Sunday, December 19, 2010

Intergenerational Travel to Sanibel: Why's and Where fores

Because Sanibel is kid friendly, educationally advantageous and safe, it is a very popular tourist destination for families with young kids. Similarly, its quiet environment, intimate dining options and easy to navigate topography make it equally popular with seniors, from young retirees to seasoned elders. And for those "tweeners", the number of active sporting options from boating, to biking to para sailing, the Island is a magnet. So when mom, dad, grand ma and grand pa and the kids in the family--- ranging from 2 to 20---are looking for a winter break or summer holiday, Sanibel Island is often on the list of maybe's.

At Sanibel Holiday, we are able to offer a variety of accommodations that can be tailored to the needs and budget of our intergenerational family travelers.

When it's a larger party looking for ultimate "togetherness" and able to commit to a month on Island, we suggest our private home rentals. A house with 3 bedrooms, a lanai, a pool and all the amenities from fully stocked kitchens to well supplied media options, provides the family with the optimum in bedding, cooking and entertainment. It also allows for various members of the family to seek out and utilize their own space within the home. A larger condo might work as well, and the weekly rather monthly obligation, is more convenient for many vacationers, but the privacy of a home is often preferred by families who are looking to establish their own unique resort vacation.

Often, a larger group will opt for 2 or 3 condos in the same complex. Sanibel Holiday is happy to help in making these kind of arrangements. Condo units near each other but providing specific resolutions, are a very effective way for the big groups to vacation together. Those individuals who want the utmost in quietude, are directed to the last floors of a complex in order to avoid the possibility of "heavy stepping" upstairs neighbors. Similarly, the physically challenged as well as the moms and dads who want to walk right in after a day of shell collecting may be more attracted to first floor units and the easy access they provide.

So finding the right accommodation is relatively easy.

Another matter to consider is transportation on the Island.

It's always easy as the Island is small and slow going. But those seeking a larger condo or even a house might want to consider the issue of parking. Most condos come with one parking space per unit, and during busy times could not accommodate the 2 or 3 vehicles a larger group may need when staying in the same apartment. This should be discussed and explored to see if there are ample guest parking spaces where the additional cars can be parked. Some homes have enough driveway space to accommodate multiple cars, but this is not always the case and exploration on this matter should be accomplished before a booking is made.

Eating in is a great option in a vacation rental. All condos and homes come supplied to allow you to make meals in. But we do counsel our clients that meal planning with a intergenerational group may be a bit more complicated and communicating dietary preferences will make the job simpler and quicker. There are two large, lovely and diversified grocery stores on Island, and several smaller ones. It is unlikely you will not find what you like in these stores, it just takes time and consideration to make sure you have what you want in your rental accommodation.

One thing is for certain, regardless of the composition of your family, you will find a stay on the Island to be the best vacation you ever had!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sounds in the Night on Sanibel

It has occurred to us that though there is great peace and tranquility on our little Island, that there are Island sounds all day long.

The singing of birds, the wind in the palms, the lapping of the Gulf, are familiar sunshine "songs" that we hear all day.

But the sounds actually increase after the sun sets.

Since the sounds we want to discuss have been recorded nicely, we hope that you might be sufficiently interested and that you will click on our links and take a listen.

One delightful bird that you will hear more often at night than in the day is the Chuck-Will's-Widow. Sometimes confused with the Whip-Poor-Will, they are actually two different birds. The Chuck-Will's Widow is found in pine woods and swamp lands and can actually be posted right outside your bedroom window saying good night to you in his chipper way.

Another bird that shows up at dusk and later is the Great Horned Owl. Great Horned Owls have a number of calls, but the males owl's territorial hoot can be heard miles away on a still night. Great Horned Owls can be quite large with the female the larger of the sexes. They attack, kill and eat a wide variety of fish and amphians and can snatch and kill smaller prey 2 to 3 times larger than themselves, including little dogs and cats. Fortunately, little dogs and cats do not roam at will on the Island and this is a word to the wise human owners for certain.

Not nearly as common, but a most startling sound of the night is the gray fox call. It is an eerie sound and varies in tone and duration. Foxes are generally nocturnal animals and have retractable claws, like cats. As you will see by clicking on the link, the call has a large number of variations. The dense, natural landscape of Sanibel makes the Island an ideal habitat for the gray fox though no one has yet documented their existense with photos.

Then there are the smaller critters. There are a variety of frogs, lizards, crickets and other little Sanibel residents whose calls, croaks, clicks and shrills during the night blend into one unending lullaby. The frogs may be nocturnal or diurnal, but it appears that rain at any time of day waters their urge to call out.

If you can envision a night free from the usual urban or suburban sounds of traffic, sirens, barking dogs and tv's blaring, you might want to try the evening and night time sounds of Sanibel Island.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Perfect Place for Sanibel Holiday Shopping

Sanibel Island can't offer the snow covered, cozy streets of your childhood, but it sure can offer a great, green spot to do your winter holiday gift buying for your children...or anyone else.

There are many stores throughout the Island where you can find unique presents to take home to your friends, acquaintences and loved ones. Maybe even a bargain or two.

One particularly efficient area to begin your shopping is Periwinkle Place Shops.

This group of stores offers a wide variety of small shops where you can find treasures for everyone on your list, regardless of age. And, in many instances, you are able to not only find a nice gift but also bring home a touch of the Island with you.

Begin your search at Sanibel Sunglass Company. Here, you will find a significant array of unique and fun sunglasses. And, don't forget yourself. The brilliant sunshine on our little tropical island will remind you that a nice pair of sunglasses is just the thing you can pack and bring back to your crisp, cold environment at home. Imagine yourself building snowmen with the youngsters in your family wearing a stylish and colorful pair of "shades" you just brought home from vacation.

Still in a tropical mood? Then continue shopping with a stop at Congress Jewelers. This Island "gem" will offer you some traditional jewelry crafting as well as some items a little off the beaten path. Peruse the sea life jewelry. We're betting there is some lucky lady in your life who will love an unsual pair of earrings or pin.

Both Paradise Sanibel and Tiki Jim's have a great selection of t-shirts for men, women and children. And do browse the isles for more. Paradise Sanibel also sells sweatshirts and Tiki Jim's has some humorous items on sale as well.

If the children in your family are not t-shirt afficionados, take a look at Friday's Child, a most distinctive kids store for "way cool" kids. And not to be missed is Toy's Ahoy, where books, educational games and fun toys will keep you entertained as you seek the perfect present.

Want something to munch on, a quick snack or sweet treat, while you do your gift list check offs?

The Cheese Nook will most definitely have some wonderful tidbit for you to buy and eat. And for something a bit sweeter, you can stop into Chocolate Expressions, where you can buy cookies or ice cream....or both!

If you are hungry for something a little more substantial, don't overlook The Blue Giraffe, a restaurant growing in ranking among Sanibel natives and return visitors. Not hungry at all, but just needing to get off your feet? We understand and sympathize and suggest you take a break at the Sanibel Day Spa, guaranteed to pamper you to your heart's content.

