Place: Palm Island, Florida
The allure of vacationing on an authentic barrier island with palm trees swaying gently in the soft breeze off the Gulf of Mexico, osprey, bald eagles, sandpipers, blue herons, tree frogs, anoles, and leatherback turtles are free to roam without fear of being run over by an automobile.
Who would not crave for days distancing you from cars, crowds and the other stresses of civilization? Where romantic memories will linger forever recalling the many hours of painting, photography, hiking along two miles of a private unspoiled and shell -laden beach, fishing, tennis, swimming, biking, canoeing, star gazing and watching spectacular sunrises and sunsets, or just lounging lazily in a comfy lawn chair and reading a favorite novel.
A place so exotically remote, that in order to reach it, you will have to take a 5-6 minute car ferry ride, and once you arrive at your destination, you are obliged to leave your car in the resort's parking area. In fact, once you park, the only means of transportation within the island will be your feet, bikes or golf carts.
Now you are probably muttering-give me a break, this sounds too good to be true!
My wife Lily and I were pleasantly surprised when we discovered probably Florida's last true out island resort-Palm Island and the Palm Island Resort, located along the Intra-coastal Waterway on Florida's Southwest Gulf Coast, west of Charlotte Harbor, and forty- five miles south of Sarasota.
The island was not always known as Palm Island, and in fact it used to be called Knight Island, a name still mentioned on nautical maps. In 1979 brothers Gar and Dean Beckstead purchased the land where the Palm Island Resort is now located and renamed it Palm Island.
Built in stages, today the resort comprises 160 privately owned luxurious vacation villas with one-two-or three
bedrooms, as well as 21 one individual homes. Featured in each spacious villa are fully equipped kitchens, living
and dining rooms, laundry facilities, and a screened porch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. There are five good
-sized swimming pools with hydra spas.
After checking out the possibilities Lily and I were very impressed with the many possibilities, and the resort is extremely flexible pertaining to arrangements and menus.
For smaller affairs, you can rent a six-room villa with the Gulf of Mexico as your backyard. However, if your party is less than 150 persons, you can set up a beach tent with parquet floors. If you prefer an indoor celebration, the clubhouse is available for a more intimate affair.
Ceremonies have also taken place on a private dock overlooking the intra-coastal waterway. Just think for a
moment-how awesome it must be to exchange vows on your own private island with a simmering beach rimmed by pristine
waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
This is probably one of the few resorts that can boast of having its own pirate in residence roaming the grounds and bringing laughter to all of its guests.
Randy "Redbeard the Pirate" Matthews is the resort's friendly pirate who is loved by all, particularly the kiddies. In fact, we were informed that some of the children prefer Redbeard's entertaining singing with his scratchy voice than a visit to Disney!
This friendly wild-eyed singer with his huge arms covered with tattoos and daggers in his leather boots can
have everyone laughing and stomping their feet as soon as he commences his performance.
If you are not in the mood to eat in, you can try the resort's Rum Bay Restaurant, or you can boat over to a Florida legend-Johnny Leverocks. Both offer great food with a casually elegant setting.
However, what can be more hopelessly romantic than dinner by candlelight in an enclosed screened veranda less than a few feet away from the cool breezes of the Gulf of Mexico watching an awesome sunset.
As I am married to a great chef, there is nothing that would convince me to substitute restaurant dining for Lily's cuisine combined with a good bottle of wine and Palm Island's romantic elements. As the French say, "chacun à son gout."
Norm and Lily Goldman are a unique husband and wife team, writer and water colorist, who write and paint about romantic destinations. You can see more of Norm and Lily's work at their website sketchandtravel.com
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