I love the beach. I never took full advantage of living by the beach when I did, so now whenever I get the opportunity to squish my toes in the sand and float in the salty ocean, I go a little nuts. This past week, I traveled to Fort Walton Beach in Florida with my family. This city was my first home in the United States after being born in Germany. I have little to no memories there because I was only 2-5-years-old, but when my mom lived there years later, I visited and made lots of memories (including getting a hermit crab that I named Orlando after Orlando Bloom, who I was obsessed with after seeing Lord of the Rings in theaters).
What was extra awesome about this trip was that I was able to meet members of my mom’s family. Most of her side still lives in the Philippines, but a few of her cousins flew in from California, and her sister traveled from upstate New York. It was nice to be able to spend time with them (even though I didn’t understand what they were saying most of the time because they were all speaking Tagalog) and seeing how happy my mom was to be with her family after so long.
Of the five days we spent in Florida (not including the two travel days), I spent four of them on the beach. It was glorious. The first day was my favorite because it was an unexpectedly beautiful day. The weather in the morning was pretty stormy, but then it ended up being the perfect beach day. The sun came out just enough. The weather wasn’t unbearably hot or windy. Plus, it’s the only day that my family came to the beach with my sister and me. We spent seven hours going in and out of the water, building sand castles, eating Popeye’s and getting to know each other. The other days were just my sister and me. Collectively, we probably spent about 18 hours on the beach, and I definitely came back to Louisiana a bit sunkissed.
One of my mom’s cousins owns a restaurant and bar called Lorena’s Cantina, so we ate most of our meals here. She spoiled us with tons of Filipino food – lumpia, pancit, sinigang, adobo and many things that I didn’t know the name of. If you’re looking for some authentic Filipino food and happen to be in the FWB area, you have to eat here. It’s a small little place, but the food is incredible. On the bar side, they have karaoke, and Filipinos love their karaoke. We sang almost every night, and on Friday, there was this family that ate at the restaurant, and Lorena convinced them to come sing karaoke with us. We all passed the mic around and sang along with each other before the crowd started teetering in and people started hitting the dance floor.
I also like to eat as much seafood as possible when I’m by the ocean, and for my first two meals in Florida, I had oysters at Shrimp Basket. They were extra fresh and delicious by the sea and so much more affordable than here in Louisiana. I never got any crab legs, but the oysters and Filipino food made up for it. We also went to this amazing Thai restaurant called Orchid House. Their lunch buffet was decadent. They had such a wide variety of Thai foods, and everything I ate was scrumptious.
One day during the trip, my sister and I went to the Gulfarium. Both of us love animals, so naturally we loved gawking at all of the cute ones there. When we first got in, the sea lion show had just started. It was such a cute little show. The dolphin show was about an hour or so later, and it was adorable. I’ve always loved dolphins because they’re so smart and fun.
There was one rainy day during the trip, so my sister, my step-dad and I visited the Air Force Armament Museum. Being an Air Force brat, I love learning about it and visiting Air Force museums. My step-dad used to be an F-16 pilot, and he knew so much about all of the planes there. We didn’t need a tour guide because he told us pretty much everything we needed to know. There was also a retirement ceremony happening during our visit, so that was neat to see too.
We realized that there wasn’t much to do in FWB when it’s raining, so after the Air Force Museum, my sister and I went bowling at White Sands Bowling. We each won a game, and then we played a round of pool.
Another restaurant recommendation I have is Stewby’s. It’s this cute little restaurant where you walk up to the counter and order. I had the special of the night which was the colossal shrimp, and I got a side of fried okra and potato salad. Everything was delish, but I could have drowned in that potato salad; I loved it so much.
This beach vacation came at the absolute perfect time. I’ve been so stressed about many things, and lying on the beach and floating in the ocean was just the medicine I needed to get out of my funk.
What’s your favorite beach that you’ve ever visited?