I have always loved the beach and Longboat and Siesta keys are two of the prettiest that I have ever visited - both are located in the Sarasota area.

Longboat Key is one of three barrier islands (Anna Marie Island to the north, Lido Key to the south) and joined together by bridges and causeways.  Siesta Key, south of Lido Key, is accessed from Bee Ridge Road or Clark Road.

Beach Place is one of many attractive condominium complexes on the island located between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.  The island’s resorts accommodate a broad range of family budgets.

Longboat Key beach is fairly long, very pretty, and relatively quiet.  In January of 2017, I and a few other people daily had the beach all to ourselves. 


The sea breezes make walking the beach very comfortable and enjoyable

One of the great pleasures of the west coast of Florida is the sunsets. 

Each afternoon we took in the gorgeous sunsets with a glass of wine, various fish spreads and shrimp and crackers – nice.

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St. Armand’s Circle is where the people of Longboat Key often go to shop, eat, drink or listen to music.  The many smart looking shops sell everything from basics to exotic gifts, the restaurants are varied and quite good, and the area is also the cultural hub of the island. John Ringling commissioned seven statues – The Seven Virtues of Sarasota – that are placed in the circle or other parts of the island.

The weekend of Jan. 27 – 28, 2017 featured the most upscale and attractive arts and crafts festival that I have ever been too.  Highly desirable paintings, sculpture, jewelry, crafts and some furniture were for sale and at high prices too.  These two cat sculptures caught my eye though I apologize to the artist whose name I do not remember and for taking the picture – private photos are not encouraged by the vendors. 

Siesta Key

Siesta Key is the deepest beach that I have ever witnessed - it is also pretty and has friendly people and some good seafood restaurants.

Observe the width and white sands of this extraordinary beach.

My friend Dr. Warren Melamed fell in love with the area five years ago and has returned to Longboat each winter.  We spent the week eating and drinking our way across Sarasota and environs.  From the smiles on our faces, it’s apparent that we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Perhaps my greatest pleasure in life is traveling and in recent years making web pages of the places I visited.  If you are interested, please access my other web pages on Oregon and Washington State road trips; also St. Simons and Jekyll Island, Georgia and Iceland and South Africa – the latter two are described through the Five Themes of Geography format.  I promise many more travel pages before I leave this planet. 

Sarasota, Florida, is a city of 53,326 located south of Tampa on Florida’s Coast. File source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sarasota_Bay_and_waterfront,_Sarasota,_Florida_(2003).jpg

This attractive and relatively affluent city was once the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus which recently ceased performing after 146 years. For its size, Sarasota hosts an amazing number of cultural institutes; the Ringling Brothers Museum which showcases old masters and modern art; also an opera house, symphony hall, and numerous theaters and performing arts venues. The Bay front is a major magnet for locals and tourists.

I spent a week in the Sarasota area exploring the city and bay front with good friend Dr. Warren Melamed who enjoys spending part of each winter in the area. The below three pictures are the entrance to the bay front, the marina and grounds, and photographer Robert Capa’s famous 1945 VE Day picture of the sailor kissing his girlfriend which was captured in a fifteen foot high statue.

Nik Wallenda on high wire walking across Bayfront Drive.

Boating is very popular in Florida and the Sarasota area thus requiring application and enforcement of regulations and appropriate behavior.

I was particularly impressed by Walt’s Fish Market Restaurant and Tiki Bar which was established in 1918. John Ringling was a great force in the building of Sarasota but others like Walt Wallin, the first owner, played major roles too.

Some of Walt’s most popular items are the Mullet and Blue Crab Salad and fresh shrimp.

In conclusion, I am partial to cities that invest heavily in public art, a sign that the people believe that their home is so special that want to beautify it even more – Sarasota is such a place. Two particular statues that caught my eye are The Duffer (Royal St. Andrews, the Father of Golf) and the Butterfly Lady.

In retrospect, I ask myself why it took me so long to finally visit this lovely city and area.

Jekyll Island is located about 15 minutes south of St. Simons Island.My friend Patty Morrison and I visited the Georgia State Park on our way home from the Golden Isles.Atlanta is about 325 miles northeast of Jekyll Island and a five hour drive.

The below map shows the proximity of Jekyll Island to the City of Brunswick, St. Simons Island, the Golden Isles area and southeastern Georgia and South Carolina.

Jekyll Island became a playground for New York’s super rich after World War I. Interest waned during the depression but after World War II, the State of Georgia declared Jekyll Island to be a resort for the middle class

The Vanderbilt and Rockefeller estates were incorporated into a Historic Village as an attraction. The below aerial view illustrates the law that 70% of the island must remain in a perpetual natural state .

