Best Florida Attraction? Vote J.N. “Ding” Darling

J N "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Internationally distributed American newspaper, USA Today, has asked readers to vote for their favorite Florida attraction! With several state attractions from Tampa Bay to Cape Canaveral and south to Miami and the Florida Keys, Sanibel Island’s very own J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge has made the list!

Click here to vote now!

Help make J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge the #1 attraction in by casting your vote on their website located here. Please note you can vote once per day until the contest is closed on Monday, January 15 at noon ET. Winners will be announced on Friday, January 19.

USAToday asks:

What do you imagine when you think of Florida? Is it the 825 miles of sun-kissed beaches or family-filled amusement parks? How about the art deco architecture or contemporary art scene? Or maybe it’s the sprawling Everglades teeming with life or stone crab claws enjoyed al fresco by the shore. There’s something for just about every visitor to love in the Sunshine State.”

Click here to vote now!

Why choose J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge?

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is your best chance to experience Florida in its most native state. The refuge is composed of many different water refuges that comprise a total of over8000 acres. 245 types of birds such as the beautiful roseate spoonbill, mammals such as manatees, raccoons, otter and other small critters, reptiles such as snakes, turtles and of course alligators, call the refuge home. Explore the various habitats where you may encounter many types of wildlife, birds, and beautiful tropical flora and fauna on a 5-mile trail accessible by foot, bike or car.

The refuge is also located within an estuary, the tidal mouth of a body of water where the tide meets the stream, which provides a rich environment for all kinds of life. All areas both wet and dry can be investigated and toured leisurely or with guides.  

Additionally, The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Nature Center located at the front of the park is an educational and fun experience for visitors of all ages.

The J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife refuge is located at 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel, FL 33957 and can be reached by telephone at (239) 472-1100

Vote today and every day until January 15, 2018!

Click here to vote now!

The Best Place To Watch The Sunset On Sanibel

Sanibel Fl Sunset

On Sanibel, we are blessed to experience over 300 days of sunshine each year. Our wonderful positioning on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico plus an extraordinary amount of sunlight provides plentiful opportunities to soak up one of the most spectacular shows in the world… a Sanibel Island sunset.

Our front desk staff is constantly “Where is the best place to watch the Sunset on Sanibel?”

Now, we may be biased but nothing is better than enjoying a spectacular show just steps from your very own private beach cottage. Grab some chairs, a cold drink, and hang out to watch day turn into night. Added bonus, because we are located on the south side of the island, we get awe-inspiring sunsets AND sunrises.

Ever heard of the “Green Flash?” Legend says if you don’t blink as the sun dips below the horizon for the last few seconds of the day, you will witness a green “spark” as the edge of the sun disappears into the sea. Keep your eyes wide open, the flash only lasts for a split second! Scientifically, the green flash occurs because the atmosphere can cause the light from the sun to separate out into different colors.

Want a change of scenery? Sanibel Island is host to plenty of picture perfect locations to savor the last moments of every day.  Consider visiting Blind Pass Beach. This beach is the most westerly region of Sanibel Island where visitors and locals can view the sunset in its full glory. Take note, this area is quite busy during peak season. For a unique, roadside experience, head to Causeway Islands Park and enjoy the show in the sky, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen!

Don’t forget, sunset is a great time to shell, or take that annual family photo!

What time does the sun set tonight? Check here.   

Yoga on Sanibel

Yoga Sanibel Island

Breathe deep… and get ready for an extra escape.

Close your eyes, get comfortable, and take a deep breath. You’ve arrived in paradise and are ready to delve deep into the world of yoga on Sanibel. Whether you’re an expert yogi or an amateur, there are plenty of options on Sanibel that will compliment your stay on the island.  Get ready to start, or end your say as you stand tall like a palm, bend like a wave, and channel your inner crab (yes, there is something called a crab pose).

Get in the zone at Sanibel Yoga with Dr. Susan Pataky, the owner and founder of one of the hottest yoga spots on Sanibel! Located at 2173 Periwinkle Way, Dr. Pataky has been teaching the healthful benefits of yoga and meditation for over 40 years. As a long-time Sanibel Island resident, she has offered health and wisdom to both islanders and visitors alike for many years. She conducts sessions conveniently at the Sanibel Community House on Periwinkle Way. Contact Susan today to reserve your spot in her legendary class. She can be reached at 239-738-3856.

