Everglades Day Safari

If you are planning to book into Gulf Breeze Cottages, you may have heard that Sanibel Island’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Drive is closed for maintenance for the summer.

Airboat Tour - sawgrassDon’t despair! There’s a very attractive alternative, with tours departing daily – Everglades Day Safari.

Every Everglades Day Safari adventure includes:

  • Round trip transportation – local pick-up and return for Sanibel is at the Residence Inn on Summerlin Blvd., just off the Causeway
  • A highly-trained naturalist guide
  • Nature walk under the canopy of cypress trees
  • Boat cruise into the Ten Thousand Islands mangrove forest in Everglades National Park
  • Lunch
  • Wildlife drive through the pine savannahs and cypress forests of Big Cypress National Preserve
  • Airboat ride through sawgrass prairies and pond apple forests of the Everglades
  • Take-home Bonus: a 64-minute Wildlife of the Everglades DVD (one per booking)

The Everglades Day Safari has been awarded the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism’s prestigious Gold Level Certification for Ecotour Operators.

Find out more about Everglades Day Safari at  http://ecosafari.com

By the way, full-day tours booked prior to September 30, 2013 may receive a 10% discount. Ask about it when booking.

BIG Arts Technology Workshops

Feeling flummoxed by technology? i-this? And app-that?

We tend to think of BIG Arts (our Barrier Island Group Arts Organization) as exclusively about “art” but, in November, while you are staying on the beach at Sanibel’s Gulf Breeze Cottages, you could be getting caught up with things technological. Technology guru, Gerard Damiano, is offering workshops at very reasonable fees.

Here’s the proposed class schedule:

  • iPhone Lesson1: basics –  Mon. 11/11/13 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Cloud Computing – Mon. 11/11/13 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  • iPad Lesson 1: basics – Tues. 11/12/13 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Photo for Macintosh – Tues. 11/12/13 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Master Your Music with iTunes – Wed. 11/13/13 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Essential Apps – Wed. 11/13/13 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  • iPhone 2: Intermediate – Thur. 11/14/13 9:00 am- 12:00 pm
  • Productivity for iPad & iPhone – Thur. 11/14/13 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  • iPad Lesson 2 : Intermediate – Fri. 11/15/13 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Photography with your iPhone – Fri. 11/15/13 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm
  • iPhone Lesson 3:Email & The Web – Mon. 11/18/13 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Entertaining Apps – Mon. 11/18/13 2:00 pm – 5:00
  • iPad Lesson 3: Email & The Web – Tues. 11/19/13 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Facebook and Social Networking – Tues. 11/19/13  1:30 pm – 5:00 pm
  • iOS7 for iPhone & iPad – Thurs. 11/21/13 9:00 am-12:00 pm
  • Searching with Google – Thurs. 11/21/13 2:00 pm- 5:00 pm
  • Create Art on your iPad – Fri. 11/22/13 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
  • Advanced Apps – Fri. 11/22/13 2:00 pm -5:00 pm

For more information about workshop requirements, fees, available spaces, workshop venues and general questions, please call (239) 395-0900.

E Awards

Guests staying at Gulf Breeze Cottages expect superior treatment on Sanibel Island. We know that when you experience it, you respond with a generous “thank you”.

Now there’s another way to say “thank you” by recognizing the person who gives you excellent service. You can do that by nominating the person for an E Award, Lee County’s system for encouraging outstanding service and recognizing those who deliver it.

To nominate the person who gives you great service, please read the full program description, then follow the link at the bottom of the page. All nominees are invited to a presentation breakfast that honors them. When you nominate an employee, whether at Gulf Breeze Cottages or another island establishment, you help us make Sanibel Island an even nicer place to spend your vacation.

Nominations are due by August 2, 2013. We say “thank you” for participating.

Clyde Butcher at the Southwest Florida Museum of History

Looking for a break from the beach? Staying on the beach at Gulf Breeze Cottages can be a marvelously relaxing and refreshing experience. But, if you yearn for something a little different, head to the River District!

A vibrant butterfly has emerged from the cocoon that was downtown Fort Myers (aka “The River District”). From the world-class historic quality of the Edison-Ford Estates, to revitalized First Street with numerous sidewalk eateries and Firestones – a rooftop bistro overlooking the new river basin, the Caloosahatchee River and the unique Art of the Olympians Gallery, there’s a good day’s entertainment in the River District.

An added attraction is an exhibit of Clyde Butcher‘s black & white fine art photography at the Southwest Florida Museum of History titled, The Photographic Journal of Clyde Butcher.  This exhibit of works by the world-renowned large-format photographer takes you on a journey through his process of inspiration and creation culminating in his spectacular nature portraits.

The exhibit runs through July 28. Call (239) 321-7430 for more information and directions.

Spend Independence Day Sanibel Island

Sanibel celebrates Independence Day with exuberance and hometown warmth. During the daytime, a homespun, patriotic parade makes it’s way down Periwinkle Way.  It’s a real “people’s parade”, made up of floats and vehicles sponsored by local businesses, groups and families.

The culmination of the day is, of course, fireworks. This year’s fireworks display takes place Thursday night. As in the past, the pyrotechnics will be launched from a spot near the foot of Bailey Road. They shoot into the night sky over San Carlos Bay just northwest of the causeway.

That makes the causeway islands a superb spot from which to watch the star bursts. Park your car free, set up some camp chairs and get ready to demonstrate your “oohs” and “ahhhs”. (There is a county toll – $6, unless you have a transponder – to enter the causeway from the mainland. There is no toll going to the mainland.)

Some causeway pointers from a frequent user:

  • Traffic after the fireworks can be overwhelming. So many cars; so little roadway. Be prepared by parking with your vehicle pointing toward the roadway. You really don’t want to be backing up into traffic.
  • Park on the west side of the causeway (your left as you leave Sanibel). That makes an easier right turn to return to Gulf Breeze Cottages.
  • Bring bug spray.
  • There are public restrooms on the causeway. But, given the user base at this time, you are advised to follow your mother’s advice and “go” before leaving home.
  • Be wary of fellow watchers with fireworks brought from home. While technically not approved, they show up anyway. Keep the youngsters under control so the excitement doesn’t send them running towards unexploded firecrackers or glowing sparkler embers.

If all of this sounds too dicey for you, check out the Chamber of Commerce event on Sanibel at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club. It’s good value at $5 for parking.

Have fun, wear red, white and blue and bring tissues for when your eyes tear up, Patriot.

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.