Friday, January 31, 2014

What to do? It's Raining on Sanibel Island!

Yes, some rain must fall even in Paradise.

And this month of January has proved the maxim.

It has been unusually damp and drizzly for much of the month.

Great for the flora, but not particularly appreciated by rental guests.

Quite a few years ago, we gave some advice on rainy day activities.

And though that advice still stands, we only mentioned in passing our shopping on island.

Now we are going to provide some specifics on enhancing your stay!

A rainy day is the best excuse to peruse the array of island shops and art galleries. There are several quaint shopping centers located on Sanibel and Captiva, each housing locally owned shops with one-of-a-kind island mementos, clothing and that special gift.

Fashionistas: check out C. Turtles in the Tahitian Shopping Center. The cozy boutique features on-trend clothing and accessories, designer labels and island related wear.

In the Village Shopping Center, check out Sanibel Tropical Wines for a fun bottle of locally made tropical wines. Also in the Village Shopping Center, take a stroll to the Watson MacRae Art Gallery. This fine art gallery features pieces from distinguished island artist Hollis Jeffcoat, as well as sculptured and mixed media from hand-picked artists from throughout the country. Stop by and say hello to bubbly owner Maureen Watson.

If you are on Captiva Island stop by Jungle Drums Art Gallery located in the Village Center on Andy Rosse Lane. The shop is infused with eclectic gifts and an art gallery – a great way to wait out a passing rainstorm.

Island Style in the lively Sanibel Periwinkle Place has unique original art with an island flair.  You can even find paintings, furniture, pottery and jewelry in Island Style.

Have energy to spare?  Then stay in Periwinkle Place and stop at Peach Republic.  Peach Republic features an impressive variety of upscale women's casual clothing in assorted colors and fabrics including designer names such as Sigrid Olsen and Telluride.  You'll be able buy Sanibel Perfume at this shop.  Isn't that peachy?

But don't feel compelled to just shop in our local.  We have national stores as well.  For those who love Eileen Fisher clothes, the shop on Sanibel is a must do. Open every day of the week, the collections and the petite sections are generally reliable for finding "just the right thing."  And Chico's was on Sanibel before it opened any other shop, so you will get a piece of nostalgia in your shopping bag along with that perfect accessory or blouse.

But those not keen on shopping need not worry. February is generally a warmer , sunnier month than January.  So if you prefer not to shop, you will have your picks from beaching, biking and birding, and dozens of other activities as well!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Life Well Spent on Sanibel: Ikki Matsumoto

The end of December also brought with it the end of the earthly presence of one of Sanibel's most beloved residents: Artist Extraordinaire, Ikki Matsumoto.

His art work was appreciated and known throughout the world.  He was commissioned in 1972 to illustrate The Joy of Cooking, one of the most widely published U.S. cookbooks. First Lady Nancy Reagan later chose him to paint a White House Easter egg in 1985.

A quiet man , Matsumoto made a dramatic impact on the Sanibel art scene.

In 1987, Ikki Matsumoto and his wife, Polly,  moved an old house on Sanibel Island from the beach to Tarpon Bay Road and transformed it into their very first gallery.  Matsumoto stayed at home and created remarkable works of  art with Polly representing him.

He produced beautiful, stylized works about nature that made people smile and brightened up their day. His style was often reflective of the art created in Japan, his country of birth, as well as reflective of his gentle sense of humor.

It is easy to pick out a Matsumoto print, often one rejoicing in wild life.  The graceful Whooping Crane with one leg lifted, a whimsical black cat with feathers in its mouth, the touching first swim of mother and baby dolphin, the plump pelican squatting in Ding Darling, all beautiful prints to be cherished and admired are among the dozens of works produced by Ikki Matsumoto during his life on the Island.

The Matsumotos also played an integral role in the formation of BIG ARTS in the late 1970s, donating his designs for T-shirts, hats, and prints. People came from all over the world to ask where they could purchase his work. He helped jump start the art scene on Sanibel, not just in BIG ARTS but across the island.

According to Executive Director of Big Arts,  Lee Ellen Harder:   "The community loved his art work. When you thought of arts on Sanibel, you thought of Ikki Matsumoto. We are going to miss him."

And so will we all.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Touchy, Feely are Hallmarks of Sanibel Island

For a tiny island, Sanibel has so many things to see, hear, taste, smell and touch, it's no wonder the senses are often overwhelmed with even just a one week visit.

Though smell is considered our strongest sense, most people can easily connect with what they see.  And the Island's array of wild life, the presence of the Gulf, the beauty of the tropics are all easily observable.

