Friday, April 27, 2012

Feet with the Beat on Sanibel Island

Not long ago, we wrote a blog post on pampering your pooch while visiting the Island.  Now we are going to make some suggestions as to how to pamper your other "dogs"...the ones you walk, dance and stand on.

For a tiny, tropical island, it is quite impressive that there are so many ways you can cater to your feet, making them feel and look better.

For a start, there are the various shoe shops on the Island, many of them unique.

Begin your shoe hunt at Footloose Sandals and Shoes, with a location on both Sanibel and Captiva. This one-stop island outfitter boasts the largest selection of fashion and functional footwear. Bring the family for a host of wonderful brands including Reef, Teva, Sperry, Crocs, NAOT and many more sought-after selections. They also carry a wide array of beach socks for shell seekers and beachcombers.

Are you more the Ugg type?  Then you might want to take a look at Synergy, located in the Tahitian Gardens. 

At Sanibel Sole, also in the Tahitian Gardens, you will find a wide variety of walking and beach wear, including the popular Chaco Sandals by Chaco, Inc. featuring the Devotee Gunnison, Enigma Yampa, Enigma Vibram Yampa, Irony and Irony.   Yampa lines carry the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association.  Chaco flip flops such as the Ecotread and the Flip Ecotread also provide good arch support. Chaco sandals feature soft polyester adjustable straps that maintain a consistent fit, providing durability and comfort in addition to arch support.

But our personal and emotional  favorite of the many stores offering food wear is Rinaldis' Fashion Shoes on Palm Ridge Road.  The merchandise is aesthetically appealing, as is the individualized attention from the owner.  A variety of pretty sandals and casual foot wear can be found and tried on, many designs from Spain and Italy.

And speaking of personal favorites, though there are several nail salons and  beauty parlors on the Island, there is one that has decidedly caught our imagination, though we have not yet tried it.  Called the Spatini Teabar and located on Periwinkle Way, this trendy delicacy offers "Nail-tinis" ranging from "Man-tini's" to Teeny Winis.  And all their enticing services include complimentary Iced Tea, hot tea, beer or wine.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Water front dining on Sanibel? Absolutely!

For a small island that is largely a nature preserve, there is an abundance of places to eat on Sanibel Island. There is fine dining, casual dining and even fast dining. But on that last, there is really only one that qualifies as fast food, our local Dairy Queen, though no drive through!

But the one question we get most often is where can you eat on the water?

The answer is easy, but not obvious.

The Gulf of Mexico is not dotted with commercial enterprises as you might find in other vacation destinations. There are no direct waterfront public breakfast restaurants on the Sanibel-Captiva Islands corridor, so a beach breakfast picnic is a most scenic start to the day. There are some gulf front condo complexes, but restaurants, cafes, and shops are largely located in the interior of Sanibel and on neighboring Captiva. That keeps the Gulf a much more pristine environment, and throws the challenge to the visitor to find water front dining.

So we will take the mystery out of the search and list a few of the places you might want to consider for lunch or dinner with a brief description of what you will find at each:

Gramma Dots- This is one of the unique places you don't want to miss and it is open for lunch and dinner. This very casual restaurant is located in the middle of the docks at the Sanibel Marina. The sides of the restaurant are open, leaving just the screened walls between you and the boats. Known for excellent seafood. Has water views of the marina harbor and outdoor dining is available outside the screens. It's a little tricky to find because from Periwinkle you turn down a residential sidestreet, so check a map before you go! (and keep in mind, it is open for dinner but like most restaurants on Sanibel, dinner hour ends on the early side)

The Green Flash Restaurant- Cross the bridge joining Sanibel Island with Captiva Island, glide around the big curve on Captiva Drive, and visitors to the Sanibel-Captiva Islands are led straight into the The Green Flash Restaurant. Delicious lunch and dinner choices are offered in both indoor and outdoor dining areas with perfect waterfront views of the Roosevelt Channel and Pine Island Sound.

Traditions on the Beach has been completely renovated! They have added a full bar and lounge area. We also updated our menu and dining area. These updates are only enhanced further by Traditions on the Beach’s wonderful Gulf view. Dinner selections include fresh fish, choice meats and savory poultry prepared to delight the most discerning palates. Breakfast and dinner are open to the public. Dinner dress code is casual… after all, this is Sanibel.

Thistle Lodge at Casa Ybel Resort Arguably, the most elegant of the water front eateries,the Thistle Lodge is not a stand alone. It is the jewel in the crown of a water front resort. At the Thistle Lodge, delicious cuisine is served in a historical setting overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Swaying palms and gently breaking waves further set the scene for romance.

The Sunset Grill
Though not directly water front, the Sunset Grill does offer breakfast as well as lunch and dinner. And the breakfasts are no ordinary ham and eggs, to be sure. A look at the breakfast menu will have you craving for something special, like the Key Lime Pie French Toast: A thick sourdough bread, dipped in sweetened condensed milk and a fresh keylime egg wash, rolled in Graham cracker crumbs and grilled. Served with a creme of coconut sauce and fresh sliced strawberries. CRAB AND SPINACH Omelet: (All omelette's made with three eggs and served with hash browns and whole wheat toast) Blue crab meat with fresh spinach and Swiss cheese Extra special: The Sunset Grill is open 7 days a week.

