Blowing Rocks Preserve, Florida

Blowing Rocks Preserve, Florida  is a unique habitat preserve that is owned by the Nature Conservancy. It is located along Hobe Sound on Jupiter Island in Martin County, Florida. Visitors can see what natural Florida looks like. The combination of ocean waves and natural limestone outcroppings results in magnificent sea spray that shoots up into the air at regular intervals. The preserve is easily reached via the I-95 Florida corridor or A1A/US 1. The Preserve is located about 100 miles from Miami and about 235 from Jacksonville. Hobe Sound is one of a long chain of barrier islands along the so-called Treasure Coast of Florida. There are state parks with beaches on some of these islands as well as resorts and individual hotels.

Surf and lighting Blowing Rocks Preserve, Hope Sound FloridaTo the north, the closest beach is Vero Beach. Its public beaches include South Beach and Humiston Park. Between Jupiter Island and Vero Beach, there are beach communities including Hutchinson Island South, Ocean Beach, North Beach, Pepper Park and Queens Cove. Treasure Coast beaches are warm and sunny most of the year, making them perfect for visitors who want to escape a cold winter. These Atlantic beaches are more isolated from big crowds and commercialism, even if they are part of a resort area. There are many natural beaches and nature parks to attract those who enjoy bird-watching or hiking. Sea-shell hunting is also more rewarding. The inland waterway offers more opportunities for water sports, skiing, boating, and fishing. From Vero Beach, visitors are within an hour of the Cape Canaveral Space Center.

To the south, the best known beaches are within the boundaries of the West Palm Beach area. Before reaching West Palm Beach, there are beaches near Tequestra and Jupiter, Florida. There is also the Sea Colony community with its resorts. Further south, Juno Beach offers its own beach accommodations and beach access. West Palm Beach includes the beach towns of Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Riviera Beach, Royal Palm Beach, North Palm Beach and Palm Beach. These beaches offers many hotels and resorts that are part of a bustling metropolitan area with attractions, shopping and dining. There are many upscale boutiques, trendy clubs and a more exclusive atmosphere. Spas and salons are plentiful. Palm Beach International Airport brings in about 5.5 million passengers to the area yearly.


Hobe Sound, Florida

Hobe Sound, Florida, has a most unusual beach named Blowing Rocks Preserve, which is a small 73 acre area with rocks instead of the usual Florida sand. When the Atlantic Ocean wind drives the water through the holes in the limestone, the spray sometimes flies as high as 50 feet. This is a beachcombers dream because there are thousands of gorgeous seashells that can be gathered to take home and treasure. There is a quarter mile that is not rocky, and here approximately 500 turtle nests are dug every year by leatherback, green and loggerhead turtles.

Tide and Water Hope Sound Florida Residents from nearby Jupiter Island gave this parcel to the Nature Conservancy back in 1969, and since then volunteers have restored 42 acres by weeding out invasive trees and planting sabal palms, palmettos, mangroves and other native ones instead. The preserve’s nursery’s seeds were responsible for many of these trees.

The Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge is halfway between Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach on Florida’s Treasure Coast . It is situated on a barrier island down the dead-end North Beach Road, so it is a surprise when you find over five miles of unspoiled shore lined with seashells and vegetation, a wooden observation platform on top of a dune, and a beach filled with turtle nests. If you go by bicycle, entrance is free; there is a charge of $5.00 per person if you are in a vehicle. You can walk to St. Lucie River Inlet.

The Hobe Sound Nature Center is located at the National Wildlife Refuge right on the Intercoastal. It is a non-profit private organization that cooperates with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is dedicated to the education and awareness of the environment. There are 43 steps down to its lovely beach. There are trails to walk on and warm waters for the kids to play in while the parents can sit on the beach, enjoy the sun and watch the boats go by. A popular annual event is the “sea turtle walk” from the end of May to mid-July.

The Coral Cove Park is a must for surfers and for those who like to view spectacular rock formations. You must watch out for sharks, however, because there are many in the nearby Jupiter Inlet.


Kythnos, Greece


Kythnos is a Greek island, approximately 100 kilometers from Piraeus, the harbor city of Athens. Until recently, Kythnos has had few foreign visitors as many travelers opt for the more famous and popular Santorini, Crete, or Mykonos. However, with history going back to the Mesolithic Era, Kythnos has a wealth of rich culture.

