Is Sanibel Island like the Caribbean? Coastal Living Magazine Thinks So.

Why plan a trip to the Caribbean when you can experience white sandy beaches and glimmering blue seas right here in Southwest Florida! No need to splurge on flights and travel costs, all you have to do is cross the causeway and get cozy in one of our beautiful cottages to get into that “island” state of mind.

Sanibel Island has been named by Coastal Living Magazine on their list of “10 Florida Beaches So Beautiful You’ll Think You’re in the Caribbean.”

Here’s what the the No. 1 online authority for those captivated by the coast had to say about our barrier island:

“Certainly by now, almost everyone knows that Sanibel Island is the undisputed shelling capital of North America. Every collector’s dream, you don’t have to go all the way to the Caribbean to discover hundreds of colorful sea shells. On 15 miles of beaches that wrap around this isle in the Gulf of Mexico, there are more than 250 different kinds of shells. It’s such a popular pastime, that the act of bending at the waste to retrieve a shell is referred to as the ‘Sanibel Stoop.’”

When you make Gulf Breeze Cottages your beach home away from home, direct beach access provides you with the perfect place to soak up the sun and celebrate the natural wonder of Sanibel.

Though Sanibel didn’t make the top five, our neighbors to the north, Captiva Island and Cayo Costa did! Only car or boat ride away from our accommodations at Gulf Breeze Cottages, guests can enjoy all three beaches that made the list. Our tip: Enjoy the sunrise on our beach and then head to Captiva or Cayo Costa for sunset (or vice versa).

Coastal Living had this to say about our neighboring islands:

“Funky, quirky Captiva Island has a distinct artsy vibe—exactly the kind you might expect to find in the Caribbean—and the beaches are pure perfection. Legend has it that renegade pirate Jose Gaspar built a prison on “Isle de los Captivas” in the early 1800’s where he kept prisoners “captive” for ransom. Today, you’ll wish you had the lock and key to throw away so you can stay in this island haven forever.”

“A former fishing ground for the Calusa Indians, Cayo Costa Island offers a rich history and nine miles of undeveloped shoreline and sugar sand beaches. Dating back nearly 4,000 years, several Native American shell mounds are located on archipelago, which means “Key by the Coast.” Now a Florida state park, the island is only accessible by boat, and it’s completely off the electrical grid. Interestingly, there are about two dozen private homes on the island, three of which you can find on VRBO. The state park also has campsites and rustic cabins available for vacation rentals, the perfect opportunity to unplug and recharge.

This winter, we invite you to join us on Sanibel Island, your very own Floribbean paradise. We are currently offering our “January Early Booker Sale” promotion. Stay with us from January 2 – January 31, 2019 and enjoy 15% off on the Efficiencies, the Beach House and Duplex #2.

Click or call to redeem!

Exploring the Islands Around Sanibel

Think paradise begins at the Sanibel Lighthouse and ends at the tip of Captiva Island

Think again.

Sanibel Island is surrounded by several outer lying islands that offer up even more fun for your family to enjoy during your time on Sanibel Island. North Captiva, Cayo Costa and Cabbage Key are all uniquely different locations that are sure to satisfy easy going day trippers and beach loving adventurers.

Because these islands are not connected to the mainland by bridges, the most popular way to access North Captiva, Cayo Costa and Cabbage Key is with the help of a local charter service. Captiva Cruises is the largest local business that will transport large groups of people to the surrounding islands.

The closest island to Sanibel Island is North Captiva. When a powerful hurricane ripped Captiva Island apart in 1921, it left two islands, divided by a deep pass from Pine Island Sound into the Gulf of Mexico. Sanibel’s more quiet neighbor to the north is host to residential homes and a state park. Plan to spend the day in the sun exploring pristine natural environments while you scoop up shells from the surf.

The next stop is Cayo Costa, heaven on earth for shell-lovers. Cayo Costa State Park’s beaches and shelling are among the best in the state and the 2,426 acre park also features wooded trails for hiking and mountain biking. There is almost no development on this barrier island. Truly, visitors visit Cayo Costa for solitude and the wildness. There just aren’t many places like this island left.

The final island is Cabbage Key. Encompassing 100 acres of under-developed paradise, visitors to Cabbage Key generally travel to the island to dine at the historic Cabbage Key restaurant. Enjoy a meal on the front porch of the open-air restaurant situated atop a thirty-eight-foot Indian shell mound. 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. Dine on fresh seafood just as captains and fisherman have for the past 60 years.

Not sure where to start your island-hopping adventure? Our staff is always on hand to provide you with any information about attractions and activities on and around Sanibel Island. Visit us at the office or give us a call at 239.472.1626  or toll free at 800.388.2842.

