Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sea Turtle Nesting Serious on Sanibel

We are going to forgo using this blog post for commercial messages as--- if there is one take away we want to promote--- it is to TAKE CARE of the nesting sea turtles on our Island.

If the residents of any community ever were, the people of Sanibel and Captiva Islands are sea turtle-oriented. A successful sea turtle research and conservation effort was founded on the islands in 1959. Sea turtle egg hatcheries to protect eggs from predators, tagging of nesting adult female loggerheads, some hatchling head-starting efforts, and public education were among the workload of dedicated volunteers. The first documented instances of multiple nesting by Gulf Coast loggerheads and East Coast-tagged loggerheads later discovered re nesting on Sanibel were recorded. Field studies also revealed that loggerheads are not as faithful in their selection of nesting sites as was supposed. Some female loggerheads moved along the Florida coast as far as fifty miles during their 11-day inter nesting interval. But despite the natural appeal of the Island for sea turtles, they desperately need your help!

It is a rare and special sight to come across a nesting sea turtle. Unfortunately, this nesting season, beginning in May and lasting til October, there have been numerous instances of beachgoers interfering with the nesting attempts of these ancient creatures, sometimes willfully. There have been nesting attempts abandoned due to furniture, tents, and other debris left on the beach, as well as a number of nesting attempts interrupted by uneducated beachgoers. After a certain number of attempts, a sea turtle that has been unable to nest will eject its eggs in the water, so failed nesting attempts matter greatly.

Sea turtles are federally protected by the Endangered Species act making it illegal to interfere with their nesting and hatching in any way. Things that fall under this category include:
  • Leaving furniture, tents, and toys on the beach
  • Approaching a nesting sea turtle (especially with a flashlight)
  • Interfering with hatchlings or using flash photography or flashlight of hatchlings
  • Taking flash photographs of sea turtles

It is important to remember that the city ordinances require dark beaches and require all beachgoers to take everything off the beach by 9 p.m. These ordinances exist to protect sea turtles and ensure their continued survival for generations to come.

Sea turtles are easily disturbed by movement, lights, and noise. If you encounter a sea turtle on a nighttime stroll, please, keep a respectful distance (at least 150 ft) and watch quietly.

The nesting numbers are down this year statewide. Added to the catastrophic effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a successful nesting season on Sanibel and Captiva islands can help sea turtles throughout the gulf survive and rebound.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Money Saving Tips for your Trip to Sanibel

Sanibel Island is a tropical paradise. A small, barrier island with nearly 2/3 of the land protected as a nature preserve, it offers the vacationer an unparalleled value for a tropical get-away. But all this abundance of greenery, wild life and undisturbed beaches----complemented by nice restaurants and lovely shops---puts the Island at a higher price point than many Florida beaches on the mainland. You do get what you pay for...but, there are some ways to cut expenses that might make the Sanibel holiday within your reach.

Of course, and at no surprise at all, renting a condo, home, cottage or villa is going to make the Island more affordable if you are coming with several in your vacation party. Renting multiple rooms in any of our lovely inns or hotels will be considerably more expensive. And, as most people do realize, coming off season (generally May 1 to Christmas week) to Sanibel will save you plenty, where ever you stay!

But having made that decision, where else can you save?

The first and most obvious way to save is to buy your food out and cook in. Both Island grocery stores, Jerry's and Bailey's, have a large selection of items making your meal planning easy and practical. They even offer alternative food choices for those who have allergies or preferences off the beaten path of menu planning. I mean, just think about it? A family of 4 going out to breakfast can easily top $30 for a round of tasty and satisfying breakfast food. That $30 will buy a whole lot of eggs, bread and bacon!

But when you do opt to eat out, there are definitely some places that will save you a good deal of money. No, it's not fine dining, but it is fun dining. And for lunch or quick dinner, you will walk away filled and satisfied. There are many options, but our favorites are the Cafe at Jerry's, sharing a pizza at Matzaluna (imo the best on the Island), Dairy Queen's hamburgers are as good as any on Island and quite a bit less in pricing. Or just take some of your bounty purchased out and create a picnic for the beach, eating exactly what you want.