Experience the thrill of “Stillness to Movement” at Ambu Yoga. Hope in your car and venture up to Captiva (the drive is beautiful), to experience a class at Ambu Yoga. Join either an outdoor or indoor class and experience the beauty of the islands while connecting with nature and yoga disciplines. Sign up for class on their website and don’t forget to bring a few extra dollars to spend in their amazing eco-boutique. Hint: Ambu Yoga is located at South Seas Island Resort, at the plaza across the street from Starbucks.

Last, experience the best in wellness on Sanibel with Sanibel Pilates and Yoga. At Sanibel Pilates and Yoga, “Empowering Your Health and Wellness” is the goal and a wonderful group of teachers and artists are waiting to show you a beautiful experience in their studio. Relax and make new friends at 975 Rabbit Road.

If you’ve never tried yoga, we encourage you to take some time during your time on the island to explore everything the island has to offer.

Where to get the best Seafood on Sanibel?

Seafood Sanibel Gulf Breeze Cottages

When you travel to Florida, most visitors are excited to enjoy the beach and all of the shells that are found across our famous Sanibel shelling beach probably. Next, one of the most important activities our visitors look forward to is savoring the flavor of local, fresh seafood. Southwest Florida is home to wonderful local delicacies from the sea that you will not find back home!  Sanibel Island is lucky to have a vast array of fantastic restaurants that serve up fresh seafood daily to not only hungry guests to our area, but to the locals as well.

We’d like to take you on a short tour of those eateries that are famous for their great seafood.

Starting with Timbers on Tarpon Bay Road,  you can enjoy a fantastic meal of fresh catch and as they say, dine with the locals. They serve up fish caught that morning and served to you by lunch or dinner.  Great ambience and not priced too high.  From there we move along to Traders on Periwinkle Way which delights the palate with a multi-faceted menu with island favorites in a typical Sanibel atmosphere, but with a twist as they also opens up to a gift shop with fun items for souvenirs for your friends, families or yourself.  Friendly and fun is always on the menu at Traders. On to Doc Ford’s on Island Inn Road where they are enjoying their new location in grand style!  Named after a character from the island’s famed writer Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford series you can also find the writer hanging out there and grab any one of is extremely popular Sanibel based crime novels and get an autograph as well. 

For that fun lunch you can grab a fried basket at Gramma Dots, a favorite for many many years on the island, located in a marina on the east end of the island you are right on the water and enjoy that the gulls and the boats coming and going, definitely on most folks’ list. Mussels, oysters, shrimp and fresh catch are all to be had at the Lazy Flamingo on Periwinkle Way  If you enjoy a very casual lunch or night with a pitcher or two of beer and raw bar this is the place! You will surely have a great night out with music and lots of fun and great memories to take home with you, not to mention a full stomach.

Craving your own private evening in your fully equipped kitchen with us?  Don’t leave Timbers without checking out their fresh seafood market.  Both Jerry’s and Bailey’s Market offer up the freshest on the island for your in room dining experience.  Put your own meal together as you like!

December Events on Sanibel

Christmas Cottages Surf

Spending time on Sanibel Island during the month of December puts a different twist on the holiday season that most visitors really enjoy and continue to return for a festive series of holiday events year after year.  From the beginning of the month to the end of December, there are events to keep the whole family in good holiday cheer: Sanibel Style.

Early in the month, count on the return of the Luminary festivities on both Sanibel and Captiva islands.  This is a special night of lit candles along the roadways and business, bringing a magical glow to our tropical paradise.  This is the 33rd year that we and our guests have enjoyed the candle lit stroll with photos with Santa, a live nativity from 5pm-9pm at the Sanibel Community Church, music and more. Sanibel Luminary is on December 1 and the Captiva Luminary is on December 2 this year.

Also on December 2, enjoy the family-friendly Elf The Musical Jr. at the Sanibel Community House.

The show is from 3pm-5pm and makes for a great afternoon of live theater for you and your family!  

Every Sunday the Farmers Market is located at City Hall from 8am to 1pm serving up all the fresh produce, baked goods, special gift items and lots of good cheer mixed with community spirit. You can enjoy this fun activity through May. On Tuesdays the market finds a home up on Captiva at South Seas Plantation from 9am-1pm.  

Looking for something extra special for Christmas Eve? Take a Dolphin and Wildlife cruise to Picnic island on December 24.  Book this great tour with the nice folks at Adventures in Paradise and visit with Santa on a deserted island right here in our waters! Holiday fun for the entire family with dolphins as your escort!  It’s a family affair on the Sun Princess with eggnog and cookies, tropical music as the sun sets and the dolphins play for you. Truly a magical moment on the waves on the night before Christmas!

