Monday, July 19, 2010

Back from Paradise

My family and I just spent the last four days on Dog Island, Florida to be known forever after as Paradise. It was absolutely wonderful. I am still shocked that such a place exists.

My husband found Dog Island after I said we should take a short vacation and that any place we went would have to allow my dog Saul. We all wanted to go to the beach, because the beach is just awesome, and the kids had never been. So, he started searching for dog friendly beaches in Florida and came across this place. Having no desire to be around drunk college kids or crammed together like sardines on a beach we had absolutely zero interest in a tourist town like Panama City. Dog Island fit our needs perfectly.

It's located just 3.5 miles off the coast of Apalachicola and only accessible by boat. You have to carry all of your own food and water over when you go because there isn't a single store or bar or any other kind of retail establishment on Dog Island. The Nature Conservancy owns the majority of the island. There are bird sanctuaries, turtle sanctuaries etc...The rest is owned by private individuals. There are about 100 full time residents on the island, which is 6.8 miles long, and very few of them appeared to be on the island when we were there. In fact, for the first two days we didn't see another soul aside from the boat captain's wife, who is the caretaker for The Pelican Inn. It was pretty much like having the entire island to ourselves. And that folks was truly priceless. An empty, beautiful beach all to ourselves.

Here's the scene that greeted us from our front door at the Pelican Inn.


The Pelican Inn is very rustic and basic, but has everything you could possibly need for a beach vacation. It is a huge 8 unit house and each unit is 400 sq. ft. and comes equipped with a kitchen, two beds, bathroom, air conditioner and table. Each unit also has a small porch and there is a 100 ft. porch across the entire building. The four units on the bottom are for people with pets. There is no TV and no internet unless you bring a wireless card. There are also private residences for rent on the island but they were out of our price range.

The land is an unspoiled, tropical paradise. Since there aren't many people there the sea shells to be collected number in the tens of thousands. Here are just a few that I picked up while there. The first one is my favorite. It is very difficult to find a large, intact conch shell. This one is breathtakingly beautiful!




Here is a pic of a beautiful sunrise on our second day.


We spent a lot of time walking but never came close to making it to either end of the island. On our second morning we woke up to a pod of dolphins frolicking out in the Gulf. The next day on one of our walks we saw more dolphins just off the tip of a nearby sandbar and we decided to try and get closer. When we got within 100 yards of them they stopped showing themselves, so we returned to the beach. No sooner than we set foot back on land they began to leap out of the water and put on a magnificent show for our viewing pleasure. It was truly awe inspiring. Sadly, I didn't have my camera with me and don't have any pictures of that amazing scene. We also saw dolphins on the return boat ride back to the mainland...but only the fins trailing the boat. Seeing dolphins in the wild is something I will never forget. Anyone who would capture and cage such a fabulous, intelligent, ocean-going creature and keep it in what amounts to a bathtub and make it perform tricks for our amusement deserves to be punished severely. That is nothing short of abuse. It is plain cruel!

There were also loads of huge brown pelicans everywhere. They are such an interesting bird and seem to fly in groups or three to five. We were hoping to get a close look at one but they never landed on the porch...always in the water.

The waters are also home to thousands of crabs. On our first day there we were in the water and my husband spotted what he thought was a turtle...so he took off after it with the intent to catch it, look at it, and turn it loose. However, he soon discovered it was actually a huge crab and he immediately hauled ass in the opposite direction. We thought about catching some to eat but, when we learned that they had to be boiled alive, we quickly changed our minds. I'm majorly tender-hearted when it comes to critters of any sort and although I am an omnivore I could never actually kill a critter and eat it unless it was a matter of life or death. And boiling anything alive is just too horrible to contemplate. They sure looked tasty though.

Another neat animal we got to see lots of were sting rays. I was actually not expecting to see those. But, one day we were in the water and a small one swam very close to my foot. A few minutes later my husband started jumping around and said, "Ahhh, I just stepped on something squishy and it swam out from under my foot!" He then exited the water. He and my daughter saw some very large ones, but I only saw a few baby rays. They were beautiful!

My dog Saul had the time of his life. He is a house dog and in the summer only gets to go out for very brief stints when he is at home. It is just too damn hot to be outside a second longer than it takes for him to do his business. He was very excited to be in a new place and he frolicked, swam, dug, chased birds until his leash ran out, and walked for miles and miles. He also found a few sea shells of his own, which he retrieved from the water himself. He had never been swimming before but took to the water like a duck. Wherever the kids were he was also. There were loads of sea gulls congregating all over the place. On every walk he would stalk them and charge at them and make them scatter. To him that was exceptional fun! He almost caught a hermit crab once but I wouldn't let him. There were hermit crabs all over the beach! My son picked up one shell and was looking into it when a small hermit crab jumped out at him and nearly scared him to death. He thought it was a spider. It was hysterical!

Here are just a few more random pictures I snapped while there. I also have a few short video clips I will post later.




And here is one final picture of what I have no clue. Husband found it while walking on the beach and named it Blobby. I though it was fairly disgusting and didn't want to touch it. I'd be very interested in knowing what it actually is so if anyone out there has any idea please post it in the comments section.


I highly recommend Dog Island to everyone looking to seriously get away from the entire world. Away from the depressing news, away from the phone, away from traffic, largely away from other people, away from the internet (warning...you will have withdrawals). It is a spectacular place for nature lovers and for families who have no interest crowded beaches, bars every few feet or novelty gift shops that sell crappy, air brushed t-shirts and wind-up jumping penises. It is also a great place for people on a tight budget. For our four days/nights in paradise we only paid $485 for our room plus $140 for the round trip boat ride. Any other beach with that amount of privacy, wildlife, shells, and beach only 15 ft. away from your door etc...would have been $300 a night easy.

If you are interested in going and staying at The Pelican Inn just click the link and email Ms. Jane Dorfer to book your room.

Warning: You may never want to leave.

4 comments:

Smokin' Deist said...

Sounds like you had a blast. I wondered what happened to you. lol

Don said...

Welcome back from an earned vacation.

You have email about this.

Anonymous said...

This is a beutiful place we have been looking for places to vacation with my son and his mom since they now require passports to go to mexico [ we used to go to Isla Mujeres mexico ] every yr for vacation because we love the small islands in the gulf and it was inexpensive quiet no college age drunks and cheap good seafood and inexpensive local products that mom and dad can enjoy and the locals there are some of the nicest people i have met any where but this looks like a way nice and very secluded place for vacation and still in the states skipping that nightmare at the airport security is always a plus when trying to relax for a week or 2 .. That one image you have there looks like a peice of bait for a big fish but the light in the pic also makes it appear like a rose colored piece of quartz almost

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