Best Beaches In The U.S.A.

Recently an owner sent an email to us with a report on the cleanest beaches in the United States.  We are so thankful that Gulf Shores is considered one of the cleanest places to visit!  Take a look below!

Editor’s note: On the list of 5-star beaches, Maryland’s beach was originally incorrectly listed here. It is Ocean City.

Bacterial contamination from stormwater runoff and sewage helped make 2011 one of the worst years in more than two decades for health-related closings and warnings at U.S. beaches, a major environmental group says.

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s annual assessment, released Wednesday, analyzes government data from more than 3,000 testing locations nationwide. It found that water quality at America’s beaches remained largely stable last year, with 8 % of water samples violating public health standards, the same as the previous year.

 But there were 23,481 closing and advisory days in 2011, the third-highest level since NRDC began compiling their reports in 1990. That represented a 3% drop from 2010, which marked the second-highest number of closings and advisories since the group started its surveys. (The worst year, according to the NRDC, was 2006 with 25,643 closing or warning days.)

The Great Lakes region had the highest violation rate of beachwater standards – 11% of samples in 2011 – while the Mid-Atlantic’s Delmarva region had the lowest, with 4%. Individual states with the highest violation rates of reported samples were Louisiana (29%), Ohio (22%), and Illinois (12 %). States with the lowest rates of contamination last year – just 1% – were Delaware and New Hampshire.

For the first time this year, the NRDC has mapped more than 6,000 beaches nationwide, providing monitoring, closing and advisory information for more than half of them.

The searchable map includes a dozen beaches that earned the group’s five-star rating for violating health standards less than 5% of the time and for following such best practices as testing more than once a week and posting advisories online as well as at the beach. They include:

  • California’s Newport, Huntington State and Bolsa Chica
  • Alabama’s Gulf Shores Public Beach and Gulf State Park Pavilion
  • Delaware’s Dewey Beach
  • Maryland’s Ocean City Beach
  • Minnesota’s Park Point Franklin Park and Lafayette Community Club Beach>
  • New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach State Park and Wallis Sands
  • Texas’ South Padre Island

On the flip side, 15 “repeat offenders” stood out for persistent contamination problems over the past five years. They include portions of:

  • California’s Avalon and Doheny State Beach
  • Illinois’ Winnetka Elder Park Beach, North Point Marina and North Beach
  • Louisiana’s Constance, Gulf Breeze, Little Florida, Long and Rutherford
  • New Jersey’s Beachwood Beach West
  • New York’s Woodlawn and Ontario
  • Ohio’s Euclid State Park and Villa Angela State Park
  • Wisconsin’s South Shore Beach

Beachwater pollution nationwide causes a range of waterborne illnesses in swimmers including stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, ear, nose and throat problems, dysentery, hepatitis, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and other health problems. For senior citizens, small children and people with weak immune systems, the results can be fatal.

According to the NRDC, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed updates to federal water quality standards – due to be finalized this fall – “miss a critical opportunity to better protect beachgoers from the dangers of swimming in polluted waters,” and would put 1 in 28 swimmers at risk of getting a gastrointestinal illness.

Lightening Glass! Not what you expect!

We’ve all seen the movie set in this area where the main characters fall in love when struck by lightening as children.  The movie shows this beautiful swirling glass sculpture created by the mixture of lightening and sand.  In the real world these little lightening creations are called fulgurites. Fulgurites (from the Latin fulgur meaning thunderbolt) are natural hollow glass tubes formed in quartzose sand, silica, or soil by lightningstrikes.  We were actually brought a few of these interesting pieces of glass by a friend of the company and they are not what I expected.   They are formed when lightning with a temperature of at least 1,800 °C (3,270 °F) instantaneously melts silica on a conductive surface and fuses grains together; the fulgurite tube is the cooled product. This process occurs over a period of around one second, and leaves evidence of the lightning path and its dispersion over the surface.  Fulgurites can also be produced when a high voltage electrical distribution network breaks and the lines fall onto a conductive surface with sand beneath. They are sometimes referred to as petrified lightning. The glass formed is called lechatelierite which may also be formed by meteorite impact and volcanic explosions. Fulgurites can have deep penetrations, sometimes occurring as far as 15 metres (49 ft) below the surface that was struck.  