Within the Periwinkle Shops and across the Island, you will find art, clothes, food items, books and every manner of gift you might imagine. Come down. Bring your gift list. Bring your enthusiasm for a wonderful vacation in an extraordinarily natural, tropical environment. We guarantee you will never have as nice a time shopping anywhere else.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why Spend Christmas on Sanibel? It's A Wonder-World for Weeks in December!

Well, here it is not even Thanksgiving and we are talking about Christmas.

But why not?

Everyone else is doing it. Stores, towns, restaurants are already promoting the upcoming holiday, so we are jumping in to say a few words as well.

Generally, by this time of year, there are few nice accommodations still available on the Island. But the overall economy has apparently impacted vacations as there is lots of availability island wide for the week of December 18 to December 25, as well as for the following week, December 25 to January 1. The larger condo units are least available as families are traveling in intergenerational parties more than ever. But the two bedroom units have good vacancy for both weeks. And early December has even more vacancy, so those lucky enough to get a month's vacation might consider one of the lovely homes on the Island.

And, with a little luck, air fares can often be found at a discounted rate during this 12th month of the year.

The Island twinkles with lights kicked off with the Luminary Festival all month long.

This year marks the 26th year of the annual celebration hosted by the Sanibel Island and Captiva Island Chamber of Commerce. The Luminary Festival is a community-wide holiday event that involves businesses, organizations, residents and visitors. Everyone comes together to enjoy goodwill and community spirit.

During the Luminary Festival, everyone is invited to visit Chamber businesses and merchants that decorate their storefronts and offer special holiday celebratory events. Everything that can be decorated is, including shops, shopping plazas, restaurants, churches and more. Luminaria lines the streets, creating a truly magical display.

There's no need to plan to eat in advance of attending the Luminary Festival. Most of the participating shops offer food and drink as well as great deals on their products or services. You'll find a variety of different treats and beverages to enjoy as you travel the trail.

In addition to viewing incredible lighting and decorations and taking advantage of great shopping bargains, you can look forward to fun for the entire family at the Sanibel and Captiva Island Luminary Festival. Visits and photos with Santa, free trolley service along the "trail," a live nativity scene plus music and fun activities are all part of the celebration.

This year, the Luminary Festival takes place on Sanibel on December 4 and Captiva Island on December 5. The festival begins at dusk and ends around 9:30 pm.

The Luminary magic lasts all month, however, as does the sunshine and clear blue skies.

Given that snow has already visited many parts of the USA, don't you think a December visit to tropical Sanibel would be quite a gift to you and your family?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sanibel's Manatee: No Mermaid but Still Amazing

There are few older or more beguiling tales than those about mermaids.

And as interesting, is the explanation for same offered up that what sailors were describing as beautiful women of the water were actually the rather homely manatee who are as dependent on air as real fish are on water.

The order Sirenia, to which the Florida manatee belongs, is from the Latin siren, or mermaid. The myth of a part-woman, part-fish with great seductive powers -- and no scruples -- has existed for centuries. As long as there have been seafarers, it seems, there have been mermaids to play with their minds.

The mermaid has occasionally been depicted in writing and art as ugly, but she is more often pretty, if a little lewd. In her brashest incarnation she sings loudly and hoists her split tail around her head.

These legends of singing sirens were made by sailors as explanations for why they were led astray say modern day folklorists. The New World sirens were a gentler, if homelier, lot.

Sailing near the Dominican Republic in 1493, Christopher Columbus described in his log some "female forms" that "rose high out of the sea, but were not as beautiful as they are represented."

Indeed, manatees, frequently seen swimming in the waters of Sanibel, are quite a sight. From time to time, they will approach swimmers, never to menace, but out of curiosity and a need to groom. Manatees will brush up against a swimmer to rid themselves of barnacles, and it surely is an encounter to remember.

Manatees have a mean mass of 400 to 550 kilograms (880 to 1,200 lb), and mean length of 2.8 to 3 metres (9.2 to 9.8 ft), with maximums of 3.6 metres (12 ft) and 1,775 kilograms (3,910 lb) seen (the females tend to be larger and heavier). When born, baby manatees have an average mass of 30 kilograms (66 lb).

In addition to their pure bulk, they have a face one would not forget. They have a large flexible prehensile upper lip that acts in many ways like a shortened trunk, somewhat similar to an elephant's. They use the lip to gather food and eat, as well as using it for social interactions and communications.

And, they are "up in the air" a great deal of the time, again making them an easy target. Half a manatee's day is spent sleeping in the water, surfacing for air regularly at intervals no greater than 20 minutes. Manatees spend most of the rest of the time grazing in shallow waters at depths of 1–2 metres (3.3–6.6 ft). The Florida subspecies (T. m. latirostris) has been known to live up to 60 years.

There are lots of fascinating creatures on land and by sea on Sanibel Island, and the amazing manatee is certainly one of them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Bailey Tract:: Sanibel's Secret Parcel

Although many people see Sanibel's beaches and sea shells as the primary reason to visit the Island, they also know that Sanibel is largely a nature preserve.

The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is named for an editorial cartoonist who also was a conservation activist, leading the early protection efforts here.

Serious birders will want to enter when the refuge gate opens, just after sunrise. They should at some point circle back to the visitor center, which includes not only interesting explanatory exhibits about the ecology of the refuge but also one of the best nature bookstores anywhere.

The refuge's paved Wildlife Drive winds for about four miles through tidal basins and mangrove forest. It's best to go at low tide, when hundreds of wading birds can be seen feeding in the flats.

The lesser known aspect of Ding Darling is that it is the home to a very unique environment in the interior of the Island. The hidden gem within the Preserve is called the Bailey Tract.

This 100 acre parcel of land off Tarpon Bay Road protects a fresh water marsh. It also contains 5 hiking trails that will weave hikers through some of the most interesting nature viewing on Sanibel.

The trails range from 0.25 miles to 1.1 miles. The longest of the trails is called the Red Trail and it allows for easy access to the other trails.

Because the trail is so brief and has virtually no elevation, it is a very easy walk for adults who may not be up to walking the larger area of the Preserve and for children who need to easily see the nature that they have been told about. Walking the trail should take 40 minutes or less.

A leisurely walk through the Tract will reveal herons, egrets, turtles and alligators among other creatures. Because it is so sequestered, it is especially quiet in the Bailey Tract and some have likened it to vespers, because of the special stillness and reverence for nature that can be felt there. The Bailey Tract is also open on Fridays when the rest of the refuge is closed to visitors, so it's particularly worth a visit at that time.

The Bailey Tract is referenced by those in the know whether they be vacationers or writers about the Island, but you can still feel like you were the first one to discover it when you visit!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sanibel Holiday Guest Blogger Raves of First Visit

My name is Nikki and my husband, little boy and I just got home from a first trip to Sanibel Island. When Sanibel Holiday listened to how excited we were about the trip, they asked if I was willing to author a post on their blog. I am thrilled to be doing this as I would like to tell the world about this hidden gem (well, maybe not hidden, but certainly not over populated!)

