Friday, April 24, 2009

Discoveries in Sanibel's Ding Darling Preserve

The poster used to advertise Ding Darling Days pretty much says it all. The color artwork displays many of the flora and fauna to be found in this unique Nature Preserve. But some of the detail is so subtle that a casual glance will miss it. (hints: look for the raccoon tail, the bobcat's paw prints and the tiny sand crab!)

As the saying goes, and is most definitely true in this case,
art is imitating life.The Ding Darling Nature Preserve can be visited every day of the year it is open, and each day will offer a new discovery. But these "hidden" creatures are there all the time, you are just not seeing them. Like the raccoon, bobcat and crab in the promotional art, the creatures in Ding Darling are out in the open many times, but the natural camouflage or hurried viewing will keep them from being sighted.

Ding Darling is a very
special natural habitat and is the defining attribute to Sanibel Island. Many towns share the same Gulf, some even have good shell collecting, but none of them have Ding Darling!

The Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is one of over 500 United States Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S Department of Interior refuges managed within the country.Regular wildlife surveys are conducted to monitor populations of migratory birds and their production, and to establish trends for a number of species, primarily birds. The refuge monitors colonial nesting and roosting bird numbers, shorebird populations, mottled duck, pelican and osprey production, and alligator and red-shouldered hawk abundance.

A weekly Wildlife Drive survey is conducted on Fridays, when the Reserve is closed to the public, to monitor the abundance and diversity of bird populations using refuge wetlands. Water levels are monitored continuously.
Ding Darling Days are a series of events held in October when the whole family can enjoy the Refuge in a variety of ways.There are bike tours and kayak tours.

There are cruises and lectures and birding caravans. But you don't have to wait until October to discover Ding Darling for yourself. The biggest attraction, the Refuge's residents, are there all year long and challenging you to find them. Bring your binoculars and your quietest behavior and you will be sure to be delighted with what Ding Darling has to offer!

Friday, April 17, 2009

East End, West End: Sanibel Island from the seat of a Bike

There are lots of ways to see Sanibel, but biking is arguably the nicest. And, if one chooses, there are several different routes a biker can take thereby varying their scenery and experiences from day to day.

There are loops and trails through out the Island. On the East End, one might choose to do the Light House Loop, beginning or ending with the famous Sanibel Light House. This loop will take the biker on a nice little jaunt along Middle Gulf Drive, where the beautiful Gulf of Mexico will gleam in shades of emerald to your left as you bike down the road. Come back around on Tarpon Bay Road past all the great little shops on Periwinkle and through the Dunes neighborhood. Like all the biking in Sanibel, the flatness of the Island and the extremely polite and courteous car drivers makes biking both easy and safe.

But if the near 17 mile Lighthouse bike loop seems a little too strenuous for you, an alternate trip might be an inland route through the Ding Darling Nature Preserve which is under 8 miles. This will eliminate the furthest eastern portion of the Lighthouse loop and give you time and opportunity to stop at the Island's only "fast food" eatery, the Sanibel Dairy Queen, for a delicious and refreshing DQ. The return trip cuts through the City Park trail and the Sanibel Cemetery.

If you prefer not to ride the bike trails and strike out a little more independently, you might want to explore the West End of the island and go off the bike trails to do a little exploring. Begin your tour at the exit of Ding Darling Nature preserve and turn onto Wilfert Road. You will enter The Sanctuary at this junction, an exclusive and lush community.

This impressive community was developed in such a way that even the huge homes do not obscure the natural beauty of the area. The homes in this community are surrounded by the serenity and exotic wildlife of the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve, ensuring the community stays true to its name and offers the undulating views from your bike seat of the drop dead gorgeous golf course.But don't worry, you don't have to live in The Sanctuary to enjoy great golfing on Sanibel. There are several public golf courses that are quite lovely and totally accessible.

Exiting the Sanctuary, and perhaps more to your liking if you value history, is the next turn of the bike wheel onto Dinkins Lake Road and then onto Henderson with a turn on Starling Way. This enclave of mostly small homes is "olde Sanibel". Though newer, larger homes have been built, the neighborhood is probably much like it was 50 years ago. The larger lots seem particularly expansive as the land to house ratio is so much greater than in the much more upscale Sanctuary.

