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Pensacola beach and ocean waves

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When it comes to spring break, Florida is still the most common spot to travel to.

The hot spots in Florida for spring break primarily include Pensacola Beach, Daytona Beach, Miami and the Florida Keys. These destinations provide a variety of beaches, days filled with plenty of sunshine, plenty of frosty beverages and tons of spring breakers who love to play in the sand, surf the ocean waves and drink gallons of adult cocktails.

The Florida Keys offers several places to shop and eat as well as learn more about the state of Florida. Most people though just go there during spring break simply for the refreshing and relaxing atmosphere.

Another enjoyable pastime is walking along the miles of beach, looking at the different sized seashells and sand dollars that are washed onto the shores from the endless waves of the mighty ocean. You can also look out into the horizon of the ocean and see shrimp boats and sail boats in various locations.

Sailing is another fun thing to do, if you know how. You could rent a boat for a full day and head out onto the ocean for yet another point of view of Florida.

To a lot of students, and the parents of the younger students who take their children on vacation for spring break, Florida is like paradise. There are so many adventures and activities there, that there never seems to be enough hours in the day to see and do it all. When nighttime rolls around, these active families usually can’t wait to hit their hotel room and fall asleep, resting up for the next day’s adventure.

When it comes to the typical college students on spring break though, the real fun starts when the sun goes down. This is when the night clubs, restaurants and bars start to open up and the wild and crazy nightlife begins. These night time activities are probably what spring break is most famous for. It is the focus of many TV shows and movies.All in all, college students from across the nation tend to flock to Florida for spring break as there seems to be a little something for everyone. It can be a relaxing getaway or a wild blow off of stress to clear the mind before returning to the books on campus. Also, by traveling in groups the students can help keep their travel expenses to a minimum by sharing rooms, gas, rentals and other related costs.

Saltwater fishing in Pensacola

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Pensacola, located in the panhandle of Florida, is a favorite vacation spot for many outdoor enthusiasts. The weather is mild to warm most of the year with some cold spots added from time to time. The people are friendly and nice to be around. It is the county seat of Escambia County and one of the very earliest US settlements. It has a rich history that you can enjoy through visits to local museums.

Have you ever been saltwater fishing in Pensacola? Have any luck? Well, I do pretty well when I go. Having lived there all my life I’ve been fortunate to do a wide variety of fishing, both salt and fresh water. One of the best Pensacola attractions is the fishing; personally I prefer the salt since the fish are generally bigger. I will talk about some of my past experiences and the time of year they happened.

During the summer months the water is calm for the most part. Except for the afternoon thunderstorms you will have smooth waters. My favorite pattern at this time is trolling. I mostly go for the king mackerel but all fish strikes are great. Before the trip I head down to the local bait store and pick up a few packs of rigged Ballyhoo. Keep them on ice until needed. Get your gear in good shape by checking for any damage to rods, reels, and line. Keep the gaff in a convenient place.

I always put a snap swivel on the end of the line for quicker bait hook-up. Head out of Pensacola pass to about 2 miles distance and get the gear out and in the holders. Open the Ballyhoo, break off the bill, and snap them on. Put the boat in gear and rev it up ’til you start getting white prop wash. Put the baits in the water back about 20 – 30 yards. Set the drag and put on the clicker. If you are operating the boat, I find it easy to keep the lines from tangling by keeping an eye on just one line. Keep it straight behind the boat and you will have no trouble.

If trolling isn’t for you, there is always drift fishing. Pick up your bait; I like cigar minnows, from the bait shop. Head out into the gulf and find a spot you like. I would stay out of the channel since there is lots of boat traffic there. Turn off the engine but don’t anchor, take the bait without weight or bobber, put it on the hook, cast out and let the tide have it. I have taken kids out fishing and this trick works great. Some days you can get a good workout. I have gotten some nice Bonita this way, and some King Mackerel as well.

Since I’m on the summer months, let me talk about something known as June Grass. Out in the gulf you may see large patches of grass floating about. These are very productive fishing spots. They not only provide shade from the sun but are home to a variety of life, such as small crabs. Upon spotting these I have had good luck trolling and casting to them. One of the fish I have caught has been Dolphin. You could put on some large diving plugs and troll around the edges. Vary the distance behind the boat; I have caught fish on plugs with the plug in the prop wash.

The winter months can be productive as well but I tend to stay closer to shore due to the winds.

In the winter the water is general choppy in the gulf. Fishing around the pass in the winter can be fun. The pass is some 60 – 70 feet deep with current from the tides. I have trolled plugs here and caught some nice Blue Fish. Bottom fishing can turn up some good catches of a variety. Speckled and White Trout can be caught in the shallower areas, say 4 – 10 feet. You can fish with shrimp, cut bait, or sting ray grubs. On warmer days you can get strikes from Speckled Trout on top water plugs around grassy spots.

For the more adventurous there is the Desoto Canyon. It is a bit of a ride from Pensacola Pass, some 25 miles or so, but usually well worth it. Go out the pass and follow the channel markers to the very last one, the sea buoy. Make your heading 168 degrees and travel about 25 miles out. On your depth sounder you will notice the bottom start to chop up. You are there. Look for some good bottom contour, put on the weights, and hook on some bait for some bottom fishing. You can get some Snapper, Mingo, Grouper, Trigger, and maybe some Amberjack.

Whenever you go, always file a float plan with someone ashore. Check the weather beforehand. Check your license and be aware of any catch restrictions. Have a safe and productive fishing trip to Pensacola, Florida.

Your guide to fishing in Pensacola

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Pensacola is indeed the most renowned fishing grounds ever. An exotic holiday destination in Florida this spot is more famous for its fishing than anything else. Pensacola fishing is really one of the most enjoyable activities of this area. This convenient location in the Gulf of Mexico has started gaining on tourist traffic especially for the Pensacola Charter fishing.

Charter fishing is indeed a fishing experience of its kind. It is not only enjoyable but also safe to the highest degree. Pensacola fishing charter companies give out water transport which is absolutely safe and lets you enjoy your experience without any glitches. If you are thinking the service is bound to be very costly think again coz the service is as reasonable as could be. It is indeed not a very heavy pinch on your pocket. However before you actually hire a boat you should find out all you need to know to go out fishing in Pensacola. The companies will also need to be informed as to where and with how many people you will go fishing. There are guides to help you choose a spot if you don’t have an idea about it. Following are a few of the Pensacola deep sea and saltwater fishing companies. Read on to find more about the fishing experience in Pensacola.

Alabama Deep Sea Fishing: The strategic location of this is near the orange beach, Alabama which is towards the north in the Gulf of Mexico. This is an 11 year old company and has been renowned for giving out excellent facilities to its customers. The guides this company provides are very knowledgeable about fishing in this region.

Getaway Gulf Fishing: If you are looking for a notch higher in comfort here you go. This company specializes in giving you luxury air conditioned boats on rent. The boats are rented out on hourly basis. This is company is very particular about the safety of its customers and boats and hence never allows to go fishing in rough conditions. This company too provides excellent anglers and guides to help out with an amazing fishing experience.

Good Times Charter Fishing: Located again in Orange Beach, Alabama they are also one of the best fishing companies on shore. They offer very reasonable rates for renting boats and even accept credit cards for payment. IT has been a known name in fishing for many a year now. They again provide anglers and specialist guides for helping out with your fishing in this region.

