What with Friday being National Margarita Day and all, I couldn’t help but take some time to finally go through my photos from last summer’s stay with my family at the Margaritaville Beach Hotel. I treated myself to first class seats on the two flights down (totally worth it), and set myself up for the most relaxing weekend I remember having all year. The real reason for our little reunion in Pensacola was to see my brother graduate A-School at Corry Station, but I’m not gonna lie — the salty, sandy days that followed were the highlight of our trip.
Stephen’s graduation ceremony was early enough in the morning that we were able to spend a few hours exploring the National Naval Aviation Museum and the Pensacola Lighthouse before heading down to Pensacola Beach for a weekend of fun in the sun.
Pensacola Beach is situated on the barrier island of Santa Rosa. It’s bordered to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by the Santa Rosa Sound and Pensacola Bay, and to the east and west by Gulf Islands National Seashore.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Jimmy Buffett fan, so there was no question about where we were going to stay. The Margaritaville Beach Hotel is gorgeous — stately, even. The decor is inspired by a combination of Jimmy’s music and the ocean, and the overall effect is unquestionably elegant.
The rooms were decorated in hues of blues, teals and greens, and the bed was the most comfortable one I’ve ever slept on. Our balcony offered us a view of the turquoise Gulf and the softest, whitest sand I have ever seen.
Once we unpacked, we immediately headed down to the beach for relaxing, relaxing, and more relaxing.
I lost track of time in a hammock strung between two palm trees on the sand, which was, quite possibly, the best place I have ever spaced out.
I collected seashells at the water’s edge — something I haven’t done in years.
I spent an afternoon soaking up the shade on a teak lounger under an umbrella, reading my favorite magazines and catching up with my brother.
And then I indulged in an oh-so-refreshing shower and these lovely Tocca products, compliments of the resort.
There was also drinking, drinking, and more drinking. Margaritas by the pool…
Mimosas at breakfast…
Landshark in the water…
Mudslides on the beach…
Champagne with dinner…
Boat drinks with my dad…
A little water to recover…
And, cheers. =) I think you get the point.
Then there were the Gulf shrimp. So delicious. I think I ate shrimp with every meal I had in Pensacola.
Colossal Shrimp Cocktail (above) and Wild American Shrimp & Grits (below) @ The Grand Marlin. The shrimp cocktail is self-explanatory, but the Wild American Shrimp & Grits consisted of chipotle seared shrimp and local boursin cheese grits surrounded by an andouille sausage tomato stew. Amazing with a bit of a kick to it.
Lava Lava Shrimp @ Frank & Lola Love Pensacola Café. Shrimp breaded and fried then tossed with an Asian aioli sauce. So good.
World Famous Grits À Ya Ya @ The Fish House. Spiced Gulf jumbo shrimp top a sauté of spinach, portobello mushrooms, applewood-smoked bacon, garlic, shallots,and cream over a heaping bed of smoked Gouda cheese grits. Incredible.
Our balcony was the perfect place to watch a storm roll in…
…and roll out. (After a quick nap.)
We spent a drizzly evening walking along the Portofino Boardwalk. It was a bit deserted because of the weather, but seemed like it would have been bustling on a nicer night.
After we checked out Sunday morning, we drove east (or maybe that was west?) through the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Despite the clouds and kicked-up breeze, it was actually a beautiful, warm day.
We spent about an hour walking along an empty expanse of soft, white sand with hardly anyone else in sight.
We snapped a bunch of photos here as our weekend on the Gulf drew to a close.
These three particular shots (below) are a reminder that these pictures don’t even do it justice. =)
There wasn’t anyone around to take a photo of the four of us, so I Photoshopped my brother and I into a photo of my parents (below) to give to my mom for Christmas. =)
And that’s about it. Perfect long weekend.
Hey, Dad…can we go back? Like tomorrow? =)
Living at the beach has many perks that I often take for granted. In the almost eight years I’ve been living in Virginia Beach, I’ve never ventured down to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge or False Cape State Park, which is why I made it one of my 2012 resolutions to get my bike down there and go for a ride.
For those of you not from around here, Back Bay is a 9,250-acre wildlife refuge situated on a narrow spit of land bordered on either side by the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound. False Cape State Park — accessible only on foot, by bicycle or via boat — borders Back Bay to the south and forms the adjoining border of Virginia with North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
It was a gorgeous day — perfect for breaking in my new Electra cruiser and spending some quality time with my parents while they were in town. We spent hours pedaling along the gravel road, taking in the sights, and snapping photos. When gravel turned to sand, we hiked up and over a gigantic sand dune, landing ourselves on a breathtaking beach, where wild waves and a sandy shore stretched for miles and miles with nary a soul in sight.