September Events on Sanibel Island: Island Hopper Songwriter Festival 2017

The onset of the Fall season is marked by the beginning of school days, Labor Day, and for Southwest Florida… we await the annual  Island Hopper Songwriter’s Festival!  

This year marks the 4th Annual Island Hopper Songwriter Festival!  Nationally-acclaimed singer/songwriters entertain and excite the crowds during over 100 live performances across two islands and the mainland at 20 uniquely intimate locations. Featured headliners include Lindsay Ell and Brooke Eden.  These are just two of the over 70 talented artists who are featured this year.  This talented group writes songs for country superstars including: Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean and Trisha Yearwood.

Captiva Island: September 22 – September 24, 2017

Downtown Fort Myers: September 25 – September 28, 2017

Fort Myers Beach: September 29 – October 1, 2017

Attendees can listen to their favorite songs and enjoy food and drink specials at live music venues on Captiva Island from September 22 – 24th, including Key Lime Bistro, South Seas Island Resort and Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille. The shows continue September 25th – 28th in downtown Fort Myers where performances will take place at: The Barrel Room, Twisted Vine Bistro, City Tavern and Pinchers. The curtain call is on Fort Myers Beach September 29th – October 1st with artists playing at Nervous Nellies, Yucatan Beach Stand, Matanzas on the Bay and Pierside Grill.

The Island Hopper Songwriter Fest is proudly produced by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, Cat Country 107.1, iHeart Media and BMI.

Make plans now to stay with us between September 22 – October 1, 2017, and enjoy the musical magic filling the air.  We have a variety of special offers that will accommodate you, whether it’s a couple’s retreat or an extended family getaway.  Check here for all the greatest Old Florida deals.

Sanibel Island Photography: Ding Darling Photo Contest

With the popularity of smartphones, we are all amateur photographers when we go on vacation.  

With that in mind, when as we find our way across the island, along the many nooks and crannies of Sanibel’s bike paths, we are constantly taking gorgeous images of the island’s nature both flora and fauna.

We send them to our friends and family, post them to our favorite social media outlets and show them around to just about anyone that will look.  

How about something a little bit different this time around?  

Ding Darling is now accepting entries from July 15 to September 15, 2017 for their annual Ding Darling Days Amateur Nature Photography Contest.  Why not send in your great shots and be considered for recognition and cash prizes.  Entries will then be judged at the beginning of October and all winning and honourable mentions are displayed in the Center to the public for one year.  So get off to Ding Darling the next time you are on the island and let your photos go out into the world on an even higher level!  It’s fun and educational as well!

Check out the official website for all the details and rules of the competition.

Not sure if your photos are up to par? Check out the award winning photos from 2016.

And as a reminder Ding Darling Days are held in October “Ding” Darling Days’ Family Fun Day begins on Sunday, October 15, for  a week of eco-activities with all-free refuge tram tours, live wildlife presentations, hot dogs, kids crafts, and other family activities. Birding, boating, tram, paddleboarding, and kayaking activities fill the week. But you can enjoy most of these things all year long!  


Segway Tours on Sanibel Island

Credit: Billy’s Bikes

Many people come to Sanibel very specifically for our miles and miles of bike paths.  You can enjoy hours of cycling pleasure on our beautiful island on your own bicycle or one rented from one of the two major Bicycle rentals companies here, Finnimores and Billy’s Bike.

Are you unfamiliar with what exactly a Segway is? A Segway is a two-wheeled, self-balancing scooter. At first look, a Segway may look difficult to balance on, but in fact the responsive device is easy for anyone of any age to ride!

Finnimores serves up bike rentals and repair, kayak and paddleboard rentals, step it up with a Gopro video of your journey around the islands and much more!   

But did you know that Billy’s offers Segway Tours of the island? They do indeed, and it’s enjoyed by young and old alike. You will see these guided tours around the island at just about any day of the week. With just a couple minutes of training you are off and flying over the paths where the thoughtful guide will stop at areas where you can enjoy beautiful views, nature and native species experiences. Sanibel history and our own island culture can be viewed at first hand during one of many tours available to Sanibel Segway tour groups. Offered up Monday to Saturday at 9 AM, 11:30 AM and 2PM,  please note there is a minimum age (14) and weight (100 pounds) for this Sanibel Segway tour.

Please call 239-472-3620 to reserve a tour.  You must call ahead for this fantastic experience!  You won’t regret it and will remember it for many years to come!  