The middle class plan work for several decades until stagnation became evident in recent years.A massive redevelopment plan is transforming Jekyll into a desirable tourist destination for all income levels.

Visitors arrive at Jekyll Island by means of the Sydney Lanier Bridge.

The entrance to Jekyll Island State Park is attractive and well marked.

One begins a drive down a long causeway and comes to the renovated Beach Village.

The Westin Hotel is to the right and a main plaza lined with shops and restaurants on both sides is ahead.Below is the view from the beach side of the plaza.

Jekyll Island has long been renowned for its long unspoiled beaches.The construction of beach berms and cultivation of sea oats helps keep the dunes in place.

This is a northern view of the berm and sea oats holding dune in place.

Southern view of the beach berm.

My friend Patty Morrison crossed the berms to see beach. The wooden walkway was undamaged from Matthew’s waves and storm surge.

This southern exposure of the beach shows how the berms and the sea oats held the sand dunes in place despite the pounding of ferocious Hurricane Matthew that washed much of the beach away.

The northern exposure shows the beach erosion even more starkly.For lovers of driftwood, Jekyll is a magnet for floating pieces of future fireplace art. Hurricane Matthew donated a few large pieces.

Miles of paved bike trails provide tourists access to the 70% forested landscape, Historic and Beach Villages.Jekyll Island State Park and Resort have improved mightily and are becoming a promising destination and perhaps a Golden Isle.

Last year, my friend Patty Morrison and I spent four days in mid-October 2015 at the King & Prince Hotel on St. Simons Island – see St Simons Island, Georgia, a Love Story.. We enjoyed ourselves so much we decided to return Oct. 14 – 18, 2016 to our special place in southeastern Georgia.

We were also worried about destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew’s winds and storm surge and luckily found less damage than we expected.

The Torras Causeway cuts across five miles of marsh and rivers. Our first site of storm damage was to the island’s famous marshes.

Much of the marsh grass was flooded and under water, or simply uprooted. The marsh is resilient and the grass will eventually return.

One of the island’s iconic structures is the Lighthouse which the week before was engulfed in three feet of water caused by a six to nine foot storm surge. I saw a video of the seawater rising up and waves rolling by the lighthouse. The Arnold Road video showed three feet of water rolling around the King & Prince Hotel and standing in front of the beloved Crab Trap and Crabdaddy’s restaurants.

The storm surge rose well above the below sea wall and water filled the Village, the island’s main commercial center. The tide pictured is higher than normal due to a historical annual high tide during mid-October.

Gould’s Inlet adjacent to the East Beach is noted for the tides and currents that constantly change the sandbars that appear at low tide. Two virtual rectangular super sandbars now appear at low tide with new sandbars rising from the sea in front of the King & Prince.

The celebrated and miles long East Beach is accessible by foot from Gould’s Inlet. The wooden stairway was partially washed away and must be rebuilt.

The East Beach Road marsh is one of the thickest and most dramatic of all the island’s beautiful marshes – one can see new streams carved out by Matthew’s winds and surges.

Access to the East Beach area and Coast Guard Station was currently limited due to ongoing repair work in the area – electric wires fell and power lines were being rebuilt.

This picture provides a closer look at the mitigation efforts by Emergency Response Teams that got the island up and working in less than a week.

St. Simons Island is noted for its vast tree cover of live oaks that an arborist might value in the billions of dollars. Although the tree cover did take a serious hit, it is safe to conclude that the island’s green treasure survived in fairly good shape.

Two massive live oaks on Butler Street (above picture) survived despite losing a lot of branches and perhaps half of its leaves.

My friend John Allen, an islander, assessed that the live oaks came through alright but a lot of water oaks split or toppled.

Above tree fell on house, below tree uprooted but held up by adjacent tree.

Many residences suffered water seepage as exhibited below in ruined carpet and plastic bags full of damaged home goods.

I captured a live oak, located ironically on Oak Street, that survived the storm fairly intact but with serious loss of small branches and leaves.

I often accompany John Allen during my visits while he walks his dog Daisy around the Village. Mallery Park is probably both Daisy’s and my favorite stop during the tour – have always been in awe of the stately live oaks that grace the park. I was both happy that this distinguished congregation of oaks came through okay but suffered a measure of disfiguration.

The King & Prince Hotel combines a fabulous ocean-front location with a spacious, comfortable facility and staffed by attentive, capable people. Our ocean view suite is at far right of picture.

The suite is fully furnished with daily maid service.

The view from our second floor terrace captured new sandbars appearing at low tide.

In contrast, I took a picture of the ocean at high tide. Coincidentally, an annual mid-October event, a historic high tide, occurred a week after a historic storm surge.