But a living museum such as the Island itself, is distinguished from the ordinary museum in at least one way.

Here, touching is encouraged.

In fact there are at least 4 ways to touch that appeal to our vacation rental guests.

First is the person to island interaction that takes place on our beaches.  Here, with little effort, the sense of touch is quite satisfied with shell collecting.  Our shells, not only pleasing to the eye are also rewards to the touch.  Some are smooth and shiny, some ridged and gritty.  And a few even offer a sound to the ear that echoes the Gulf itself.  The large horse conch is one of our shells that sings the song of the sea to those lucky enough to spot one.

We also have a touch tank at Tarpon Bay Explorers for those who prefer an indoor setting  to experience the natural world.  Get to know some of Sanibel’s marine life during a naturalist-led
interactive presentation at our touch tank and aquarium display.  It’s hands-on fun for the whole family.

Tarpon Bay Explorer touch tanks are teaming with live shells, including lightning whelks, tulip snails, and conchs, plus sea stars, horseshoe crabs, sea urchins, hermit crabs, oysters, and more. Plus, their  aquarium displays will introduce guests to some of the more unusual fish in Tarpon Bay and the surrounding waters, including puffers, filefish, pipefish and sea horses!
But the touching does not stop at Tarpon Bay Explorers.
The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) offers a wide array of educational programs for people of all ages, from beach walks to trail walks, boat tours, wading trips and kayak tours plus classroom-based activities.
At their Nature Center on Sanibel, they have four miles of trails (with an observation tower), exhibits, a touch tank, butterfly house and Nature Shop.

Still want to put your finger on something special

Then you might want to consider the Sanibel Sea School. 

Sanibel Sea School/Captiva is an innovative assortment of experiential sea-based educational programs at a new campus in the heart of South Seas Island Resort. Popular since their inception five years ago on sister island Sanibel, the sea school boasts a unique hands-on curriculum "where every day is a field trip."

Sanibel Sea School’s Ocean Discovery Center is designed to provide guests a tantalizing taste of ocean exploration. There is something for the whole family in the ODC; those young at heart can challenge their senses in the tunnel of darkness or in the tactile tubes. Five aquaria let you see an array of marine habitats represented in southwest Florida and informative panels let you learn things about the ocean that you probably didn’t already know.

After all this touching, you may want to be "touched" yourself, so a perfect way to end the day may be a visit to one of our Island spas.  Doesn't a massage sound divine?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thinking of Having a Reunion? Think Sanibel!

If this past New Year's Eve's rendition of Auld Lang Syne brought a tug to your heart and possibly a tear to your eye, you are not alone.  The thought of old acquaintances , past times and family no longer with us does evoke an incredibly strong sense of nostalgia in many people.  The famous New Year's Eve music strikes an emotional chord that grows stronger each year.

Well, we on Sanibel, as much as we would like to, can't stop you from aging or even from feeling melancholy about aging.  But we can offer some Island advice that could do you as much good.

While our tropical barrier island is world renowned as a great place for a destination wedding and a fabulously romantic honey moon, it is also the perfect spot for a family or friends reunion.  A small island, it is easy to stay connected on Sanibel.  But with the diversity of accommodations as well as things to do, it is also perfect for a group that may have a wide range of needs and preferences.

In fact, we can't think of a better place to assemble family and friends where togetherness as well as apart-ness can be catered to for all ages and capabilities.

If your group is relatively small, and you are looking to stay while, you might consider renting a home or even two in close proximity for a few weeks.  Private houses on Sanibel range in style from the rustic to the romantic, from the cozy to the capacious.  Many have outdoor spaces where your group can gather to catch up on gossip or re-hash old times.  Some homes have pools, some have views, some even have access to tennis.  You can even bring your pets to some homes!

If you have a large group, you might want to consider one of our condo complexes where you can rent a block of units close together.  Our complexes range from the small and intimate with only a few condos to the resort style glamorous with many units.  Some have Gulf views and several have gym facilities. There are one bedroom units, two bedroom units and three bedroom units to choose from.  All have special features.

And where else can you find the ability to bask in beautiful topicality , just relax on the beach, swim, go para sailing, biking, boating, fishing, bird watching, shell collecting and sun set gazing all in one day?...if you have the energy that is!

If you have ever coordinated a reunion before and know the challenge of finding an attractive, appropriate, clean, engaging, affordable and safe location for people from 8 to 80, you will appreciate what our little island has to offer!