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maribethp Jan 12th, 2009 12:36 PM

Time for Sanibel
We will be spending two weeks on Sanibel Island in mid to late Feb. Anyone have any suggestions of nice places to visit, stuff to do there?

elsiemoo Jan 12th, 2009 01:23 PM

In Sanibel, you sleep, eat at good restaurants, bike if that's your thing, take boat rides or go kayaking, swim, take a tour at Ding Darling, walk on the beach and SHELL, SHELL, SHELL! :) Sanibel's charm lies in the fact that it's very low-key and natural, not much to do except for the above. (At least, that's my experience.) I love it.

HotWheels Jan 12th, 2009 04:19 PM

In addition to the previous poster's fine recommendations -

Visit the Thomas Edison home in Ft. Myers (short drive nearby)

If you're a baseball fan, drive into Ft. Myers & watch Spring Training.

Walk around the shops at Sanibel.
Get a box lunch from the grocery & have a beachside picnic.
Go to the local theatre productions.
Enjoy the great dessert cakes at "The Bubble Room" on Captiva Island (connected to Sanibel by small bridge).
Go fishing (on bridge or deep-sea)
Go golfing
Check the local papers for classes on what to do with your shell collection.
Drive to Tampa (stay overnight 1 night) - Visit Busch Gardens

Most of all, relax & enjoy your vaction!!! Have fun!!!

maribethp Jan 12th, 2009 04:22 PM

Such nice helpful ideas. thanks a bunch.

dfr4848 Jan 13th, 2009 08:39 AM

Agree with the above. Sanibel/Captiva was a great relaxing vacation. Just wanted to empasize the shelling. It really is excellent - probably the best in the US. As the guides or anyone else will tell you, you just can't take any that are alive. It's really a treat.

Honoria_Glossop Jan 13th, 2009 09:39 AM

I recommend hiring a guide to take you all over Pine Island Sound which is on the back side of Sanibel. This is an amazing area and you will see mangroves covered with pink birds (roseates, not flamingoes), a floating island of white pelicans, dolphins that will approach your boat if you have an experienced fishing guide (they come for handouts), see through the clear water many fish, see hundreds of birds, maybe a manatee. You can have lunch at Cabbage Key (much better if you do not go on a tour boat) or maybe North Captiva.

maribethp Jan 13th, 2009 03:22 PM

OK. But, remember me. I am the one who is afraid of alligators.

zztopz Jan 13th, 2009 04:05 PM

Go to Ding Darling nature preserve. There is a nice welcome center/nature center. Take a tram/open-air bus tour. We like to take the last one of the day. The lighting is different outside and it's very enjoyable. Also, in Captiva there are boat tours that are nice. Here is their web site: We've taken the "out island cruises". They go to varius islands. One has homes on it that people live in. Very interesting. You can have lunch at the inn. The second goes to another island. There we had lunch at the restaurant where "Cheeseburger in Paradise" was supposedly written.

Honoria_Glossop Jan 14th, 2009 02:45 AM

Alligators will not approach a fishing guide boat. I have lived here 14 years and spent endless time on Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Island Sound and have not encountered an alligator yet in these areas, althought there are many around.

The one that I did see close up was on a golf course in Bonita Springs behind a multi-million dollar home and he just walked out of the retention pond, snarfed down a little bird and went back in the water. HG

betsym Jan 15th, 2009 05:02 AM

In addition to all the other good ideas, I love the shell museum on Sanibel (I think - if not Captiva). Another great thing to do is rent a kayak and wander on your own. We live on an island north of there and visit Sanibel often.

elmom Jan 15th, 2009 06:35 AM

our favorite restaurant in sanibel is the hungry heron -- not much to look at from the outside but a great, huge menu with everything from burgers to full dinners. Also the laughing cow is good.

Honoria_Glossop Jan 15th, 2009 09:42 AM

elmom: I think you mean "Island Cow", a family place and usually crowded. Do they still do the mooing contests. Fun to see grandparents and kids having fun together. Food is ok, the owner used to own RC Otters on Captiva.

Hungry Heron is definitely a kids place. You either like it or hate it but it is well run, or at least used to be. Things change rapidly on Sanibel.