SEC BEACH FEST – Family Fun, Football, Concerts in Gulf Shores!

August 23rd- 26th is the SEC Beach Fest.  The Beach Fest starts with a Golf  Scramble and Welcome Party on th 23rd!    Then on the 24th join your favorites SEC Football Coaches, past and present and cheer on your team this fall.   Nick Saban, Gene Chizik, and Les Miles entertain the crowd as they talk about the upcoming season and MORE!  Legendary Coaches, Vince Dooley, Pay Dye, Phil Fulmer, and Gene Stallings will be in the Fan Zone supervising a few drills then they will be participating in a Q & A.   Starting off the morning  of the 25th there is a 5 k and 1 mile fun run followed by a waffle breakfast right on the beach.

The three day event includes sports clinics, with the coaches, a Fan Zone and time with the coaches on the Main Stage!  Great concerts including The B-52’s Friday night.  Then the fun continues Saturday night with Grammy Award winner Dr. John with his trade mark New Orleans style.  Don’t forget to join your fellow alumni for a celebration and fun.  The schools will meet in the following areas.

Tacky Jack’s Orange Beach
Alabama, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri

Tacky Jack’s Gulf Shores
LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State, Texas A&M

Lulu’s
Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida, Kentucky, Tenn

SEC BEACH FEST is shaping up to be fun for everyone!  Weather you want to hear from the coaches or you are just here for the food, music and fun.  There is something for all!  Give us a call today to book a room  for this first time event in Gulf  Shores!  Rooms start as low as $485.91.

Sea Turtles Have A Banner Year In Fort Morgan

We have always enjoyed Sea Turtles on our beaches.  This year is a booming year for these elusive creatures.  Thus far 71nests have been laid on Ft. Morgan Beaches.  So this has not only been a record breaking year for human visitors but for the Sea Turtle Visitors as well.  From here on out well in to the fall just about any time you come you have an opportunity to see baby Sea Turtles hatching, and making their march to the water.

Be sure to check with the Bon Secour U. S.  Fish and Wildlife Refuge to see when and where the closest nest is to you.  This is a definite don’t miss on your vacation.  So pack some beach chairs,  or towels to sit on,  bug spray and a snack and come see this amazing site with your little ones.  This should be a don’t miss on your beach vacation to do list!

Don’t Miss The Last Bit Of Fun This Summer!!

If you have waited until the last minute to take your vacation you may have waited till the perfect time!  Check out the fun events coming to the Gulf Shores area below and don’t forget to look for our upcoming August specials!

 

Kelly Clarkson & The Fray w/ special guest Carolina Liar at The Wharf Amphitheater

Aug 6, 2012  7:00 PM

Location

The Amphitheater at The Wharf , 23325 Amphitheater Drive, Orange Beach, AL 36561

About

Kelly Clarkson Stronger tour 2012 with the Fray and special guest Carolina Liar
Admission: Tickets on sale now. Prices: $21.00 & $88.00

Jason Mraz w/ special guest Christina Perri at The Wharf Amphitheater

Dates & Times

Aug 17, 2012  7:00 PM

Location

The Amphitheater at The Wharf , 23325 Amphitheater Drive, Orange Beach, AL 36561

About

JASON MRAZ TOUR IS A FOUR LETTER WORD WITH SPECIAL GUEST CHRISTINA PERRI
Admission: Tickets on sale now. All seats reserved: $61.00, $45.50, $27.00