Fishing Cotton Services: This is a company which ensures that its customers do find some fish to catch; it’s not only renowned for its efficient boats but also for finding the best of fishing grounds in the whole of Pensacola. The company’s reputation dates back to years now and they are known to be specialists in deep sea fishing. Their guides are indeed amongst the best available in Pensacola.

We advise you to do some research on all your requirements, fishing companies, and costs involved before you plan a trip to Pensacola.

A great cruise over Great South Bay

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Despite what may be Long Island residents’ roots set in sedentary cement, there is nothing like a cruise on the Great South Bay to offer an aquatic alternative to their view and enable them to briefly adopt a tourist’s perspective of the area they call home. It was this philosophy that lured me from land to sea on the “Moon Chaser” excursion boat from Captree State Park on a recent mid-July day.

“Captree State Park (itself) is located at the eastern tip of the narrow beach known as Jones Beach Island,” according to its self description. “This ideal location, at the intersection of the Fire Island inlet and the State Boat Channel, places it within easy access of some of the finest bay and ocean fishing grounds on the East Coast and provides for an extremely scenic view of the Great South Bay and the western end of Fire Island, including the Fire Island Lighthouse, the Fire Island Coast Guard Station, the Robert Moses State Park Water Tower, and the Inlet Span Bridge.”

The park offers a snack bar, a nautically-themed, full-service restaurant, a bait and tackle shop, and two fishing piers for land-launched lines.

The area on this dry, flawlessly blue, 80-degree day said summer on Long Island. The air was suffused with the sound of seagulls, which flapped, flocked, and flew, and the scent of the sea. The parking lot on the concrete side yielded to the one on the aquatic side, as a line of mostly fishing boats–Long Island’s largest fleet of them, in fact–bowed into the dock, including the “Capt. Eddie B. III,” the “Spectrum,” the “North Star II,” and the “Bay Princess II.”

Water lapped at the deck. The seagulls sang. And fishing rods projected from everyone, as if they constituted their third arms.

Designed and constructed by the Blount Marine Corporation, of Warren, Rhode Island, and launched in 1982, the blue-and-white “Moon Chaser” vessel intended for my own nautical excursion, stretched 65 feet, accommodated up to 220 on two decks, and was tied to the furthest pier from the restaurant complex.

A short line in front of its mobile ticket booth, as occurred every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon in the summer, indicated a complement of about 25 on its trip today.

A laborious engine grind signaled its 13:00 departure and a brief backward jolt preceded a 180-degree turn and trace through the buoy-lined channel, as the Captree Boat Basin receded in the sunlight.

Mimicking the “Moon Chaser’s” course, two other, fishing excursion destined boats trailed it, riding its wake, while two inbound vessels, the “Laura Lee” and the “Captree Princess,” made their approaches.

Settling into a gentle sway, the “Moon Chaser” itself glided over the sun-glinted blue bay, paralleling Fire Island National Seashore.

One of the proverbial bread slices, along with Long Island itself, it ensured that the 45-mile-long Great South Bay remained sandwiched between landmasses and thus protected from the Atlantic, whose access was provided by the inlet between Jones Beach Island’s eastern and Fire Island’s western ends.

Native to the area were the Meroke Tribes, but the earliest settlers were those from Europe, who encountered them in the 17th century, eventually establishing a succession of south shore bay towns, based upon boating and fishing, including Lindenhurst, Babylon, Islip, Oakdale, Sayville, Bayport, Blue Point, Patchogue, Bellport, Shirley, and Mastic Beach.

Managing to pierce the otherwise bright day, the lens atop the black-and-white towered Fire Island Lighthouse blinked at the boat as it inched toward it, abreast of the sand and scrub shoreline off the starboard side.

Appearing like an uninterrupted pattern of projected fishing poles wrapped around its deck, the “Island Princess,” anchored a short distance away, passed off to port.

Established on September 11, 1964, when Congress designated 26 miles of Fire Island as a national seashore, that narrow tract of land today encompasses 17 residential communities, New York’s only federally deemed wilderness, marine and upland habitat, wildlife, beaches, recreational facilities, and several historic sights.

Toting itself, it invites the visitor to “immerse yourself in an enchanting collage of coastal life and history. Rhythmic waves, high dunes, ancient maritime forests, historic landmarks, and glimpses of wildlife, Fire Island has been a special place for diverse plants, animals, and people for centuries. Far from the pressure of big city life, dynamic barrier island beaches offer both solitude and camaraderie, and spiritual renewal.”

While the Statue of Liberty was the symbolic entry to New York Harbor, the Fire Island Lighthouse was the actual one since the 19th century, guiding transatlantic ships and those transporting the millions of European immigrants from the Old World to the new.

The initial, 74-foot-high structure serving this purpose, a cream colored octagonal pyramid of Connecticut River blue split stone constructed in 1826 at the island’s end, certainly marked the inlet, but did not necessarily serve the purpose. Too short, in fact, to do so, it was dismantled when Congress appropriated $40,000 in 1857 for a 168-foot, creamy yellow replacement that sported a red brick tower and was first lit on November 1 of the following year, although stone from the original was incorporated in its terrace.

Reflecting technological advancement, it employed several methods, including whale oil, land oil, mineral oil, kerosene, and, finally, electricity, as of September 20, 1938, to fuel its four concentric Funk lamps housed in its First Order Fresnel lens to produce one-minute interval flashes.

Like many devices in history, however, it entered a period that would later see it coming full cycle.

Decommissioned as a navigation aid on December 31, 1973, it was replaced by an inadequate facsimile-a small flash tube optic installed on top of the Robert Moses State Park Water Tower. But its singular, seaward-direction shine failed to serve any purpose for Great South Bay plying vessels, and private citizen support, gaining momentum during the second half of the 1970s, led to the formation of the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society in 1982.

After significant fund collections facilitated its restoration to its 1939 appearance, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and, completing its cycle, was reinstated as an official navigation aid two years later, on Memorial Day, casting its guiding light onto the bay when it was relit.

Today, two 1,000-watt, counter-clockwise rotating bulbs provide flashes every 7.5 seconds and are visible up to 24 miles away.

Separate from, but complementary to, the United States Lighthouse Service, the Lifesaving Service established its own station, which was constructed in 1848 on the island’s west end, not far from the location of the original lighthouse itself. Both were created to patrol the coastline for watercraft stormed, stranded, or stuck, and facilitate rescues, the latter by mostly volunteer baymen and farmers between October and May.

Seven such stations eventually lined Fire Island by 1854.

Their value was not to be underestimated, however: between 1871 and 1915, more than 7,000 people were rescued from 721 ships.

Dipping deeper into the now darker blue surface, the “Moon Chaser” spit foamy white reactions from its sides each time its bow plunged into the water for a gulp. A wisp of thin cloud, like whipped cream, hung across the eastern sky.

Continuing to parallel Fire Island, the boat cruised past its communities, as if they were notches that silently ticked by. From Robert Moses State Park, it moved past Kismet, Saltair, and Fair Harbor.

