Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why Snowbirds Love Sunny Sanibel

I know it's impolitic to focus on any particular group of people in talking about vacations to an Island that caters to every need.

And it's also dangerous to generalize about any segment of the population.

So let me lead off this blog post with two intertwined statements.

All are invited and enjoy Sanibel Island. And, age is just a number, so much of what I say does apply to almost all visitors to the Island.

OK, I hope that that sets the tone and that everyone who reads this post feels welcomed and included.

It's no exaggeration that a significant percentage of vacationers on Sanibel in winter are retirees. Some come for a week or two, some come for a month or three. The fact that the Island has as large an inventory of vacation rentals where there is some option for length of stay is one of the draws.

And, of course, there is the sun. A cold day on Sanibel is a warm day almost anywhere else. Not that snowbirds park themselves on the beach or at the pool. But anything done with sun on your back is certainly more enjoyable than coping with the cold and snow at home.

A bike ride in the sunshine is a pure delight and for anyone who does not want to cope with traffic, speeding cars and motorcycles, there are 12 miles of bike paths on the Island where a cautious rider can pedal with confidence.

Golf is a winter delight almost every day of the year, with two lovely public courses and most days illuminated with golden rays.

Still have time left? Shell collecting, bird watching, boating are all interesting alternatives to fill out your day.

And, best of all, if you are not only a snow bird, but a night owl as well, you will have many choices for an evening's pleasure. The Island is alive with the sound of music the entire high season. There are concerts and rehearsals as well as live performers at local eateries. There are lectures and symposia throughout the season as well. Plays at the School House Theatre or current movies at Island Cinema complete the roster for options for a great night out.

Regardless of your age, Sanibel holds lots of reasons to visit. And the lucky snow birds have the option to make a nest for a little longer!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rest, Relaxation and Romance on Sanibel: Just in Time for Valentines' Day

Though there have been many admonitions to "live in the present", this month I am spending a lot of time anticipating the future, the near future that is.

It's been a disconcerting January with unusually cool weather here and the most devastating international news with the earthquake in Haiti.

I want to fast forward and February is generally a warmer, sunnier month on Island with the increasingly nicer weather punctuated by my favorite holiday of the year, Valentines Day.

In fact, I am often asked how Valentine's can be celebrated on Sanibel?
How can you celebrate this lovely holiday on a tropical island?

Romantic expression is all over so you barely need to try! Begin by taking a long walk with your special Valentine along the beach barefoot at dawn.

Build a sand castle together at water's edge.

Return home and make a cup of herb tea sweetened with honey and whipped with some milk.

Or sleep in and have breakfast at Amy's cafe. Then rent a tandem bike to tour the Island. Stop at Wilford and Lee or Pandora's Box and buy some pretty Island charm for each other to take home.

Take a cooling dip in the pool then apply scented sunscreen to each other in a loving way. Dry off and read poetry to one another under a swaying palm.

Enjoy an afternoon nap with a bottle of champagne and some sweets from The Cheese Nook at bedside.

Enjoy a sunset cruise and the music of Danny Morgan. Return to land and have dinner at the Gulf front Thistle Lodge.

Rent a romantic movie from The Video Scene and take it back to your condo with you. But first drive out to Captiva to watch the moon over the water and have a nightcap at the water front Green Flash.

Watch your video in the dark with candles as your only light source.

I can think of dozens of things to do, but why do them all this year?

Make plans to come back every Valentine's Day and explore the romance the Island has in store!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thrills and Chills On and Around Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is a natural, peaceful, tropical retreat. But don't let that fool you into thinking that it is dull.

Those with a keen spirit of
adventure can find plenty to do on the Island And for those seeking some hair raising activities, you will not be disappointed.

For starters, perhaps you might like to take a
peek at the Gulf from a unique perspective.

