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

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Do you know about the bonito fish? Let’s learn about this feisty game fish that you may encounter this winter.

The bonito fish is a game fish that is known to frequent the Sarasota area. You may hear these fish referred to as ‘bonita’ or even ‘bonehead.’ Bonito fish, named for their aesthetically pleasing exterior, are speedy and powerful game fish. Their speed and power often causes spools to empty very quickly since they put up quite a fight when you’ve hooked them.

Bonito often travel in schools and will remain in our waters much longer after most pelagics have migrated. You’ll find that seabirds easily spot them when an underwater commotion arises while they’re feeding on small baitfish.

Wondering how to catch them? You’ll be successful with small jigs, spoons and flies, which are often used by sportsmen. Try going to nearshore reefs and catching them by way of bottom fishing; you’ll be surprised when they’re suddenly hooked with a light tackle. The force of the bonito will quickly clue you in that you’ve caught this spirited species.

Though the bonito fish are cousins of the tuna, you’ll want to save these as bait for shark instead of for the dinner table.

Where to Fish Now

The Tampa Bay and Bradenton Area is currently brimming with flounder, large mackerels, black sea bass, grouper, pompano and bluefish.

Sarasota is where you’ll find trout, snook, ladyfish, sea trout and redfish, and bluefish are present as well.

When you’re in the Venice and Nokomis Beach area, expect grouper, snapper, speckled trout and more snook.

The Lemon Bay and Englewood area is bountiful with sea trout, snook, redfish, barracuda and cobia.

There’s much to catch this winter. Happy Fishing!

Learn more about snook here.

 

The 16th Annual Bayfest on Anna Maria Island

The 16th Annual Bayfest on Anna Maria Island

The 16th Annual Bayfest on Anna Maria Island Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

The 16th Annual Bayfest on Anna Maria Island

Do you have plans for the weekend? Why not head to Bayfest, one of our area’s best music, crafts and food festivals of the season!

Now that the weather is channeling the crisper, fall temperatures (at least for now), there’s no other place you’ll want to be this Saturday, Oct. 15 than at Bayfest. You don’t want to miss this exciting, annual celebration on our beautiful Anna Maria Island. Now in its 16th year, Bayfest is back to bring you performances, delectable vendors, crafts and even a car show!

Important details you’ll want to know before attending:

  • Date and Time: Saturday, Oct. 15, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Location: 401 Pine Avenue, Anna Maria Island. This street will be closed for the duration of the festival.
  • Price: Free

Who to Hear

Featuring emcee Mike Sales, you’ll also get the treat of hearing from Bradenton’s favorite ensembles. Check out the schedule below.

  • 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. — KoKo Ray & The Keepers
  • 1–3 p.m. — Whiskey Blind
  • 3:30–5 p.m. — the Billy Rice Band
  • 5:30–7:30 p.m. — soulRcoaster
  • 8–10 p.m. — The Karen and Jimmy Band

What to Eat

From pizza to kettle corn and subs, there will be a great variety of food offerings to try this weekend. Here are a few restaurants that will be there, among others:

Coastal Crab, Feast Restaurant, Corky’s Hot Dogs, Joey’s Italian Ice, Hahn’s Kettle Corn, Tropi-coco Sarasota-Bradenton, T&L Bar-B-Q, Waterfront Restaurant, Village Idiot Pizzeria, Anna Maria Island Privateers, Joey D’s, Riverside Rollin Smoke, Subs N Grubz and Ellas

Where to Park

In addition to public parking on Manatee Beach, Cross Pointe Fellowship Church will have parking available as well. Once you park at the church, take a free trolley to Pine Avenue, where Bayfest will be held. You’ll find there are several other trolley stops along the way to take you to the festival. The trolley stops running at 10:30 p.m.

