Just got back yesterday from a week on the beach in Florida. We had a very good time! My husband, Ken, of course had to break something before we went, but that's just typical. He apparently cracked the side of his big toe and was in a lot of pain the whole week, but he didn't let it stop him or get in the way of us having a good time.
We rented a house through VRBO which was interesting. The house itself was nice. I guess there are pros and cons on everything. My younger sister Christina and her family joined us for most of the week. We went to the beach two days, Big Kahunas, Crab Island, and dolphin watching while we were there. All in all it was a good time! We will definitely do something similar next year I think.
We stayed in Santa Rosa Beach which is between Destin and Panama City. There was a walkway through the preserve to the beach and the sand was beautiful! The water was a different story. There was a huge algae bloom known as the "June Bloom." One of the local waiters told us that it happens every year at the end of June and lasts through August. Interesting how no one mentions this. Everyone was concerned about the oil not allowing anyone into the water, but the algae was just as bad. The water looked nice, but as soon as you got in all the algae was constantly touching you and just felt icky. No one wanted to get in the water. Luckily the "Lake of Terror" was close by. The lake was part of a bigger lake that was maybe 20 feet from the beach filled with brackish water. It was gross, but the kids loved it. You could have sworn that the kids were swimming in Coca Cola.
Big Kahunas is a water park. Not the biggest, but it had a lot of slides and a few lazy rivers. We rented a cabana for the day and that was the best thing! We had the cabana with tables and chairs and lounge chairs. We also had our own personal waiter and didn't have to go get in line at the concessions. The kids had such a good time and their favorite was Thunder River. Ken and I were so proud of Brandon. The girls had taken off and were going up the stairs to Thunder River and he wanted to go with them. By the time he got to the stairs they were gone. He stood there and kept looking back at us and I could tell he was wondering if he should come back. Finally he mustered up his courage and after almost being run over by several adults he managed to get an inner tube and he drug it up the stairs and went down Thunder River by himself! He met up with the rest of the kids at the cabana after that first round and just kept up with them the rest of the time we were there.
I think our favorite thing to do was Crab Island! We rented a pontoon boat and took it to the bay where Crab Island is. It's not actually an island, more of a giant sand bar. The algae bloom wasn't there and the water is only about 3 feet deep and blue! The kids had a good time finding crabs all afternoon and Ken and I just floated around and relaxed. We really want a boat now!!
Dolphin watching was all right. Two hours on the boat with about 1/2 an hour of dolphins. Not bad except for the extreme heat. The kids were kind of done. (So were we.)
All in all a great vacation! Looking forward to next year!