Sanibel Shelling!

“Summertime, and the shelling is easy.” With apologies to Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II for borrowing their words from the musical “Showboat”, it’s true on Sanibel Island right now.

With the visit from TS Andrea this week, there are sure to be mounds of shells on the Sanibel beaches. If you saw any of The Weather Channel graphics, you saw arrows for southerly winds blowing up on Southwest Florida. Those winds generate a lot of turbulence in the water, scraping shells up of the Gulf’s bottom, and depositing them on the first available beach. That’s Sanibel.

Shell collectors should be out in droves to take advantage of this phenomenon. You can join them by booking your family into Gulf Breeze Cottages during the coming days. You will be just steps from your cottage to the bounty of the beach.

Here’s another bounty: Stay a minimum of 3 nights in selected units between now and Sept. 30th, 2013 and Save 20% off our regular low summer rates.

Visit our website now and make your reservations!

Summer is Super on Sanibel!!!

Turtle Time on Sanibel – Captiva

An annual “miracle” is happening on Sanibel-Captiva. Sea turtles are nesting on our beaches as they do each year from May 1 to October 31.

First nest laid east of Tarpon Bay Road on Sanibel.
Photo Credit: SCCF

It’s a great experience for residents and visitors, especially children, to see and learn about the nests. It’s important for all to understand that sea turtle nests are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

It’s also important to follow a set or rules and recommendations in order protect the nests, the eggs and the hatchlings when they emerge.

  • Prevent any nighttime illumination from pointing toward the beach. Hatchlings crawl to the sea with the light on the western horizon as their beacon. Competing light from the land confuses them and can lead them being stranded on the beach, where predators can get at them.
  • Don’t leave beach toys or furniture on the beach at night, remove all trash, fill any holes and know down sandcastles. They can interfere with mother turtles crawling up the beach to find nesting sites.
  • Restrict your use of flashlights on the beach and never take flash photos of the sea turtles.
  • Keep your distance from the nests (marked by stakes and ribbons) and do not disturb them.

We already have several nests on Sanibel & Captiva Islands!

Gulf Breeze Cottages says “thank you” to The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation for this information. To learn more about sea turtles on Sanibel and Captiva, visit http://www.sccf.org/content/143/Sea-Turtles.aspx

Happy Sanibel

Are you happy? There should be no question, if you are staying or planning to stay on Sanibel Island.

Coastal Living Magazine has named the 10 happiest seaside towns in America for 2013. Coming in at number three is Sanibel, which is also the only Florida town on the list.

Coastal Living describes the selection process as beginning with reader nominations. All places previously identified by the magazine as “Dream Towns” were added to the list of nominees. After factoring in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the percentage of sunny days, beach health, commuter times, crime levels, walkability, living standard and financial health of residents, geographic diversity, and the magazine’s editors’ assessment of each town’s “coastal vibe.” An all-star list for 2013 resulted. The top 10 contenders were featured in Coastal Living’s February 2013 issue, where readers voted for their favorite.

Here’s what was said about Sanibel:  “a pastel dream, combining pale blue skies, white-sand beaches, and millions of seashells that have literally built the island on which it sits. When locals dig in their backyards on Sanibel, they turn up conch, scallop, and clam shells—intact.

As for the quiet, away-from-it-all life that Sanibel offers its 6,469 residents, consider that there are no stoplights, nor buildings taller than the tallest palm tree. And the shell-seekers know that Bowman’s Beach, a natural stretch accessible only via pedestrian bridge, is one of the best for shelling (and birding).”

This comes as no news to guests at Gulf Breeze Cottages, with our seductive Sanibel beachfront location. We have vacancies through the sweet Sanibel summer. We welcome your inquiry.

Caloosahatchee River Cruise

As a guest at Gulf Breeze Cottages, you are keenly aware of the beautiful beach at our front door. Less obvious is the impact the Caloosahatchee River has on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

Water flowing from Lake Okeechobee to San Carlos Bay and the Gulf of Mexico contributes significantly to our water conditions, our fisheries and the saline balance of the Bay.

In order to fully understand what makes these islands what they are, one needs to understand the Caloosahatchee. A pleasant way to do that is in the capable hands of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF).

On Mother’s Day, May 12, SCCF presents the last guided Oxbow and Riverlore Cruise of the year. To experience the historical Caloosahatchee River, the 2 1/2 hour cruise departs from the W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam off SR 80 in Olga at 1 p.m. Passage on the comfortable 47-passenger Manatee Rover is $40 per person. All seats have a great view! Your guide is Rae Ann Wessel, a river researcher, long-time river advocate, historian and SCCF Natural Resource Policy Director. Make reservations by calling (239) 472-2329 or visit the website for more information.

“Ding” Darling Earth Day

“Ding” Darling plans special, free programs for Earth Day 2013.

As a major beneficiary of planetary health, J. N.”Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge will offer special incentives to Sanibel residents and guests at Sanibel accommodations to visit the Refuge on Earth Day – April 20.

Here’s a list:

  • From 7 am to 4 pm, Wildlife Drive will be free to hikers and bikers. Since the drive closes on May 1 for summer rehab, this will be one of the last opportunities to tour Wildlife Drive until it reopens at the end of September.
  • From 8 am to 4 pm, Tarpon Bay Explorers will offer free bikes to tour Wildlife Drive. (Pick up bikes at Tarpon Bay Explorers).
  • At 9:30 am naturalists will guide a car caravan tour of Wildlife Drive. To join the 1 1/2 hour tour, meet at the flagpole.
  • From 10 am to 3 pm, the Education Center will offer earth crafts instruction.
  • At 10 am, there will be a guided hike along the Refuge’s Indigo Trail.
  • At 11 am, there will be a 30-minute Family Story-time at the Education Center. The featured creatures will be sea turtles.
  • At 12 noon, experts will discuss the time line for biodegrading of trash in a marine environment.
  • At 1 pm, Family Story-time returns to the education center, with focus on the Florida manatee.
  • At 2 pm, the Education Center will demonstrate how weave your own plastic-bag yarn (PLARN) reusable shopping bag.