I am a naturalist by profession, and the thing most endearing to me about the Island is the reverence for nature. Animals are protected and treasured on the Island. Signs in several languages tell motorists to slow down. Lights are not allowed at night to protect nesting turtles. The whole Island economy and culture revolves around its being, largely, a nature preserve. There are so many ways to be “in touch” with nature on this beautiful barrier island from gathering shells along the shore to visiting C.R.O.W. to witness the wonderful rehabilitation work going on there.

One particularly wonderful experience was with Tarpon Bay Explorers. As nature lovers, we LOVED the experience and are very interested in hands on learning. We were so curious to learn as much as we could about the fauna, ecosystems and animals. It was so refreshing to see how much respect there is for the land, sea and all its critters. Even the people were respectful and full of joy!

The 1st 1/2hr of the tour was a touch tank and introduction to sea life in the area- very informative. Then outside to the tour boat to hopefully see a manatee or dolphin or birds, etc. This was an educational and very responsible tour. They are "dolphin safe" and don't interfere with the animals like some tour boats do (scout for manatee/dolphin and then bring a boat full of people to see them). Our guide, Wendy, was incredibly knowledgeable.

Of course, aside from nature, there were several aspects to our holiday that enhanced the stay enormously. The house we stayed in through Sanibel Holiday was just perfect for our little, nature loving family. It was spacious, nicely supplied, very comfortable and, best of all, equidistant between the Gulf and the Ding Darling Nature Preserve. We also loved the places to eat, from the simple and quick to the more complex. We especially liked The Blue Giraffe where we celebrated our son’s fifth birthday. We returned there several times. And, of course, the beach was a big draw for all of us. The water was calm and reasonably warm, perfect for even a just –turned five year old.

Sanibel Island was, for all of us, life changing…or at least vacation changing. We got such pleasure and satisfaction out of this trip; I can’t imagine us going anywhere else!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sanibel School House Theatre Now Part of Big Arts

If you missed the news, the Herb Strauss School House Theater is now a member of the Big Arts family. The move which took place in late Spring provides the Theater with a management, marketing and volunteer base and provides Big Arts with a theater capacity. It's certainly a win-win for the two organizations, and the theater going public will be the biggest winner of all as this helps to assure the continuation of quality theatrical productions.

Just as exciting, a $1 million challenge grant to the BIG ARTS Endowment Fund has been pledged by island residents John and Mary Jo Boler, who are benefactors of both The Schoolhouse Theater Foundation and BIG ARTS. Steve and Debbie Klug along with the Klug Family Foundation pledged to match the first $500,000 of the Boler’s gift to secure the $1 million endowment to specifically support the theater operations in perpetuity.

The second half of the matching grant ($500,000) will be raised by BIG ARTS and used to support the full range of BIG ARTS programs. The conditions of the gifts include that the annual earnings of the $1 million endowment will support theater operations and the direction of the theater will be under volunteer Program Chair Art Cassell, former president of The Schoolhouse Theater Foundation.

And clearly demonstrating the spectacular programing the Theater has produced, the roster of entertainment for this coming season is sure to please a wide variety of guests and residents.

Playing now until November 6, Songs for a New World, is a musical that has been captivating audiences since its opening Off-Broadway in 1995. The Tony Award®-winning composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown says of his Songs for a New World, “It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice.” The show is a collection of songs connected by the theme of embracing the moment. Brown transports his audience from the deck of a 1492 Spanish sailing ship, to 1775 colonial America with a flag maker at work, to present day in the Bronx, where a young man dreams of life as a basketball star. Soaring melodies and irresistible rhythms mark a wide range of songs influenced by jazz, pop, and gospel.

And there's much, much more to come.

Comedies and musicals, inventive and inviting, will be running all the way to the end of April.

Curious? Then click here:

The staff and management of Sanibel Holiday wishes the best to Big Arts and the Theater on their new relationship and the truly exhilarating roster they have put together.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Sanibel Holiday? What to bring (or not to bring)

As the heat and humidity of summer turns into the warm, drier air of fall, vacationers are once again turning their thoughts to Sanibel.

And we are here to tell you that this fall is nothing short of spectacular on these gorgeous barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

The days are sunny, breezy and bright. High temps are hitting the mid 80's with humidity in the 50's and evening temps hovering around 60. Folks, these are days and nights to dream of. Happily, the weather can (we are not saying it will or it does but it can) stay like this straight through December.

Watching some broad cast tv stations, we know in many parts of the country, that temperatures are far cooler, days less sunny and night time is coat wearing weather. So we at Sanibel Holiday are literally keeping a look out for all those New York/New Jersey, Michigan, and Ohio plates to start crossing over the causeway and arriving on our beautiful, tropical, always green and usually warm isle of Sanibel.

The question du jour is what shall we pack to take to our vacation rental?

We are happy to tell you that you don't need much.

As far as accommodations, they are so well supplied that you certainly don't need to worry about towels, sheets and anything for the kitchen other than food. We will provide each condo/house/cottage with a starter kit of laundry and dish detergent as well as some bar soaps for the bathrooms.

For personal bath items, you will probably want to bring a hair dryer and your toiletries.

For activities, if you play tennis, you may want to bring your own equipment and the same for golfing. But just about anything you can think of is available for rent on the Island...bikes, boats, fishing if it is not for a personal need to have your own "tools" , you will have the option to rent in almost all instances.

For clothing, Sanibel is a casual place so "work" clothes and shoes are most likely going to remain in your suit case or closet. Daytime wear, other than bathing suits for the beach or pool, is shorts or capris for women and shorts or long pants for men. Bring light weight jackets or cotton sweaters for evening wear as the drop from day time high to night low can be as much as 25 degrees...and you will feel the difference.

A hat for the sun is always an option to be considered, as is plenty of sun tan lotion, maybe a bit of insect repellent if you think you will be out at sunset or sun rise and probably a flashlight or two will come in handy. The island protects its nesting turtles and lighting at night is minimal.

Though there is plenty to do on Island, but if you are hoping to do more resting than recreating, bring a book.

You will have a hard time, however, reading during the day as the wonderful and natural sights and sounds will be so distracting. And at night, the blissful silence will surely lull you to sleep before you can finish a page!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ding Darling Days on Sanibel: October 17 to 23

There are plenty of reasons to come to Sanibel in October.

This past week has had nothing but spectacular weather and we can only hope it will remain this way for the rest of the month. Each day has been sunny and breezy, warm but with low humidity.

And, of course, October is a relatively
light month for tourists on the Island, so things are still very low key despite the incredible weather and a Gulf of Mexico that has been calm and green.

But the weather and calm environment are only 2 reasons to book your flight or
make your plans right now to get here by October 17. Because on October 17 one of the best Island celebrations begins...Ding Darling Days!

This is an annual event where the Ding Darling Wild Life Preserve gets to strut its stuff in the very best way by showing off its
best features...the wild life that resides there.

On opening day, there will be a reptile show, a bald eagle presentation, refuge tram tours, face painting, hot dogs and many other activities, all of them
free of charge.

On the events go on, one great activity after another.

On October 18, there will be birding caravan tours, a shell mound tour, a kayak tour, cruises, bike tours and many other
fun things to do. There will be a charge in most of these instances, but not in all and some charges will be purely nominal.

