Rare Turtle Sighting on Sanibel Island!

As you know, Turtle season has begun! And how better to kick off the 2018 season than with a unique and astonishing rare turtle sighting.

Earlier this month The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) discovered a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nesting right here on Sanibel Island.

This sighting is only the third time a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle has nested on Sanibel Island since 1967. These sea turtles are one the most endangered and smallest type of sea turtle in the world.

The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle has often been confused with the larger but similar-looking loggerhead turtle. At adulthood, Kemp’s ridley turtles reach about 2 feet in length and weigh up to 100 pounds. The Kemp’s ridley can be identified by its yellow bottom shell and broad, gray top shell, which is heart-shaped and filled with ridged scales.

A female Kemp’s ridley turtle can lay up 110 eggs at a time. Some females breed annually and nest an average of 2-3 times in a season at intervals of 10 to 28 days. Hatchlings are black on both sides.

Historically, Kemp’s ridley turtle populations declined due oil spills, beach traffic, beach development and predation on nestlings. Boat propellers as well as trash, plastic, and improperly disposed of fishing line and equipment can also injure sea turtles.

Help us keep our turtle visitors safe. After the sun goes down, please turn off or shield all lights that are visible from the beach, including closing window blinds. Do not use flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach.

If you have any questions or concerns about nesting or injured turtles, you’re asked to call the SCCF Sea Turtle Hotline at (978) 728- 3663.

Turtle Season on Sanibel Begins!

Every year Sanibel Islanders and visitors get all excited at the beginning of Turtle Season on Sanibel… and then the waiting starts. Turtles usually appear overnight to bury their clutch of eggs. When the morning comes the Turtle Patrol, local animal conservation groups and organizations, monitor the activity and place the protective barriers around the new nests. And then we wait!

Later in the Summer is the time where all this activity comes to a head and the newborn turtles make their way out of the sands, scrambling to get up to the surface and out to the water. This is the second half of the critical call to locals and visitors alike to keep the lights off on the beach because the babies are attracted to reflections in the water and may get confused by artificial lighting. If they head towards an artificial light, it may lead them away from the beach and cause exhaustion and distress that may ultimately take their lives before they reach the life giving seas.

Turtle nesting has been monitored on Sanibel Island since the 1950’s making it one of the longest turtle monitoring study in the history of the United States. The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) Is the entity that tackles more than 18 miles of beach daily to complete this daunting task!

Please use their helpful list to keep our beaches sea turtle friendly.

  1. Turn off or shield all lights that are visible from the beach.
  2. Do not use flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach. If necessary, use amber or red LED bulbs
  3. Do not disturb the screens covering nests. They prevent eggs from being eaten by predators and the hatchlings emerge through the holes without assistance
  4. Remove all beach furniture and equipment from the beach at night
  5. Dispose of fishing line properly to avoid wildlife entanglement
  6. Fill in large holes that can trap hatchlings
  7. Do not disturb nesting turtles – please do not to get too close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles
  8. Pick up litter

If we all work together to keep our sea turtles safe and comfortable, we’re sure to enjoy this magnificent creature’s presence on Sanibel Island for years to come!

Late March Activities on Sanibel Island – Easter on Sanibel

Spring has sprung here on Sanibel Island! Not only is the island abloom with Pentas, Coreopsis, Mexican Heather, and more, but exciting activities are also abound across the island.

Families on Sanibel Island during the month of March will have the opportunity to attend one of Southwest Florida’s premier springtime celebrations. The Children’s Education Center of the Islands, also known as CECI will host the 24th annual Sanibel Spring Festival on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Held at the Sanibel City Park, next to the Playground on Periwinkle Way, you and your family are invited to join other visitors and locals from 9:00AM to 11:00AM for a morning of springtime activates, island style. The festivities will begin at 9:00 sharp with a free Easter egg hunt for children of all ages.

Following the Sanibel Island Easter egg hunt, games, contests, and crafts will begin immediately and will continue until 11:00 AM. The whole family is sure to enjoy the pony and unicorn rides, a bounce house, giant slide, face painting, and many other crafts and games. Make a memory that will last forever and get your annual photo with the Easter Bunny right here on Sanibel Island! The festival will also include a silent auction with written bid sheets from over 60 baskets to choose from! A $10 armband will allow each child unlimited fun to participate in all activities.

Want to spend the day on the water? Join Adventures in Paradise and hop aboard for their annual Easter Cruise. Cruise across San Carlos Bay surrounded by sun and dolphins! The tour is narrated by a knowledgeable Captain and Naturalist. Bottled water will be provided. The entire tour group will arrive at Picnic Island to search for over a thousand eggs. Easter pails are provided. Egg hunt is for those 11 years of age and under.

Learn more about the tour here.

Sanibel Island Deals 2019

Enjoy a Sanibel Island vacation without breaking the budget!

Imagine, relaxing on the beach, toes in the sand, sun on your skin, without a care in the world—especially because you’re enjoying the best of Sanibel Island without the guilt of overspending on your vacation. Enjoy your well-deserve Sanibel Island vacation with us, right here at Gulf Breeze cottages! Whether you are a long-time return guest, or first-time visitor, we always aim to provide the best Sanibel Island vacation experience at a price point your family can afford.

At Gulf Breeze Cottages, we are pleased to announce our 2019 Pre-Season Spectacular Sale-ebration! Secure your 2019 Sanibel Island vacation NOW at our best possible rates.

Join us in 2019 on the following dates for a reduced rate on many of our units:

– January 2, 2019 – January 19, 2019
– February 1, 2019 – February 9, 2019
– March 4, 2019 – March 9, 2019
– March 18, 2019 – March 25, 2019

Act now to ensure your desired unit is available for you during your time on Sanibel Island. These offers can only be redeemed by telephone. Please call us now to speak with one of our Vacation Experts at 1.800.388.2842 or 239.472.1626.

