Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter Birding on Sanibel

As most visitors know, winter season, aka, high season, is prime time on Sanibel.It is when we have the most guests on Island, when condo and house rentals hold their highest value and when restaurants need reservations to serve you best.

And like the human snow birds who flee the colder climes north and west, our island winged birds gather in numbers and species over these months of February and March. They, like our winter two legged visitors, are migratory souls searching for warmer weather where life will be easier.

Those humans who visit in winter to watch birds should plan their bird watching walks and drives on days when low tide is fairly early in the morning. When the tide is low, fish concentrate in shallow pools, making it easy for wading birds to capture prey and create perfect conditions for bird watching.

Birding tip: During the fall, winter and spring, serious Sanibel birders know to visit Lighthouse point in the early morning, when large numbers of migrating birds can be found resting in the trees.

Sanibel is a birder’s paradise at any time of year. Our beaches attract snowbirds of the avian species, pausing on their seasonal migrations; mangrove islands on the island’s bay side serve as rookeries. The wetlands found at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) Nature Center and Center Tract Preserve, in the Sanibel Gardens Preserve, and in the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge provide abundant opportunities for bird-watching.

Most of the species of “long-legged waders” are found in Southwest Florida, where they are numerous, year-round residents. There is no better place to observe and study these birds than Sanibel and surrounding waters, where most of them feed regularly in such areas as the “Ding” Darling Refuge and nest in big mixed colonies on mangrove islands in adjacent Pine Island Sound. Principally because of a sub-tropical climate, one can expect to find birds nesting in our area in every month of the year with the possible exception of October.

Wherever you encounter birds on the islands, please remember that these islands are their home. Give them some space and disturb them as little as possible. Remember that Sanibel prohibits hand-feeding of any wild birds, including gulls.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Finding Quiet Corners on Sanibel in High Season

If you could hear our phones ringing, you would know for certain high season has arrived!

Most of our vacation rental houses are booked solid for that February/March/April period.

And many of our vacation rental condos are booked as well.

There are some last minute specials to be found, but all things point to a fully booked high season.

While the ringing phones and cash registers (metaphorically speaking) are music to our ears, we totally understand how our guests on the Island may see things differently. After all, restaurants, cafes, grocery stores and shops in general are popping during high season. And though our beaches are never crowded, there will be people sunning themselves all through winter. (and why not when it's a beautiful 78 degrees here right now?) The pools will have even more activity, and the bike ways and walkways will have their share of cyclists and pedestrians. Never crowded or crammed, the Island's popularity can be measured most easily in winter months.

So what's a person to do to escape, if not the crowds, then the gatherings on Sanibel Island during this expanse of perfect weather and southern retreat from winter climes?

You might want to consider a walk or bike ride off the main paths. These residential neighborhoods are beautifully kept and there is little car or even bike traffic to contend with. You can pause in your ride to watch the boats going up and down the canals. In fact, before you even reach the Island, there are numerous places you can stop your car to take in the vistas. Ding Darling Nature Preserve is never crowded and that opens up even more opportunities to walk or bike with little intrusion.

You can charter your own boat, and set sail to enjoy the open waters, you can hire a canoe or kayak to explore the little known bayous, or you can stop at the Sanibel library and browse the shelves. In all these instances, you will be enjoying the best of the Island in wonderful ways where human interaction, while possible, is not absolutely necessary.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

TripAdvisor Rates Sanibel Among Best Beaches

In its 2011 Traveler's Choice awards, TripAdvisor named Sanibel among the best beaches not only in the country, but in its world wide choices as well.

Taking the number 5 place (out of 25) in the USA, Sanibel got its high positioning for the shelling to be found on its beaches: "Saunter on the shell-speckled sands of tropical barrier island, Sanibel, on Florida's Gulf coast. Quiet, secluded White Beach, with its scurrying sandpipers, offers a respite from the holidaymaking hordes elsewhere, while Turner Beach lures those with their sights on shells or the day’s catch."

Placing a little lower on a world wide basis (number 16 out of 25), the Island still received accolades when competing with such dazzling beaches as those on Bora Bora and actually placed above the world class beaches in Thailand and Hawaii.

So how does a sleepy, 12 mile tropical barrier Island get such big notoriety?

Well, the shelling is clearly a factor in its popularity, but there are several others as well when considering personal preferences for a beach vacation.

We have to acknowledge that the affordability of Sanibel helps it gain advantage. It is not by far the least expensive destination in Florida, but for what it offers, it is clearly a value package. It is still driveable from many locations within the USA, and even those holiday makers coming from further away can often find a good air fare.

Accommodations are diverse and provide lots of options to the family traveling together or for couples or singles seeking a great place to stay. Houses, cottages, condos, Inns all offer a different experience and a good quality. The Island is small enough that there is no such thing as being very far from the beach or very far from the many restaurants and shops for that matter.

And, nature abounds despite the comforts, conveniences and accommodation options available. Look around and in one sweeping glance one can take in the emerald green of the Gulf, the incredible variety of birds, the lush topicality and, of course, the awesome shelling.

We speak your language, use your currency and appreciate your matter who you are or where you are from. The language is nature, the currency is comfort and the preference is our objective in giving you the best vacation you will find anywhere!