Those wishing to have lunch on board had several options, including doing so before sailing at Captree’s lower snack bar; upper level, nautically-themed restaurant, the Captree Cove; having either prepare something to be taken away; or bringing a box lunch of the passenger’s own. Choosing the latter and maintaining the cruise’s natural sea-and-air theme, I took a vegetarian approach, enjoying cream cheese on date nut bread, honey roasted almonds, and cheese puffs at one of the main deck tables. Chips, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages were purchasable from the bar, located on the same level, although many elected to take them to the upper canopied sun deck.

The Fire Island communities continued to slip by off the starboard side: Ocean Beach, Seaview, Ocean Bay Park.

Envisioned as a community for retired New York City police- and firemen, the latter pursued a divergent path when World War II-necessitated gas rationing and international travel restrictions prompted residents to seek “area-backyard” alternatives-in this case, Point O’ Woods domestic servants planted the first seeds of this eventual vacation resort when they used it as an after-work gathering place.

Partly employing its already established foundation, the community transformed the existing Coast Guard stations into the present-day Fire Island Hotel and Flynn’s Restaurant, re-purposing them and reflecting its accurate self-description.

“The architecture of Ocean Bay Park tends to be modest, but with character,” it says.

All its residential streets were named after lakes.

Considering its compact, 350-home encompassment, it is particularly rich in services, including a grocery store, a bicycle shop, a tennis court, two hotels, and several restaurants. Flynn’s, of the latter type, has its own 50-slip marine and is the destination of the “Moon Chaser” on select weekday evenings for a package that includes a lobster buffet dinner.

Again according to its own description, “Ocean Bay Park is a small town with a big personality. Largely populated by share houses, it knows how to throw a beach barbecue blowout. The riotous weekend warrior reputation is reinforced by the serious drinking and all-night dancing at Flynn’s, Schooner, and The Inn Between. The town’s laid back, nonrestrictive lifestyle is especially appreciated by the waves of young renters seeking a beach party environment. However, Ocean Bay Park also has its share of longtime seasonal residents.”

Serving as the halfway point, it marked the “Moon Chaser’s” 180-degree arc to port, swaying, like a seesaw, as it negotiated the wake of passing speedboats. A Bay Shore originating ferry passed astern and tucked itself into its Ocean Bay Park dock.

Maintaining a westerly heading and leaving its own white and dark green churn behind its stern, it inched toward the erector set resembling Robert Moses Bridge that spanned the bay and now loomed in the distance. Subjected to nature’s silent tug-of-war, upper deck passengers witnessed the hot sun’s competition with the breeze’s cooling cut.

Gliding over the dull blue, glass-resembling surface, the “Moon Chaser” passed to the left of East and West Fire islands, before reducing speed and entering the buoy-lined channel, abreast of the intensely green, seemingly floating patches of shellfish dependent eelgrass.

Now down to only a few knots per hour, it initiated its left arc into the basin and made contact with the Captree dock from which it had departed an hour and a half before.

Stepping off the boat, I had, in many ways, been refreshed by the air, the sun, the sea, the breeze, and the view-especially the view-by rediscovering, as a temporary tourist, a lifetime resident’s own backyard during a season that defined it-summer on the Long Island’s Great South Bay.

Discover lake Winnipesaukee and ms mount Washington

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Glittering within New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, itself created by the likes of Little Squam, Silver, Squam, Waukewan, and Winnisquam lakes, is Lake Winnipesaukee, one of the three largest to lie within the borders of a single state. And plying it for three-quarters of a century is its flagship, the “M/S Mount Washington.” A cruise on this very, and venerable, symbol is obligatory for becoming acquainted with the area.

Sandwiched between volcanic Belknap and Ossipee mountains, the glacially-formed and spring-fed lake was first discovered by white men in 1652 when surveyors dispatched by the Massachusetts Colony to determine its northern boundaries realized that the point they sought lay three miles up the Merrimack River. Embarking on a secondary expedition in a sailboat, they reached the village of Aquadoctan, then the largest Indian community in the area, located in the north and west foothills.

The point itself, marked by a plaque on today’s Endicott Rock, stands in present-day Weirs Beach, named after the triangular, rock-and-log-fishing trap found nearby. The 72-square-mile lake of Winnipesaukee, with a 25-mile length, one- to 15-mile width, and 182.89-mile shore line, equally derives its name from an Indian word which has several translations, including “the smile of the great spirit,” “beautiful water in a high place,” and even “smiling water between hills.”

Encircled by the major port towns of Alton Bay, Center Harbor, Meredith, Wolfeboro, and Weirs Beach, and comprised of 274 habitable islands, it is a magnet for summer tourists, offering an array of accommodation types, restaurants, shops, water sports, and boating activities.

Because of its size and its number of communities, intra-lake transportation had been vital and integral to its existence, whether it be for passengers, freight, or mail, since surface, lake-perimeter conveyance, particularly during pre-motorized days, had been laboriously slow.

The first such aquatic surface vehicle combined the buoyancy of a hull with the horsepower of the actual animal. Two such horses, positioned at its aft treadmill on an open, 60- to 70-foot boat, turned its side paddle wheels as they trotted, producing a two-mph speed.

Further integrating travel models, railroads strategically positioned stations next to steamboat docks, facilitating passenger interchange.

One of the lake’s first such boats, the 96-foot-long, 33-foot-wide “Belknap,” was inaugurated into service at Lake Village in 1833, propelled by a retrofitted sawmill steam engine. Redirected onto rocks by gale force winds eight years later, it sank from sight.

Succeeded by what became a virtual symbol of the area, it passed its wake to the “Lady of the Lake.” Constructed by the Winnipesaukee Steamboat Company in 1849, the 125-foot-long boat was launched from Lake Village and carried 400 passengers during its maiden voyage to the Weirs, Center Harbor, and Wolfeboro.

But even the “Lady of the Lake” could not covet the crown earned by its competitor, the “Mount Washington,” which became reining queen after the elderly lady herself had been retired in 1893.

Powered by a single, 42-inch-diameter piston which generated 450 hp, the wooden hulled, side-wheel steamer was launched in 1872 from Alton Bay and exceeded 20-mph cruise speeds.

Technology climbed a step on the “Mineola.” Constructed in 1877 in Newburgh, New Hampshire, it was both the first propeller-as opposed to paddle wheel-steamer and the first to have been large enough to carry both passengers and cargo.

What was to become the end of the “Mount Washington’s” long, illustrious career in the 1920s only became its beginning. The Boston and Maine Company, its owner, withdrew it from service, but Captain Leander Lavallee, unable to accept the icon’s demise, purchased it and operated lake excursions for tourists during the summer months until even this resuscitation abruptly lost its air when a fire unexplainably erupted at the Weirs train station and spread toward the dock where it had been moored only two days before Christmas in 1939, reducing it to a mostly submerged char and ending its career in the very water which, for 67 years, had ironically given it life.

Still undeterred, Lavallee could not see its name sink with it. Citing the $250,000 of an all-new design as prohibitive, he embarked on a search for a second-hand “Mount Washington II” replacement instead that was ultimately located on Lake Champlain in the form of the “Chateaugay.” Built in 1888, the iron-hulled, side-wheel steamer, owned by the Champlain Transportation Company, had been operated between Burlington, Vermont, and Plattsburgh, New York.