The cruises and tours continue on the 19th, just in case you missed them on the 18th, and they will continue on the 20th , 21st and 22nd. There will be additional activities such as a photography talk and other educational and interesting presentation on those days as well.

The event concludes on the 23rd with a
number of lessons and some contests.

If there were one week on Sanibel where
the whole family can enjoy the refuge and get to see and do so many interesting things, it's certainly Ding Darling Days.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sam Bailey Passes: Sanibel Remembers

Most people will come and go in life without making a huge impact other than on their own family. That's a fact. Those who are outstanding obtain that rank because most of us are not.

Sam Bailey, who passed away at age 86 a few days ago, made an enormous impact on the island of Sanibel.

And when they hold his memorial on October 2 at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, there will be many stories to be told.

According to Bailey himself, he was most possibly the last person living on Sanibel who was born on the Island. In fact, Sam grew up long before a causeway linked Sanibel to the mainland.

As a boy in the 1930s, he played football with coconuts on the island. When it was time to attend Fort Myers High, he took a ferry to Punta Rassa and spent school weeks staying in Ma Alderman's boarding house, where breakfast cost 25 cents and dinner was 75 cents.

Bailey was best known in Southwest Florida as one of the owners of Bailey's General Store on Sanibel. The family run store has been open for more than a century.

Former Sanibel mayor Marty Harrity said every year, Bailey gave every island teenager graduating from high school a check for $100. He would tell them this is your home," Harrity said. "This is always going to be your home. Be proud of your home. Always be proud of it."

For the past 16 years, Sam Bailey arranged with the Fort Myers Miracle to buy tickets and distributed them free to Sanibel residents on what is billed as Island Night, a celebration that Sam and brother Francis started.

“Sanibel Sam”, as he was known, has a very rich and meaningful story, from his days of playing pro-football for the Boston Yanks in the now-defunct AFL, to his head football coaching and athletic director duties at University of Tampa for 60 years!

His interests in the historical preservation of Sanibel Island’s treasures has transformed the island to what it is today according to the many people who had the pleasure to know him.

The Bailey Family invites the Island community to join them in remembering Sam.

In true Sam Bailey form, according to the family,remembering him will not only be informative, but entertaining as well.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sanibel Expands Joy of Biking To and On Island

As we published in a previous blog post, Sanibel Island, Florida is crisscrossed by over 25 miles of bike paths, making it easy for you to thoroughly explore this jewel of an island, and its neighbor Captiva.

These paths mostly run alongside Sanibel's main streets, although there are a few that cut through the island's more undeveloped areas. Sanibel's bike trails will take you to the island's many major points of interest. We have encouraged our rental guests and blog readers to explore on foot or by bike, to get in touch with the island in a way you could never experience in a car.

Now, the unique biking experience offers residents and guests off island and residents and guests on island to discover and explore "the other side" of the cause way.

In mid August, after months of construction and $320,000 of stimulus money, Lee County elected leaders cut the ribbon on the widened bike lane, added to the Sanibel Causeway through the toll plaza, giving bikers and pedestrians an easier and safer way to traverse to the Island. Changes included a widened bike-lane and shoulder, and elimination of forcing cyclists to merge with traffic at toll plazas on either end of the bridge, an often times dangerous act.

County officials’ overall mission for the newest bike path was to encourage visitors to keep their gas-guzzling motor vehicles on the main land, and help reduce traffic along the Causeway during busy seasons, all while promoting a more active lifestyle. Given the quaint setting that is Sanibel and Captiva Island, exploring the area by bike can often times be a much more rewarding and consecutive form of transportation, especially if you're just visiting for the day.

Have you taken a biking or walking trip over the new and improved Causeway? In and of itself, it's a lovely experience.

It's a long and elevated road flanked on both sides by palm trees and blue green waters.

Some may call it a causeway, but we call it the pathway to heaven.

And now you can enjoy the view and breezes by the seat of your bike!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Are Sanibel Real Estate Values Holding Their Own?

With a highly volatile stock market, a rock and rolling job market and an overall economy that has seen better days, the question frequently arises about the Sanibel Real Estate Market.

There is no doubt that Sanibel prices have come down from what they were 3 years ago, but no where near the drop of other locations in Florida or across the country.

In addition, Sanibel Island is frequently named in top tourist attractions within the continental USA because of the beaches, shelling and wild life combined with all the civilized amenities of restaurants, shops and accommodations.

In fact, just recently, Barron's listed the 10 best places in America to buy second homes, and no surprise that Sanibel Island made the prestigious list.

According to the editors at Barron's, the locations chosen were based on the following: "gorgeous houses, spectacular views, world-class golf, fishing and skiing, fine dining and great shopping."

And though they offered three caveats:
1) Our selections are every bit as subjective as tastes in homes themselves.
2) The prices cited are based mainly on conversations with locals, because hard data isn't available.
3) Your plush new retreat may take some time to rise in value.

Their bottom line says it all: Serious appreciation will require a better economy and, quite possibly, another big rally in stocks. But hey, you could do worse than marking time in paradise.

And certainly the description of Sanibel and Captiva was compelling:

Sitting off the coast of Fort Myers, a nerve center of America's foreclosure crisis, the barrier islands of Captiva and Sanibel are the very picture of laid-back living. Linked by a bridge at Sanibel's northern point, the islands are renowned for their pristine beaches and abundant seashells. Then there are the hiking trails; half the island is a nature preserve. The late Robert Rauschenberg is, even in death, one of the largest landowners. His 35-acre spread, complete with studio, is intact on Captiva's northern end.

But what does all this mean to the Sanibel traveler? Well, for beginners it means that Sanibel has enough to offer investors and home buyers to keep it a viable destination. Translated, that means that your vacation rental experience will continue to be sublime. Neither oil nor blight has visited Sanibel and that means a pristine environment for those living and visiting the Islands.

It also means that Sanibel will not offer the cheapest entrance to a beach vacation and discounts, where they exist, will not be as deep as other locations.

But there are beaches and there are beaches and there are islands and there are islands.

Is it worth spending a little more to get the best?

We think so and hope you will come on down and test our boast!

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Five best Restaurants For Kids on Sanibel and Captiva Islands

We realize that choosing best of anything when the field is a fairly large one is an ambitious and somewhat dangerous objective.

So we'll begin this post by offering apologies to anyone who we leave out by offering some criteria for our list.

And here's the criteria---- noting that we have only included those restaurants that meet at least 2 of the following criteria:

1. The restaurant offers a large enough menu that mom and dad can have some choices as well as the kids

2. The restaurant has enough visual/audio diversion so that kids don't get bored with their environment

3. The restaurant has a history of being kid friendly

4. The restaurant is not going to totally rock mom and dad's budget

That said, here are our top picks in no particular order.

The Hungry Heron on Sanibel bills itself as having the largest kids menu and with 38 selections, it probably does. That, in and of itself, could be a reason to choose this always busy eatery. Centrally located, its a very family focused restaurant and offers both lunch and dinner with hearty portions and affordable prices. The small strip mall where it is located affords it plenty of parking as well.