SEC BeachFest

Aug 23, 2012 – Aug 26, 2012

Location

Gulf Shores Public Beach

About

Join your SEC Alumni and fans to kick-off the football season in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. SEC BeachFest will feature celebrity appearances from past and current SEC coaches, players and ESPN commentators, a golf tourney and fashion show and alumni bar parties for all SEC schools. In addition, there will be a 5K Fun Run, an interactive SEC Fan Fare and a pancake breakfast welcoming Texas A and M and Missouri to the Southeast Conference. National Championship winning SEC head coaches Nick Saban of Alabama, Gene Chizik of Auburn and Les Miles of LSU will be in attendance to rally SEC fans one last time before the 2012 season kickoff. Jam out to the Athens-native B-52’s as they take the stage Friday night, August 24 at 8:30 p.m. Grammy award-winning vocalist Dr. John will follow up with a New Orleans style sound on Saturday, August 25 at 7 p.m. The concerts at Gulf Shores Public Beach are free to everyone with a SEC BeachFest ticket.
Admission: Tickets on sale June 15

Lynyrd Skynyrd with special guest Kenny Wayne Shepherd & Drake White

Aug 25, 2012  7:00 PM

Location

The Amphitheater at The Wharf , 23325 Amphitheater Drive, Orange Beach, AL 36561

About

Lynyrd Skynyrd with special guest Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Drake White.
Admission: Tickets on Sale on sale now. All Seats Reserved. $66.50-$52.50-$42.50-$23.00

Upcoming Gulf Shores Events!!!

July is a great time to be at the beach, and the weather is typically fantastic!  Long sunny days full of adventure, evenings with great breezes and plenty of family time.  If you are looking for a little more excitement while you are here take a look at some of the upcoming events.

Check out the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores Calendar of Events for fun things to do during your beach vacation. From music to history, sports to festivals, parades to plays, we’ll give you plenty of things to do all year-round.

Ringo Starr at The Wharf AmphitheaterJul 4, 2012  7:00 PM
The Amphitheater at The Wharf
Gulf Shores Annual Fireworks Extravaganza!Jul 4, 2012  9:00 PM
Gulf State Park Pier
Blue Marlin Grand ChampionshipJul 10, 2012 – Jul 15, 2012
At the Marina
The Wharf
Miranda Lambert w/ special guest Lee Brice and Thomas Rhett at Th…Jul 12, 2012  7:30 PM
The Amphitheater at The Wharf
Blue Angels Air ShowJul 14, 2012
Pensacola Beach, Florida
National Museum of Naval Aviation
79th Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo Jul 20, 2012 – Jul 22, 2012
Dukes of September at The Wharf Amphitheater 

Jul 21, 2012  8:00 PM
The Amphitheater at The Wharf

There are great fireworks shows throughout the area,  be sure to make plans in advance to get perfect spot for fireworks.  If you don’t want to head out for fireworks typically people staying in the area put on a spectacular show for everyone till late!  Either way pack you cooler and get your perfect spot settle in and watch the magic as we celebrate our country.  Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Beach Update, Tropical storm Debby!

Hey everyone!  What a beautiful day on the beach in Ft. Morgan!!!!  We were waiting on pins and needles to see if  Tropical Storm Debby was heading our way but it seems we are in the clear.  It looks as though the storm is heading toward the Panama City area.  We have just a hand full of condos open for the week so any one who is having to evacuate give us a call we are running a great special!  The beach has people here and there and the water is calm enough to swim now.  I am sure with the big waves from the weekend there treasures to be found if you don’t mind hunting a little.

Take a look at today’s video! The beach is beautiful.  See you soon.

Sunset Properties’ Becky Is Heading Back To School

Our beloved office manager Becky has started out on a new adventure.  She told me it was always her dream to earn a college degree!  We think Becky is wonderful as is but this is her dream and Sunset Properties owners try to support our dreams as much as possible.  After much searching and discussion with the powers that be, Becky has begun her classes at Columbia Southern University! 

Columbia Southern is one of the nation’s first completely online universities, established to meet the demand for alternatives to the traditional university experience. All degree programs are offered completely online, giving you the flexibility to fit your education around career and family commitments.

 With CSU, Becky can take schedule shifting and time management conflicts out of the equation. Open enrollment and self-paced programs make rearranging her life to attend a class or take a test a thing of the past.  With Becky’s unpredictable schedule and multiple jobs, CSU is a perfect fit for her to advance her career and knowledge. With CSU’s 24-hour access to course assignments, online forums, web lectures, interactive software, and audio and visual examples she is excited about the opportunity to earn her degree.

Becky is spending her evenings and early mornings reading and studying and her coursework and taking test.  In not to terribly long she will have an Associates Degree in Business with an emphasis in Travel Tourism.  So now she will have the knowledge she has earned in real life and the book knowledge she is gaining to make your stay one of you favorite memories.   We are so proud of our Becky!  Be sure to cheer Becky on as she works toward her Dream!!!

The Indies or The Dunes, Which is Better???

I get this question daily.  Guest call in wanting to know, ” Really which one is better?”  Both buildings have things that I love and maybe some things that I would change.  I’ll tell you about them from my point of view and hopefully this will help you make an informed decision about where your next stay will be.

Let’s start with The Dunes she is the matriarch of The Dunes Community.  The first building here and the anchor of this last little community on the island.  The Dunes was finished in 2001  and the owner have had the option to be a rental condo from the beginning.  The Dunes Building sits about 300 yards from the edge of the Gulf and every condo its beautifully calming waters.  This building has a westerly facing view of the gulf which allows for sunset views from virtually every balcony in the building.  Over time the community has grown and some of the views have become obstructed.  with homes.  You do still have a great water view from the pool deck and if you are on the 3rd floor and above.  This building was built on a Dune so it naturally sits well above sea level and has had no storm damage  to speak of in the years it has been open.  In fact this building is one of the safest places to be!

Lets talk interior!!!  The Dunes has seven floors of condo with 10 condo units on each floor with the exception of the 1st floor which has 8.  The first floor also houses an office for Sunset Properties, a fitness center, sauna, His and Hers restrooms, and an indoor pool.  The interior of most of the condos still have the original Formica counter tops and white cabinets.  However, we are beginning to see owners upgrade their cabinets to the more modern granite counter tops and install new cabinets.  Now that the building is getting a little older most of the owners are putting efforts into upgrading their interiors as well.  New furnishings and paint through out!

Each floor includes one bedroom, two bath condos, two bedroom, two bath condos and three bedroom, two and a half bath condos.  The one bedroom, two bath condos have master bedroom with an attached bath, a set of bunk beds built into the hallway, with a bath across from them.  A full size kitchen, living area that over looks the Gulf, and a washer and dryer.  Most of the one bedroom condos also have a sleeper sofa.  These condos sleep up to six and are a great option for small families or couples on a budget.

The two bedroom two bath condos also sleep up to six.  The master still has an attached bath but instead of being located at the entrance of the condo the Master bedroom in a two bedroom is located on the Gulf side of the condo with its own balcony door.  The two bedroom condos have a second bedroom near the front door which has a Bay view if you are on the 3rd floor or above.  this second bedroom also has an attached bath.  these condos also have the full size kitchens, washer and dryer, and living area that over looks the Gulf!  The two bedroom condos are great if you have multiple couples traveling or just want a little more space to spread out!

The three bedrooms truly are the show places of the building.  Located on the east and west end of the building these condo have gorgeous sweeping views of the end of the island multiple balconies, and plenty of space for everyone in your party!  The master bath room has private toilet shower area away from the sink and vanity.  The bathroom is attached to the master bedroom which has its own balcony and balcony door.  The other two bedrooms share a large bath that is situated in the hall and attached to one of the rooms.  Both of the extra bedrooms are located at the north side of the building so they overlook the bay.  The living area has a large balcony that gives a great space for the entire family to enjoy the Gulf view.  There is an additional half bath off of the living area just past the washer and dryer closet.  The full kitchen is the most open off all of the condos sizes and there is a great bar area for people to realx or just have breakfast.