Although you probably need to have a car on Sanibel for your journeys (dinners out and off island explorations), you don't need to drive your car. The benefit to the environment, as well as your pocketbook, can be advantageous if you bring your bikes to "our bike friendly" community. A ride around the island, through Ding Darling and to various shops and eateries is not only safe and fun, it is the frugal and environmentally friendly thing to do.

If you have found some ways to save money on your vacation on Sanibel, we would love to hear from you!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Where Dolphins and Manatee Meet on Sanibel Island

Seeing dolphins on Sanibel Island is a treat, but a fairly common one.

They are not shy and are often seen swimming not far from the beach.

Because they are so comfortable with people, they even come close into the shore line, frolicking and chasing each other about.

And almost any boat trip will be an inviting opportunity for a family of dolphin who love to splash and jump in the wake of motorized boats.

Manatees are a lot more reserved, moving at a much slower pace and not nearly as visible.

So having a chance to see dolphin and manatee together and close up is a real treat.

And that is exactly what happened recently when we and some friends, new to Sanibel, took the late day Dolphin Watch and Wildlife Cruise that leaves from South Seas Plantation. This cruise is the perfect family cruise as it leaves at 4 p.m. and returns at 5:30, allowing the day to be filled with beach and bike time and for dinner plans to go uninterrupted. The narration on board the cruise is provided by volunteers from the Sanibel and Captiva Conservation Foundation, and they are an exceptionally well versed and entertaining group, providing information on the history, culture and wild life during the entire cruise.

As happens 95 percent of the time, dolphin do flock behind the boat, but before the boat even takes off, sun shining, palm trees waving in the breeze, possibly the best part of the adventure happens right at the dock.

There, dolphins can be seen cavorting in their wild and fun filled style, and if you look closely, it is likely that you will see a manatee or two moving about under and near the piers.

Big lumbering creatures, they are a little frightening to see, but are truly gentle and pose no threat or danger.

As many years as we have made explorations on and around Sanibel, there have been few occasions where both dolphins and manatees were so close by and observable.

We highly recommend this cruise and at only $25 per person, it is affordable besides being a great deal of fun!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Eateries, Menus and Places to Whet Your Appetite on Sanibel

Although many, many restaurants on our little island have been around for quite some time, there are always new ones popping up. Or restaurants that have changed their menus sufficiently to merit notice. And there are before dinner places emerging where a sip or two might make a nice prelude to a great dinner.

Because there are so many new alternatives, for this blog post we will stay with actual restaurants that have burst onto the Sanibel scene and will fill in other choices at a later date.

And speaking of sipping, as we did above, one place we have heard great things about, but have not yet tried is Cip's Place on Periwinkle Way. Cip's intrigues us as much for its history as it does for its edible offerings. Named for long time Islander Jimmy Cipriani. Jimmy, or "Cip," was the former owner of the property where Cip's is located. He was a common sense, down to earth man who always had a story to share, a cause to support and.most importantly an invitation to lunch or dinner.Jimmy always made time for good conversation, good company and great food.

Cip's menu is a casual as Cip was himself. It's inventive and as flexible as your budget allows. "Islander Favorites" which are served from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. are inexpensively priced and even the slightly more sophisticated dinner menu is fun and funky and a little less costly than other Island restaurants. And you can meet and greet with a glass of wine or beverage of your choice during Cip's happy hour. Cip's also offers outdoor dining which is pet friendly!

Another "newbie" on the Island scene is The Stone Crab, another place we have yet to try but are hearing nice things about. Again, casual and fun, The Stone Crab, located on West Gulf Drive offers their servings in baskets. During season the restaurant had live entertainment and is viewed as a great place for an easy family night out.

One restaurant we have had occasion to try and were pleased with the choice is George and Wendy's Corner Grill, also on Periwinkle. George and Wendy's has a most pleasant atmosphere, colorful yet chic with lots of wonderful island and water related art.

The sleek tables are inviting as is the menu. Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a kid's menu, George and Wendy's has something to meet every taste... and that includes those who just want to stop in for a drink There is an extensive wine list, and is served both by the glass and the bottle. There are ten beers on tap and many craft beers by the bottle. The full bar includes some signature drinks for those looking for something special.

Twilight, another Periwinkle dining treat and newly relocated, offers intimate dining with an open to public view kitchen. Special dining includes build your own pasta options and build your own dinner options. Mix and match as you please!

Stay tuned for more updates...same page, same place....