If you don’t care for this fast paced activity then consider renting traditional and nontraditional bikes or scooters, recumbents, and trikes, too!

New Activities on Sanibel Island: Sanibel Rocks Movement


Looking for something new on Sanibel? Look no further. A new, trendy activity has hit the shores of this sanctuary island. A brand new “game” has recently picked up steam across our islands of Sanibel and Captiva, and it is called the “Sanibel Rocks Movement.”

Within the past few months, visitors and residents alike have come across beautiful, hand-painted rocks as they scour the shell lined shores of multiple beaches on Sanibel. The scavenger hunt-style game is free and fun for all! Simply hit the beach, popular island locations off the sand or even the bike path in pursuit of these colorful rocks placed purposely by community members and those visiting the island.

Sanibel Rocks are all unique and most definitely recognizable. Sanibel Rocks are rocks found across the island that have been painted and even have simple messages or images. Recently, Sanibel Rocks have reportedly been found at Lighthouse Beach, the park next to the Bailey Homestead, the city boat ramp, playgrounds and near bike racks all over the island. If you happen to come across these little pieces of art, you can keep the rock or re-hide it for someone else to find.

The scavenger hunt is only half of the fun of the Sanibel Rocks phenomena. Why not make your very own Sanibel Rock? Grab some painting and craft supplies and start creating! You can pick up painting supplies at several island retailers including Bailey’s General Store.

Local resident Lori Adams is credited with introducing the new, exciting activity to our island paradise. Lori has a few great tips when it comes to creating your own design.

“We recommended sealing your rock before hiding it to protect your art from the elements.”

Paint your rock and snap a photo of the rock before you place it in a special spot. Post your photo on the Sanibel Rocks Facebook page and on OUR FACEBOOK PAGE for all to see! Check back for any updates regarding someone who may find your piece of art.

The Sanibel Rocks movement began just two months ago, but it is quickly gaining speed. We encourage you to keep an eye out for your very own Sanibel Rock. It’s a fun, free activity that is sure to bring a smile to your face, and potentially make someone’s day as your creation puts a smile on someone else’s face.  

4th of July On Sanibel Island

Credit: Adventures In Paradise;

Summer has arrived on Sanibel Island! We are just weeks away from one of the biggest island celebrations of the year, The 4th of July on Sanibel! Join us and the entire Sanibel community this Independence Day for a fun-filled day chock full of red white and blue pride, island style.

Sun, sand, shells and fireworks. What more could you ask for?

4th of July Parade

Enjoy the sights and sounds as decorative floats from all of your favorite island businesses travel from corner of Tarpon Bay Road and Periwinkle Way east towards Casa Ybel Road. All the vehicles in the parade, golf carts to antique collectables, will be dressed from head to toe in their best red, white and blue decorations. Arrive early along the parade route to secure a prime viewing location. Don’t be afraid to bring chairs or any other “tailgate” style items to maximize the fun! The parade starts at 9:30 am and Periwinkle Way will be closed from 9:00 am – 11:30 am.

Road Rally

Hop behind the wheel and join the Sanibel-Captiva Optimists for an island-wide scavenger hunt. Celebrating its 37th year, join local teams and families to puzzle out clues while a prescribed driving course around the islands. Prizes will be awarded for correct time and mileage, for the most correct answers to quiz questions about things you will see as you drive around the islands, as well as for the best decorated vehicle.

Fireworks Celebration

Enjoy watching a spectacular firework display over the surrounding waters of Sanibel to wrap up the end of an amazing island day. There are number of options for viewing the beautiful show in the sky.

Cruise over to the causeway islands to enjoy the celebration from a prime viewing location. Don’t forget to bring a chair, snacks, and plan to arrive early for the best spot!

Hit the waves with Adventures In Paradise on their annual 4th of July Fireworks Cruise. Depart at 7:30pm and enjoy the sights until approximately 9:30pm. Tickets are $59 per person and require a reservation. If you are interested in the cruise, please contact Adventures In Paradise early, as this cruise is an extremely hot ticket!

Whether you are near or far, the entire team at Gulf Breeze Cottages  wish you a joyous 4th of July! If you would like additional advice regarding Sanibel Island’s 4th of July activities, or for any other inquiries, please reach out to our staff at (239) 472-1626.

Shelling Excursions On Sanibel: Introducing ISLANDOLOGY

The team at Gulf Breeze Cottages has partnered with New Wave Eco Charters to offer an on-site ecological and historic course! Spend two-hours with instructor and local marine naturalist Stephen Plein.

