Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Windy Day at the Beach

When Michelle and I visited Riviera Municipal Beach a few years ago, I made a note that it was quite windy. It was also very windy during our visit today. I wonder if it always is. Anyway, we stayed for a few hours and had a very nice time. 
It was mostly cloudy, but we did see the sun occasionally. Wayne enjoyed swimming for a while, and could go out quite a ways just walking. I might have gone swimming, too, but the lovely bandage on my wrist made that not an option for today.
After returning the chairs to the trunk, we enjoyed a delicious late lunch at Johnny Longboat's. We love our mini staycations!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Our Favorite Beaches

Once again, which beach is our favorite often depends on what we want to do. Is it watch a sunrise, build a sand castle, go swimming or snorkeling or fishing, or have a barbecue? Do we have all day or just a few hours? Are we leaving in the morning or the afternoon? Are we going with little children, teenagers, or adults?
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When we moved to Florida 15 years ago we bought a book called Florida Beaches (sorry, but it looks like it's out of print now). It has been invaluable in helping us maximize our beach-going experiences. We have an idea before we even leave home what to expect, and that's been quite helpful. The authors ranked each of the beaches and while haven't agreed with them 100%, a lot of that could be because we just have different priorities and expectations. So, here's how we've rated the eight beaches we've visited so far in Palm Beach County, starting at the north and heading south.
Coral Cove Park - Jupiter Island in Tequesta - 9/17/2011
They gave it 3 suns (or stars), we gave it 2 1/2. The day we went there was a lot of seaweed in the water, and there's a steep drop-off in the water. Maybe that changes from day to day. But there are lifeguards, restrooms and picnic tables, so it's a great place to visit.
Dubois Park - Jupiter (look on a map for directions, finding it can be a bit complicated) - 9/2/2012
They gave it 3 suns, so did we. We first tried going to this park on a Saturday in July. We left home at 10:30 and the parking lot was closed by the time we got there. We tried again on Labor Day, leaving at 9 AM. All the picnic areas were claimed, but we did find parking. (And since we weren't planning on eating there, that was fine.) This is a great park for little kids because it's not on the Atlantic Ocean, so you don't have to worry about waves and steep drop-offs. The swimming areas are shallow parts of the river. However, you can walk over to Jupiter Beach if you really want to get in the ocean. Parking is free and there are lifeguards, rest rooms and picnic tables with grills.

Jupiter Beach County Park - on Jupiter Beach Road in Jupiter - 7/14/2012
They gave it 3 stars, we gave it 4. This was just a nice beach - good sand and water, nice picnic area, complete with lifeguards, rest rooms and free parking.

Carlin Park - south of Indiantown Road in Jupiter - 1/1/2013
They gave it 3 suns, we gave it 4. You'll notice we went in January, so it was a bit chilly, but the sand was nice, there wasn't a super long hike to reach it, and there was plenty of free parking, along with lifeguards, rest rooms, picnic areas (including grills) and the Lazy Loggerhead Cafe.

Juno Beach Park - off A1A in Juno Beach - 7/6/2013
They gave it 4 suns, we gave it 3. Maybe it's because we went in July, but it was crowded, the advertised snack bar had a very limited selection, and there was a steep drop-off in the water.

Loggerhead Park - on US Hwy 1 in Juno Beach - 8/24/2013
They gave it 4 suns, so did we. This is the home of the Marine Life Center, in addition to the site for stake youth service projects. The parking lot can get crowded in the summer, but we learned one time that if you go around to the back of the building, you can find more spots. You'll need to cross A1A to reach the beach, so keep your young children close to you, but it is a very nice place to visit.
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park - on A1A, 2 1/2 miles north of Riviera Beach - 10/26-2013
They gave it 5 suns, we gave it 4 1/2, mainly because it is a LONG trek to get to the beach itself. They do operate a little tram from 10 AM to 4 PM, but it's not always worth waiting for it. That said, this is a wonderful park with a beautiful beach. There's a small reef that's perpendicular to the beach which makes snorkeling easily accessible, just head north once you reach the beach itself. If you head south from the boardwalk you'll find a short little nature trail. There's another one near the picnic areas. You can also rent kayaks and explore the estuary and intercoastal waterway. There's a visitor's center so you can get educated as well. Because it's a state park, there's a $5 entrance fee per car, but it's definitely worth it.