More Fun to Expect

  • Car show with 100+ classic and muscle cars
  • Kids zone with games, a bounce house and more exciting surprises
  • Arts and craft vendors
Your Hurricane Matthew Checklist

Your Hurricane Matthew Checklist

your-hurricane-matthew-checklist-riviera-dunes-marina-blog

Your Hurricane Matthew Checklist

Hurricane Matthew is well on its way, and you don’t want to waste another moment before heading to the store or locating essential items in your home.

Many of the local grocery stores have restocked their shelves with extra food, water and other supplies that you’ll need once the storm hits Palmetto.

Here’s a helpful checklist to assist you when preparing for Hurricane Matthew.

Food Items

Bottled Water: It’s recommended that you have about 20 gallons for a family of four.

Food: You’ll of course want to get lots of nonperishable canned and dry food items. Consider around 20 cans of chicken, tuna, chili and soup. Peanut butter, bread, cookies, crackers and pet food are other important food items to pick up from the store.

Important Items to Locate

  • first aid kit
  • can opener
  • medications for your family members and pets
  • flashlights or battery-operated lanterns
  • toiletries
  • batteries (make sure you have a variety of sizes for your flashlights)
  • plastic cutlery and paper bowls and plates
  • trash bags
  • gallon-sized freezer bags to keep items dry
  • important documents (insurance, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, etc.)

Other Important To-Dos

  • Fuel your cars.
  • Obtain extra fuel for generators.
  • Withdraw cash.
  • Refill medications.
  • Locate the evacuation route and local storm shelters, and go over the escape route with your family members.
  • Depending on its size, store your boat at a marina or in a boatyard.
  • Clear as many items as you can from your yard or patio.

While there are certainly other items you may need to add to this Hurricane Matthew preparation checklist, we hope this will get you off to a good start. Stay safe!

Next: Fall Events Near Bradenton

Top 5 Nature Areas Near Palmetto

Top 5 Nature Areas Near Palmetto

top-5-nature-areas-near-palmetto-riviera-dunes-marina-blog

Top 5 Nature Areas Near Palmetto

The cooler weather welcomes more opportunities to get outside and explore all of the wonderful nature areas near Palmetto. So, take your bike out or throw on your hiking shoes, and let’s venture through the top five nature areas near Palmetto.

1. Emerson Point Reserve

 5801 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

If you’re yearning for panoramic views of Anna Maria Island and Sunshine Skyway Bridge, then Emerson Point Reserve is for you. Serene with family-friendly walking trails and off-road biking trails, this nature area also offers areas to launch your kayak, canoe or paddle board. Stay for the sunset or bring a picnic lunch to complete one unforgettable visit.

2. Felts Audubon Preserve

4600 24th Ave E, Palmetto, FL 34221

Avid bird watchers will be in heaven at the 27 acres of Felts Audobon Preserve. Both educational and a mesmerizing sight, the preserve’s bird viewing room is perfect for the whole family. Take a couple hours to truly enjoy all that’s offered at this relaxing preserve complete with a variety of habitats along the walking trails. Depending on the day, you may spot cardinals, buntings or doves.

3. Riverwalk

Waterfront Dr, Bradenton, FL 34205

For optimal water views, stroll Riverwalk along the Manatee River as you watch the boats traverse through. Whether you’re interested in an active afternoon of biking or a more tranquil visit of nature watching, there’s an endless day of fun waiting at this downtown park. The younger ones will enjoy the playground and skateboard area as well. 

4. Robinson Nature Preserve

1704 99th St NW, Bradenton, FL 34209

There’s much to do and see at Robinson Nature Preserve! Climb the lookout tower to get a stunning view of Anna Maria Island, paddle the waterways, or hike the preserve’s trails. Many of the trails are paved, so bikers and hikers can travel through with ease. Bring your favorite book of the moment, your furry friend and an appetite for utter relaxation.