The $20,000 price did not pose an obstacle, but the 150 miles of surface transport to its new Lake Winnipesaukee home did. Since he only needed the hull, he reduced it to 20 severed sections and transported them on flatbed rail cars on April 3, 1940. It only provided part of Lavallee’s intended flapship.

Insisting on no longer manufactured steam engines, he acquired a second boat, the “Crescent III,” for $25,000, cannibalizing it and transplanting its vital, engine, boiler, shaft, and propeller arteries into his new aquatic creation.

After an extensive process of naval engineering symbiosis, the reconstructed, repackaged, twin-screw “Mount Washington II” was baptized with Lake Winnipesaukee waters when it was floated out at Lakeport on August 12, 1940.

In sheer size, this hybrid, given birth by two parental boats that had never even met each other, was slated to rein supreme-and long. Stretching 205 feet from bow to stern, it weighed 500 tons, was propelled by two screws, and featured a 35-foot beam and seven-foot draft.

According to its 1941 summer timetable, it offered exactly the type and style of service Lavallee had envisioned for the original steamboat’s successor. It operated two daily round trip excursions, except on Sundays, on the 65-mile run from the Weirs at 08:00 and 13:00, calling at Bear Island, Center Harbor, Wolfeboro, and Alton Bay. Passenger fares were set at $1.00.

As the venerable and seemingly timeless symbol of Lake Winnipesaukee, which reflected Lavallee’s almost-infinite vision, it neither ceased to sail, nor evolve. Indeed, its hybrid assembly would only characterize its continual dry dock surgery.

In the spring of 1946, for instance, it was retrofitted with two, 615-hp Enterprise diesel engines, facilitating the conversion of all previous steam equipment to electrical, and visibility was improved with the elevation of the wheel house from its former second to a current third deck location.

Five years later, removal of its boat deck enabled passengers to be accommodated on the now reconfigured third deck.

Yet, its most extensive reconfiguration, mimicking its very hull-sectioned birth, occurred on October 31, 1982 at its Center Harbor shipyard and winter headquarters, when the Winnipesaukee Flagship Corporation, its current owner and operator, once again sliced it in half, just forward of its engine room bulkhead, and inserted a 24-foot, prefabricated hull section, increasing its overall length to 230 feet.

The elongated ship, accommodating 1,250 passengers on four decks with a nine-foot draft and weighing 750 tons, was refloated on April 30, 1983 after six months of reconstruction facilitated by the Marine Railway specifically built for this purpose as far back as 1949. Crewed by 15, the boat, previously designated the “MV Mount Washington”–for “motor vessel”–now carried the “MS”-or “motor ship”-prefix. It could almost have been called the “Mount Washington III.” In order to cater to its length and gross weight increases, the Weirs Beach dock facilities had been modified.

Subsequently retrofitted with clean-burning, EPA-approved CAT engines in 2010, this indisputable flagship of Lake Winnipesaukee had been able to reach almost 16-knot speeds.

Principally docked at Weirs Beach, Laconia, the Winnipesaukee Flagship Corporation’s headquarters for passenger embarkation just off Route 3, it offers a single daily, two-and-a-half-hour round trip from mid-May to mid-October, with a second during the high summer season. Morning departures permit visits to Alton Bay, Meredith, or Wolfeboro, with return service in the afternoon.

Sunday brunch, holiday, and theme-related sailings, such as for birthdays, reunions, anniversaries, and weddings, include meals, entertainment, and even overnight accommodations.

Weis Beach itself traces its origins to 1736 when the first recorded structure, a log fort, rose from the hitherto untouched area, and the first rail link, integral to the country’s westward expansion movement and the Gold Rush fever that mostly filled the air with delusional dollar signs, followed more than a century later. A rudimentary station, facilitating transportation mode interchange, enabled passengers to continue their journey by steamer at the Weirs, located on the lake’s western shore.

A remnant of this rail travel takes its current form as the Weirs Railroad Station, only steps above the dock-leading ramp, and the single track, now plied by the one- and two-hour tourist excursions to Meredith and Laconia undertaken by the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad during the summer months, had once existed in triplicate and been used by the White Mountain Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad.

The quad-decked “M/S Mount Washington,” transformed into a multiple-facility luxury liner, sports the Victorian-style Steamboat Lounge, complete with a dance floor, as well as the engine room and galley, on its lower deck. A second dance floor is located in the Main Salon above, along with the Purser’s Station, a gift shop, a bar, and the Fantail Grille. The Promenade Deck features open seating in its bow, the Captain’s Lounge, a snack bar, the Flagship Lounge with a bar for alcoholic beverages, and yet a third dance floor. The Observation Deck, as its designation implies, offers open, mid- and aft-seating for optimum views.

Mooring release, preceded by a silence-shattering wail of the boat’s horn, unleashes it for its autonomous navigation as the 230-foot, four-decked behemoth, clearly wearing its crown as queen of the lake, disappendages itself from the hopelessly tiny dock, before it leaves the Weirs Beach area by means of the Eagle Island Channel, itself sandwiched between Eagle and Governor’s islands.

Stonedam Island, the first to be passed on the boat’s left and centerpieced by the 112-acre Stonedam Island Wildlife Preserve, had once been connected to Meredith Neck by means of a stone causeway.

The lake’s nautical history, at least in distance, is never far from the “Mount Washington’s” course; indeed, the journey is like a return to it. Dolly Nichols, who had once operated a hand-powered ferry between Meredith Neck and Bear Island, is commemorated by a cluster of small islands bearing her name.

Bear Island itself, the lake’s second largest, serves as one of the US Mail Boat’s scheduled stops. As its name implies, the boat itself, created by an act of Congress in 1916, is the country’s only full-fledged floating post office with the power to cancel mail. Its official address is “R.F.D. No. 7, Laconia, New Hampshire.”

Several vessels have encompassed the post office fleet. The first, the “Dolphin,” was built in 1885 and was followed by the more ambitious, single-propeller, 100-passenger, 65-foot-long “Uncle Sam” constructed 18 years later and converted to diesel propulsion in 1945. It provided faithful service until its retirement in 1961. The even larger “Uncle Sam II” that replaced it, a former Navy PT Boat, featured a 75-foot length, a 20-foot beam, an 80-ton weight, and a 150-passenger capacity. The similarly-dimensioned, diesel-engined “Sophie C,” itself the “Uncle Sam II’s” replacement, sports dual decks and a snack bar and is open to tourists wishing to taste this unique slice of lake life during its scheduled, mid-June to mid-September mail runs. Like the “Mount Washington” itself, it is owned by the Winnipesaukee Flagship Corporation of Weirs Beach and Center Harbor.

Floating in the midst of beauty expressed by islands, coves, bays, and mountains, the “Mount Washington” offers a glimpse of the White Mountains’ Presidential Range, including its Squam, Sandwich, and Ossipee peaks. The latter sports 2,975-foot Mount Shaw.

One Mile Island, reflecting its distance from Center Harbor on the lake’s northern tip, is the winter home of the “Mount Washington,” where it is subjected to its annual maintenance, inspection, and repair.

Becky’s Garden, little more than a jagged, rocky outcrop seeming to balance a wooden, two-story house atop it, is the lake’s smallest charted island.

The profile of Mount Washington, at 6,288 feet the highest in the northeast, looms skyward in the distance.