The lagoons, lakes and creeks criss crossing this area add to its charm and the feel of secluded country life. This area of Sanibel is not large and its relative small size and very tucked away location make it a real find from a bike and only a 4 to 5 mile easy ride.

If one plans efficiently, there is a bike ride a day possible for your week's stay on the Island. All are quite lovely and worth the time if you enjoy a good ride.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vacation Condo Spotlight
Loggerhead Cay
**Great for Families** **Pet Friendly**
**Wireless Internet Access**

This 168 unit complex is a true gem on Sanibel. Located on the East End of the island, Loggerhead Cay offers the best in resort style amenities at budget friendly prices. The spacious two bedroom, two bath units will sleep six guests comfortably and are fully equipped including a complete kitchen and washer/dryer. Go for a swim in the pool (it’s Junior Olympic size!) or enjoy the tennis and shuffleboard courts. There’s a grilling & picnic area with two stainless steel gas grills, and a clubhouse with kitchen facilities that will comfortably accommodate up to 30 persons. Loggerhead Cay also does its part to help the environment and has set up a recycling area for guests to utilize for recycling paper, plastic, glass and aluminum. Gorgeous landscaping abounds throughout the complex and the beach is just a short walk from your door. Loggerhead Cay’s location also gives you easy access off the island if you’re so inclined to venture to the mainland for a day of shopping or taking in a Spring Training baseball game. Whether you’re vacationing for a week or enjoying the winter season on the islands, you’ll find your spot at Loggerhead Cay!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Why Kids Love Sanibel (and you will, too)

Is your child an adventurous type? Is your child curious? Does your child love to swim? Love animals? Love discovering?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will quickly find out why kids love Sanibel.Where else can you vacation in the tropics, see dolphins dancing on the water, pink birds wading in lagoons, alligators lazing in the sun, and where you can parasail, swim and eat dinner in a place called The Bubble Room all in one day?

Now, we know you might well be exhausted at the end of a day like this, but isn't it a wonderful thought that your kids will be so satisfied and gratified that they will be more than willing to go to sleep at a reasonable hour? And that they will wake up (on their own!) so excited to see and do more that they already researched what the day should be and there is not even a whisper of boredom in their tone?

If you are tired of going it on your own with boating, biking and snorkeling adventures, there are planned activities as well. Sanibel Island offers a world of discovery, exploration, fun, adventure and education (sssh, just don't tell them it's educational and they'll LOVE it!).

Recently, marine biologist Bruce Neill and his wife, Evelyn Neill, founded the innovative Sanibel Sea School to fill a gap in the ecotourism world: educating kids through fun, hands-on activities about the importance of preserving the ecosystem. The school room for the Sanibel Sea School is the sea itself, the Gulf of Mexico.

Also of enormous instructional value is the Center for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (C.R.O.W.)The primary mission of CROW is the rescue, care, rehabilitation and eventual release back to the wild of sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife.

Inherent in this mission is the education of adults and children to insure their peaceful coexistence with their wild neighbors.C.R.O.W. provides educational opportunities for students from schools across the United States and other nations to participate in the wildlife rehabilitation process while introducing them to both Western and Eastern medical traditions.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is dedicated to preserving natural resources and wildlife habitat on and around Sanibel and Captiva islands. SCCF manages over 1300 acres of land on the islands (and owns an additional 500 acres on nearby Pine Island).

The SCCF Marine Laboratory actively conducts research in areas including seagrasses, mangroves, harmful algal blooms, fish populations and shellfish restoration. SCCF’s RECON (River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network) network of eight in-water sensors provides real-time, hourly readings of key water quality parameters – spanning a 90-mile area – which are available on their site. Their weather station provides current data from their station on Sanibel-Captiva Road on Sanibel.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. And, their educational staff works closely with area schools.