5. Saw Palmetto Natural Area

4950 N.W. 71st Place, Coconut Creek, FL 33073

Did you know that 59 species of wildlife have been documented at Saw Palmetto Natural Area? In addition, there have also been 33 species of birds spotted in Saw Palmetto. During your visit, enjoy a serene walk along the paved nature trail through the woods, which leads to a neat observation area. Additional amenities include bike racks, benches and picnic tables, so don’t forget to pack your lunch for this visit!

Next: Top Things to Do in Bradenton, FL

Snook Harvest Season has Began

Snook Harvest Season has Began

Snook Harvest Season has Began

snook-harvest-season-has-began-riviera-dunes-marina-blog

Did you know it’s snook harvest season? The recreational harvest season began statewide on Sept. 1 and will continue through the beginning of December.

While there are an abundance of unique fish here in Florida, snook is another reason why the state is known as the “Fishing Capital of the World.”

Due to a 2010 cold kill, gulf snook numbers significantly dropped, but now their numbers meet Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or FWC goals. So, anglers, when you do take advantage of snook harvest season, please handle these fish with care and use moderation when harvesting; the FWC is still trying to reach the population numbers before the cold kill.

Important Information For Snook Harvest Season

  • You must have a snook permit and a recreational saltwater license (unless the angler is exempt from the license).
  • The daily bag limit is one fish per person.
  • No snagging. Snook can only be harvested with hook and line gear.
  • When harvesting from the Atlantic, the minimum length requirement is 28 inches, and the maximum length is 32 inches. Measure from the most forward point of the head when the mouth is closed to the tip of the tail when it’s compressed while the snook is on its side.
  • When harvesting from the Gulf, the minimum is also 28 inches, and the maximum is 33 inches.
  • If your snook does not meet the length requirements, release it with care to ensure its survival. You can view tips for the best catch-and-release method here

Snook harvesting season is closed during these times:

For Gulf state and federal waters (including Monroe County and Everglades National Park):

  • Dec. 1–end of February
  • May 1–Aug. 1

For Atlantic state and federal waters (including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River):

  • Dec. 15–Jan. 31
  • June 1–Aug. 31

The FWC asks that carcasses be donated at a local participating bait and tackle store to assist them with research. A detailed county-by-county list of participating stores as well as the guidelines for carcass donations can be found on the FWC website here

Next: Florida is Number 1 for Fishing and Boating Spots

New Florida Law Allows Transportation of Bahamas’ Fish

New Florida Law Allows Transportation of Bahamas’ Fish

New Law Allows Transporting of Bahamas Fish Riviera Dunes MarinaNew Florida Law Allows Transportation of Bahamas’ Fish

Will you be fishing in the Bahamas soon? A new Florida law now allows fisherman to bring their fresh catches back from the Bahamas via boat while in Florida waters.

The fishing exception went into effect on Sept. 13, 2016. Anglers can now retrieve dolphin, reef fish and wahoo caught in Bahama waters. The new regulation only applies to fish transported via water, not those by air. 

Here are some important things to keep in mind when retrieving fish from Bahama via water:

  • Do not remove skin from the filet. This way, law enforcement will be able to identify the fish.
  • Anglers must continue to adhere to Atlantic federal bag and vessel limits.
  • When considering bag limits, two filets are the equivalent of one fish. 
  • Anglers must have valid Bahamian cruising and sport-fishing permits.
  • Each passenger aboard the vessel must have a valid government passport with the latest Bahamian stamps and travel dates. 
  • Vessel travel must be continual when voyaging through state waters and equipment must be properly stowed. Terminal tackle (hooks, sinkers, leaders, etc.) must be disconnected and stored separately from the rod and reel. 
  • Anglers are not permitted to sell those landed under these exceptions. 

Of course, keep in mind that Bahama fishing regulations may differ from those in U.S. state and federal waters. View the regulations for retrieving fish from Bahama here. Bahama’s sports fishing regulations can be found here

Next: 5 Seafood Gems to Harvest From Your Palmetto Boat

Fall Events Near Bradenton

Fall Events Near Bradenton

http://www.realizebradenton.com/riverwalk

Summer may be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops in Bradenton! It’s no secret that we’re lucky to have beautiful beaches and exquisite dining year-round. But did you know you’re right in the middle of some of the most exciting and unique fall events in the country? 