All enthusiastic earthlings are invited to join this celebration of the planet.

If you will need a place to overnight or “over-week” while on Sanibel for Earth Day, Gulf Breeze Cottages is perfect for families, and comes a with free access to Sanibel’s Gulf beach.

Sanibel Sea Turtles

The world knows Sanibel for its shell-covered beaches. Less well-known but just as significant is Sanibel’s association with sea turtles. Each year, sea turtles land on Sanibel beaches to nest. The nesting season officially starts, as recognized by the City of Sanibel, on May 1.

Baby turtles on their way to sea

Scores of Sanibel residents and guests volunteer to locate the nests, cordon them off from human intrusion and monitor their development. Eventually, little hatchlings work their way out of the nests and scamper to the Gulf water to begin their life at sea. Since, these little critters are tasty morsels for airborne predators, the hatchlings make their migration at night, guided by light on the Western horizon.

For more about sea turtles and Sanibel, plan to attend a free lecture at 10am & 1pm in the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Education Center auditorium, on Friday, April 5. Jeremy Conrad & Amanda Bryant will talk about Sea Turtles of Sanibel. For a more information, call the refuge at 239-472-1100 ext. 241.

Need beach accommodations on Sanibel? Gulf Breeze Cottages has traditional island style cottages for your comfort and relaxation. 800-388-2842 is the number to call.

Last Spring Training of 2013

Sanibel has almost everything a great vacation requires – right here on island.  And what it lacks, if you are a baseball fan – is available at our mainland neighbor.

To make access even easier, the Sanibel Recreation Center has arranged to offer tickets for the last game of the 2013 Spring Training Season to be played at JetBlue Park. Residents and guests can buy tickets on island at the Rec Center ($27) to see the Boston Red Sox play their cross-town rivals, Minnesota Twins, on Friday, March 22.  The game starts at 1:35 p.m. at JetBlue Park, aka “Fenway South”, at 11500 Fenway South Drive in Fort Myers.  After this game, there are no more Spring Training Games until 2014. For information about ticket arrangements, call the Rec Center, call 239-472-0345.

Play Ball!

Royal Obsession Comes To Sanibel

Here’s a special reason to travel to Sanibel Island on March 28th, as the Sanibel Community House journeys back to the era of royal protocol in England in the 1930s. SCH will hold a special performance of Wallis Simpson – Royal Obsession.

The performance, in conjunction with a noon luncheon, tells the story of an ambitious Baltimore socialite who encountered the bitter hatred of Britain’s royal family when King Edward VIII abdicated his throne in order to marry her. The couple becomes known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Ms. Simpson is portrayed in this one-woman show by actress Joanna Olsen and is based on her research of correspondence between Ms. Simpson and her second husband.

Cost is $20 for Sanibel Community Association members and $25 for non-members. Lunch is included in the price and features a menu of honey-grilled chicken salad with mixed field greens and raspberry balsamic vinaigrette.

Reservations are required and can be made by calling 239-472-2155.  The Sanibel Community House is located at 2175 Periwinkle Way.

Gulf Breeze Cottages encourages you to spend a few nights with us on the beach at Sanibel before and after this special event.

Sanibel Island’s New Birding Trail

We predict many happy birders and hikers!
Coming soon – visitors to Gulf Breeze Cottages, and Sanibel Island in general, will be able to enjoy a new boardwalk at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Children's Birding Trail, Sanibel IslandIn partnership with the Refuge and Sanibel School, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) is raising funds to help build a walking trail that will be a direct link between the School to the Refuge’s Indigo Trail.

The new boardwalk trail, named The Children’s Birding Trail, is scheduled for completion in April. The trail will be accessible to all Refuge visitors, but the walkway will be securely gated where it reaches the school.

The trail will include:
• Opportunities to view freshwater habitat and species previously inaccessible to Refuge visitors
• Approximately 200 feet of boardwalk wide enough to accommodate groups of children
• Educational signs
• Removable scope for spotting
• Benches and gathering areas, including a covered gazebo.

Anyone interested in contributing to the project is asked to contact the DDWS at (239) 472-1100 ext.233 or email dingdarlingoffice@yahoo.com

Why not take advantage of our current specials & book a stay at Gulf Breeze Cottages?
Escape the cold and snow – we’d love to hear your tales of the trail!

Biking Sanibel Island

We like to bike. How about you?

The Sanibel Shared Use Path, which also serves as a biking path, goes right past Gulf Breeze Cottages. So you can get on a bike here (we rent them!) and pedal off to explore the rest of the island.

The fabled Sanibel Lighthouse is a short jaunt away, while if you are up for a longer ride, Blind Pass, where Sanibel meets Captiva, is a few miles (one way). We mention that because, even without hills to wear you out, the return trip is always more of a struggle than the outbound leg.

We recommend you take your biking experience in short bites because the Florida sun – even on cloudy days – also can take its toll. That’s also reason to layer on the SPF35 before setting out.

You’ll probably bike past numerous shopping stops and enticing restaurants. There also are some kiosk shelters to stop for a rest.

You’ll soon learn why bicycling is one of Sanibel’s favorite pastimes – and why staying at Gulf Breeze Cottages is such an ideal way to start and end your biking day.