And for lots and lots of great ideas on things to do with kids, check out the activities at the City of Sanibel Recreation Center. The Center offers classes and loads of interesting events from photo opps with the Easter Bunny to family swims. Here's an interesting menu just recently posted on what the Center is doing now: "Hoist the anchors and prepare to explore uncharted video game waters! Challenge your dexterity and coordination with a variety of interactive Wii party games. Conquer Latin percussion using maracas in Samba de Amigo, test your balance with Wii Fit yoga, swing away with Wii Sports and sharpen your reaction time with WarioWare. Popcorn, light snacks and refreshments will be provided. This event is for youth in grades six through eight. Free for members and purchase of a day pass is required for non-members." Sounds like great fun!

Now, don't get us wrong. If you and the kids want to do nothing more than bob in the Gulf all day or sleep by the pool, that's perfectly OK with us. But isn't it nice that the whole family has so many good choices in what to do on Sanibel?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Summer Time Pleasures and Treasures on Sanibel

Some people may think that Sanibel is a ghost town in summer, and there is no denying it can get pretty hot and humid keeping visitors in the Gulf, in the pool or in the air conditioning in the hottest hours.

But the truth is that there are some very special aspects to vacationing on Sanibel in summer. And, in fact, this is no secret. While the Island does not attract quite the number of people in summer that it does in winter (which is part of its appeal) Europeans and local Floridians have realized that there are many pleasures in visiting Sanibel from June through August.

In this economy, taking a week or more for a vacation in a beautiful, tropical retreat might seem like a luxury.

But the value of a summer stay on Sanibel is, in part, its pure affordability. While prices on Caribbean island accommodations only decrease slightly in summer months, prices on Sanibel are cut in half from winter rates. Restaurants offer seating without waiting, air fares can often be found at remarkably low prices, and even car rentals are often at a discount.

But the question may be, " is there quality to be found in a summer stay on Sanibel?"

Well, consider this: The Gulf is generally so comfortable in temperature, one can spend hours in it without the slightest chill. The rain that comes is largely late afternoon and evening, and these summer storms create a sound and light show unparalleled. They leave the island wet and steamy, but by next morning there is barely a sign that they were ever there. The island never looks greener than in the height of summer.

The summer and the rain allow and invite you to explore other aspects of a Sanibel vacation. Go to the charming Sanibel library and browse the books. Take a stroll around Periwinkle Place and visit the shops. Or, have an early dinner at the Green Flash and watch the sound and light show. Situated on the waters of Roosevelt Channel, the restaurant overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway, the tranquil waters of Pine Island Sound, and the pristine beauty of Buck Key. A perfect spot to watch the Sanibel summer strut its stuff.

And, don't forget that your "virtual" resort at Sanibel Holiday provides you with a concierge service for all your needs, summer.... and all year long. Maybe that hot and humid afternoon will give you a chance to visit our office, check your email,send a fax, read a newspaper or simply open up your treasure-filled bag of goodies that you received on check in but have yet to explore.

Come visit Sanibel this summer and you will be delighted with all the pleasures and treasures to be found!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sanibel Holiday's Vacation Condo Spotlight
April's Featured Complex:
Sanibel Surfside

**Charming** **Convenient** **Great Amenities**

This small complex on the east end of Sanibel Island has just 38 units, making it the perfect size for an enjoyable vacation. The most unique feature of this property is its proximity to the beach; you’re just about 15 yards to the sand and another 15 yards down to the edge of the Gulf of Mexico! The views from #123 and #135 are fabulous – you can catch the sunrise in the morning and watch the dolphins frolic in the afternoon. Condos are an excellent value when choosing an accommodation for your vacation. With two bedrooms and two full baths, washer and dryer, fully stocked kitchen and all bed & bath linens provided for you, you’ll feel like your in a home-away-from-home; not an impersonal hotel room! Lush landscaping is found throughout the property and you are sure to enjoy the large pool, grills, tennis & shuffleboard courts; plus internet access, bicycles and beach equipment are provided in the units. You can’t go wrong when your vacation plans include a stay at Sanibel Surfside!