The quaint village of Chora sits atop a hill as a stunning example of Greek architecture. With its white stone houses, modest churches, and narrow cobblestone streets, Chora is a gem to explore. Kythnos is well-known for its delicious capers, olive oil, and almond cookies in addition to the typical Greek seafood cuisine. Chora offers an abundance of restaurants to choose from, all serving fresh fish and seafood.Merichas port, Kythnos island, Cyclades, Greece

Outside of Chora is Loutra, a town famous for its hot springs, which some locals believe have healing water. Dryopida is another small town near Chora and is famous for the Kataphyki cave, one of the biggest caves in Greece. Dryopida is also home to the fascinating Folklore Museum of Kythnos.

Merichas, the island’s main port, bustles with activity.  Hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops can be easily found along with luxury and entertainment. Despite being a port town, the surrounding waters are clear and blue, appropriate for both swimming and fishing. Merichas also has a vibrant nightlife with its bars and taverns. Vryokastro, the ancient capital of Kythnos, is very close by with ruins of Roman buildings, temples, and altars to explore. The church of Panagia Flambouriani is also worth a visit.

Kythnos has more than 50 beaches, though some are more difficult to reach than others. The best beaches to visit are Kolona, Apokrousi, Skylou, and Potamia. Each offers calm waves, white sand, and most of all, peace and quiet. Most beaches are accessible by scooter or foot. The most unconventional and adventurous way, however, is by parachute. Kolona, which is arguably Kythnos’ most beautiful beach, is popular because it is a narrow strip of land with waves lapping on both sides. Kolona is reasonably close to Merichas, and the pleasant hike along the coast should not be missed. During the months of June to September, Kythnos is at its peak of perfect weather. Days are warm and sunny, making great visits to the secluded beaches.

Kythnos being just a short 100 miles from Athens, makes getting  to Greece’s largest city from several European destinations a easy way to  find you enjoying that Greek vacation in no time.

Barcelona Cathedral, Barcelona Spain


The official name of the Barcelona Cathedral is the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. This Gothic style house of worship is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, Spain. Construction began during the 13th century and was completed in the 15th century. The building replaced another basilica that was destroyed during a Moorish Invasion. Architects adorned the original Catalan exterior with a neo-Gothic façade in the 19th century and a church spire in 1913. The roof has gargoyles in the shapes of indigenous animals and mythical creatures.

Barcelona Cathedral, SpainWithin the edifice is the crypt of the Visigoth chapel that previously occupied the site. A raised altar provides an unobstructed view of the ancient tomb. One of the largest religious buildings in Barcelona, the church has a small museum and central nave with more than 20 side chapels. Each chapel is dedicated to a different saint or significant event in the history of the Catholic Church. One of the most famous chapels is the Capella del Sant Crist de Lepant, which has a statue of the crucifixion that was onboard a ship at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. According to oral tradition, the figure on the cross moved during the battle to avoid being struck by a cannonball. The crypt contains an ornate sarcophagus with the remains of Eulalia, one of the city’s patron saints. The Romans martyred the 13-year-old girl when she refused to renounce her beliefs. Choir stalls are adorned with the coats-of-arms of knights associated with the Order of the Golden Fleece.

A 14th century cloister is located adjacent to the cathedral. In addition to a lovely garden, it contains an equestrian statue of Saint George who is regarded as the city’s other patron saint. The garden pond is known as the Well of the Geese for the flock of birds that the church keeps in the courtyard. The gaggle consists of 13 white geese, which represents Eulalia’s age upon her death in 303 AD. During the feast of Corpus Christi, the church is the site of the tradition of the dancing egg. A clergy member removes the contents of an egg, replaces it with wax and decorates the shell. The egg is placed in the water jet of the cloister fountain, and it appears to dance in the stream of water.

An elevator located inside the cathedral takes visitors to the roof where they can enjoy panoramic views of the city.


