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.

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!

Join us on Sanibel In June for World Oceans Day

As we slip into a slower summertime routine here on Sanibel Island, events and activities across the island lessen and leave extra time for simply enjoying the natural gifts this sanctuary island offers to all who visit.  

If you are planning to visit Sanibel Island in June, make a date with the sand and sun, kick back, relax, and enjoy this island paradise.

In addition to total gulf side relaxation, plan to celebrate beach life and everything the ocean has to offer at World Oceans Day with J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

On World Oceans Day, people around our blue planet, including the Sanibel Island community celebrate and honor the ocean. Coordinated by The Ocean Project join people from around the world on June 8, 2018 to celebrate our natural world.

Locally, J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is hosting all of the exciting day-of celebrations. Highlights of the special event include earth-friendly, upcycled crafts to take home and a ranger-led beach walk and clean-up at the refuge’s Perry Tract, accessible from Gulfside City Park. An “anti-plastic film festival” features four free film showings starting at 11 a.m.

Below is the full schedule for ocean-friendly and free fun throughout the day:

9 a.m. – Free Beach Walk & Cleanup at Perry Tract (parking fees apply at Gulfside City Park)

11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Free Make-and-Take Upcycled Crafts in the Visitor & Education Center

11 a.m. – Free showing of the film STRAWS (32 minutes)

12 p.m. – Free showing of the film Addicted to Plastic (53 minutes)

1:15 p.m. – Free showing of the film Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (57 minutes)

2:30 p.m. – Free showing of the film Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? (45 minutes)

To attend the event, park at Gulfside City Park (parking fees apply) on Algiers Lane for the Beach Walk at Perry Tract. Other events at Visitor & Education Center at mile marker 2 on Sanibel-Captiva Road, just a few miles from our front door at Gulf Breeze Cottages!

See you in June!

Sanibel Island Named Top-Rated Vacation Destination

Our beautiful island sanctuary has been recognized by mega-travel site TripAdvisor as one of “20 best places to vacation in Florida!”

TripAdvisor’s Statement:

“On blissful Sanibel, you can spend your days at the beach watching the birds or combing through the thousands of pretty shells that wash up on the sands. There’s also an impressive collection of them at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. Don’t miss the wood storks and bright pink spoonbills at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, one of the area’s most popular attractions.”

Sanibel was listed ahead of the more metropolitan vacation destinations of Miami and Orlando. Our neighboring cities of Fort Myers and Cape Coral also made the list.

As we head into summer, the entire team at Gulf Breeze Cottages invites you and your family to soak up the sun and explore Sanibel Island during your summer vacation.

We are offering several specials that will allow you to take the vacation you deserve at prices you can afford.

Enjoy great discounts starting on May 1 through June 30th with rates starting at only $185 for a 3 night stay!

Can’t make it in June? Enjoy rates from $167 for your stay dates between July 20 and July 25 and enjoy more than the holiday, but sunny skies, miles of shell strewn beaches and our Olde Florida Cottages

If you really want to relax, celebrate “National Lazy Day” with us on August 10th. Take advantage of 10% off all of our available units all month long!

See you on the sand!

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.