Ocean Reef Park - on A1A on Singer Island - 10/18/2014
They gave it 3 suns, we gave it 4. The free parking is convenient to the beach itself (always a plus when you're toting kids and stuff). Even in August it wasn't super crowded. The tables and grills were shaded. And the beach itself was quite nice.

Riviera Beach Municipal Beach - behind the Ocean Mall on Singer Island
They gave it 4 suns, we haven't rated it yet. It's next on the list. However, Michelle and I have visited here without Wayne. There's not a lot of parking, so it spills over into the shopping center parking lot, which then means you have a hike to get to the water. However, there are covered picnic tables and grills and a playground and a sand volleyball lot and grass before the dune which separates all that from the beach.

Lake Worth Municipal Beach - the far east end of Lake Worth Road
They gave it 2 suns, we haven't rated it yet. However, Michelle and I have also visited this beach a few times. That's because it's the closest one to our house. So, even though the beach itself isn't the best, if you want to experience sun and sand and waves, and you only have a couple of hours available, this is perfect. Note that there's also a metered parking lot ($2 per hour).

Red Reef Park - on A1A in Boca Raton
They gave it 3 suns, we haven't rated it yet. I'm including it because when I mentioned we went snorkeling at MacArthur Beach, one of my friends said we should go here to try snorkeling. Since most of the other beaches listed aren't good for snorkeling, I figured I'd add it just in case that's your particular reason for visiting the beach.
No matter which one you choose, have a marvelous time. We live in a beautiful world!!

Our Favorite Parks

Wellington and Palm Beach County have a lot of parks, and most of them are great places to go for a picnic. Most of them have fun playgrounds or other activities as well. Some of them are also on the "beach" list. These are all parks we've visited that I wouldn't mind visiting again. If you click on the links below, they'll take you to blog posts I've written previously. If you want to find the actual park websites, try here - Wellington City - and here - Palm Beach County.

Village Park (with Peaceful Water Sanctuary) - This is a huge park! Think 2 hockey rinks, a skateboard park, 4 football fields, 4 baseball fields, over 25 soccer fields, in addition to an exercise circuit and walking paths and a playground, plus the adjacent nature preserve with walking trails. [11700 Pierson Road, Wellington]

Tiger Shark Cove Park - The Saturday we visited several birthday parties were in progress. That meant all the picnic pavilions were reserved, so we ate our lunch on a bench with no table. This is a great park for little kids. [13800 Greenbriar Blvd, Wellington]

Azure Park - Just a nice little neighborhood park, complete with a playground, basketball court and picnic table. [949 Azure Ave in Sugar Pond Manor in Wellington]

Foresteria Park - Another little neighborhood park, similar to the one above. [Also in Sugar Pond Manor, at 900 Foresteria Ave]

Staimford Park - After trying them all, we thought this was the nicest park in Wellington. In addition to the basketball court, play structure and picnic tables, it also had swings and water access for fishing. [13599 Staimford Drive in Greenview Shores]

Dubois Park - If you plan on using one of their grills, be sure you get there early! This park is along the Jupiter Inlet, but you can walk a bit to reach the Atlantic Ocean as well. The "beaches" are nice and shallow, and you don't have to worry about waves, which makes it a great place for younger children. [19075 Dubois Road in Jupiter]

Carlin Park - The park has something for everyone! Tennis courts, exercise paths, a playground, grills and pavilions, Duke's Lazy Loggerhead Cafe, the beach itself, along with plenty of parking. [400 Hwy A1A in Jupiter]

Okeeheelee Park - Another large park with several playgrounds, tennis courts, a nature center, boat rentals and biking/walking trails, along with lots of ball fields. [7715 Forest Hill Blvd, just east of the turnpike]