The Bubble Room on Captiva is decorated with eye-catching memorabilia from the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's. Toy trains, twinkling colored lights, and more than 2,000 movie stills and glossies of stage and screen legends greet customers curious to see Captiva's famed restaurant. If your kids are seeking color and fun, The Bubble Room will not disappoint.

Though there are two Lazy Flamingo Restaurants on the Islands, the one we are suggesting is the original and smaller of the two. Actually, it's a stretch to call this little island eatery a restaurant as the menu is fairly limited. We would call it a bar, but even that misses the mark in description. Its funky island flavor, the selection of fresh fish dishes, the fun families have playing the ring toss game (few win) as well as the relatively inexpensive meals make it a perfect stop for the hungry folks in your family.

The Mucky Duck, an English Style pub/restaurant, on Captiva offers a Gulf view and because of that never fails to be busy. Despite its popularity with families, the restaurant is lauded for its friendly service.
The restaurant also offers a host of souvenirs that guests can bring home to commemorate their visit. Everything from beer mugs to a Mucky Duck golf ball is available, including children's fun wear.

Sanibel's Island Cow, like the Mucky Duck, is also an unexpected reference. (We have lots of animals on Sanibel, but no cows...though manatees, quite common sightings, are also called sea "cows"!) The Island Cow is one of few restaurants that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Always filled up, families flock here for the fun environment and easy to access location. Also noted for its large kids menu and pet friendly policy.

Ok, that's our take on it, but always happy to read yours!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oil plumes and Sanibel fumes: still angry but STILL oil free

There is no oil on Sanibel Island, and none is predicted. That is the good news, and we are happy for it and want to spread the word. Sanibel is so special a place that any despoiling of its habitat is not acceptable, and most likely not restorable to its original "condition". When man made structures are torn down, they can be re-built. The rejuvenation of nature takes much longer when it works, and some times it does not work at all.

But there is much of Florida in the northern panhandle and vicinity, as well as in Louisiana and Alabama that should also be protected and preserved. The BP oil disaster has affected every Gulf state – and beyond. Fisheries have been devastated, tourism to the area has plummeted, wildlife refuges and marshes have been fouled with oil, toxic tar has washed onto beaches, and thousands of dolphins, sea turtles, herons, pelicans, and countless other bird and wildlife species were coated in oil, facing slow and agonizing deaths.

And, despite the recent announcements that the oil has disappeared, as many suspected, that is really not the case. A recent study suggests that nearly 80% of the oil released by the Deepwater Horizon offshore disaster remains under the sea. That means that millions of barrels are still poisoning sea turtles, fouling the coasts of northern Florida and the contiguous states and threatening the survival of endangered marine life like sperm whales and bluefin tuna.

This is also not acceptable.

This blog generally accents the positive, and does not advocate particular positions,however, in the name of environmental protection we must take a stand now.

We are suggesting that our readers, their families, friends and colleagues become defenders of wild life and wild life habitat. We urge everyone to contact their senators to pass the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Accountability Act (S. 3663), legislation to preserve vital habitat for sea turtles and other wildlife and improve oversight and accountability to prevent the next offshore oil disaster. If passed, the Senate bill would improve offshore drilling management and crisis response and finally guarantee funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund – an important tool for preserving and restoring habitat for Gulf wildlife and other animals.

We urge everyone to support the Gulf of Mexico in every way they can, and we have written this message to focus on what needs to be done, publishing this post advertisement free to keep our intention in tack.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sanibel in Song: Lyrics to Live By

It is difficult to listen to almost any Jimmy Buffet song about Islands, harbors, boating and the laid back life of a beach devotee without thinking about Sanibel. Most of JB's music carry Sanibel in its harmony.

And, of course, there are the songs of Danny Morgan, who is a local entertainer, often compared to Jimmy Buffet. But where there may only be a couple of songs directly related to Sanibel and Captiva out of the JB song book, Morgan has created dozens of titles that directly relate to the Island. Songs like "Sanibel Samba", "Sanibel Sunset" and "Captiva Moon" are unmistakeably planted in the sands of our two beautiful barrier islands.

But despite the world wide appeal to folks of Jimmy Buffet persuasion (most often called parrotheads) and the tremendous popularity of Danny Morgan on and around the Islands of Sanibel and Captiva, there may not be a song composed that resonates more clearly and touchingly with the topicality and peace of Sanibel than that which was sung by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The title of the song, simply stated, is Sanibel.

And the simplicity of the title may well be deliberate. There is no other Sanibel, no need to add Island, or Florida or any other qualifying term. Sanibel is Sanibel period.

But the sweet sound of the song and the key words used in its composition, take the listener directly to the Island.

Terms like

Angels of the water, sirens of the sea
Whispering their sweet love songs
Calling out to me

bring the romance of the island to life.

And the clarification of this line

Going to leave this town forever
And go where I'll never
Need an overcoat no more

certainly reminds the listener of one of the many reasons to love and come to the island.

But it's the familiar refrain that wraps up the song most profoundly and touchingly

Ooh lalalala, every night and every day
Sitting by the gulf coast just a thousand miles away,
Where they cry...
Ooh lalalala, on an island I will dwell
Starlit nights in paradise on the isle of Sanibel

Yes, starlit nights in paradise are certainly Sanibel!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sanibel's Gramma Dot's: The Closest You Can Get to Eating On Board

One of many attractive points about Sanibel Island is that there are numerous restaurants on Sanibel and Captiva.

Another is that the restaurants are quite different from one another.

There is the outrageously different Bubble Room.

The elegantly distinctive Thistle Lodge.

The family fun of the Hungry Heron.

And many lovely spots from Matzaluna to Traders, all quite distinguishable in decor and menu from one another. There is something special about all of them.

But Gramma Dot's stands out from the rest as dining there feels more like being on a ship than eating on dry land.

It's proximity to the water, the near by boats docked just outside the large windows, the sparkling clean ambiance and the white and blue decor create a ship like experience from the moment you walk into the place.

Serving lunch and dinner seven days a week, Gramma Dot's prides itself on offering the freshest sea food on the Island.

But it also offers, if one takes a moment to explore the history, a very interesting background on its namesake.

Born at the turn of the century, Gramma Dot (Dorothy Stearns) was a women ahead of her time. Dot loved an adventure. As a teenager, she traveled the world by ship with her family.

She rode camels in Egypt, rode horses and played billiards in the Wild West. She was an avid sailor who loved the sea and logged many hours exploring Long Island’s Great South Bay.

In the late 50’s, her sea explorations brought her to Sanibel. In 1963, by then a widow, she moved alone to Sanibel --a sleepy little island where most people didn’t wear shoes; and when people passed in cars, they always waved.

Gramma Dot was a woman of many talents with a zest for life. She was a ballroom dancer, published author, painter and an amazingly creative maker of “shell-things”. She was loved dearly by all her friends and family for her energy, creativity, and positive attitude.

Gramma Dot, an inspiration to generations of heirs, was a gentle, gracious lady, a giant of a lady within the family of Irelands. The restaurant was named after Gramma Dot by her son Myton Ireland.

And ok, I've got to admit it. The history of Gramma is as endearing and as intriguing as the restaurant and food it serves. Don't you agree?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Five Reasons to Visit Sanibel This September

Contrary to popular belief, September can be a beautiful month on the Island of Sanibel.