Compared to Becky’s Garden, Long Island belongs on the other end of the size spectrum. Connected to the mainland’s Moultonborough Neck by an automobile-accessible bridge, it ranks as its largest.

Carving its quickly dissipating trench into the water, whose average depth varies between 35 and 90 feet, the “Mount Washington” penetrates the 12-mile-long by five-mile-wide Broads area, its largest, unobstructed expanse.

The lake, a mirror-like all water bodies-of the sky, seldom reflects the same picture. On a sunny day at high noon, for instance, it appears an illustrious blue. On semi-overcast days, it wears a deep blue velvet coat. During densely cloudy times, it looks as if it were covered with a dirty-white quilt, while its pine-blanketed islands appear as if they were immersed in the ethereal white mist seemingly caught by their needles.

On board, passengers can purchase alcoholic and soft drinks at the bar. Soft pretzels and cookies are baked in the Promenade Deck snack bar. The Main Deck’s Fantail Grille offers all-day breakfast, clam chowder, salads, sandwiches, bagels, hot dogs, chili, and hamburgers. During sailings with tour groups, independent passengers can often purchase a ticket for the all-inclusive buffet, which typically features salads, hot entrees, and desserts.

Turning around Sewell’s Point, located on its left side, the “Mount Washington” glides into Wolfeboro Bay, entry to the port town of Wolfeboro and considered the country’s oldest summer resort because of the house Colonel Governor John Wentworth built there in 1764 to mark the terminus of his Portsmouth-originating Prairie Road.

Poking its bow into the lake’s southernmost point, the “Mount Washington” sails past Little Mark Island, itself the threshold to five-mile-long Alton Bay. It is flanked by the gently curved top of Mount Major.

Like Wolfeboro, Alton Bay is another of the lake’s major port towns. Settled in 1710, it served as the assembly point of the original “Mount Washington” 162 years later, in 1872.

Rattlesnake Island, adopting its name from the slithering reptile that had once resided on it, offers the highest elevation, of 390 feet.

Glendale is another of Lake Winnipesaukee’s nautically significant locations. It not only houses the Marine Division of the New Hampshire Department of Safety-which oversees all of the state’s lakes-but is the site of the “Lady of the Lake’s” sinking, its earliest, most significant steamboat.

Incorporated as New Hampshire territory during the Revolutionary War, Governor’s Island enjoyed celebrity resort status by the end of the 19thcentury.

Re-entering Eagle Island Channel, the “M/S Mount Washington” reduces its speed to a slow coast and initiates its approach to the Weirs Beach dock, returning to the area first discovered by white men in 1652 and leaving a 140-year wake behind its hull, which itself had first plied Lake Champlain waters under the name of “Chateaugay” as far back as 1888

Pensacola, Florida the best place to have your vacation in USA

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Pensacola is a well-kept secret. Most people who live outside the state have trouble pin-pointing it on a map. Take a minute and become familiar with this amazing area, because Pensacola has a lot to offer for those looking for a low-cost, luxurious vacation.

Pensacola is located on the western panhandle of Florida, near the Florida/Alabama state line. Unlike the more southerly beach areas of Florida, Pensacola’s tourist season is late spring to summer. The off-season for most Pensacola area hotels is from Labor Day to the month of March, so that’s when prices are lowest. The Pensacola area boasts two separate but beautiful beachfront areas: Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach. Perdido Key is to the west of Pensacola, adjoining the beaches of Alabama. Pensacola Beach is just southeast of the city of Pensacola, on a gorgeous barrier island. Both beaches offer sugar-white sands, sparkling emerald-green Gulf waters, and a wide array of accommodations, restaurants, shopping, and nearby attractions.

Perdido Key is the less-heralded of the two areas. Primarily a residential and second-home community for natives and snowbirds, it features a glistening white beach lined with high-rise condos. Nearby Ono Island is a haven for the rich and famous who want to enjoy the gulf in privacy. Although mostly used for homes, many units on Perdido Key are available for rent by the day, week, or month. Check with a local real estate agent. If you visit in summer, don’t miss the nearby Waterville water park, which also has go-karts and other dry-land fun. It’s just one of several attractions nearby. Golf courses abound in the area, and most are very reasonably priced.

If you like antiques, both Pensacola and the Eastern Shore area of Alabama offer many great shops within an hour’s drive. Prefer to enjoy the beach? The temperature is great for swimming as late as October, and you can enjoy it for less money, in quiet and peace. In summer, beachgoers multiply in numbers, and it’s a great time to meet people from everywhere.

Pensacola Beach is more tourist-oriented than Perdido Key, but don’t let that keep you from seeking a quiet vacation spot on this beautiful island. Again, prices and crowds are smaller in the fall and winter months. Sailing tours, dolphin cruises, jet-ski rentals and much more are offered from this area. The nearby Panhandle Butterfly House is a must-see for nature lovers and offers a Monarch Madness Festival and butterfly releases in the fall which are breathtaking displays you’ll be glad you didn’t miss.

Whichever beach you choose, be sure to venture into Pensacola for The National Museum of Naval Aviation and McGuire’s Irish Pub. Tour historic forts and learn Pensacola’s intriguing history. Shop Cordova Mall and the boutiques downtown.

These are just a few examples of hidden gems you’ll find in the Pensacola area. Come see the place “where thousands live the way millions wish they could!”

Deep fishing in Pensacola, Florida

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Deep sea fishing specialist find Pensacola, Florida the key place to go angling for a assortment of deep sea types of fish.

The holiday maker can find much to do in northwest Florida coast which gives a large amount of activity for a holiday maker who wants to spend a day or so deep sea fishing.

The ideal place to go for such an outing is Pensacola as there are many companies that offer charters to go fishing here.

Fishing expeditions conducted by various charter companies
there are every day expeditions conducted by The Beach Marina Fishing Fleet, which possesses more than ten crafts in its flotilla, and gives a wide choice to people who are interested in going deep sea fishing.

The Pensacola services which are leased out to voyagers, take the holiday makers out on trips ranging from half a day to one day for fishing are tours where you could target prized fish like cobia, snapper, mackerel and amberjack. All the necessary gear will be provided by Beach Marina Fishing Fleet as is the normal procedure with all charter companies.

Tourists could also employ the services of Bandit Charters, who also offer an impressive expedition for tourists interested in deep sea angling. Pensacola is the starting point for this excursion and you will be taken on a long walk varying from 6 to eight hours on fishing “walk around” for a fairly fancy price. The boats that are hired out by this facility have been cleared by the Coast Guard, and can accommodate up to eighteen passengers.

There is an interesting array of fish that you will find on this tour, with some species of shark and barracuda also.

Hog Wild Offshore Charters which is a charter service for Pensacola would take you for a wonderful deep sea fishing expedition for a trip ranging from 2 hours to as much as 36 hours.

Whatever your choice of trip is you will find yourself being in very comfortable surroundings with cabins that are air conditioned and also complete living facilities.

Scuba Shack that is more focused on diving also provides trips for deep sea fishing to Pensacola guests.

The bonus of this jaunt is that the complete outing will be on video recording, so that, even if people were not around, you will have some kind of evidence to show the heroic deeds that you accomplished on your fishing expedition. Another attractive plus point is that fishing licenses are included in the cost of the tour.

