Twice a year, Florida By Water heads to Orlando to check out the latest in fashion, swimwear, gadgets, and anything else that we think you, the boater, might enjoy. The Surf Expo features approximately 2,600 booths, all chock full of apparel and hard goods, as well as a full lineup of special events. This year we spent countless hours searching for products we think you'll be interested in. Here are our top 5 picks.
Best Tan Lines
The Scrunch Butt Bikini
The Ipanema line is themed, based on destinations like Florida, Mexico, Belize, St. Barts, and many more tropical paradises. Designer Patrixia has created a complete line of styles; our personal favorite is the “scrunch butt.” This particular style allows the wearer to show as much or as little skin as she desires just by adjusting the stylish strings and straps. Also, each piece of swimwear is reversible, giving the customer more possibilities for mix and match combinations.
Best Nautical Bikini
When we're out on the boat, we find it very important to dress for the occasion. Heat Swimwear caught our attention with their Anchors Away collection. These are mix and match items, which range in cost from $32.99 for the bottoms to $42.99 for the tops. Check out their site for even more nautical bikinis.
Best New Boat Shoes
Tucket Footwear is perfect for boaters for a couple of reasons. First, the shoe is fully submersible and the water will completely drain off in three to five seconds.. Second, this shoe has traction like no other, providing a strong grip on the slick surface of a boat.The proprietary tread material has actually passed the slip testing used for occupational footwear. Last, they just look good. On the boat or an evening out, you can't go wrong with these boat shoes.
Even though I’m sure that, like us, you already have more bags and coolers then you can count, the CoolBag is worth a second look. We were impressed by the fact that the bag is compartmentalized; meaning that ice and drinks fit securely in the bottom of the bag, leaving room for valuables like your phone and other personal items, which stay nice and dry in the upper portion of the of this “cool” bag. The other feature that boaters will love is that the straps can be unhooked and placed around a secure object (like your steering wheel) and then locked, providing a little more security for your valuables while you are away from the boat. The bag comes in six colors and retails for $109.
Best in Bling
Nau-T Girl Jewelry has a great collection of items for the “outdoor kind of girl.” Their jewelry collection consists of Mermaid, Anchor, and Hook collections. Each piece is handcrafted and can be purchased in Sterling Silver or 14K white or yellow gold. This family-run business out of Venice, Florida, also features apparel like t-shirts and hats. It has been our experience that we all love a Nau-T Girl, so you can't go wrong getting her the bling she deserves.
As the morning sun breaks through the darkness of night we realize that we have discovered a boating paradise. This is the kind of place you dream about: great restaurants with fresh seafood, dockside bars with live music, a freshwater spring where you can raft up, outstanding fishing and scalloping, not to mention a beautiful house on a private island that overlooks both the Gulf of Mexico and the Homosassa River.
The first weekend in May we trailered our boat down to the small town of Homosassa, a destination that has been on our bucket list since we created Florida By Water. We had two main objectives: to experience the local flair and beauty of this Nature Coast community, and to stay at Tarpon Key Lodge.
Tarpon Key Lodge is a beautiful three bedroom, two bath private home located on Shell Island; a 30 minute boat ride from the Riverhaven Marina. What makes this home unique is that it’s the only house on an eight-acre island, located where the Homosassa River and the Gulf of Mexico meet. The accommodations sleep eight, and include amenities such as kayaks, a fish freezer, commercial icemaker, modern kitchen, Internet and cable, and amazing sunsets viewable from the massive deck that wraps around the entire house. The home, which is only accessible by boat, has a private dock equipped with a shelter and a fish cleaning station. The entire property is beautifully landscaped and you will see wildlife everywhere. Panoramic views provide an incredible reminder of the uniqueness of this destination. During regular season, the island can be yours for only $300 per night with a three-night minimum stay. Costs go up during scallop season.
If you’re into dockside dining, Homosassa is filled with outstanding restaurants that range from the local dive to the upscale. Our first night we made the five-mile journey up the scenic waterway to the Sea Grass Waterfront Restaurant. Docking was easy and plentiful, and the food was excellent. We also enjoyed the feel of the outdoor bar where locals gathered. On the evening trip back to the lodge, the setting sun delivered a spectrum of colors that reflected off of the glass-like water. ‘Magnificent’ is really an understatement on how to describe this paradise. During the day, one local hotspot is an outdoor bar that goes by the name of “The Shed.” On the weekends, this place is hopping with boaters, bikers, vacationers, and seemingly just about everyone in else in this small town. Live music and laughter fill the air, along with smell of (really good!) wings and beer. While you’re there, you can also pick up any additional items you need at MacRae’s Marina. If you’re in more of a sit down lunch or dinner kind of mood, be sure and check out the Riverside Crab House located next door at Riverside Resort. They have the best blue crab in the area.
On any boating adventure, you look for places to spend the day on the boat. The local raft up can be found at Homosassa Springs. The springs are known for their manatees and crystal clear water. It is a perfect place for swimming, snorkeling, or just people watching. The springs are located at the mouth of the Homosassa River and are about an hour’s boat ride from the Lodge. We would also suggest taking a sunset cruise. Just a short outing from the Lodge will provide you with more pictures and memories than you can
imagine. While we cannot really call ourselves fishermen, fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in the area. Guides and local knowledge will ensure you have fresh fish for supper. But, if you’re like us, and the only way you can catch a fish is if one jumps into your boat, there is always Shelly’s Seafood, a local fish market located right on the water.
The town of Homosassa dates back to 1851 and began as an established sugar plantation, producing sugar, syrup and molasses that were used in rum production. Today the community has a population of about 2,300 residents. We think you will find this destination to be one of your favorites for boating opportunities. It is rare to find so many great boating options nestled in the middle of paradise, complete with your own private island.
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