Camellias bloom at Lacombe site for open house

Visitors can see more than 400 cultivars of camellias at Saturday’s 5th Annual Camellia Gardens Open House at the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges Complex headquarters in Lacombe.

The free event runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is presented in partnership with the Northshore Camellia Society and the Camellia Club of New Orleans.

The 110- acre property, also known as Bayou Gardens, also contains a variety of other exotic plants and native vegetation. The event will showcase and celebrate the large camellia collection of the former Bayou Gardens, many of which will be in full bloom.

The flowering trees are at their peak and offer vibrant colors not typically seen over the winter months.

Bayou Gardens, now part of the Bayou Lacombe Center, is the administrative headquarters for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges Complex. Eight National Wildlife Refuges are administered from the location, including Big Branch Marsh and Bayou Sauvage.

Activities will include both talks and demonstrations. Camellia enthusiast Hunter Charbonnet, a board member of Northshore Club and American Camellia Society, will present a program on the history of camellias. Jim Campbell, president of the Northshore Camellia Club, will demonstrate grafting as well as other effective methods for rooting limbs on existing camellias for reproduction.

Visitors will be free to explore the grounds on their own or attend one of the free guided walking tours that will take place on the hour. The tours will cover a brief history of the complex as well as the variety of camellias that can be found there.

Live camellia plants will also be for sale with a portion of the proceeds being donated to The Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, the nonprofit group that raises funds and enlists volunteers in support of refuge goals and programing.

The complex is at 61389 La. 434.

For more information, call (985) 882-2025 or email david_stoughton@fws.gov.

Take shuttle to cruise

Hotard Hotard Motorcoach Co. is offering a cruise shuttle service to bring travelers to their cruise ships departing out of New Orleans.

The new service is designed to offer cruise travelers another way to get to the cruise terminal that does not require the time or cost of parking or finding a ride, with drop-off at the cruise ship’s departing terminal. The shuttles will also give travel groups the ability to ride and arrive together.

The shuttle will offer service originating from both Louisiana and Mississippi. The Louisiana shuttle will pick up customers from Baton Rouge and Geismar. The Mississippi shuttle service will pick up from locations in Ocean Springs and Gulfport, Miss., and Slidell.

For more information, visit Hotard.com.

Full moon hike planned

A ranger will lead a moon-lit night exploration of the ancient mounds of Poverty Point State Historic Site on Saturday.

The program will begin at 6 p.m. with along the park’s two-mile tram road. While hiking, the ranger will discuss the prehistoric mounds and culture of the site, nature, and anything else that may be of interest to visitors. Visitors will also have an opportunity to climb Mound A to star gaze and get a bird’s-eye view of the site at night.

The hike will also include storytelling and roasted marshmallows around a campfire. Flashlights, water, bug spray, and comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

Poverty Point State Historic Site offers visitors the opportunity to study a prehistoric culture dating back to 1600 B.C. The $4 admission includes access to the visitor’s center and museum ; a n orientation film ; a nd a seasonal tram tour. Children (12 and younger) and senior citizens (62 and older) are admitted free. The site is o n La. 577 east of Monroe .

For more information, call (888) 926-5492 .

The Cove honored

The Cove, Eleuthera Resort and Spa has been named a winner in the Top Caribbean Hotels category in the 2014 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice® awards, ranking fifth out of 25.

New Orleans developer Sidney Torres opened The Cove, Eleuthera March 1, 2013 .

Travelers’ Choice award winners were selected according to the reviews and opinions of millions of TripAdvisor travelers around the globe.

The 45-acre property offers guests a luxury experience with a three-bedroom villa complete with private staff or an ocean - front suite only steps from the waters of the Caribbean.

The gated resort offers two private beaches, four dining options , i ncluding Freedom Restaurant and a new gym and spa.

Guests can fly to Eleuthera in 45 minutes from Ft. Lauderdale aboard The Cove Express, the resort’s charter for hotel guests. Commercial flights are also available.

For more information, call (888) 776-3901, email info@thecoveeleuthera.com, or go to thecoveeleuthera.com.

Hoffman Miller Advertising , National Wildlife Refuges , Poverty Point and The Cove, Eleuthera provided information for this column. Louisiana Travels is a column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to t ravel@theadvocate.com or jbergeron@theadvocate.com or mail to Judy Bergeron, The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810.