Evidently you can enjoy yourself and have a wonderful time at sea by getting away from the land and getting acquainted with new people who are also sharing your boat with you on this expedition.

If you arrange a holiday in the northwest Florida region you could also include deep sea fishing for a day in your plans.

With the array of options that Pensacola has to offer you, you will be able to choose one that gives you the most fulfilling experience and also provides you with all the excitement that you have been looking forward.

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Vacation in Pensacola for Deep blue sees fishing

Discover Pensacola the heart of Florida

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Located in northwest Florida, ten miles from the Alabama state line on its panhandle, Pensacola is rich in historic, military aviation, and natural sights, all with Florida’s signature sun, sand, seafood, and water aspects.

Pensacola:

Although St. Augustine, on Florida’s east or Atlantic coast, is considered the oldest US city and took root after Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles sailed to it and established a colony, Pensacola, on the state’s west or Gulf of Mexico side, could have claimed the title if its own settlement had lasted.

Six years earlier, in August of 1559, Spanish explorer Tristan de Luna dropped his own anchor in an area local tribes named “Panzacola,” for “long-haired people,” with the intention of carrying out Luis de Velasco, the Mexican viceroy of Spain’s order of establishing a settlement on the bay.

Well provisioned and prepared, he was equipped with 11 ships and brought 1,500 would-be colonists, among whom were African slaves and Mexican Indians. But history was forced to take the wrong fork in the road when a fierce hurricane decimated eight of de Luna’s vessels on September 19.

Nevertheless, in an effort to salvage the expedition, he sent one of them to Veracruz, Mexico, to elicit aid, leaving the immigrants to eke out an existence on shore and survive by draining the supplies they had brought. Yet, instead of re-provisioning the colonists, the ships, arriving a year later, only rescued the survivors by taking them to Havana and leaving little more than a military outpost by the spring of 1561. By August, the handful of soldiers abandoned the new land site and returned to Mexico, deeming it too dangerous for settlement.

Although it was beyond knowledge at the time, a claim-to-fame as the oldest, continuous US city it would never be able to make.

It would be almost 150 years, in 1698, in fact, that foreign forces would once again seek to gain a foothold-in this case, Spain established a more successful garrison in what would become modern-day Pensacola and toward that end laid out a colonial town.

As has so often occurred throughout history, land, once claimed, became the prize others sought, often by military means, and Pensacola proved no exception. Spaniards initially surrendered to the French in May of 1719, but it was hardly the end of its ownership. France, Spain, Britain, and Spain once again would take possession over the next century, until the latter finally ceded Florida to the United States in 1821. Because the Confederacy also “took up residency,” Pensacola is considered the “City of Five Flags.”

A significant portion of its almost 500-year history has been preserved and can be experienced in the Pensacola Historic District, which is managed by the UWF Historic Trust, itself an organization supported by the University of West Florida, and it consists of 27 properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Admission, only purchasable for a week, includes guided tours and visitor entry, and tickets can be obtained at Tivoli High House.

Important structures are many. Seville Square, for example, is the center of the old settlement and served as one end of the British route’s parade ground, ending at its twin, Plaza Ferdinand VII. It was here that General Andrew Jackson accepted the West Florida territory from Spain in 1821 and first raised the US flag.

A small, preserved section of Fort George, a target of the American Revolution’s Battle of Pensacola, is symbolic of British occupation from 1763 to 1781.

Original houses abound, including the Julee Panton Cottage, the 1805 Lavalle House, the 1871 Dorr House, and the 1890 Lear-Rocheblave House.

The Old Christ Church, located on Seville Square and built in 1824 by slave labor, is the oldest of its kind in the state to still occupy its original site.

There are also several museums: the T.T. Wentworth, Jr., Florida State Museum, which was constructed in 1908 and originally served as the City Hall, the Pensacola Children’s Museum, the Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center, and the Museum of Commerce.

Although not technically part of the Pensacola Historic District, the Pensacola Grand Hotel is located on the site of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad’s passenger depot, which itself was constructed in 1912 to replace the original 1882 L&N Union Station that served Pensacola for 58 years. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Restored in its original splendor and transformed into a hotel with a 15-story glass tower, it retains much of its early decoration, including a French clay tile roof and a ceramic mosaic tile floor, and is adorned with period pieces, such as a solid, drop-cast bronze light and antique furnishings.

Its opulent “1912, The Restaurant,” located on the ground floor, features entryway Biva doors from London, a cast-bronze French-style chandelier from Philadelphia, 1885 beveled glass from a Victorian hotel in Scranton, and scalloped-shaped grill work from Lloyd’s of London.

Naval Air Station Pensacola:

There are several significant attractions on Naval Air Station Pensacola, which can be accessed by the visitor’s gate and requires identification, such as a license, to enter

Located itself on the site of a Navy yard that was erected in 1825, it began as an aviation training station at the outbreak of World War I with nine officers, 23 mechanics, eight airplanes, and ten beach-propped tents, and was considered the first of its kind.

Dramatically expanding because of the Second World War, it trained 1,100 cadets per month, who collectively flew some two million hours. After its Naval Air Basic Training Command relocated its headquarters from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Pensacola, pure-jet aircraft were incorporated in the syllabus. Today, 12,000 active military personnel, 9,000 of whom receive aviation training, are assigned to the station.

The world-renowned National Naval Aviation Museum, also located here, is the largest and one of Florida’s most-visited attractions. It began not as a tourist sight, but instead as a means of including naval aviation history in cadet curriculums, for which there was neither sufficient time nor funding for the traditional book-and-study modality.

The facility, initially housed in an 8,500-square-foot wood frame building that hailed from World War II, became the locus of selection, collection, preservation, and display of aircraft and artifacts that represent the development and heritage of the service branch. It opened its doors on June 8, 1963.

Ever-expanding, it currently has 700 airplanes in its collection that are displayed in its 11 other official Navy museums throughout the country, but some 150 pristinely restored ones are still exhibited here after a new facility with 37 outdoor acres and 350,000 square feet of indoor space was completed. Admission is free.

Subdivided into the South Wing, the West Wing, a second-floor Mezzanine, and the separate Hangar Bay One, it traces the evolution of Navy aviation and the aircraft it operated from its inception to the latest Middle East conflicts.

The A-1 Triad, for example, was so named because if operated in the three realms of air (wings), water (floats), and land (wheels). The Nieuport 28, in the World War I section, facilitated aircraft carrier experimentation, while the mammoth Navy-Curtiss NC-4, at the threshold of the Golden Age exhibit, was the first to traverse the Atlantic from Trepassey, Newfoundland, to the Azores Islands off of Portugal.

Speed from jet fighters during the Cold War is represented by such types as the McDonnell F2H-4 Banshee, the North American FJ-2 Fury, and the Russian MiG-15.

Centerpiece of the West Wing is the “USS Cabot” island and a replica of its carrier deck, which is surrounded by an extensive collection of mostly World War II aircraft, including the Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat, the Vought-Sikorsky FG-1D Corsair, and the General Motors (Grumman) TBM Avenger.

Of the numerous exhibits on the museum’s mezzanine, which itself overlooks both the South and West Wings and can even be accessed by airliner ground stairs, there can be none that offer a greater contrast to each other than those devoted to lighter-than-air aviation and space exploration.