Top restaurant for adults is Sweet Melissa's which was formerly Red Fish Blue Fish and Twilight Cafe before that and who knows before that. It is excellent and serves the best food on the island. HG

deborahelliott Jan 15th, 2009 01:32 PM

We visited Sanibel with our two teenage boys and our favorite activity was renting scooters! We rode everywhere on them, even out to Captiva island and it was a blast. We stayed at the Sunset beach resort because they have a giant swimming pool and it was lovely. On the days we didn't rent scoooters we lazily rode bikes everywhere, we did not even consider renting a car. We made it our goal to try the Key Lime pie in every restaurant! We also collected tons of shells, soaked them in bleach water and brought them home. They now sit in our living room reminding us of our most relaxing vacation ever!

loftymaples Jan 15th, 2009 04:05 PM

I hired a shelling guide, Captian Mike Fuery, who was referred to in an Sanibel article in Martha Stewart's old Living magazine. It was the absolute highlight of our trip.

Captain Mike took us out early in a smaller boat, we saw dolphins feeding and for several hours we were the only people on the Cayo Costa beach. We came home with wonderful shells.He was friendly, professional, nice to my children. We went to DisneyWorld on the same vacation and my kids still talk about shelling more than "the world".

We also did a Captiva Cruise. Larger boat, many many people but it was fun to see the dolphins swim beind the boats wake.

My other favorite place was the Sanibel Public Library. It overlooks the water and has a long porch filled with rocking chairs - might be nice only if you like a nice place to read.

RC Otters on Captive was our favorite place to eat; all meals were wonderful, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Bubble Room was fun but very expensive. My husband still talks about the Orange Cake he ate at the Bubble Room-maybe just go for dessert?

lukehead Jan 16th, 2009 09:36 AM

We've been vacationing on Sanibel twice a year since 1980. The first two trips we did the tourist things like Edison complex in Ft Myers, riverboat tours, dolphin encounters, Tampa/Busch Gardens. Since then we have plenty to keep us happy on the island. The beaches are wonderful for shelling, swimming, meditating, walking. Bailey Shell Museum is a must do as is Ding Darling. Great food all over the island. Our favorite place is the original Lazy Flamingo just before the Blind Pass Bridge. Visitors and locals enjoy serving themselves and playing the hook and ring game along with the freshest fish and seafood. Shopping is good all over the island. We often eat in. It's the one time I willingly will cook each night. Again, great fresh fish and fresh air make for super meal and we can eat in our swim suits if we wish. Our children were 3 and 9 when we began vacationing there. They were always happy to have the bike trails, sand and water as their entertainment sources. They are now 32 and 38 and still anxious to spend time with the parents as long as it's on Sanibel. To me Sanibel is heaven on Earth.

maribethp Jan 16th, 2009 01:07 PM

Wow!!! AM I anxious to go now. Will there be bugs or reptiles?

maribethp Jan 18th, 2009 04:44 PM

Someone in another post said the bay side of the gulf is too cold for swimming in winter.What about that?

Honoria_Glossop Jan 19th, 2009 02:24 PM

Lukehead: my favorite is the original Lazy Flamingo also. We go out there just for the fresh oysters. They will cook your own fish if you want.

My favorite LF story took place several years ago. We were having beer and wings there after a long day when who should walk in but John F Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bisset. Everyone recognized them but no one asked for pictures or autographs, their privacy was respected. They had a couple of beers, grouper sandwiches, played with the ring and left. I was told the next day someone came by to thank the restaurant for not trying to capitalize on their patronage. That is what I used to love about Captiva and think it might come again. We have had a few years of ghastly ostentation, but the island seems to be settling back. HG

SB_Travlr Jan 23rd, 2009 10:03 AM

Maribeth, the swimming in the gulf question is really unpredictable. Depends on the weather -- if it's been cool (which it was recently) water may be too cold for you. Unless you like to swim in, say, Maine...

I'm just not that keen to swim when the sand is churned up and I can't see what just brushed against my leg. Lots of creatures of all size in those fertile Gulf waters. :-)

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