And this September promises to be a particularly beautiful month.

While Sanibel has not been affected by the Gulf oil spill, and the scientific projection has been that there is a less than 1 percent chance it will be, the greater concern has always been whether the spill could be stopped and the oil removed.

It seems promising that the well has been plugged at this point and reports are that the oil is largely gone.

So come September, there should be a collective sigh of relief that the Gulf has a better chance as we go forward. The optimism will surely be felt on Sanibel, helping to make a vacation even more enjoyable.

But that is only one reason to holiday this September, though a significant one at that.

September is, in almost any year, a transitional month. Summer visitors are gone. Fall visitors have not yet arrived. It is a month in which you can feel like a pioneer on the Island, blazing your own path. No waiting for tables at the most popular restaurants and you can linger for hours over a meal. The bike paths will be bikeless, the waterways way open and even the fabulous local grocery stores will not have the crowds of people wandering the isles.

Because of the quieter, less traveled and less touristed aspect of September vacationing, the nature viewing can often be superb. With most of the Island being a nature preserve, Sanibel is always "for the birds"....armadillo, bobcats and the rest. But not having that many people around makes sighting them easier.

And there are always great sales in the stores in September. Many stores attempt to clean out inventory to make way for new items. Check out places such as clothing stores to see what's on the discounted racks and you'll find plenty to choose from.

And, because September can be stormy, it generally is a month with fewer demands for accommodations. So the greater supply often results in reduced vacation rental and hotel prices. In fact, because the weather can be sunny as well as rainy, wise travelers might want to negotiate a longer than weekly stay and be more assured of having good weather for some, if not all, of their vacation time.

But if you should see some stormy weather, that in and of itself is quite an experience. The rains and winds can create a spectacular environment. So that may in and of itself be a sixth good reason to visit Sanibel in September!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Knowledge of Dolphins Helps Spur Interest on Sanibel

The Sanibel Sea School (one of our favorite organizations on the Island!), recently held a "Dolphin Week" for visiting families.

As it's name implies, the School focuses on educational aspects in its offerings, and the Dolphin Week was no different. In this case, the Dolphin Week was a collaborative affair with several island organizations and businesses contributing various items and services. And, of course, the Dolphins made a major contribution as well.

The week began at Buttonwood Beach, where the students (and teachers) were divided into pods to compete in the Dolphin Olympics. Campers raced through an obstacle course, played tug of war, and tried to untangle human knots. They improved their teamwork skills and learned that dolphins form alliances and cooperate in complicated ways to hunt and catch fish.

They also learned that Dolphins use echolocation to understand the world around them. Dolphins are able to send sound waves through the water and visualize their surroundings based on the resounding echoes. Echolocation allows dolphins to see in a more complex way than humans – in addition to determining the shape, size, and texture of objects, they are able to sense internal structures. A Dolphin can use echolocation to tell if a woman swimming in the ocean is pregnant.

To gain a better understanding of this ability, the Sea Schoolers played echo games to practice their own sonar skills, and realized that echolocation is not always as simple as it seems.

But perhaps the most exciting moment of the week came when the Schoolers went looking for Dophin. And, not surprisingly, found an active pod doing some flips and stunts in the water.

Now, there are many ways to see Dolphin on Sanibel with several cruises and boat rides boasting of the sightings that they will show you.

But how much more fun it must have been to know a little more about these amazing creatures before ever seeing them!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The best seat for the best sound and light show: Sanibel's summer storms are awesome!

Most people come to Sanibel Island for the sun and/or shells. The pristine beaches, nature viewing and turquoise calm waters of the Gulf draw visitors from around the world. But those who visit in summer months, right into September, are in for a unique attraction best experienced on this 12 mile spit of land in the middle of the water.

Florida is known as the lightning capital of the world, and for good reason. Lightning bolts are as common on late afternoon summer landscapes as are Palm Trees, and, quite honestly, just as pretty.

Though the Sunshine state has a flat topography and does not offer spectacular views (as in Grand Canyon) in other ways, the electrical storms on and around Sanibel are awesome.

They provide a sound and light show not to be seen in most of the other states and they do have a pattern that is fairly predictable so one can make ready for the performance.

Somewhere between 4 and 6 p.m. from June to October, the clouds roll in, the sky darkens to deep gray bordering on black and thunder can be heard rolling at a distance. Because there are no mountains and barely any hills to obscure the view, the show can be seen (and heard) from miles and miles away. And a unique feature of these gala events is the chiaroscuro of shadow and light that they present. The sky can be nearly pitch black, but rays of sunshine will be breaking through highlighting and making buildings appear "lit" in orange or yellow florescence. It is quite a sight!

These phenomenal storms are memories in the making, and worth every dime spent in travel to Sanibel Island or almost anywhere in the state of Florida. And the seat for the show on Sanibel is particularly wonderful when the show starts as with no high rise buildings or other lighting distractions, those flashes just stand right out, dazzling the beholder.

And if you have found the water in the pool at your vacation rental a bit too luke warm for your taste, the secondary benefit of the afternoon "visitor" is the cooling off the heavy rains bring with them----- refreshing the pool with every visit.

But caution should be taken with each passing of a new storm. Mother nature can be deadly and you need to abide by her rules.

Here are some simple guidelines to help make your summer stay on Sanibel and the area as safe as can be during lightning storms:

Follow the 30/30 rule. If the time between seeing the flash of lightning and hearing the thunder is less than 30 seconds, take shelter. You are in a strike zone.

Immediately get away from pools, lakes and other bodies of water.

Get off the beach.

Never use a tree as a shelter.

Avoid standing near tall objects.

Keep away from metal objects including bikes, golf carts, umbrellas, fencing, machinery, etc.

Get indoors if at all possible or get in a hard-topped vehicle.

Remain in a shelter for 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning.

We do hear of people who have had narrow escapes from tropical electrical storms and that should not be. Look up at the sky and if you see the sun giving way to dark clouds, it's time to head to safety!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sanibel and Off Island: Viva La Difference!

In the previous post we talked about one destination off Sanibel Island, the beautiful city of Naples.

But regardless of whether your off island sojourn is Naples or another destination, you are bound to observe some very distinct differences between the Island and main land.

How do they differ?

Let me count the ways.

The Island, by definition is finite. It is 12 miles long and 5 miles wide. Go longer or wider and you are in the water!

Of course, the land outside the Island is almost infinite. You can drive off Island for miles and miles. Forida itself is very large. "The Sunshine State" is the 2nd-largest state (after Georgia) east of the Mississippi River, and ranks 22nd in size among the 50 states.

But much more than size distinguishes Sanibel from the miles and miles of towns just across the causeway.

Drive the roads of Sanibel, and you will not encounter one traffic light. Nope, not one. You can't go very far off island without hitting a traffic light. It does make a profound difference in your driving experience.

Even in the quiet areas on the mainland, you will hear the ubiquitous siren of an ambulance or EMS vehicle several times a day. I don't think I have heard a siren on Sanibel more than once or twice in all the months I have spent on Island. Sanibel has a hushed tone, day and night.