Sanibel Island Bathroom Crowned America’s Best

The winner of Cintas Corp.’s annual “America’s Best Restroom” contest has been announced, and the winning location is right here on Sanibel Island.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge was selected as the winner of the 2018 edition of its annual contest. The restrooms were selected from among 10 finalists that were voted on by the public starting August 6  for their sculptures of wildlife that make visitors feel like they’re under water along with messaging about the featured animals and saving the environment.

The wildlife refuge will receive $2,500 in Cintas products and services for restroom cleaning or facility management as a result of the win.

Also known as  “Learning Lavatories,” the restrooms feature sea turtles, osprey, and other sea creatures, stalls decked out with professional bird photographs, and information about wildlife and environmental conservation.

The other finalists in the 2018 America’s Best Restroom contest included:

Barrio – Chicago Bryant Park – New York City Dream Hollywood Hotel – Hollywood, CA Green Bay Botanical Garden – Green Bay, Wis. Hotel La Jolla, Curio Collection by Hilton – La Jolla, CA MI VIDA – Washington, D.C. Morgan Manufacturing – Chicago The Mud House – St. Louis, MO The Progress – San Francisco, CA

We encourage our guests to explore J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, home to thousands of miles of pristine landscapes teeming with wildlife including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, endangered species and more!

Stop by the Visitor & Education Center home to interactive exhibits on refuge ecosystems, the work of Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, migratory flyways, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and a hands-on area for children.

Lace up your walking shoes and experience Wildlife Drive, a 4-mile track of trails including Indigo Trail and the Wildlife Education Boardwalk (4 miles round trip), Shellmound Trail, and Wulfert Keys Trail.

Cintas Corporation is an American company with headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, that provides specialized services to businesses, primarily in North America. The firm designs, manufactures and implements corporate identity uniform programs and provides entrance mats, restroom cleaning and supplies, tile and carpet cleaning, promotional products, first aid, safety, and fire protection products and services.

Sanibel Island Farmers Market Reopens

We are pleased to announce that as of October 7, 2018, the Sanibel Island Farmers Market is officially open!

The market, organized by Local Roots, features an eclectic mix of vendors and products from locally owned businesses.

Food and drink vendors range from smoothies, tea and coffee, and sweets, to roasted nuts from Nuts 4 You, grass-fed beef and wild boar selections and macaroni and cheese by chef Jarred Harris, Spoondrift poke bowls, homemade granola by Laurie’s Pantry and mini-donuts from the Sanibel Deli.

Those shopping to stock up on groceries will find organic produce, exotic fruits, cheeses, breads and bagels, fresh eggs, guacamole and salsa, jams, local honey, pickles and more, along with seafood. There will be vendors for handmade soaps and essential oils, plus flowers and plants like bromeliads.

If you have visited the market in the past, please note that farmers market organizers have made a few changes for the 2018-2019 season. Craft vendors are an added element, driven in part by the number of visitors to the islands. Organizers aim to give those who cant take home

Food or plants a way to to pick up an island-y memento or keepsake to bring home from vacation

The Sanibel Farmers Market is located at  Sanibel City Hall at 800 Dunlop Road, Sanibel, Florida 33957. The market is open on on Sunday from 8 am- 1pm.

Parking is located in the lots at Sanibel City Hall, Sanibel Library, BIG Arts, Schoolhouse Theater. Bicycles can be parked at the designated area at City Hall. Handicap parking is located at City Hall. Pets are not allowed.

October Events on Sanibel

October is one our favorites months of the year. Seasonal and summer crowds are non-existent and temperatures begin to drop, meaning it is the perfect time of the year for visitors to enjoy “true Sanibel.” Locals also cherish the time where the island is peaceful and access to local restaurants and roads is a breeze.

October also brings one of the island’s best annual events, BaileyFest. Hosted by Bailey’s General Store, this once a year event celebrates the history and community of Sanibel Island.

If you didn’t know, Bailey’s, first known as the Sanibel Packing Company, was founded in 1899 by Frank P. Bailey providing groceries and general supplies to locals and visitors. Over these many years it has continuously served the needs of residents and guests on Sanibel Island and Captiva, doing business as Bailey’s General Store.

Join the Bailey family, one of the oldest on Sanibel, at 2018’s 33rd annual Baileyfest on October 21st, 2018. From noon until 4 pm, enjoy solo singers, bands and groups, dancers, a roaming magician, food and games! Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Many island’s organizations will have a table set up at the festival. Some of the organizations include CROW, Sanibel Sea School and PAWS.

Another draw of the festival is the raffles contributed by Sanibel businesses. Individuals can try their hand at winning a raffle – gift certificates – by visiting the merchant’s store before the festival

Admission is free!

