection and warmth for gamefish, which is why they gather here during our Florida winter.

Other than the plentiful fishing, brackish waters offer many other positives for anglers. The guarded bodies of water are ideal for using small watercrafts, such as kayaks and jon boats, for angling as well as those that are shorebound. Another benefit is that artificial lures tend to do well in these murkier waters since there is more shoreline cover. 

Fly fishers, especially, can benefit from winter fishing in Florida. The local creeks offer a splendid opportunity for them to attract trout that are heading north.

Wondering where the best winter fishing in Florida is? From the Bradenton area to Sarasota, here’s where fishermen have been having luck: 

In the Tampa Bay and Bradenton area, kingfish, mangrove snapper and tarpon are plentiful. It’s been reported that trout, redfish and snook are frequenting the local bays as well. In Sarasota, you’ll be catching bluefish, snook, specks, mackerel and more. Then, if you head further south to the Venice and Nokomis areas, red grouper and snapper are currently being caught with whole squid as bait.

Next: Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton