cal staggers caribbean

Turning the corner into October next month, we begin to head into the cold, dark and gloomy months of the year. Now is the time to start planning a trip, and there’s no better place to escape to than tropical paradises with coastal views and warm weather. Here is the top 5 Caribbean islands to travel to for your next vacation:

  1.     Aruba

During Spanish settlement in 1513, Aruba and her sister islands (Bonaire and Curaçao) were nicknamed the “Islas Inútiles,” or translated: useless islands. Today, Aruba couldn’t be further from that. If you’re looking for a destination where people couldn’t ‘be friendlier, or if you’re interested in making a few new friends on your vacation, then the 20-mile long island is for you. To spend the day soaking up rays head to Palm Beach, and for water activities including jet skiing and paddle boarding, head to Eagle Beach.

  1.     St. Martin/St. Maarten

Coming in at 37-square miles, St. Maarten (southern 40% is owned by the Netherland while the rest is owned by the French) is a little haven of bliss. Orient Bay has ranked high on numerous lists for most beautiful beaches in the world, and Cupecoy Beach isn’t far behind. Both are known for nudity so if you’re looking for a kid-friendly spot then head to Maho Bay or Friar’s Bay.

  1.     Antigua

Antigua is the most versatile destination on this list. With a total of 365 of beaches on the island, there is plenty of sand to go around.  Other places to visit include Shirley Heights featuring panoramic views of the ocean and Cathedral of St. John the Divine. If interested in something a bit less touristy then pop over to Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda. It’s more relaxed and less crowded.

  1.     Grand Cayman Island

Of all the Cayman Islands, the Grand Cayman is what you cannot miss with its 7-mile shore of warm water and soft sand. Activities include SCUBA diving and snorkeling in the barrier reef, hiking the 200-year-old Mastic Trail, and Stingray City for children. There’s something for everyone and exciting wildlife around every corner.

  1.     Turks & Caicos

As it grows more and more popular with tourists, Turks and Caicos has still remained exclusive and secluded, something it prides itself on. Turquoise waters and white sands and what draws people in, but the diversity of the 40 islands is why people stay. They can be divided into three distinct categories.  There’s Providenciales which serves as a porthole for cruise ships and houses luxury hotels. Home to the Turks and Caicos National Museum, the Grand Turk is the historical and culture site of the islands. Salt Cay is perfect for adventure seekers. Here, you can explore one of the largest barrier reefs in the world.

Info courtesy of travel.usnews

Naples in the Summer

cal staggers naples-florida-beaches

Many people think of visiting Florida as more of a winter thing. It’s an excellent place to go if you live in a state with a colder climate. Northeasterners, understandably, grow weary of the constant barrage of snow and ice, and come to Florida to remember what the warm sun feels like again. But don’t forget that Naples is also a great place to visit in summer. I found a website that listed a few reasons why this is the case, and thought I should share a few of them here.

Longer Days – While the weather is nice all year round, in the summer you get more daylight, which means more time to enjoy the beach and water activities, and to generally be outside in the sun.

Easier on the Wallet – Since the summer is not peak tourist season in Naples, hotel rates and other things will be less expensive. This also means that everything is generally less crowded, from the restaurants to the beaches to the streets, which means that an already incredibly relaxing place becomes even more serene.

Animal Life – In the summer, the area is teeming with sea life. It’s a great time to catch sight of dolphins and other fish – actually if you are fishing you should pretty easily be able to catch more than just a sight. Summer is also sea turtle nesting season, which is exciting for animal and lovers.

Summer Nights – Leave the hooded sweatshirt at home, because the summer nights in Naples are warm and balmy.

Spring Boating

cal staggers boatSpring is finally here, and in addition to the enjoyment brought by flowers blooming and the weather getting nicer, for boating enthusiasts that means getting back out on the water. There are several things everyone with a boat must do to prepare their craft for the upcoming season, and the sooner they get them done, the sooner they’ll be fishing, tubing, or just floating around and relaxing.

Fuel System – Inspect the fuel system for any sort of damage or leaks, and ensure the exhaust and ventilation systems are working.

Belts, Cables, and Hoses – These items can become brittle and cracked during winter storage, so make sure that hasn’t happened to these parts on your boat. If it has, just replace them.

Electric System – Make sure all electrical connections are tight and free of corrosion. Also, charge and test you battery to make sure it can maintain a charge.

Fluid Levels – Change your oil filter, engine oil, and lubricants, and check all of your fluid levels.

Propellers and Hulls – It’s possible that with extreme temperature changes, propellers can become distorted or cracked, so check to make sure this hasn’t happened. The same goes for the hull, which should also be cleaned before first use.

Safety Gear – The first time you take your boat out for the season, and actually any time you step onto it at all, count the number of life jackets you have on board to make sure there are enough for every passenger you’re setting out with. Also make sure there is a fire extinguisher on board, and run through a safety check list to ensure you and your passengers are prepared for the outing.

5 Reason to Visit Naples Florida

cal staggers naplesI’ve said it many times – Naples is an amazing place for a vacation. And in the midst of winter – a particularly cold winter for many people in the Northeast – there couldn’t be a better time to make the trip. Chicagomag.com agrees, and listed 5 reasons to book a trip to Naples, which I am sharing below.

1. The weather is ideal in February, usually around 80 degrees or so. Most people would call that perfect weather even if it weren’t compared to temperatures in the teens or lower in New York and Chicago.

2. There is a new resort, the Naples Grande Beach Resort, which is beautiful and has amazing amenities. There are excellent restaurants attached to it, private cabanas, and a balcony for each room. The resort is surrounded by a 200 acre mangrove estuary, which provides enchanting natural scenery.

3. The beaches are beautiful, especially those right by the Naples Grande Beach Resort. And, of course, Naples is excellent for water activities like kayaking and paddle boarding. You also can’t go wrong with just lounging on the beach.

4. There are countless outdoor activities, so you can get a nice reprieve from being cooped up if you are from colder parts of the country. And Naples doesn’t just offer beach and water activities. There are more than 80 golf courses and terrific restaurants, most of which have outdoor seating.

5. If the above does not give you enough incentive, there are good flight deals this time of year. You will not regret your decision to take this trip!

Reasons Shopping for Outdoor Enthusiasts is Easy

Cal Staggers pro shop

I came across a fun article/blog post at outdoorfirst.com about why it is easy to shop for people who love outdoor activities (they offer 5 reasons, I will summarize 4 below). Since we are so close to Christmas, and since there are always last minute shoppers who haven’t yet figured out what gifts to give this year, I thought a summary of the list in this article could possibly serve as a little bit of inspiration for such people.

1. No hunter or fisherman has everything. There are always little accessories that they will be excited to receive, and that they will actually use, which is more than you can say for many gifts. Also, since there is naturally a lot of wear and tear on outdoor equipment new items are always well appreciated.

2. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, too, you will find shopping for another one to be very easy. Probably the hardest thing will be not buying one of everything you get for yourself too.

3. There is another benefit to shopping for an outdoor enthusiast if you are also one yourself: You’ll get to see the equipment tested an used before you buy it. You might even be lucky enough to go out and test it yourself if you buy the equipment for a good enough friend. I’ll offer a disclaimer here, though: this type of self serving gift is not in the Christmas spirit!

4. Shopping in a pro shop is a pretty fun experience. Even if you are not into outdoor activities yourself, you might find yourself having a good time shopping for someone who is anyway. It is also a great place to find gift ideas for other people who you still need to shop for.

Corkscrew Swamp

Cal Staggers Wood StorkThis year marks the 60th anniversary of the efforts to conserve the 13,000 acre Corkscrew Swamp.  There is a great little article about it in the Naples News Daily, and I’d like to share some of the information from it here.

The mission of the conservation efforts of Corkscrew Swamp is to preserve and restore the natural ecosystem here that provides the habitat for the birds an animals that live in the swamp, and of course to maintain a natural area that many humans (about 100,000 per year) like to visit.  Some of the animals that make their home in Corkscrew swamp include panthers, alligators, turtles, otters, and many species of plants and birds.

It was not always a certainty that such a natural preserve would even exist in this area.  When conservation efforts for Corkscrew Swamp began, there was significant logging in Southern Florida, and it took a community effort to save the swamp from imminent doom.  Therefore, an anniversary like this has significant meaning, because it was no guarantee that the conservation efforts would be successful in the first place.

Though this anniversary is a celebration, it is important to remember that there is a lot of work still to be done in order to preserve and restore Corkscrew Swamp.  For example, consider the wood stork, which is the bird most closely identified with Corkscrew Swamp.  In 1961, there were 6,000 wood stork nests.  Last year, there were only 200.  The way to improve the numbers of these birds is to continue maintaining and restoring their natural habitat, an effort that is constantly underway at Corkscrew Swamp.