BaileyFest is located at Bailey Plaza on Tarpon Bay Road.

For more information about this October event on Sanibel, please visit www. baileys-sanibel.com

Plastic Straws Banned on Sanibel

The City of Sanibel has united to protect our local environment, including our wildlife friends, by approving a plastic straw ban on Monday, September 10, 2018.

The ban means that plastic straws will no longer be sold on the island at any island establishment, including at popular grocery stores like Jerry’s or Bailey’s.

According to researchers, 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year.

It’s estimated 90 percent of the waste in our waters is plastic and even little pieces of it, like straws, can be deadly to sea creatures. Our community leaders wanted to do what they could to protect our area’s most important residents.

The only exception to the ban is for those who may need a straw for medical purposes, pre-packaged beverages with straws, and straws for disabled people who rely on the use of straws.

Sanibel Island is not the first community to ban plastic straws, our neighbors in Marco island and Fort Myers Beach have also banned plastic straws.

Sanibel recommends using straws made from paper, plants, or other vegetable or natural products.

Expect that during your next visit to your favorite island restaurant or eatery, you may be presented with a silicone or paper straw.

If you would like to prepare, many online retailers offer stainless steel straws, and, word on the island is that Bailey’s is now offering silicone straws at just $1.99 a pop.

If you choose to bring your own plastic straws to the island, you will not be penalized for using them, but we encourage you to dispose of any plastic straws you may use in a responsible manner.

With straws as just the start, the city hopes to pass even more legislation with the purpose of keeping Sanibel Island and it’s native residents happy and healthy for generations to come.

Island Hopper Songwriter Festival Returns to Sanibel-Captiva

Get ready, this month, all your favorite songwriters are hitting the beach right here in Southwest Florida! The fifth annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest is returning to Captiva Island on September 21- September 23. Enjoy live, free performances at your favorite beach establishments by 60 of your favorite songwriters.

Selected as one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events for 2018, the 2018 Island Hopper Songwriter Fest comes to the Fort Myers area September 21 – 30 with performances on Captiva Island, in Downtown Fort Myers and on Fort Myers Beach.

With performances at Cantina Captiva, Doc Ford’s, RC Otters and other beachside establishments, this one of a kind event provides attendees with world-class performances in the heart of one of Florida’s top vacation destinations..

Some of the 2018 Island Hopper singer/songwriters include Earl Bud Lee (“Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks), Dylan Altman (“Barefoot Blue Jean Night” by Jake Owen), Lee Thomas Miller (“Whiskey and You” by Chris Stapleton), Wendell Mobley (“There Goes My Life” by Kenny Chesney) and many more.

This year, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel are rolling out the Island Hopper app designed to help Island Hopper fans plan their trips, find resort and hotel deals, learn about songwriters and venues, locate in-app maps, customize schedules and more. Also, iHeart Radio is launching Island Hopper Radio, a channel that includes music written by artists featured at the music festival.

At this moment, our Sanibel Island cottages are offering great rates during the Island Hopper Songwriter Festival with rates starting at just $145 per night for our efficiency units.

View all our specials and packages here.

For additional information, including scheduling and ticket sales for select concerts, visit islandhopperfest.com.

August Activities on Sanibel: Sanibel Library

Great news for August visitors on Sanibel! The Sanibel Public Library has reopened after extensive renovations and improvements.

The island hub for indoor learning and fun reopened on August 1st and is officially open to visitors and residents. The library closed temporarily to complete phase two of the “Your Library Reimagined” project. Phase one kicked off in May 2017 and was completed in January.

New to the library is the introduction of more natural lighting and updated, modern décor, an improved open concept, and shelving to improve the flow of traffic inside the library.

The kids area is tucked away in a corner and is jam packed with puzzles, games and youth storybooks for the little ones to enjoy. Adjacent to the kids area is a brand new sitting area with new furniture, reading material and computer stations.

Other improved features are not as visible and include electrical improvements to enhance online experiences and a suped-up A/C system that will keep patrons cool during the dog days of summer.

The project is not one-hundred percent complete, as the old circulation area is still under wraps. The work is expected to completely done by mid-September 2018.

Still, all of your local favorites and classics are available to read. Get lost in the Doc Ford series, based right here on Sanibel Island. Delve deep into the action-adventure series penned by local author Randy Wayne White, the author of nearly two dozen thrillers starring Doc Ford. Don’t forget to stop by the famous Doc Ford’s Restaurant located on Tarpon Bay Road to sample local favorites like Yucatan Shrimp and the delicious Doc Ford mojito!

Explore our surrounding areas in Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s classic believed to have been inspired and written directly from our sands.

For more information, call 239-472-2483 or visit www.sanlib.org.

The Sanibel Public Library is located at 770 Dunlop Road.