A helpful site for your nightly entertainment updates is found right here.

No matter when you come in December you will not be at a loss for some island time pleasures!  

Valentine’s Day on Sanibel Island

Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year and you will have no end of things to choose from on this day on Sanibel Island. Our natural world beckons with many great things to do on the 14th so get ready to be amazed by the island’s wild side.  From early morning nature walks to dolphin cruise to romantic evening dining, Sanibel delivers for Valentine’s Day 2017.

With so much to choose from on Valentine’s Day here’s a breakdown on some of your activities for an exciting day of discovery and fun!

Start your day with a free bird tour at Ding Darling at 8:30 a.m. Meet at the main flagpole and be guided by a trained naturalist identifying our vast birdlife through the nature park.

Join the Ding Darling crew for yet another birding tour with the Free Shorebirds of the Refuge Program from 10 to 10:30 a.m. at the park. You see them all over the beach and wonder what they’re called, well wonder no more, take the tour and learn all about their magical world.

Who doesn’t love Alligators and Crocodiles?  Well, even if you don’t you will at appreciate them by attending the Free Gators & Crocs Program from 1- 1:30 p.m. Join another fascinating part of island life with the experts at Ding Darling!  

Wander back in time with the free Calusa/Shell Mound Trail Tour from 12 to 2 p.m.

The first inhabitants of our island paradise will be the focus of this fascinating tour led by naturists who teach you about the plant life and history that you will not soon forget.

Artistically inclined? BIG Arts offers up the  “The Itty Bitty Art Exhibit Miniature Art” Juried Exhibit from 9- 4 p.m. Explore the world of tiny art with this gorgeous display of highly detailed art work will certainly capture your attention and fantasy.

BIG Arts also hosts the  “The Petticoat Painters of Sarasota” from 1 to 4 p.m.. Enjoy the oldest continuously exhibited women’s art groups in the U.S. Women’s art is showcased and what a wonder it is to behold!

End your day with a fantastic Valentine’s Day Sunset Dolphin Cruise!  Start time is 5:30 and runs to 7:30 p.m.  Adventures in Paradise serves up a beautiful evening on the water with complimentary soft drinks, bottled water and cupcakes on their 45. ft catamaran in search of frolicking Dolphins.

Sanibel In January: Join us!

The cold winter sting of Jack Frost has arrived to most of the country. We’re here to provide you and your family with a little bit of relief—island style.

This month, we’re offering some great specials and deals that won’t break the bank, and will also warm your toes.  At Gulf Breeze Cottages, we are your favorite kind of winter wonderland. Soak up the Sanibel sun as the warm Gulf breeze picks up any of your post holiday stress or wintertime worries and whisks them far away.

Now is the time to plan for 2017. Make this your year and treat yourself, your family or your sweetie to an unforgettable island escape. On Sanibel Island, the possibilities for fun are endless all year long! Go shelling, paddle boarding, hiking, biking, shopping and more— from January to December. Remember, our island paradise is truly home to the “eternal summer”

Sanibel in January, or any other time of the year is the escape you deserve and we’re here to make your dreams become a reality. Join us on the beach in your very own Old Florida style condo that will make you feel a million miles away from those chilly wintertime blues.

Feeling spontaneous? Book a stay with us before the end of the month (January 2017) and enjoy 10% off! On top of that, our January rates start at just $213 a night.  Remember, the memories you make in the tropics are priceless!

Can’t make it this month? We know it’s not always easy to get away at a moment’s notice. Don’t fret. Plan to visit us later in 2017 and still save! Book your private bungalow between May 1 and December 22, 2017 with rates starting at just $155.

We can’t wait to see you in 2017!

View all of our specials here. If you would like to speak with one of our reservation specialists, please call 1-800-388-2842.

Sanibel Island Day Cruises

Credit: useppa.com

As you may know, Sanibel Island is one of many islands located off what is known as “Florida’s Island Coast”. We know you enjoy exploring Sanibel Island, but have you ever considered taking a day cruise to one of our neighboring islands? Hop aboard a number of day cruises departing from Sanibel and spend the day exploring brand new historical, dining and shelling locations. The best part? You’ll be back to your cottage in time for sunset. Learn a little more about our surrounding islands below:

Useppa Island

Useppa is a truly private Island Club dedicated to the pure art of relaxation and recreation of our members, owners and guests. Useppa Island is situated within the famous tropical isles of the Southwest coast of Florida. Useppa is only a fifteen-minute boat ride from the of the mainland while the world seems a million miles away. On Useppa, There are no bridges, no traffic, no crowds and no stress. Barron Collier, a wealthy publisher, built a beautiful, large home on Useppa in the 1920’s. His wealthy friends loved Tarpon fishing and his home served as home base for their fishing passion. He was host to the Rockefellers, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, the Duponts, as well as Hollywood celebrities and political bigwigs.