These Sanibel island specials are not valid with any other offer or promotion, and a 3-night minimum night restrictions applies. Excludes holiday periods.

Additionally, follow us on Facebook for additional “social media only” sales. Our Facebook page is located here.

We hope your family will choose Gulf Breeze Cottages as your 2019 Sanibel Island escape. From efficiency units to gulf-front beach cottages, we are proud to offer a selection of Sanibel Island rentals for your family. What are you waiting for? Book today!

Calusa Shell Mounds on Sanibel

Sanibel Island lies directly in the territory of the ancient Calusa Indians whose empire stretched across the entire southern half of Florida. Unfortunately, there are not much on the surface left of their massive settlements and dwellings built upon the large shell mounds.

The Calusa were the indigenous people who occupied most of Southwest Florida befort the first Spanish Conquistadors arrived on the west coast of Florida. The skilled native tribe lived off of the land and sea utilizing every resource that the surrounding natural environment provided. This includes the shells leftover from fishing, eating, tool making and more. The Calusa would harvest the shells from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, eat the animal within and retain the shells as building material and tools. The shells would be piled in mounds that served as dwellings, temples and the like.

For a closer look you have to take to the trails on foot in a fun and interesting journey of discovery on the Sanibel Shell Mound Trail, located a short drive from our property. The trail shows you the remnants of ancient Calusa homes and by studying the artifacts located within these ancient mounds of shells you will see a highly evolved, stratified social structure, rich in religion and ritual.

Sanibel hosts a couple of these structures and the fine folks at J.N Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge offer visitors and locals alike continuous tours free of charge beginning at 1 p.m. meeting at the Calusa Shell Mound Trail parking lot at the end of Wildlife Drive in Ding Darling Preserve.

Bring binoculars, a hat, sunscreen and water to enjoy a fun and informative guided tour on the boardwalk trail. Naturalists will guide you through a world of fantastic island nature and alert you to what is currently there as far as wildlife.

The boardwalk circles the shell mounds themselves on this .4 mile trail through a tropical hardwood hammock habitat where Gumbo-limbo trees mingle with snake plants, sea grape, barbed cactus, poinciana and mimosa. Enjoy exotic bromeliads and the white mangrove which tower 30 feet into the air.

March Events on Sanibel: Getting Shelltacular!

Experience the history, culture, and natural beauty of Sanibel Island at the 81st annual Sanibel Shell Festival. Hosted at the historic and newly renovated Sanibel Community House from Friday, March 2 through Sunday, March 4, 2018.

Join Sanibel Island locals, visitors, shell enthusiast and artists from as far away as Canada, the Caribbean and beyond at one of Sanibel Island’s most cherished annual traditions. Spend the day browsing hundreds of exhibits by local painters, crafters, local vendors, wildlife experts, local eateries and more! Make sure to stop at the “Shell Tent” where shells can be bought for as little as 25 cents.

The Sanibel Shell Show is an integral part of the Shell Festival. This judged competition is the longest running and most prestigious shell show in North America. The competition between shell collectors and shell artists is open to everyone from the United States and around the world.

At the Sanibel Shell Show, you will be in awe of the art created by these international artists. Be amazed at the floral arrangements, sailor’s valentines and other magnificent works of art entered in the Shell Show.

Admission and parking is free to all attendees but for just a $5.00 donation to the local Sanibel Community Association and the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club, attendees will be granted access to all areas of the exhibit hall as well as one free admission to The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, an $11 value.

The Annual Shell Festival is the major fundraising event of the year for both the Sanibel Community Association and the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club.

All the funds raised by the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club are given in the form of grants to several local marine education and conservation organizations and for scholarship funds to the University of South Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University Departments of Marine & Ecological Science.

The funds raised by the sale of shells and shell art outdoors on the Festival grounds support the Sanibel Community House.

The Sanibel Community House is located at 2173 Periwinkle Way only an 8-minute drive or 15-minute bike ride from our property at Gulf Breeze Cottages.

Our pro tip? Ride your bike to the festival and skip the hassle of parking and traffic along Periwinkle Way.

Romantic Dining on Sanibel

February is one of our busiest and most beautiful months here at Gulf Breeze Cottages!  Demonstrated by the volume of visitors to our island, the fine, sunny skies and warm temperatures, we are in full swing of Season and loving every minute of it.

Of course, right in the middle of the month is Valentine’s Day, a warm, fun and loving holiday anticipated by all.  Sanibel is the perfect place to celebrate this great holiday, with beaches full of shells, long romantic walks at sunrise and sunset or just laying out in the sun on a lazy afternoon.  

Before that long, sunset beach stroll, why not head out and experience some of our favorite romantic dining spots on the water?

Thistle Lodge  is a beautiful Victorian style home overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. With Turrets and white washed glamour evocative of times gone by you will enjoy fine dining and incredible views of the lawn sweeping out to the beach.

Traditions, located on West Gulf Drive placed directly on the beach with a great menu, live music and truly fun atmosphere.  After your meal simply walk out the door directly onto the sand for your moonlit stroll.

Il Cielo is located just minutes away on Periwinkle Way and serves up ”Creative American Cuisine” that will sure to fill the romantic dinner bill. Beautiful ambience, charming waitstaff all combine for a memorable evening out with your special someone.  

For those extra special events, don’t forget the two premier jewelers on the the island, Congress Jewelers  and Lily & Co. Jewelers. Offering up the finest creations for world class exclusive shopping you can’t go wrong with these two beautiful galleries.

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.