The fall season welcomes a wealth of events that you do not want to miss—and it’s all happening here in Bradenton.

Nov. 11–20: ArtsHOP

Now in its 10th year, join in for two weekends filled with art, music by the Island Players, local culture and more! Make sure to experience one of the three artwalks where you can peruse unique pieces of art made right here in Florida. Here are the locations of the three artwalks:

  • Friday, Nov. 11—Holmes Beach
  • Sunday, Nov. 13—Bradenton Beach
  • Friday, Nov. 18—Anna Maria

Learn more here

Nov. 12: Symphony on the Sand

Dig your toes into the Coquina Beach sand, and feast your ears on the lovely arrangements of the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra. The award-winning, 45-piece orchestra will be the perfect accompaniment to all the delicious cuisine you’ll enjoy from top local restaurants. Local restaurants include Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Beach House Restaurant and Coquina Café.

Learn more here.

Nov. 19: Sandblast

Marvel at white sand masterpieces crafted by teams of all ages at this annual sand-sculpting competition. If you’d like to fine-tune your own sand-sculpting skills, join the famed master sculptors, Team Sandtastic, for free clinics held Nov. 17 and 18.

Learn more here

Dec. 2–4: Bradenton Blues Festival

Named the “2015 Festival of the Year” by Blues411.com, the annual blues festival kicks off this December at the Riverwalk Pavilion in downtown Bradenton. Hear from blues artists from around the county as you enjoy a view of the historic Manatee River. To accompany the tunes, sample local craft beer and offerings from specialty food vendors, then don’t miss the finale—the Blues Brunch on Sunday. Musicians include Ronnie Baker Brooks, The Golden State/Long Star Revue, Victor Wainwright & The Wildroots, Larry McCray and many more fine blues musicians.

Learn more here

Next: Top Things to Do in Bradenton, FL

5 Seafood Gems to Harvest From Your Palmetto Boat

5 Seafood Gems to Harvest From Your Palmetto Boat

riviera dunes marina blog seafood to harvest from your boat5 Seafood Gems to Harvest From Your Palmetto Boat

Both a thrill to catch and a delicacy at our tables, fresh seafood is one of life’s greatest pleasures. There are several seafood gems you can harvest very easily. All you need is your Palmetto boat and access to a coast, and you have that right here in beautiful Palmetto!

Here are 5 seafood gems to harvest from your boat:

  1. Lobsters

While lobsters love to hide, you can spot them if you know what to look for—just keep your eyes peeled for their long antennae!

Keep in mind that each lobster must have a minimum 3-inch-long carapace, which verifies they’ve reproduced for at least one season. Make sure to check the lobster’s underbelly for a bright orange sac; this means the lobster is pregnant and off limits.

Once you catch a legal lobster, preserve it on ice or in a livewell. Fresh water will drown them.

Harvest Time: A mini season on the final consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of each July or from Aug. 6–March 31

Limit: Six lobsters per diver

  1. Scallops

Grab your snorkeling gear and a mesh bag, and you’re ready to harvest scallops! These are best harvested in water that’s 4–8 feet deep, where natural springs meet open bays.

Scalloping is perfect for the novice hunter. Once you spot its fan-shaped shell and blue eyes, dive down, cup it with your hand and transfer it to your mesh bag. Place them on ice between snorkeling sessions. Then, you can remove the succulent white meat or wait to return to a dock to be cleaned.

Harvest Time: June 25–Sept. 24

Limit: 2 gallons of scallops in the shell or 10 gallons per vessel, per day

  1. Stone Crabs

Choose to catch crabs by either dropping a crab cage from your boat deck or jump in the water to hunt them. Of course, jumping down in the water with them calls for more brave crabbers ready for some combat with the clawed creatures.