The tall buildings that line the major roads off island can be seen from miles away. No building is taller than a palm tree on Sanibel. The vistas are uniformly green from almost anywhere on the Island.

Restaurants of all kinds exist on and off Island. There are many choices where ever you are. One distinction, however, is the absence of fast food eateries on the Island. Other than the Island's Dairy Queen, the big name fast food chains do not exist on Sanibel. All the restaurants are independently owned with a unique style in decor and often unique menus as well.

But perhaps the greatest difference between on and off Island is the pace.

Cars whiz by on mainland. Cars slow down on Island. But, you will not see many cars in most months on Sanibel. Instead you will see people biking and walking and strolling. The Island mentality takes hold immediately and you just slow down your pace and ratchet up your enjoyment of the simple things. Watch an egret in flight. Stop and eat an ice cream. Take in a beach sunset. You have all the time in the world on the Island of Sanibel!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sanibel to Naples: Little Trip with a Big Difference

In a much earlier post, we suggested some places, possibly worth the trip, off Sanibel Island. One spot we highlighted was Corkscrew Swamp, a lovely preserve in Naples. The reason for the attention is that the balance of nature in Corkscrew Swamp is quite remarkable. All that water and all that greenery, yet so few bugs. Very susceptible to getting bitten, I was astonished that I could spend an hour in Corkscrew without a mark.

But there are other good reasons to sally forth to Naples, and those reasons grow by the day.

Just a short twenty years ago, Naples had a nice downtown called OLDE NAPLES with a few shops and restaurants. That downtown has spread and gotten nicer and provides a delightful afternoon or evening experience for walking, window shopping, stopping for an ice cream or coffee and photo taking. The look and feel is much more southern France than Southwest Florida.

If you like beautifully manicured, perfectly crafted and lively small towns, then Naples will fill your eyes with lovely images.

Walk further out of the town, and the images don't diminish. It's no surprise that Naples is the seat of Collier County, considered by many experts to be the fastest growing area of wealth in the entire USA. And if you want to be dazzled by opulence, walk or drive to the Port Royal area where you will see some incredible homes. Probably best not to get too attached though as the homes for sale start at about 2 million and go up considerably from there. But it is an amazing sight!

The Naples Philharmonic, at a little distance from olde Naples, offers a wide array of entertainment in a lovely hall. In addition to rock and blues, the Sarasota Opera Company does 2 or 3 productions, full scale, at the Naples Philharmonic. Right next to the Phil is the Art Museum, but check the schedule to make sure that they are open.

And the restaurants in Naples are both numerous and good offering eclectic fare ranging from traditional Continental to exotic blends of French/Moroccan and Italian/mid eastern. If you like fusion style cooking, you will find any number of choices where attentive wait staff, crisp white linens and fine dining will be the norm.

Because Sanibel beaches tend to be quite laid back and not populated, if you are looking for a more crowded and social beach with food readily available, you may want to check out Barefoot Beach. The beach is nice, always lively and you can grab a quick bite at Doc's, a little beach shack with indoor/outdoor tables, great burgers and crisp fries.

It's interesting to juxtapose Sanibel Island and Naples, only a 40 minute drive from one another. They both show case the best of SW Florida with notably different feels. Naples, a sophisticated, international town and Sanibel a nature island with so much wild life to view. It's a great contrast if you have the time and inclination!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oil Spill: Words of Wisdom from Sanibel

With so many comments, speculations and projections about the BP oil spill and its impact, it would be difficulat to pinpoint a single source of information that provides meaningful updates.

But when it comes to some very interesting scientific information on the water world in Southwest Florida and beyond, the Sanibel Sea School has been posting detailed updates showing the testing of the waters in the Sanibel area. Thankfully, the tests are all coming back negative on oil. In addition, the Sanibel Sea School has created some fascinating, educational and sometimes frightening information on their blog about the spill and its impact.

One point made repeatedly is that this is not a "surface" problem.

Like the Gulf itself, the issues run as deep they do wide.

The "solutions" are complex and none offered are perfect.

We are going to select some quotes that we felt were particularly revealing and meaningful from the last several blog posts created by the Sanibel Sea School.

In early May, the blog post warns about the use of dispersants, making an analogy that the dispersants are, essentially, just sweeping the dirt under the carpet:

"Sending oil to the bottom of the ocean damages sea grass beds and coral reefs, and the oil is inadvertently consumed by mussels and other filter feeders – many of which make up the bottom of the Gulf food chain. The chemicals in the oil (mixed with the mysterious top-secret chemicals in the dispersants) will accumulate up the food chain over time until high levels are found in species that humans like to consume."

In later May, the blog post dissects the loop current concept, explaining that the surface oil is unlikely to effect Sanibel because the upper loop current will not carry it in that direction. But the caveat within that post does explain that the upper current is not the only current carrying the oil:

"In all likelihood, a significant amount of oil is being transported below the surface on deeper currents in other directions."

Uh, oh, that's a scary one.

But just week or so after that post, the authors of the blog were quick to assure that those black clumps people were reporting were not oil:

"A few people have expressed concern over dark blobs on the beach, wondering if they have found the first signs of oil on our island. If you come across the lumpy objects pictured at left, don’t panic – they are just tunicates, perhaps the most highly-evolved marine invertebrates. They are also known as “sea pork” or “sea hams,” and are related to sea squirts."

So we all went "whew" .

Perhaps most intriguing was the post on copepods, an almost microscopic crustacean that will be affected by the oil spill and is of extreme importance in the food chain:

" Copepods are so numerous that some scientists believe they make up the largest biomass of all animal species on the planet. Pretty amazing to think that nearly microscopic organisms can, in combination, weigh more than all the fish, whales, or elephants on the planet; but they do. Who would have thought that the workings of the oceans rest upon the mighty, tiny copepod?"

If you want to read these posts in their entirety, we hope you will go directly to the Sanibel Sea School blog. It's well worth the trip!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Everything You Ever Wanted to know about Sanibel

We are always happy to respond to guests' questions about our beautiful, pristine (oil free) and natural island. And our staff certainly is the line of first response to questions on our own properties.

Sometimes, however, our rental guests will ask a question where we have had no experience or where we might be in conflict of interest in responding.

Happily, there are dozens of ways a vacation rental guest can obtain information on such matters as best restaurants, things to do with children and where you can purchase the things you like best.

One highly interactive resource for vacationers is the TripAdvisor website. TripAdvisor is arguably the most active site on the internet for providing forums and discussions just about any place in the universe. In addition to the user reviews, there are forums and chat boards where you can post a question and, inevitably, you will get an answer. Some times the responses are written by island "experts", people who perhaps live on Island or visit frequently and their answers will be designated as "expert". Often times, the answer will just be another vacationer like you who wants to share their experience. Since all reviews and interactive discussions are anonymous, you must weigh responses carefully. But the information to be found there is quite good and most often quite helpful.

Of course there are lots of very generic sites where you can ask questions such as Yahoo, Askjeeves, About and several others, but you won't find the number of questions or responses nearly as vibrant as on TripAdvisor.