Cabbage Key

Take the ferry across Pine Island Sound to Cabbage Key. There, you will discover secluded natural beaches that are perfect for relaxation and a romantic getaway. Cabbage Key encompasses 100 acres of under-developed paradise. Visitors can reach the island only by boat, seaplane or water taxi. The island features Old Florida style and a rustic feel that will appeal to nature lovers. The main attraction is The Cabbage Key Restaurant.

Located in the Old House, the “Open-Air” restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 365 days a year. You’ll notice that there are thousands of dollar bills covering the walls and roof of the restaurant. Previous visitors have taped thousands of one-dollar bills to every surface. Ask your server for a black marker and tape to add yours to the collection.

Cayo Costa

With nine miles of beautiful beaches and acres of pine forests, oak-palm hammocks and mangrove swamps, this barrier island park is a Gulf Coast paradise. Cayo Costa is accessible only by private boat or ferry. Visitors may see manatees and pods of dolphins in the waters around the 2,426 acre park, as well as a spectacular assortment of birds. On the island, visitors can swim or snorkel in the surf, enjoy the sun and picnic in the shade. Keep your eyes peeled as you stroll along the beach, especially during the winter months. The nature trails that crisscross the island provide opportunities for hiking and off-road bicycling. Saltwater anglers can fish from their boats or throw a line out into the surf. An amphitheater provides educational programs about the island’s ecology and history.

The best way to reach any of these islands is with Captiva Cruises, take a peek at their website and decide where your next adventure may be!

Stand up Paddling Boarding on Sanibel!

Why not try out one of the most fun sports and outdoor activities available on the island during your time at Gulf Breeze Cottages?  

Certainly you’ve spend time on the water, but why not try out the sport of Paddleboarding?  Now, you may have some reservations about how difficult it may be to actually get on the board and go– but don’t worry, paddleboarding is easy for both the young and elderly, skilled and novice! Just rent a board from a Sanibel Island paddle board rental shop like Finnemores. After you get up on the waves, you will no doubt find your new favorite Sanibel activity! Family owned and operated since 1985 Finnimores also rents bicycles and other services.  

As a sport it has a long history but only recently has it taken off in the United States, but we are not losing any time making it truly one of the most popular activities we have seen in years.  Finnemores serves up a wide variety of board sizes for every age and skill level.  You are actually standing up on what looks like a traditional surf board and paddling with a canoe type paddle.

You glide along the water quietly and without chasing off the nature that abounds in the waters around our island. And should you wish to capture this for your friends and families or share on your favorite social media outlet they offer up GoPro cameras as well.

Enjoy a Sunset Lesson and Tour on the Sanibel Causeway on Wednesdays. Taken in groups of 5 you will enjoy the quiet and peace of this fantastic sport.  Call 239-472-5577 to for pricing and to schedule.

December Fishing On Sanibel Island

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Sanibel Island offers an array of year round attractions, from its diversity of flora and fauna to an abundance of water activities, including one of our all time favorites that you can do from our shores the next time you visit (with a license, of course)- fishing!

Our pristine waters provide ample and diverse opportunities for fishing, regardless if it is your first time or you are a seasoned angler.  We have offshore, inshore, back bay, pier and beach fishing and all fishing ventures reel in the excitement.

If you are planning a visit and want to fish, you may need to plan on getting a fishing license. You can purchase a license at any of our marinas or bait and tackle shops, such as:  The Bait Box on Periwinkle Way; Bailey’ Center at the corner of Tarpon Bay Road and Periwinkle Way; Tarpon Bay Recreation; Jensen’s Marina; or Adventures in Paradise among others. You’ll want to plan this if you are going to fish from the shoreline or from the pier.

If you are taking a charter trip, you will not need a personal fishing license as you are fishing with a charter captain.  Adventures in Paradise has a backwater fishing cruise that takes you into San Carlos Bay and offers private fishing charters.  Castabout Charters offers a variety of charters, including inshore fishing and and evening shark fishing.  

Some of the best catches for December in Sanibel include: amberjack, cobia, king mackerel, ladyfish, black drum, black grouper, flounder, mangrove snapper and pompano.  

We’ll see you on the sand, on the pier and on the water!