Evolved from the spherical balloon first successfully flown by the Montgolfier Brothers in 1783 in the first case, airships were large, controllable balloons which attained lift by the buoyancy principle themselves, but incorporated engines for propulsion and rudders and elevators for, respectively, yaw (steering) and longitudinal (pitch) axis control. Suspended gondolas housed the crew and passengers. Rigid types featured internal frameworks, which were not required by the non-rigid ones, such as blimps.

Gondolas or control cars from the Navy’s L-8 and World War II-era K-47 airships are on display. The latter, delivered on May 19, 1943 at Moffett Field, California, had a 425,000-cubic-foot internal volume.

In the second, or space, case, a replica of the Mercury Freedom 7 space capsule, the original of which was launched at 116.5 nautical miles and was air/space borne for 14.8 minutes, represents Naval Aviation’s contributions to the Space Program, because Naval Aviator Alan B. Shepard became the first American to enter that realm on May 5, 1961.

Also on display is the original Skylab II Command Module, which orbited the Skylab space station during 28 days between May and June of 1973. Operated by a three-member, all-Navy crew, it set several records, including the longest manned spaceflight, the greatest distance traveled, and the greatest mass docked in space.

Visible from both the mezzanine and the main floor is the 75-foot-tall, 10,000-square-foot Blue Angels Atrium that connects the South and West Wings and features four Douglas A-4 Skyhawks in a diving diamond painted in the aerobatic team’s dark blue livery.

Hangar Bay One, with 55,000 square feet of exhibit space, features such aircraft as the Sikorsky VH-3 Sea King, which transported presidents Nixon and Ford during the 1970s; the Douglas R4D-5L Skytrain, which became the first to land on Antarctica’s South Pole in 1956; and the Grumman F-14D Tomcat, the supersonic, swing-wing fighter that logged the last combat mission.

Visitor services include complementary tours, a laser-powered giant screen theater showing multiple daily films, two gift shops, and the Cubi Bar Café.

Practice flights of the famed Blue Angels flight demonstration team can be viewed at the Museum Flight Line, north of the museum itself.

Another historic attraction on Naval Air Station grounds is the Pensacola Lighthouse.

Because of the strategic importance of Pensacola Harbor, Congress appropriated $6,000 in March of 1823 to construct a lighthouse, choosing an appropriate site in June, but temporarily substituting a floating alternative, the “Aurora Borealis,” until construction was completed. Transferred from the mouth of the Mississippi River, it was positioned behind the western end of Santa Rosa Island.

The permanent structure, a 40-foot-wide, white brick tower with ten whale oil lamps, each of which was strengthened by a 14-inch reflector, was first lit on December 20 of the following year and enabled sailing vessels to steer toward it and then enter the harbor.

Although it proved more useful than the floating boat it replaced, it began to reveal its deficiencies by 1850: it was obstructed by trees on Santa Rosa Island and its light was too dim to serve as an effective navigation aid, prompting the newly-established Lighthouse Board to recommend a replacement that would rise at least 150 feet in height.

Responding to its request, Congress allocated $25,000 in 1854 and an additional $30,000 two years later. Construction of the new facility, located a half-mile west of the original, was completed in 1858. Rising 159 feet from a 30-foot-diameter base and tapering to a 15-foot top, it was first lit on New Year’s Day, 1859, by Keeper Palmes. It featured the most powerful lens then available, a first-order Fresnel one.

Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Pensacola Lighthouse offers the visitor a glimpse into mid-19th century light keeper life, with a Visitor Center and Museum Shop located in the 1890s Carriage House, the Richard C. Callaway Museum in the 1869 keepers quarters, and the 177-step lighthouse itself, which can be climbed for views of Pensacola Bay.

Yet another historically important attraction on Naval Air Station Pensacola is Fort Barrancas.

“Situated on the bluffs overlooking Pensacola Bay, Fort Barrancas was built to protect the United States from foreign invaders,” according to the National Park Service. “Once considered vital to national defense, today Fort Barrancas illustrates the evolution of military technology and America’s values.”

Shortly after Spain ceded Florida to the US, the United States Navy selected Pensacola Bay as its main Gulf Coast Navy yard and concurrent with the decision was the dispatch of Army Corps of Engineers officers to survey the coastline with the intention of constructing fortifications to protect the Navy yard itself.

Built over the ruins of the 1798 Spanish fort designated Fort San Carlos de Barrancas-“Barrancas” being the Spanish word for “bluffs”-it was the third such fortification on the bay. The existing, 1797 Batteria de San Antonio was retained and modified.

Taking form between March 21 and September 21 by the hands of enslaved laborers, who worked from sunrise to sunset, it incorporated significant armament, including ten 24-pound cannons.

Although it was built as a defensive structure, it only engaged in combat during the Civil War.

Because of new developments to cannons and naval war vessels, the US government began evaluating proposals for new coastal defenses in 1885 and after the curtain closed on World War II, it was declared surplus in 1947.

A trail leads from the Visitor Center to the actual, kite-shaped fort, whose prominent features encompass a scarp and counterscarp, a ditch, a drawbridge, a sally port, a guard room, an open parade area, and a water battery. A tunnel connected the latter two. Cannon projectiles fired from the water battery itself were intended to ricochet off of the bay and hit ships at their water lines.

The fort’s four-foot-thick by 20-foot-high walls, comprised of six million bricks, features archways and valued ceilings.

The nearby Advanced Redoubt, constructed between 1845 and 1870, protected the northern side of the peninsula, location of the Pensacola Navy Yard.

Pensacola Beach:

Bridge- and causeway-linked, via Gulf Breeze, to the mainland, Pensacola Beach, eight miles from downtown Pensacola and accessed by Interstate 110 South, is a narrow stretch of sugary sand on the barrier island of Santa Rosa, overlooking emerald waters of the bay and the Gulf of Mexico and offering ocean-related activities, such as swimming, sun tanning, fishing, snorkeling, sailing, and diving. Fiery red, chartreuse, and purple sunsets regularly paint the sky.

Beach-fronted hotels are numerous, such as the Surf and Sand, the Margaritaville Beach, and the Portofino Island Resort, along with known names like the Hampton Inn, Hilton, Holiday Inn, SpringHill Suites, and Days Inn. Florida-indicative seafood restaurants, with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the water, include those such as Hemingway’s Island Grill, Flounder’s Chowder House, the Grand Marlin, Shaggy’s Pensacola Beach, and Peg Leg Pete’s.

Stretching 1,471 feet into the water, Pensacola Gulf Pier affords fishing for bluefish, pompano, redfish, Spanish mackerel, and spotted sea trout. Flounder is not to be ruled out.

The self-guided Footprints in the Sand Eco Tour, marked by informative signs, affords the opportunity to learn about local plant and animal life, including dolphins, sharks, turtles, birds, fish, and flowers. Each one explains a different ecological topic.

Pensacola Beach is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which itself stretches 160 miles from Fort Walton Beach, Florida, to Cat Island, Mississippi, and includes barrier islands, maritime forests, bayous, marine habitats, and historic forts. The park headquarters, offering orientation films and exhibits about the Live Naval Oaks Area, is located in Gulf Breeze, the island between the mainland and Pensacola Beach.