Below, a post-card from St. Simons, is a glorious sunset that I captured our last night.

Patty requested that I try to photograph the moon over St. Simons too – gave it a good effort.

This is an appropriate place to say ‘that’s all folks’. There’s a good chance there will be a St. Simon’s III in 2017.


I have been visiting St. Simons Island for almost forty years.  What keeps me returning time and again is the residential ambience - lush tree cover and landscape - beautiful natural beaches - delicious sea food - and friendly people. 

St. Simons Island is located five miles off shore from the City of Brunswick in the southeastern corner of Georgia, about 50 miles from the Florida line.  St. Simons is part of the Golden Isles Chain that also includes Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island and others. 


Below is an aerial view of St. Simons Island from the south.  The Village is located in the bottom–right part of the picture, the King & Prince Hotel and the East Beach far middle right.   

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There are many hotels, motels and rental properties for visitors to choose from.  From Sept. 25 – 29, 2015, my special friend Patty Morrison and I stayed at the King & Prince Hotel located a mile north of the Village. 

St. Simons’ largest hotel was recently renovated and provides a wide array of accommodations to suit most needs or budgets.  For families, there are many nearby condos for rent all year round. 

 The hotel’s Echo Restaurant & Bar is an attractive place to eat or drink and offers the only seaside dining on the island.


         Bar, grille, seaside service on patio - poolside bar and food service far right.


                                Seaside dining


St. Simons is famous for seafood – fisherman catch Georgia White Shrimp in the prevalent marshes that surround much of Georgia’s coast and the island in particular.


CrabDaddy’s and the Crab Trap have consistently prepared good seafood for decades and are but a short walk from the King & Prince.


Brogen’s is a casual, landmark restaurant in the Village and a home for Georgia football fans and alumni.  The front porch upstairs dining provides a great view of the pier and water.   

The below picture is the main street of the Village where many shops, restaurants and bars are located.  Pub crawling is a favored Village activity for locals and tourists.

At the end of the Village’s main walking street is the famous pier where many locals and tourists fish off of or just enjoy the salt air.  My son attended college in the area for two years and often sought - and found - inner peace sitting there,

There are numerous pretty areas for walking or biking.  A lovely walking path starts at the pier and follows the ocean’s edge. 

At the end of this path is the famous St. Simons Lighthouse.

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The marshes serve as incubators of sea life – shrimp, crab, clams, sea trout to name a few.  This marsh is located on the East Beach Road / Causeway. 

Real estate development is one of the island’s major economic activities.  Virtually every type of housing from apartments to estates to elite golf themed resorts pictured below to cute bungalows featured in the following picture. 

This is an example of a classic St. Simons beach bungalow that has been updated – has a second floor bedroom and big wide backyard porch.  The main landscaping aim is to use ground covers instead of lawns.  Note the broad porch, cross ventilation windows, and semitropical vegetation / landscaping. 

St. Simons is blessed with lush foliage, a vast tree cover consisting of mature oaks and palms, and Spanish moss hanging from branches almost everywhere.

This park is just east of the village and a magnet for dog walkers and pedestrians.  The moss adds a dramatic element to the lawn and mature oaks. 

St. Simons is similar to Bermuda in the effect it has on visitors – they slow down a bit, take in the sights, and enjoy the lush vegetation and comfortable climate.

Quaint Mayjoe Street runs between Demere Road and the Village and is my favorite thoroughfare because it’s still a dirt road that includes a natural speed brake.  The two big oaks limit passage to a single lane and slow down the few cars a day that pass through it. 

I tend to think of the East Beach and Gould’s Inlet as a single stretch of natural beach.  The sand constantly shifts forming new bars at low tide.  Sea oats, varied wild foliage and sand berms keep the beach in place. 

Picture of Gould’s Inlet facing south - the East Beach is about a mile straight ahead.


This view of Gould’s Inlet captures the tidal pools created by the receding ocean. 

This view is facing north from the East Beach towards Gould’s Inlet.

This view is from the entrance to the East Beach - the tide has just receded and vast sandbars are presenting themselves.  The emerging sandbars remind me of new barrier islands forming. 

This picture shows the natural vegetation that holds the East Beach together and prevents sand from washing away into ocean. 


St. Simons is a great place to relax and read a book on the beach or by a hotel pool.  I enjoy watching the amazing parade of handsome dogs being walked by their masters - it reminds me of a Westminster Kennel Club on sand.  

Whatever you choose to do with your time, I believe you will become enchanted by the island’s charms and assets and return time and again just like me. 

Maybe you will fall in love with the island just like I did. 

Dr. Arnold Heller