There are several options in para sailing, including whether you want to go solo, side by side or as a three some. I'm told that the launch is much less intimidating than other locales as you are lifted from a platform rather than from the water. The landing, too, is a bit less frightening. But regardless of your choice in seating and your ability to launch on dry land, the
thrill is there. With no mountains or tall buildings on Sanibel or Captiva, your para sail experience will give you a view of the Gulf you won't find anywhere else!

And for those seeking thrills directly on the water, there are several deep sea and flats fishing charters on and around Sanibel. Many of these offer no fish, no pay policies, so you have to imagine the fishing has to be quite good to
guarantee a catch. And these are not little fish we are talking about. Depending on the season, you'll be able to catch giant tarpon of an average weight of one hundred pounds and reaching two hundred pounds. Kingfish, Barracudas, Cobia, as well as Sharks and Tuna make for memories and pictures that last a lifetime.

There are many other ways on and around Sanibel to pump up your adrenalin from kiteboarding to kite sailing with huge kites that can knock you over and nearly
carry you away.

But one experience I have yet to explore is the Calusa Ghost Tour. Though John Paeno, called Calusa John, warns that folks looking for a cheap thrill are not his designated audience, the kind of stories he tells will certainly transport you to a different time.

The Calusa Ghost Tours just opened on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs, a short jaunt from Sanibel.
The business will sell and rent new and used kayaks and canoes and offer excursions such as kayak fishing, camping and hiking on Mound Key around shell mounds the Calusa built. But the most fascinating aspect will be the stories told on the tours Paeno conducts.

He will share stories, involving romance, raids, outlaws and just everyday life, during tours and events.
“If you’re looking for stories about a lost culture and a lost civilization, about ancient technology and the way they lived, I’m the guy", Paeno claimed of his tours on One thing for sure, you will not be bored on Sanibel.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bright Beginnings for a New Year on Sanibel

Happy New Year, one and all!

After all the lights and hoopla of the holidays, January can be a bit of an anti-climax to December.

Aside from the drop in morale, there is also a bit of a drop of temperature in the year's first month as well.

So those of us who live, work and play on Sanibel try to do things that are fun and interesting in January to counter the after holiday blues.

Fortunately, there are so many things to do in January, we have no problem finding "spirit lifters".

Here's a very small sample of what's on the Island's and environs calendar for January:

  • Mary Alice Monroe will appear at the Sanibel Island Bookshop, located at 1571 Periwinkle Way, on Friday, Jan. 23 starting at 11 a.m. She will be reading from and signing copies of her latest best-seller, "Last Light Over Carolina."

  • Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: Illuscination
    Thursday, January 7 – Sunday, January 10, 2010 Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Fort Myers
  • Florida’s Creative Coast Weekend
    Friday, January 8 – Sunday, January 10, 2010, Pine Island, Matlacha, Cultural Weekend Events Thursday, January 14 – Saturday, February 6, 2010
  • The Shirelles
    Monday, January 25, 2010 Broadway Palm Theatre, 1380 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers, Live Dinner Theater Performance
And don't forget the line up at Big Arts on Sanibel!

Classical Afternoon

Sunday, January 10, 2010, 3:30 p.m.
Reception with the artists following performance

The IU Jacobs School of Music Starling Chamber Players uniquely combines the talents of two of North America's finest chamber music instrumentalists with a group of world-class students from the renowned Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. A program rich with sparkling virtuosity and variety makes this is a concert not to be missed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010, 8 PM

Hailed by The Washington Post as a "polished" and "ravishing" piano trio, the N-E-W Trio has emerged as one of the nation's most promising young ensembles. The N-E-W Trio's members, Andrew Wan, violin; Gal Nyska, cello; Julio Elizalde, piano are currently pursuing graduate, artist diploma, and doctoral degrees at The Juilliard School. Each member has individually won Juilliard's concerto competition leading to performances at Lincoln Center.

These were chosen from literally dozens of events on and near Sanibel. If you are coming for a week, you are sure to find several nice options during your stay, but you might want to linger longer given all the great choices of things to do!