All of our guests are welcome to join the two-hour complimentary tour that will begin just steps from your quaint beach cottage on our lawn facing the Gulf of Mexico. If you’d like to bring off-site guests along for the educational journey, non-guest passes are $15 per person.

During the two hour course, you will become acquainted with  a bounty of information relating to our local ecology. Everything from shells to wildlife will be covered and you’ll even get the chance to get up close and personal with a few specimens. Also, get acquainted with concepts that promote island sustainability, ecohistory and ecotourism.

Stephen, the owner of New Wave Ecocharters is proud to operate sustainably and in a way that does not disturb or harm our beautiful island.  

“As a charter company we feel that if we have the privilege and the right to use our local waters for enjoyment, for fun, and in our case to make a living from it, then we have an even greater responsibility to care for and nourish it.  The Hawaiians have a word for this: Kuleana.  Or simply put, a marriage between right and responsibility.  It is our responsibility as daily water-dwellers to act as stewards of the sea in order to help eliminate the mental disconnect that the hustle-and-bustle that the inevitable pace of life inflicts upon us.  It is our goal to help you unwind, unplug, and unearth the yearning for the natural world that you’ve been longing for”.

We highly recommend taking advantage of this experience and welcome you to get to acquainted with “Kuleana”.

New Wave also operates paid tours and charters including guided shelling excursions, sunset cruises, lunch trips and private kayak tours. 10% of every charter will be donated to their non-profit, New Wave Marine Foundation! Visit to learn more.

Please keep in mind, reservations are mandatory and space is limited.

National Seashell Day On Sanibel

Credit: Beaches of Fort Myers Sanibel

June 21, 2017

For the second year in a row, Sanibel Island will play host to National Sea Shell Day on June 21, 2017. Join us and the entire island community in celebrating this national holiday with true Sanibel spirit. Celebrate the special day, also the first day of summer, with our island residents, business owners and even national television program Good Morning America as we send island vibes and display our Sanibel pride to the entire world. Celebrations will be taking place all over the island, from the sand to the National Shell Museum.

You’re sure to spot the shell love bug, a VW beetle covered in thousands of locally-found shells, as she cruises around our island paradise.

National Seashell Day offers visitors access to special travel deals, seashell attractions and activities. Keep an eye out during this time of the year for shelling cruises, guided shelling tours, shell bags, and more!. There will be lots of fun for everyone, and plenty of opportunities to practice your best “Sanibel Stoop.”

“Our beautiful shells have long attracted writers, artists and innovators to our beaches for creative inspiration and a connection to nature. National Seashell Day is a celebration of the gifts from the sea that make our area so special.”

One may argue that every day is seashell day on Sanibel. If you can’t make it next month, as one of the world’s most popular shelling destinations, hundreds of thousands of stunning natural shells wash up on the shores directly in front of our property every day giving you the opportunity to celebrate all year-round. Cruise our shores both day and night for shells like the lions paw, alphabet cone and the ever elusive Junonia.  

Some of our best tips for shelling on National Seashell Day, and every other day of the year, include:

–       Shell at various times of the day. If you can get out on the sand before it’s been combed by other visitors such as early morning or late at night, you’ll get first pick!

–       Wait until after a rainstorm. Storms will churn up the gulf and she usually deposits a hefty load of fresh shells after the rain and wind clear.

–       Don’t forget to bring a shelling bag. Sometimes, you’ll discover more shells than you can hold—bring a bag to make sure you can bring them all home!

–       Leave live shells alone. It is against the law to remove live shells.

–       Please leave our environment as you found it. Remember, leave only footprints.

For more information about National Seashell Day and all of the fabulous activites happening on June 21, please visit

May Events on Sanibel Island


There is never a loss for things to do on Sanibel Island. The month of May brings warmer temperatures, a major holiday (Memorial Day), and plenty of island activities to keep you and your family busy all month long!

Starting on May 2nd, the Sanibel Historical Village will switch to its off season hours and will be open 10am through 1pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Spend an afternoon celebrating Sanibel Island’s history and rich culture. Step back in time and explore the story of Sanibel from Calusa and Spanish eras to the pioneer days of the 1800s. Get to know our local warriors, adventures, fishermen, farmers and proprietors. The Sanibel historical village is home to seven historic buildings that were moved from their original island locations and restored to their original state.