Live Music on Sanibel

Beat the heat this summer and kick up your feet at one of many of the island’s hotspots for live music. Experience the best local sounds from several of Sanibel Island’s most popular restaurants. From classically trained pianists to rocking acoustic guitar performances, there is always something fun to listen to on Sanibel Island.

Kick the night off with the soothing sounds of Scott McDonald every day (except Mondays) at Il Cielo. Scott is a professionally trained musician and former Keyboardist for The Andy Williams Orchestra. Additionally, the skilled pianist is also the Director of Music for St. Isabel Catholic Church on Sanibel Island and has received Open Table’s “Diner’s Choice Award” for Best Ambiance in Southwest Florida.

Next, head on over to the legendary island eatery, The Island Cow, for live entertainment by Dan Confrey on Friday and Sunday evenings Peter Redpath performs every Saturday night. Dan Confrey has toured both nationally and internationally. He is a Multi-instrumentalist playing Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Tenor Sax, and Steel Pans. Peter Redpath has been playing music since the late 1960’s, up and down the East Coast, in bands, duos and solo acts. His influences include country, folk and rock with strong focus on melody and storytelling.

The Sea Breeze Café hosts live music that changes weekly on Mondays from 5:30 p.m. through 8:30 p.m. Home to Margarita Mondays, enjoy the music and $5 margaritas from 4 p.m.- 10 p.m.

A local favorite, Traders Gulf Coast Grill and Gifts has live entertainment on Tuesday and Thursday with the Danny Morgan Band. Chris Workman plays on Wednesday nights. The Danny Morgan band has received the Best of Islands award for “Best Local Entertainment” over 15 years in a row. Chris Workman is a highly talented singer songwriter delivering original music with a refreshing blend of Pop/Americana with influences spanning several decades of popular music.

Last, hit the sand at Traditions on the Beach for live music and stunning ocean views! Woody Brubaker and Maravilla Marzan perform on Friday, Dean Winkelmann performs on Wednesday. Woody Brubaker has spent an astounding and productive fifty-eight years in the music business. An accomplished musician on saxophone, clarinet, flute, piano and vocals, Woody was also a composer for U.S. Air Force Bands. Maravilla Marzan is a singer songwriter and is one of the most sought out acts in Southwest Florida. Dean Winklemann performs an astounding variety of classic jazz, pop, and rock music—all in a lighthearted and fun atmosphere!

Get out there and tap your toes to the tunes of Sanibel’s most skilled artists and musicians!

Doc Ford on Sanibel Island in New Novel “Caribbean Rim”

Credit: Penguin Random House

Doc Ford, our very own fictitious local hero, is back in an all new adventure in the New York Times-bestselling series by award-winning writer, Randy Wayne White.

In Caribbean Rim, Marine biologist Doc Ford is once again on a journey help his friends out of jams, but he’s never faced a situation such as the one he encounters on this new adventure.

His old pal Carl Fitzpatrick has been chasing sunken wrecks most of his life, but now he’s run afoul of the Florida Division of Historical Resources. Its director, Leonard Nickelby, despises amateur archaeologists, which is bad enough, but now he and his young “assistant” have disappeared—along with Fitzpatrick’s impounded cache of rare Spanish coins and the list of uncharted wreck sites Fitz spent decades putting together. Some of Fitz’s own explorations have been a little…dicey, so he can’t go to the authorities. Doc is his only hope.

But greed makes people do terrible things: rob, cheat, even kill. With stakes this high, there’s no way the thieves will go quietly—and Doc’s just put himself in their crosshairs.

Randy Wayne White has written nearly two dozen thrillers starring Doc Ford, but the beloved series is showing no signs of slowing down. His 25th Doc Ford book, Caribbean Rim, is White’s and most heart racing novel yet.

White has been awarded the Conch Republic Prize for Literature, as well as the John D. Macdonald Award for Literary Excellency. He is one of only four writers named as an Editor At Large by prestigious Outside magazine (Jon Krakauer, Hampton Sides and Tim Cahill are the others). In 2011, White was named a Florida Literary Legend by the Florida Heritage Society

He lives on Sanibel Island, Florida, where he was a light-tackle fishing guide for many years, and spends much of his free time windsurfing, playing baseball, and hanging out at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille.

Delve into Doc Ford’s world at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, located a short drive from the Gulf Breeze Cottages property. Enjoy all your favorites including Yucatan Shrimp and world class mojitos. If you’re hoping to run into Randy Wayne White, then this is the place to do it as he can be found writing here on many nights. With 2 dining rooms and an outdoor patio, where you decide to enjoy the ambiance is up to you! Visit the brand new Doc Fords location at 2500 Island Inn Rd.