Sifnos, Greece


Guest Post By: Maria Papadopoulou

One of the most beautiful islands in Cyclades located between Serifos and Milos, about 130 km from Athens’ Port, Piraeus, is Sifnos, Greece. Sifnosis considered to be the island of God Apollo, as an ancient temple of Apollo is in the church of Virgin Mary Ouranofora. The main town of Sifnos, Apollonia, is also named after Apollo.

I visited Sifnos with friends last summer, for the first time. We took the ferry which run on the Piraeus-Kythnos-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos line and we arrived at Sifnos in about 4 hours. From the moment we landed on the island, we knew we had fallen in love with it.

Sifinos, Cyclades Island, GreeceWhite, cube-shaped houses, paved alleys with limy hinges, courts with traditional white stone benches , churches with white or blue domes and impressive bell towers,  valleys with many olive trees and clean, crystal clear beaches compose the portrait of Sifnos.  Such a breathtaking beauty can impress practically everyone; we were watching  tourists taking countless photographs of the island.

There are so many things to see in Sifnos, that is why I recommend you stay for at least one week to be able to enjoy every little detail.

The Church of the Seven Martyrs is built on a rock, hanging over the sea, offering a spectacular, breathtaking view, especially during sunset and sunrise.

Located 5 km east of Apollonia, on the top of a cliff,  there is Kastro Village, offering a panoramic view of the sea. Kastro is built in the ruins of the ancient capital of Sifnos and is basically the only village in the island of Sifnoswith medieval character.

While in the village, tourists can view old mansions, 16th and 17th century churches, segments of the Venetian fortress, as well as a small archaeological museum.

Plati Gialos Beach is probably the most famous beach in Sifnos, as it offers plenty of water sports and has crystal clear blue waters.  As this beach is crowded easily, it is important to arrive there early in the morning to have a seat.

Vathi Beach is another popular beach in Sifnos. Surrounded by tall rocks, this sandy beach with the amazing azure waters is a perfect destination for tourists who want to spend a more quiet time.

Established in 1650 and located on the top of a rocky peninsula is the beautiful Monastery of Chrissopigi. As it is considered to be the protector of the island, it is very special for the inhabitants of the island.

Sifnos is an island that all people should visit at least once in their lives.


Avalon State Park, Florida


Avalon State Park in Florida is a wonderful destination for those wanting to enjoy an undeveloped beach, an increasingly rare find in Florida. Avalon State Park is located on Florida’s Treasure Coast on North Hutchinson Island, just 4 miles north of Fort Pierce Inlet State Park  and the Fort Pierce downtown area. Visitors will discover over a mile of sandy beach along crystal clear water offering great activities, relaxation, and a glimpse of native wildlife.


Avalon Beach State Park Hutchison Island, FloridaThere are several ways to enjoy this area. Avalon State Park’s beach is ideal for sunbathing under the Florida sun. Swimmers will love the firm sandy floor and beautiful surroundings, while snorkeling is an extra special treat. The water is as clear as in the Bahamas, and it is home to a wonderful tropical world of sea life. Kayaking and canoeing is a very popular activity, as one can start off from the beach. Simply carry your craft out 30 to 40 feet, and enjoy a relaxing cruise atop the water.

All visitors enjoying water activities are asked to be careful around steel and concrete obstacles found under water. Left by the United States Navy’s training during World War II; it is an example of the beaches rich history.

Avalon State Park is one of Florida’s best places for fishing from the shore. Fish can actually be seen migrating past during certain seasons of the year. Catch one of the several native species such as Snook, Bluefish, Red or Black Drums, Permit, Pompano, or Whiting.

Many people come to experience the native Florida wildlife found in Avalon State Park. This area is the ideal habitat for several species. Sea turtles are the most popular animal found along the water’s edge. They can be found nesting along the beaches during the spring, including the endangered loggerhead, leatherback, and Atlantic Green. Although they are interesting and fun to see, do not disturb them. That way they will survive for future generations to observe.

One of the best things about this beach is all the features to make your visit convenient from start to finish. Located near the parking lot are four pavilions for picnicking. Along with the sheltered tables, grills are also provided. After a day of exploring the entire beach, there are two showers found near the restrooms where one can clean up before heading home. Facilities are all ADA accessible. A beach wheelchair is available for use at no charge.