The Dunes  has ample parking for multiple vehicles and even a place to store your boat at the ends of the parking area.  The Dunes requires parking passes at different times of the year.  be prepared to pay for the $12 passes for your vehicles.  Dogs of 35 pounds or smaller are welcome at The Dunes in pet friendly condo units, but not in th pool area, and you must leash and pick after your dogs at all times you are outside of the condo.  If you are staying at the Dunes you have access not only to The Dunes indoor out door pool but also The Dunes Community pool about halfway to the beach.   Over all the Dunes is  a fantastic family friendly place to stay!

The Indies was finished in 2005 and also has 7 floors.  The Indies has some very strict policies that you should be aware of prior to booking.  It is not pet friendly!  Also, The Indies has as they call it a “No Sharing Policy”!  This means simply that they do not share their amenities with the rest of the community.  The guest staying at at The Indies only have access to the amenities at The Indies because of this policy.  They also have parking passes just as The Dunes does but they are $22.00 per pass.  You also do not have boat storage at The Indies.  You will need to plan ahead and set up boat storage at the marina across the street, as your boat will be towed from the Indies parking lot.

The Indies is a great building!  It has a beautiful roof top terrace for sunning, complete with lounge chairs.  The pool deck has multiple pools for The Indies guests.  You have a sunning pool, that waterfalls into the regular condo size pool.  The association has converted one of the hot tubs into a kiddie pool and there is also another traditional hot tub.  There are plenty of lounge chairs on the pool deck to soak up the rays while on vacation.  There are also multiple fitness centers for your use.  The first door on your left as you enter the breeze way is the security guard office and business office.  this is where you can pick up your wrist bands for swimming at the pool and any extra parking passes you may need.  The Indies condos have large garden tubs, and shower combination.  All of the units of The Indies face directly south toward the Gulf of Mexico.  The Indies sits on top of a parking garage which put it well out of the way of storm water as well.  The parking garage has limited parking.  Do not assume it is ok to park ther most likely your condo does not have a parking place.  Most of them do not!

This building has one, two and three bedroom condos as well just ina little different situation than the Dunes.  Where The Dunes has mostly one bedroom condos, The Indies has mostly 3 bedroom condos.

The Indies also has a three bedroom, three bath condos which are located on the east and west end of the building.  These large end units are considerably larger than the 3 bedroom, 2 bath condos in the interior of the building.   The large three bedroom, three bath end condos have fantastic wrap around balconies.  These  balconies allow beautiful views on the west end you can even catch the sunsets.  Because this building looks directly south you can tell the sun is setting but you cannot see it from most condos. The view is still beautiful with Indies sitting equally back from the water you can see the gulf from each room third floor and above.

The interior three bedroom, two bath has a master bedroom that over looks the Gulf while the other rooms are sit on the north side of the condo.  The mast bedrooms have their own bath while the other two bedrooms share a hall bath.    The living area has a beautiful view of the Gulf out the main patio door.  The condos all have granite counter tops and the majority have stainless steel appliances in their full size kitchens.  The large hallways allow easy access for those who may need wheelchair accessibility  this is not a benefit that The Dunes has.  There are not pull bars or roll in showers in these condos, however.

The two bedroom two bath condos look toward the gulf through their main sliding glass door.  Just in side the door is the main living area and the fully equipped kitchen.  The Master bedroom also has its own door that allows access to the balcony and a private bathroom.  The second bedroom also has its own bath and is located at the north end of the condo with a window that looks toward the bay.

The building only has a hand full of one bedroom condos and each of these only has one bath.  The bedroom in these condos is located on the north side of the building.  these condos also have bunk beds in the hall.  Most of the one bedroom condos sleep six which means they are wonderful for small families.  The one bedrooms are located in the middle of the building.  They all have a similar balcony that looks toward the gulf with a door that leads in the main living area.  The living area and the kitchen are one shared space in all of the condos.  This condo is a great choice for those who want to stay close to their conod and want the upgrades that came with this building from the beginning.

My hope is that with knowledge you can make an informed decision about whihc condo building would be best for you and your family when you com on your beach vacation!  See you soon!