More locally, there is a site that appears to be pretty comprehensive with information,
and also has a message board, but it does not seem that answers or questions are posted publicly.

Perhaps the information on the Sanibel Captiva Chamber site will be most credible and up to date. Right now there are some live and lovely cam shots of the beaches as a way of demonstrating clearly that there is no oil spill on the Island. You may not be impressed with the disconnect (the scene does not show a single person except the on-camera individual) between the words ("families enjoying the beach") and the images (no one is there), but you will be impressed with the serene beauty of the Gulf. What a sight! You will want to head on down here asap with a vision of that tranquil blue/green water.

Another way to gather information is to use social media. We have been working with Second Porch, a new application for Facebook, to list our properties. What we like about social media in general and Second Porch in particular is the transparency. If you find someone who has been to Sanibel, you will know who they are and can trust that at least the answers you are getting are honestly composed.

But to be as truthful as we can, the best way to get to know Sanibel Island is to explore it yourself. An intimate island with a friendly atmosphere for both 2 legged and 4 legged visitors, you can get to know it quickly. And you'll be happy that you did!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Ugly Truth about NoSeeUms on Sanibel

There is still a lot of talk about the BP oil spill up and down the coast of Florida. And there should be. This tragedy should spark concern, action and endless discussion about how we should and can avoid such catastrophes in the future.

Though the scientific projections based on the loop current are saying Sanibel Island only has a 15 to 20 per cent chance of oil reaching its shores, we are all still worried and very concerned about the long range impact of the spill on the upper Gulf.

But at this point we can only pray that the spill is contained and cleaned up and stays away from the ecologically special and fragile islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

So this post will address a much smaller concern.

An infinitely smaller concern.

Those who travel have alluded to tiny biting flies that often live near water. They are so tiny, they are not generally visible and hence their appropriate name, Noseeums. They are also called Midges and since it is only the female that bites, I guess the female nomenclature is also appropriate. The Noseeums are common not only on Sanibel, but in the Caribbean and any warm, tropical body of land where there is water nearby.

Sometimes our vacation rental guests ask if traveling in winter is a way to avoid these pests, and we have to be honest and say the bigger factor in avoiding Noseeums is not time of year, but time of day and strength of breeze.

Noseeums are worse at dawn and dusk and worse when the air is still.

But getting bitten is not totally unavoidable.

Your best defense is Deet, applied liberally when you are setting out. It is the only for sure protection against getting bites. Because Noseeums are so very tiny, they can even get into screened lanais so keep fans going and that should help as well. We have heard from some sources that Skin So Soft, which we know does work for mosquitoes, is effective for these little buggers, but have not tried that route as yet. We have also been told by several of our rental guests that vitamin B12, started even before arrival on the Island, is a good preventative measure for bites.

Generally, your bites will be on the bare areas of your body, so wearing long pants/slacks and long sleeve shirts may be of some assistance as well.

Some folks are just lucky and their chemistry is not attractive to these biters at all. One person in a couple can get several bites and the other none what so ever.

If you don't know how appealing you may be, just take all the precautions and you should be just fine.

Now, if only the oil spill were this easy to address....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Want a "thrill" on Sanibel: We Think We Have the Answer

Though a lot of people, maybe most, come to Sanibel Island for rest and relaxation, apparently many don't.

Of the 16 attractions named at TripAdvisor for Sanibel, the Sanibel Thriller came in number 1.

If you have not heard of the Thriller, then let me enlighten.

According to their website, The Sanibel Thriller is "A beautiful, new, fast, safe, diesel powered 55' motor yacht piloted by a 100 ton U.S.C.G. Licensed Merchant Marine Officer.

And, also per the promotional site, "You will cruise the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Pine Island Sound, circumnavigating the shores of both Sanibel and Captiva Islands. During the narrated tour and dolphin watch you will be amazed to see that even the dolphins are thrilled with the Sanibel Thriller. "

Of course one also takes all statements on a website with a grain of salt...or in the case of the Island, a grain of sand..... but it's not just the site that is providing accolades for the Thriller.

TripAdvisor, arguably the largest resource for reviews on vacation destinations on the world wide web, states that The Sanibel Thriller is the number one ranked activity by travelers to Sanibel, beating out Bowman's Beach and the Bailey's Shell Museum which come in as numbers 2 and 3 respectively.

With so many boat trips available on Sanibel, we were curious as to why Thriller enthusiasts were, well, so enthusiastic about this particular ride.

Here are some comments posted by the initiated "Thrillees":

This was the experience of a lifetime - truly the best money I have ever spent.
The crew was fun and knowledgeable - they really knew where to find the dolphins and how to get them to come and play, and play they did. It was like they were waiting for us - we had dolphin playing with us for almost a solid hour - it was very exciting.

And then there was the Thrill rider who wrote this: was also beautiful for sightseeing and learning about the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. It is appropriate for all ages and a must do if you are in Sanibel or nearby.

Yet another lauding the possibilities:

We loved the cruise around Sanibel and Captiva so much we went on the day excursion to Boca Grande, rented golf carts and toured the Island, had lunch, toured the lighthouse and went shopping!!

Sounds like a thrill is just waiting for you in the water if you tire of our beautiful and pristine beaches and lovely shops on island.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Grass is Always Greener on Sanibel: The Island's Links

Sanibel boasts beautiful beaches, great nature viewing, lovely restaurants and shops...and golfing "par excellence."

The courses are lovely and offer a range of challenges.

The 18-hole "Dunes" course at the The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, pictured here, features 5,578 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 70 . The course rating is 68.0 and it has a slope rating of 123 on Bermuda grass. Designed by Mark McCumber, ASGCA, the Dunes Golf Course opened in 1973. The Dunes course is rated four stars by charges, based on season, a range of $70 to $110 for the 18 courses. The Dunes has a restaurant open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for those looking to add some "meat" to their greens!

The 18-hole "Beachview" course at the Beachview Golf Club facility features 6,400 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71 . The course rating is 70.8 and it has a slope rating of 127 on Bermuda grass. Designed by Ray Fenton, the Beachview golf course opened in 1976. rates Beachview 3.5 stars. Beachview Steakhouse & Seafood Restaurant's in-season hours are now in effect. Open for lunch and dinner 7 days per week from 9:00am til midnight. Relax with your favorite beverage from a fully stocked bar while you enjoy the natural Beachview surroundings.

The 18-hole "Sanctuary" course located on the far west end of the Island at the The Sanctuary Golf Club facility in Sanibel, Florida features 6,806 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72 . The course rating is 73.0 and it has a slope rating of 138 on Bahia grass. Designed by Arthur Hills, ASGCA, the Sanctuary Golf Course opened in 2005. The Sanctuary Course has earned 5 stars by The Sanctuary Golf Club is a private golf course and does not offer online tee times to the general public but if you know a member, you will find playing the Sanctuary is as good as it gets!

Both the Dunes and Beachview courses are public and are sanctioned by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses protecting the environment and preserving the natural heritage of golf. Both courses are set among a beautiful natural, island backdrop.

And our rental guests who golf have confided to us that the setting for the game is often as important as the game itself. Sanibel does provide a special treat for those looking to play the greenest of greens!