Veracruz State, Mexico

Although the state of Veracruz in Mexico has one of the country’s leading economies, its economy isn’t as dependent on tourism as those of some of the other states in Mexico. Petroleum and agriculture are the two biggest industries in Veracruz. This is good news to travelers who prefer to avoid areas in which mass tourism prevails. Visitors to Veracruz find it easy to experience the authentic culture of the region without feeling crowded by large numbers of other tourists.

Veracruz is located in the eastern part of Mexico and has a long coastline featuring many miles of sand dunes. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico provide superb sports-fishing opportunities and there are many fishing guide services to accommodate the fishing enthusiast. Those who prefer snow-topped mountains will find plenty of them in Veracruz also.
Mexico State Veracruz, City of Xalapa Cathedral
The city of Veracruz is the oldest city in Mexico. Founded in 1519 by Hernán Cortés, it’s now a vibrant, modern port city. It’s the largest city in the state of Veracruz and offers many activities. From May to August, scuba diving is a popular pastime. The Plaza de las Armas in the center of the city of Veracruz is always filled with musicians, dancers, and other attractions such as vendors selling craft items and food. For those interested in marine life, the Veracruz Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Latin America.

Xalapa is the state capital of Veracruz and is noted for its many museums. More than 400 exhibitions are on display at the Museum of Science and Technology in Xalapa. An extensive collection of Mesoamerican artifacts can be found in the Museum of Anthropology. Xalapa Is also located in a mountainous region of Veracruz, making it a good choice for those wishing to escape the heat.

Veracruz has much to offer the person who desires to experience authentic cultures. Those who have an interest in handmade arts-and-crafts will appreciate the quality of the furniture made in the town of Castillo de Teayo, the musical instruments created in the town of Los Tuxtlas, and the beautifully embroidered women’s blouses created in the communities of Tlalixcoyan and El Higo. There are many more rural communities that specialize in different types of handicrafts. Those with an interest in indigenous arts-and-crafts will find much to explore in Veracruz.

Veracruz is the perfect travel destination for those who want to avoid tourist-filled commercialized areas and to experience authentic, vibrant culture.


Tlaxcala State, Mexico


With La Malinche volcano serving as a backdrop, the Mexican State of Tlaxcala has the cool, semiarid climate of the Mesa Central where it is located. This densely populated state is Mexico’s smallest by area. It has an economy built upon agriculture, cattle raising, and finely made woven handicrafts. The state and its capital both derive their name from the local, pre-historic culture. The current boundaries of the state are similar to those of a native federation that never surrendered to the Aztecs.

Principal church of the town of Ixtacuixtla, located in the Mexican State of Tlaxcala.The storied past of the area has led to a vibrant tourist industry. Visitors will see the archeological ruins of Cacaxtla, Tizatlan and Xochitecatl. Archeologists are currently excavating, exploring and documenting these ancient sites. At the time of the conquistadors, the region was a land of grand plazas, palaces and temples consistent with a Post-Classical period, Mesoamerican civilization. The Xochitecatl ruins date from approximately 400 A.D. It is here that you can view the Serpent Pyramid, the Spiral Building, the Volcano Base and what is believed to be the most important structure, the Flower Pyramid.

The Cacaxtla ruins are from structures that were built around the 7th century A.D. This archeological site is larger than that of Xochitecatl. Nearby is the modern town of San Miguel with its amazing murals that adorn the walls of various temples. The Tizatlan site is unique because the ruins consist of adobe brick, which is extremely rare for this time period and location. There are numerous other historical sites worth visiting along with the colonial architecture of the capital, Tlaxcala City.

Although in its infancy, eco-tourism is centered on the La Malinche Volcano National Park. Visitors can mountain bike, rock climb, rappel and horseback ride during the day. At night, you can camp out under the stars after watching the sunset over the panoramic vista from the top of the volcano.

Guests who spend time in the cities of Apizaco, Huamantla and San Pablo del Monte will witness regional festivals that feature dances of masked men who imitate the Spaniards of old and don colorful garb and plumed hats. There are festivals that commemorate historic events and religious holidays. This is an opportune time to sample the local cuisine of barbacoa and mixiote along with regional delicacies of escamoles, maguey larvae and the xoconostle cactus fruit.