Jonathan Dickinson State Park - part one and part two - You can visit state parks multiple times without repeating activities. This one has a visitor's center, miles of hiking trails, mountain biking trails, bike rentals, a concession stand, horseback rides, an observation tower, camping, picnic areas, a playground and a boat tour on the Loxahatchee River to Trapper John's Homestead. [16450 SE Federal Hwy in Hobe Sound, just north of Jupiter]

MacArthur Beach State Park - part one and part two - Another beautiful state park with a lot of activities available. Most people probably come for the beach, and it's a great one (although there's a bit of a hike to get to it), but there's also a visitor's center, kayak rentals and hiking trails, along with picnic tables and a playground. [off A1A in North Palm Beach]

Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge - This isn't the best place to go for a picnic, but it's a great place to visit if you want to enjoy nature. In addition to a visitor's center and lots of hiking trails, there's even a canoe trail (rent them there or bring your own).  [10216 120th St South, Boynton Beach, west of 441]

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hawaii 2015 - Part Four

Our last day we woke up early, not for the sunrise, but to drive out to Kipu Ranch where we took an ATV tour. That was a fun, new experience.

Mark was our guide. He did a great job and we learned quite a bit of information about the history of the area.

Wayne swung from the same tree in the Huleia Valley that Harrison Ford did - in an Indiana Jones movie. He managed to make it back to land safe and dry. Someone else in our group wasn't so lucky, or skilled, but she was a good sport about it.       

The view of Kipu Kai, reachable only by boat, not car.

It was dirty and dusty, but I suppose that's better than dirty and muddy. If you ever go, be sure to wake up early and do the morning tour. We were grateful that it was an absolutely beautiful day, and it was fun to spend time together.
After cleaning up we tried our first ever Costco hot dogs. (Unfortunately, we missed meeting the others for a Puka Dog.) How's that for a fun vacation experience? Then while Wayne returned to the museum, I took one last walk on the beach. It's just as beautiful in the afternoon as it is in the morning.

I'm posting this picture so I can remember that we liked the spider plants and the wild ginger (the pink flowering bush) and what we called Braille Fern (ask David what the real name is). There's our token picture of the ubiquitous Kauai roosters and then this gorgeous little bird with the red head.
Our last activity was a family dinner at a beachfront restaurant - Duke's next to the Kauai Marriott. We ordered the fish special, macadamia encrusted Mahchong, and Hula Pie, and both were delicious.

The flight home was LONG, but at one point there were some cool clouds to observe.
And we even arrived home during the day, so we could view our town from the air. Can you spot our church building near the center of the bottom left corner picture (above the adjacent Jewish synagogue)? Our house is in the top left one, and the white complex in that picture is our local hospital. That probably means nothing to you, but we thought it was kind of cool
Thanks for some wonderful memories!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hawaii 2015 - Part Three

Once again we had another beautiful sunrise!

Then it was time to check out Beach House Beach. 
It was a bit cloudy, but the waves were great and we tried snorkeling. I actually saw about a dozen different types of fish, even without having any prescription lenses.
It was more fun, however, throwing rocks in the tide pools.

Spouting Horn is always a fun place to visit.
This time nap time meant a special Grandpa/Granddaughter trip to the ice cream store.

 Then it was time to celebrate a birthday, even if it was a week early. Who says your party has to be on your actual birthday?

That was enough for one day, but the next day was quite similar, with watching the sunrise and going to the beach.

This time we took the trip to the north shore and Hanalei Bay. They're not in a lot of pictures, but Wayne's parents were with us on this trip as well. It was great being able to spend time with them.

 It was another cloudy, overcast morning with episodes of sprinkles, but we didn't let that stop us from having a great time.
Well, maybe Evelyn would have preferred some sun.
We took a couple of detours on the way back; one was to get some shave ice. Yummy! (Although more refreshing on a hot, sunny day.)
The second detour was a second visit to Spouting Horn. Maybe we should have headed south that morning instead of north, because it was warm and sunny there!