Naples Boat Show

Cal StaggersRight now, over this weekend, there is a boat show going on in Naples, FL in Crayton Cove, according to the Naples Florida Weekly.  It sounds like it should be a fun time and goes on for both days of the weekend, so if you are a boating enthusiast, or just want a different place to go and have a good time, this might be just what you are looking for.

The great thing about going to boat shows is talking about boats with people who share this interest with you.  It’s also great to see everyone’s different boat (usually there are a very wide variety, from tiny little boats to huge yachts), and what they do with them to make them unique to their particular water interest.  For example, some people take their boat out to relax, and so seeing how they optimize them for comfort can give you some ideas for your own boat.  Others are mostly into fishing, and you can pick up a thing or two from these people about what type of equipment is best for you, and even which spots in the water are best for this purpose.  Still other boaters are mostly into water sports, and this equipment is great to take a look at and get reviews on from a real person who has used it.  Warning: If you look at a boat geared towards water sports with your kids, your boat will soon be geared towards water sports too!

Boat catalogues and things like that are useful, but there isn’t anything quite like seeing boats and boating equipment right in front of you, and getting information from the people that own them.

10 Things For Your Boat

Cal StaggersI read a great article today (see it here) called “10 Things You May Not Have in Your Boat, But Probably Should.”  It outlines some essential tools and safety equipment that you may not think to keep at first, but which, as the title of the article tells us, you probably should.  I will summarize the list and reasons for each item from the article below.

1. Jumper Cables – We all know what a terrible feeling it is to be stranded somewhere and suddenly have your car not start.  Now imagine that same feeling, but you’re surrounded by water.

2. Buoys – Many people these days neglect the old fashioned navigation tools for those that are more technologically advanced.  Sometimes, though, it’s nice to have both options.

3. Extra Life Preserver – Having one or two more than you need can’t hurt.

4. Old Fashioned Ice Fishing Depth Finder – This is a pretty specific item, for specific boating activities.  Probably not everyone will need this.

5. Rope – This is something you don’t want to need and not have.  It serves countless purposes, including tying your boat to the dock, towing someone, or being towed.  What you definitely don’t want is to have neither jumper cables, nor rope for a tow.

6. Small Anchor – This is useful for fishing on a windy day.

7. Toilet Paper – Boat ramp facilities often run out of this, so as a back up it’s a good idea to have some of your own.

8. Cable Ties – These are useful for securing things all over your boat.

9. Multi-Tool – While still having everything you need, this item is less cumbersome and takes up less space than a tool box.

10. Quality Side Cutters – Useful for making difficult cuts.  Often times your multi tool or whatever cutters come with your tool box might not be quite strong enough.

This was a really useful article, and offers some great ideas.  Boating blogs and websites can be a great place to discover information like this.


Interesting Boats – Cal Staggers

Cal Staggers


As someone who just loves boating, I don’t need any sort of futuristic boat design or futuristic gadgets to get me excited about getting out on the water.  But interesting, state of the art boats can be very intriguing to say the least.  So below, please find a list of some such boats with a brief explanation of each.

The Origami Yacht: This boat has not yet been made.  It is still only in the concept phase of development.  Still, it is very intriguing.  The point of it seems to be to combine both speed and luxury.  Depending on which of these boaters want at a given time, this boat can be rigid, sleek, and compact, or it can be folded out (hence the name origami yacht) to enhance the size of the deck.  Its sounds like an interesting idea, and I’d be excited to see one of these in action in the water.

Plastiki: This boat is not only innovative, it is also quite funny.  Plastiki is made of 12,500 recycled plastic bottles, and even the parts that are not made of recycled plastic are made of other recycled and/or environmentally friendly goods.  A boat made out of 12,500 plastic bottles may sound like a joke, but there was no joke about the successful 8,000 mile voyage a crew made with this boat across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Sydney Australia.  It even, apparently, made it through a couple of storms along the way.

Luxury Spa Fishing Boat: The Vulkana, a boat that sails along the waterways of the Arctic Circle, looks like an old Nordic fishing boat from the outside.  But inside you won’t find nets, hooks, or other equipment used for fishing.  Instead you’ll find a spa that includes a Turkish bath, a sauna, and a hot tub.  This is certainly not a book you can judge by its cover!

To see more information about these and other interesting boats, visit the Unusual Boats section of boatline.com.