Not as widely known as other Mexican destinations, Tlaxcala is a hidden gem awaiting discovery.


Tamaulipas State, Mexico


Tamaulipas is a state found in the northern part of Mexico, just south of the American state of Texas. It has four main areas. There is the frontera border with Texas, the Sierra Madre mountain range in the west, the Gulf Coast region in the east and the Huasteca region in the south. Here is a guide to the best things to see and do on a trip to Tamaulipas.

Located on the Gulf Coast, Tampico is a tropical paradise that is the most popular tourist attraction in Tamaulipas. It is about a six hour drive from the Texas border, but most visitors fly into the international airport.Sunrise, La Pesca, Tamaulipas State, Mexico Photo By Andres Tortoriello

Playa Miramar is the beach in the area, and it has beautiful water and lots of open space. There is an old colonial square downtown that has a great market, a beautiful old church and lots of great shops. The Metropolitan Cultural Center features ballet, symphony and opera performances. Also, several times a year the local cattle ranchers put on bullfights.

The best thing to do in Tampico is to go out and explore the many wonderful restaurants. The location on the Gulf Coast means that there is an abundance of seafood, and the local restaurants are masters at preparing it.

Located about halfway between Tampico and Texas is the fishing hotbed of La Pesca. It is located on the Gulf, just north of the mouth of the Rio Bravo. The fishing is excellent in both the Gulf and on the river, and there are many locals that are happy to take tourists on guided fishing charters.

In addition, there is a great stretch of beautiful, sandy beach just outside La Pesca. This is a spot that is not overrun by tourists like many other Mexican beaches have been, so visitors will often have it all to themselves.

The food is cheap and the people are friendly. This is a nice spot for those who want to make a short drive into Mexico for some great fishing or beach lounging.

La Pesca and Tampico are the two best tourist attractions in Tamaulipas. Other cities that visitors may visit are Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Victoria. Neither have a lot to offer in the way of tourist attractions, but there is a nice lake 30 kilometers north of Ciudad Victoria. Called Presa Vicente Guerrero, it has some good fishing and nice scenery.


Tabasco State, Mexico


The southeastern Mexican State of Tabasco should hold a special place in the heart of chocolate lovers worldwide. It was in this area of Mexico that the cacao bean originated. Tabasco is also home to the major Olmec civilization site of La Venta. Historians believe that Olmec was the cradle for subsequent Mesoamerican cultures. The area receives abundant annual rainfall. As a result, the state is covered by an extensive network of rainforest, lakes, wetlands and rivers. The weather, location and terrain combine to form four distinct ecosystems of wetlands, beaches, tropical savannahs and rainforests. The state has set up several unique tourist routes that crisscross the countryside to provide visitors the opportunity to explore history and culture of this environmental treasure.

Monument located at Villahermosa city, state of Tabasco in MexicoGuests can select a route that provides cultural immersion, outdoor excitement or a combination of the two. The Central Route begins in the capital city of Villahermosa. This path takes visitors to many of the areas cultural and historical museums, the Yumka Ecological Reserve and the Tomas Garrido Canabal Park as well as the Tabasco Cathedral. The Cacao Route takes guests to a journey through the world of chocolate as it transforms from “bean to bar.” Along the way, you will visit the city of Comalcalco and the archeological site that bears the same name. You will also have the sweet treat of the chocolate museum in La Luz.

The outdoor adventurers take the River Route. Eco-tourists will be thrilled by canopy top vistas, rafting and rappelling. In addition to the river and rainforest, guests can visit the archeological sites of Pomona and Reforma Mayan. You will be amazed by the flora and fauna of the Wetlands Route. There are over 500 species of plants and a wide variety of animal life that includes herons, crocodiles, manatees and turtles at the Centla Biosphere Reserve. The route also takes you to Frontera, the location of Spain’s first settlement on the American mainland. The Mountains Adventure Route takes guests into the highlands where they can explore caves, rappel and hike scenic trials. Visitors can enjoy swimming snorkeling or deep sea fishing at one of the many seaside resorts. You can relax and sample local dishes and watch the Zapateo and listen to the musical style of the Tamborileros, the area’s traditional dance and music.

Tabasco is a marvelous mix of culture, history and adventure waiting to be discovered.