First, drop your stone crab traps in the water with a buoy attached, so you can know where to return when you check them every couple of days. When you go to check them, wear heavy gloves. Stone crabs must not be bearing eggs, and their claws must be 2¾ inches long. Remove the claw by twisting the “wrist,” then toss it back for it to regenerate. While both claws can be removed, it’s recommended by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to remove only one so that the other claw can quickly regenerate.

Once the claws are removed, store them in a livewell or empty cooler. Ice is not recommended since this will cause the meat to stick to the shell later

Harvest Time: Oct. 15­–May 15

Limit: Five pre-baited traps per person; 1 gallon of harvested claws per person, per day or 2 gallons per vessel

  1. Shrimp

A simple recreational activity for any age, shrimping is easily accomplished with a submersible light (or headlamp), dip net and a bucket to store the captured shrimp.

Loads of shrimp are best caught at night, but they’re also found during full moons, outgoing tides and near bridges.

When you spot the glowing shrimp eyes with your light, just scoop ‘em up with your net!

Harvest Time: Shrimps can be harvested mostly year-round, with the exception of Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler and Clay counties closed during April and May.

Limit: No size limit; 5 gallons of heads-on shrimp, per harvester per day ( the limit is also 5 gallons per vessel, per day regardless of the amount of crewmembers aboard your boat)

  1. Oysters

Harvest these gems at low tide. Since they’re mainly stationary creatures, harvesting them hardly requires any skill. It’s the shucking process that really requires precision! Wade in the water or sit aboard your boat; all you need is a tool to chip the oysters off of its surface and a heavy pair of gloves to grab ahold of their sharp shells. Transfer them to a bucket, shuck ‘em with a short-bladed knife, and dinner is served!

Of course, do make sure they are 3 inches in length—the legal harvesting size.

Harvest Time: Depending on your county, June–September is off-season

Limit: Two 60-pound buckets per person or per vessel

 

Next: 6 Tips for Lobster Hunting Season

Florida Hotel Named on Forbes’ 7 Dreamy Seaside Inns

Florida Hotel Named on Forbes’ 7 Dreamy Seaside Inns

Florida Hotel Named on Forbes’ 7 Dreamy Seaside Inns

florida seaside inn

Looking to end your summer with a bang? Just a daytrip away from Palmetto is a Florida hotel named on Forbes’ list of 7 Dreamy Seaside Inns. Royal Blues Hotel, located in Deerfield Beach, opened just two years ago, and the artsy, seaside retreat is already making a name for itself. Small-scale, yet luxurious, the Mediterranean-inspired hotel features 12 rooms with private terraces and ocean views. Peruse their art collection throughout the hotel and an aquarium located in the ceiling of their own restaurant. Of course, there’s something to be said about the glistening sandy beaches stretching for miles making for one glorious retreat to end your summer.

The other six seaside inns featured on Forbes’ list are Post Ranch Inn and Shutters on the Beach in California, Hotel Esencia in Mexico, Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort in British Columbia, Castle Hill Inn in Rhode Island and Tides Beach Club in Maine.

When you’re ready to continue the luxurious finale to your summer, head to Riviera Dunes Marina in Palmetto. As the premier luxury marina on Florida’s Gulf Coast, we’re equipped with 219 wet slips ranging from 35–110 feet. Join us at the marina where you’ll explore and enjoy the beautiful west coast of Florida—so much so, that you may want to extend your trip here. Call 941-981-5330 to connect with one of our talented marina staff members today to see how Riviera Dunes Marina can help make your last few weeks of summer one for the books!

Of course if you are looking to stay in the Palmetto area though, then just lounging around our luxury marina may not be a terrible idea. With access to the Manatee River we are the premier marina in the Central, FL area. Be sure to stop by Riviera Dunes Marina the next time you are in town and enjoy a little rest and relaxation the way it was meant to be spent.

Read the Top Things to Do in Bradenton, FL.