Shaped by the Gulf of Mexico the national seashore preserves pockets of American history and culture and encapsulates the visitor in Florida’s flora and fauna. In the void formed by the water and sky, for instance, dolphins surface, starfish swim, and pelicans and seagulls allow the breeze to carry them across the panorama.

One of the Gulf Islands National Seashore’s historic preservations is Fort Pickens, located on the western end of Santa Rosa Island directly across the Pensacola Bay Harbor entrance from Fort Barrancas. Named after Brigadier General Andrew Pickens, a patriot who fought with distinction in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War, it was once the largest brick structure on the Gulf of Mexico.

Tracing its origins to 1821, when the Third System of coastal forts was extended to include protection of Pensacola Bay and its mainland shore communities, it adopted a secondary purpose four years later when legislature to establish a Navy yard and depot was passed. As part of the trio of defenses, it was intended to guard the western end of Santa Rosa Island in cooperation with fortifications of the bluffs north of the channel and on the eastern end of Perdido Key.

Its construction, under the supervision of US Army Corps of Engineers, commenced in 1829 after the government acquired 998 acres of land and the pentagon-shaped structure, built up of more than 21.5 million bricks and equipped with more than 200 cannons, was completed five years later.

“(Workers) used construction materials such as lime, water, and sand to mix mortar; lumber for grillage and to build wharves, scaffolding, and support buildings; lead sheets to waterproof casemate arches and for gutters and drains; granite for steps and traverse stones; copper sheeting, bars, and fixtures for use in powder magazines; (and) brick for the main work and counterscarp,” according to the National Park Service.

Requiring a garrison of 500 men during wartime, but able to accommodate double that number in emergencies, the five-bastion structure, consisting of a single tier of casemates and a barbette tier, was capable of unleashing a ring of fire from its seaward-facing walls.

In the event, the only combat it ever experienced occurred during the Civil War.

Today, visitors still enter Fort Pickens through its original sally post, the main entrance secured with heavy oak doors. The plaster-lined quarters served as both residences and hospital rooms. The arched casemates provided protected artillery positions and a base for the second level cannons. Three main chambers, each holding 1,000 pounds of gunpowder, were connected by a tunnel system. The powder magazines, storing the fort’s black power supply, were wood-lined to keep them dry and necessitated the slipper-covered boots of soldiers who entered them to prevent potential ignition from sparks. The generator room was the location of the steam-powered generators installed in 1903 to provide electricity for searchlights and other modern equipment.

The counterscarp formed a dry mount to protect the fort from land-based assaults. Rain water was collected and stored in cisterns for drinking. And the tower bastion, pointing directly across the channel, ensured the harbor’s protection

Crete beaches

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The coastline of Crete has 155 kilometres of beautiful sandy beaches. Chania prefecture has two dramatic beaches, Falasarna and Elafonissi, not forgetting Almyrida with its safe blue flag beaches.  

There is a stunning long stretch of beach on the north coast of the island at Georgioupolis, and Europe’s only natural palm grove at Vai beach on the north east point of the island.  

South of Heraklion is Matala beach; the caves at the side have been inhabited since prehistoric times, most recently in the 1970’s by hippies.  

Recommended beaches to visit in Crete are Kato Zakros, Malia, Paleochora, Prevelli, Frangokastello, Istro, Agia Pelagia, Menies, Xerokampos and Makrigalos.  

Crete is the largest Greek island at 3,220 square miles. It is a very popular destination for holidaymakers and tourists.  

Visitors to the island of Crete are amazed by magnificent coastline and the imposing mountain chain that runs the length of Crete, the Island is home to a profusion of flora and fauna numerous endemic to Crete which only adds to the beauty of Crete.  

Most tourist areas are positioned on the north coast of Crete; here you will find beaches that offer beach entertainment, hire a pedalo, ride a banana boat, try water skiing or windsurfing. The south coast with its captivating ruggedness has isolated coves and beaches worth exploring. Get a map, hire a car then explore some of Crete’s more isolated but astounding beaches.  

Crete is unrivalled when it comes to choice of beaches compared with the rest of the Greek islands. There are many beaches ideal for sunbathing on Crete’s coastline, whether you can lounge around, read a book, or play and swim in the water.  

Like me, any visitor to the island tastes the food and falls in love with the Cretan food as much as they fall for the glorious beaches and the wonderful inhabitants. After all eating out is part of your holiday, trying the different takes on the Greek dishes at a plethora of cafes, restaurants and taverns.  

 The delightful beaches and fine weather, dramatic scenery and good food are the main reasons that so numerous tourists stay here in the summer. It’s easy to see the allure of this spectacular island.  

The accommodation on Crete caters for all budgets, getting to Crete is easy; There are two good international airports at Heraklion and Chania. Ferries also run from Piraeus, Athens to Heraklion, Souda and Rethymno on Crete.  

Top beaches in Ibiza

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Mention the Balearic island of Ibiza to anyone in the know, and the most likely response you’ll get is a knowing smile and a reminiscent nod. With its reputation as THE party capital of the world, with its hedonistic nightclubs and twenty-four hour clubbing atmosphere, it’s an understandable mistake to make in thinking that is all this wonderful island has to offer. However, behind this dance music-led façade, you’ll also find some of the top beaches in Ibiza are also some of the best in the Mediterranean too.

If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the better-known party aspects of Ibiza, then you can’t go far wrong with the beautiful retreat that is Benirras beach, found on the north of the island. Famous for being associated with drug-fuelled nights of debauchery back in the ‘sixties, today Benirras is a haven for the more sedate traveler. Laying in seclusion at the end of a long and windy road, the beach is the very picture of a perfect idyllic setting: deep blue seas surrounded by overhanging cliff faces and golden sands. The best part about this particular beach is that there is a protection order in place stopping hotel owners from building on it – a rare event in today’s world, and another reason why it was recently voted one of the top beaches in Ibiza.

Another of the more relaxing beaches in Ibiza is the Cala Llonga, which is situated just slightly north of Ibiza town itself. Although the beach itself is fairly small, it has a surprisingly deceptive depth to it, enabling it to accommodate many more beach-goers than you may have first thought. Since it’s in the north, where many of the more boisterous revelers tend to leave alone, this offers a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere.

If it is the more intensive and party going vibe that you’re after on your visit to this wondrous island, you should be checking out the infamous Playa d’en Bossa beach, which at a mere 2km from Ibiza town itself, is right at the heart of all the action. With almost all the bars playing loud dance music along the whole of the beach-front, it’s not for the weak-hearted. However, as the starting point for your big night out, it can’t be faulted.

However, one of the most popular beaches in Ibiza is surprisingly not Playa d’en Bossa (although it runs a close second) but the rather wonderful Salines beach. This offers a happy medium between all-out partying and simple relaxation – with a long and relaxing walk along the beach front, interspersed with bars galore on the way to the much-loved ultimate beach bar Sa Trinxa, it’s a great way to ease yourself in to the long night ahead.

Although Ibiza does quite rightly hold the reputation of being the ideal destination for any party-loving animal, it shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to the more traditional kind of relaxing holiday either, as the likes of Benirras and Cala Llonga and the other top beaches in Ibiza will have you discover.

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