Attention anglers! The J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge partners with Doc Ford’s for their 6th Annual “Care, Catch and Release” Tournament on May 19.  This celebrates the first time in 1885 when a Tarpon was caught by rod and reel. Don’t forget to pack your angling gear if you will be here with us that weekend and join in the fun. The prize is a cool $33K!

Shelling is the one activity that is always fun on Sanibel! Join the National Shell Museum for guided beach walk alongside an expert Marine Biologist. Explore the world of shells while learning new and interesting facts about your favorite beach treasures! The cost is $10 for adults and $7 for children (ages 5-17). Parking at Island Inn is free for beach walk participants. Space is limited so book online now or by calling (239) 395-2233 to make a reservation. All participants receive a coupon for half-off Shell Museum admission.

Want to try something new? Join wine educator Tom Uhler at the newly renovated Sanibel Community House on May 5, 12 and 26 from 7pm to 9pm for An Introduction to the Pleasures of Wine. Sample over a dozen wines paired with food from Sanibel Catering Company by Bailey’s. There are only 30 participants per event, so sign up before the experience is no longer available.

May is chock full of local events that the whole family is sure to love. For more information about May events on Sanibel, reach out to our staff at (239) 472-1626.

Easter on Sanibel

Spring fills the balmy breezes on Sanibel, with sunrise coming earlier and our glorious sunsets a bit later each day. At Gulf Breeze Cottages, our guests enjoy these delights from our private beach, just steps from our Old Florida cottages!  

We invite you to join us for your next beach getaway, and especially hope that you are Island bound for the upcoming Easter weekend!

For a casual brunch experience, the Sanibel Island Farmer’s Market will be open Easter Sunday, offering a large assortment of locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh made breads, local honey, flowers and much more! For a more formal affair, stop by for a visit early, perhaps en route to enjoy a uniquely flavor-filled, most memorable Easter Brunch at the Waterview Restaurant.. With 4 seatings (9 am, 11am, 1 pm and 3 pm) you’re certain to enjoy an exquisite dining experience on the Gulf of Mexico!

This Year’s Menu Features










MADE TO ORDER PASTAS ( 1 and 3 pm)










Please find the full menu here.  Reservations are required and you will want to make yours early to get the seating of your choice.  Please call 239.395.6017.

There are even island activities for the more adventurous! Join Adventures in Paradise for an Easter egg hunt and dolphin cruise with the Easter Bunny from 10:00 am – 11:30 am. Search for eggs like only islanders could, on the isolated barrier island of Picnic Island! Tickets are $39 per person.

How To Avoid Sanibel Traffic?

Sanibel in April. Sun is shining, the weather is sweet and traffic is…. congested?

On average, there are more than 20,000 cars traveling both ways on the Sanibel causeway every day during high season. We are relaying this information to you so you can manage the congestion and take full advantage of our island paradise. Increased traffic has been an issue on Sanibel for a while, but it doesn’t need to affect your time on Sanibel Island.

The Sanibel Island Chamber of Commerce has provided the public with a network of tools to keep drivers informed and alert with the purpose of reducing traffic and keeping everyone moving. The chamber recommends using a bike whenever possible to get around the island, after all, there are miles of safe and well-maintained bikes paths spanning the island. Bring your own bike or rent a bike from one of the many bike rental companies located on the island for a minimal fee.

Not in the mood to ride a bike? A car is still an option! Traffic is the most congested from 8:00 a.m. until noon on the island and for those heading off the island, avoid crossing the causeway from 2:30pm until 6:30pm. Saturday is the busiest day for traffic on the island and lightest on Sunday and Tuesday. Plan your day accordingly and spend the first half of your day soaking up the sun, shelling next to the surf or de-stressing under a palm. Life moves slowly on Sanibel, there’s no need to race to the roadway. If you feel like venturing out during these times, arrive early and stay a while. With hundreds of shops and restaurants, it’s easy to spend a whole day exploring our quaint Sanibel village.

To make managing your time and itinerary even easier (and without ever leaving the sand) visit to view LIVE traffic
webcams that will provide you with a real-time view of Sanibel’s busiest
intersections. If you’re tech savvy, download the official Sanibel traffic app
called Sanibel Bound, available for Iphone and Android devices. The
app is free and will provide you with one click access to a stress-free Sanibel

To install the either App, simply go to from your mobile device.

To Install the Android App click on the button “Get it On Google Play”.

To Install the Apple App click on the button “Download on the App Store”.