And if the above is not sufficient, there are several water front restaurants on Captiva as well, including The Green Flash, The Mucky Duck and Old Captiva House.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's A Jungle Out There: A trip to the Zoo from Sanibel

Now a lot of people will ask, why travel off island to go to the Naples Zoo when there is so much wild life on Sanibel living, well, in the wild.

And certainly no one can contest the fact that an Island that is largely a nature preserve does not offer ample sightings of birds and other creatures.

But we do love the Naples Zoo for its wonderful work in helping to preserve species from around the world without taking them out of their natural habitat. The Zoo only takes in animals that other Zoos and wild life refuges can not care for. And the Zoo is dedicated to educating its human guests and treating its non human guests with great dignity.

So we do support the basic concept and premise of the Zoo, and we have to admit, we do enjoy its environment as well as 4 legged residents.

To begin with, only a 50 minute drive from Sanibel, the Zoo really does provide an atmosphere reminiscent of Tarzan movies. It is not a large zoo, but is beautifully landscaped complete with towering tropical flora and charming koi ponds that are crossed with wooden bridges. The feeling is lush and a bit wild.

And as one walks through the zoo, the calls of the big cats and black bears can be heard echoing through the "wilderness". It is always a treat to see the activity at feeding time and a delight when new babies join the adults. Such is the case with the lovely Fosas, a rare predator from Madagascar who now have some adorable and playful cubs. Come and watch them scamper through the trees and leap with the greatest of ease. And the Naples Zoo is the only Zoo in Florida where you can have the opportunity to view Fosas!

And while we love the big cats (lions, tigers, panthers and leopards alike), we greatly enjoyed watching the chimpanzees play on their own Island. Boats navigate a small lake that passes by the chimp island and the viewing is greatly entertaining.

But I must confess to a keen infatuation with a silent large animal that graces the Naples Zoo, the gentle and bashful giraffe. These long lashed beauties are so gentle, you can truly view them up close and personal. And now, for the first time ever in Naples, you can hand-feed the new herd of seven reticulated giraffe at Naples Zoo. You get an incredible view as the world’s tallest animals lean down to nibble fresh veggies out of your hand. For a $5 fee, you'll receive a serving of tasty giraffe treats from Wynn's Market. It's an experience you won't forget.

In fact, when you get right down to it, the Naples Zoo in its entirety is an experience you won't forget!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How to Pamper Your Pooch on Sanibel

Because Sanibel Island is such a friendly place, including to pets, we are frequently asked for pet friendly accommodations. And we have several to offer, ranging from smaller condos to larger houses. But when our guests, both 2 and 4 legged, arrive---- the lodging now taken care of----the next objective is to make the tail waggers as comfortable as possible.

Of course, all the beaches on Sanibel are dog friendly, though Fido must be kept on a leash. Leashed dogs may frolic along any Sanibel beach, but Bowman's Beach stands out because anyone can park at its lot for 75 cents an hour. Most other beach-access parking lots are limited to cars bearing residential permits. For anyone sleeping in nearby Captiva Island, this is the nearest public beach that gives visiting dogs the green light.

Another of the many pet friendly beaches of Sanibel Island, Algiers Beach makes a great escape for you and Fido since it's located adjacent to a portion of a nature preserve. Dogs are allowed on a leash, and owner's must clean up after their pets. There are picnic tables and restrooms available, and an hourly parking fee is charged between the hours of 7 am to 7 pm (free after 7 pm).

One nice thing to do for your best friend is to take the fellow or gal to Island Paws for a refreshing grooming. Although Island Paws caters to both dogs and cats in their merchandise, the bathing facilities are strictly canine. There are two kinds of dog wash options at Island Paws:

Self-Serve Dog Wash

Includes raised tubs, professional sprayers, all natural shampoos, towels, professional grooming tables, brushes, combs, toenail clippers and forced-air (unheated) dryers. All you need is a dirty dog!

Full-Service Wash

For those occasions when you'd like to have someone else do it, Island Paws will be more than happy to wash your dog. Best to make an appointment, but drop-ins are also welcome.

And if you find that you will be tied up one day (or more) and not able to walk your own pooch, there are services on Island that will ensure that your pup gets its exercise. One of these is Doggone Walkin, a dog walking as well as pet sitting, one woman operation. According to Doggone Walkin's website: "Whether the owner is going on vacation, taking a trip off-island, working long hours or just physically incapable of taking care of their pet's needs I am here to help! Big or small dogs, I take them all. (Big dogs are actually my specialty.) Administering medications, feeding, helping with behaviour problems are all included in my one low price. No added charges for holidays or extra pets within one household."

And while no one wants to think their furry friend might get ill on vacation, should that happen, there are clinical veterinary services on the Island that also provide the following: Animal Boarding, Animal Daycare, Animal Flea Control, Animal Microchipping, Bird Vet, Exotic Animal Vet, Holistic Veterinary Medicine, Reptile Vet, Small Animal Vet, Spaying/Neutering, Veterinarians, Veterinary Dentistry, Veterinary Docking, Veterinary Euthanasia, Veterinary Medical Specialties, Veterinary Surgery. The Coral Veterinary Clinic is conveniently located on Periwinkle Way and is open from 9 to 4, Mondays through Fridays with week-end coverage off Island.

In fact, when it comes to your pampered pet, Sanibel does, indeed, have you covered!