Friday, June 27, 2014

Water, Water everywhere.....But how do you get there? Sanibel Secrets Exposed.

It is no secret that Sanibel Island is an island, and by definition, surrounded by water.

Yet, if you are not staying at a Gulf front condo, you may be perplexed as to how you access the beaches on Sanibel.

So this is going to be a primer on where you can find the beach accesses and what you will find when you get there, as well as what to avoid. 

First, not all beaches are equal on Sanibel.

Some are better for nature viewing, some better for shelling, some better for swimming, some better for convenience to places to go for a snack. So please keep your highest priorities in mind when choosing the beach where you will spend the day.

Blind Pass Beach is a great place to start, especially if you are a shell collector. Located between Sanibel and Captiva, it is one of the most visible beaches and has easy access, assuming you can find a parking spot in close proximity.   The pass has been open for some while now with parking on both the Sanibel and Captiva sides. Both have very limited spaces and the Sanibel sides has many spots reserved for residents with certain passes only. Be aware, these lots are patrolled, so be sure you have your pre-paid parking tag showing, especially around noon and sunsets. You will get a ticket! Both sides are outstanding sunset locations. Also, as a very popular fishing spot, watch out for what gets attracted by the bait. Sharks like to hang out by passes, especially in the evening if the tides are changing.

Light House Beach is on the opposite end of Sanibel, furthest east and closest to the causeway.  This beach runs east west and collects shells from both the Gulf and San Carlos Bay area so you can get a wider selection. This public access beach is very popular with locals and day trippers as well as visitors. There are some dangerous rip tides in the area, so be careful if you walk out, but the water is shallow and warm for the most part and shelling is fair to great depending on the winds. The pier is a very popular fishing spot and the Lighthouse is a special and scenic backdrop. There is a walking trail. The beach is a good spot for miniature shells and has a big parking lot. This is the one beach lot that has 24 hours parking fees, so no matter when you stop, be sure to buy a pass,  and it is patrolled. Also, Lighthouse Beach is the best on island viewing spot for viewing the July 4th fireworks for both Sanibel and Ft Myers Beach. Wear Deep Woods Off!!!!!!!!

Bowman's Beach, again back on the West End, is a public beach with all the good and maybe not so good that implies.  Located mid way between the Causeway entrance to Sanibel and Captiva Island, Bowman's Beach used to be one of the less visited beaches, but the word is out and it's become bust much of the year. With over 200 parking spaces, it also has the largest capacity. There are picnic facilities and restrooms, but they are a long walk from the beach near the parking area. Many of the pines that had lined the beach and shaded the parking area are now gone, but Bowman's was a wide beach until winter storms narrowed it substantially. There is only limited development in the area, so there are fewer people looking for shells - usually. When you hit the beach, turn right and keep walking away from any crowd. Despite the beach crowds on some days, you can find lots of seclusion. Some folks even take advantage of the privacy of some areas of this beach to do a little topless or nude sunbathing. The police actively discourage this as it is against the law. Sanibel/Captiva beaches are very modest places.

Algier's Beach Sanibel (Gulfside City Park) is a mid-island beach off Casa Ybel and Algier's and not visited as much as others. There are picnic tables off the beach and a good sized parking lot. Access is just a short walk over a boardwalk from the lot to the beach. This area of the beach has rather limited condo development so it is much less crowded than the Tarpon Bay Beach area just a short distance away. It is worth finding this beach a little off the usual tourist path.

There are other island beaches, of course, but we'll let you find them on your own and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Five Good Reasons to Leash Your Pooch on Sanibel

Yes, it's true.

We love animals on Sanibel.

Whether they fly, or swim, whether they walk on all fours, whether they are domestic pets or residents of the nature preserve, we love them.

Tail waggers, aka dogs and pooches,  are especially loved on our little barrier island.

We welcome them in many pet friendly rentals.

We welcome them on our beaches. 

And we also protect them requiring that rental guests keep these special travelers close, do not allow them to play where the alligators lay, and asking that they be on flea and tick prevention.

We also have regulations that protect our native animals from possible mishaps that could be created by a wandering dog.  There are strict requirements about leashing, and with several good reasons:
1. IT PROTECTS SANIBEL’S SEA TURTLES! Wildlife has a place too. Don’t let your best friend become nature’s enemy. An unattended dog can dig up a sea turtle nest in the blink of an eye! With as few as one in 1,000 eggs reaching adulthood, the destruction of only a few nests can have a devastating effect on our sea turtle population.
2. IT PROTECTS SANIBEL’S SHOREBIRDS! Sanibel’s beaches serve as nesting grounds for shorebirds, including threatened least terns and snowy plovers. An unleashed dog can destroy a colony of beach nesting birds in minutes.
3. IT PROTECTS SENSITIVE BEACH DUNE VEGETATION! In addition to providing wildlife habitat, native beach dune vegetation protects the beach from erosion and aids in the protection of structures from wind and wave energy. Foot (and paw!) traffic can easily damage this unique plant community.
4. IT’S THE RESPONSIBLE THING TO DO! It is often the actions of just a few irresponsible people that cause local governments to ban dogs from a popular area. By keeping your dog on a leash and making sure to ALWAYS "scoop the poop", you can help keep Sanibel’s beaches "dog- friendly".
5. IT’S THE LAW! Section 10-62 of the Sanibel Code states that it is unlawful for the owner of any dog to permit such dog to be at large (without a leash) in or on any public right-of-way, beach, or other public property, or upon any private property without the consent of the owner of such property. A leash must be no more than eight (8) feet in length. Sanibel’s laws also require cleaning up dog waste as dog waste poses additional hazards to people, water quality and wildlife habitat.
So let's keep it simple and keep it safe.  Keep Fido on a leash, for everyone's sake!