Monday, December 28, 2009

Go Fly a Kite on Sanibel










There are dozens of active sports to pursue on Sanibel and an earlier post detailed the adventure of parasailing.

But for those of us still reticent about being up in the air, there are other activities that may be more appealing.

Kiteboarding or kitesurfing uses wind power to pull a rider through the water on a small surfboard or a kiteboard . Generally kiteboarding refers to a style of riding known as free-style or wakestyle.

I first watched kiteboarding in Cabarete, a windy seaside resort in the Dominican Republic. That was years ago and the sport has grown in popularity since then making Cabarete one of the most frequented locations in the world.

Now, apparently, kiteboarding has become quite popular in Florida---as well as other parts of the country---and kiteboarders are a frequent sight on Sanibel, especially in the months from October to April when the temperatures are cooler and winds are stronger. Lighter thermals blow from May through September but these are less predictable.

But let's not connect the sport of kiteboarding with the previously mentioned parasailing. Kiteboarding is complex and needs both special training and equipment.

Perhaps a little tamer, the new kite sailing, offers some fun possibilities.

The new kites made for adult use are often huge, and a strong blast of air can pull even a grown male right onto his face.

And then there's the possibility of the kite blowing back into the user.

You know, this all sounds a little too adventurous for me. Next time I'm on the Island, I think I'll just stroll over to Bailey's, buy a child's kite and run with it along the beach. That is just about my speed!






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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Naked Truth: Sanibel's Naturist Hideaway






Nudity has always been an interesting concept to me.




There is nothing wrong with it per se.




Yet it is always seen within the context of lewd or funny, not just naked or nude.




And, I was surprised to hear---- given common public sentiment--- that there was a clothes optional beach on Sanibel. I thought I had been to every beach on the Island but I never saw bathers sans suits anywhere. Given that the Island is such a family oriented destination, I could not imagine where this beach could be.



Doing a little research on the net, I discovered that the beach is so discreetly tucked away I don't think anyone could find it unless they joined the naturist "club".



And, it appears from their website, that the location of the beach is so secluded that members are brought there by boat.


In fact, according to their site, it would seem that the beach is not actually on Sanibel Island itself:


Florida State law prohibits nudity in a public place including public beaches. Even on a remote section of a county or state owned beach you could be arrested if you are nude. Also, there are not any beaches on the Gulf Coast between Tampa and the Florida Keys that allow topless sunbathing. The Sanibel Naturists, along with other stakeholders, owns a small section of the beach on a bridgeless, barrier island for club members' use. Only our diligent and mindful respect for the property, and the island's other visitors allows us to continue using this privately owned property for nude sunbathing. No nude sunbathing or swimming is permitted unless our property has been properly posted with our signs, as directed by Lee County officials.


So it may be the Sanibel Naturists Club, but the Naturist beach may not be on the Island.


Regardless, the concept is congruent with what Sanibel is.


A natural place, a peaceful place.


And what's more natural than swimming in warm waters (under the tropical sun) as you were born?




Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Sanibel Grinch that Stole (A) Christmas (Flamingo)



OK, so the Grinch did not really steal Christmas, only some plastic Flamingos dressed up for Christmas that a local business had put up...


But still.... you don't think of Flamingos on Sanibel. Roseate Spoonbill, yes, Flamingos no.


And yet there are signs and images of them everywhere.


Visitors as well as residents do get a kick out of seeing these home made and creative outfits on the Flamingos.


So it seems downright un-Sanibelian and anti-Christmas spirit to pilfer from the proliferation of bright pink birds in holiday adornment.


Why would anyone want to do this?


Is it a joke?


A deliberate attempt to annoy the business owner?


A cheap (as in free) souvenir of Sanibel?


No matter. It's not nice.


The Flamingos were perfectly content to be an island attraction and they were.


But maybe it's a sign of the times. With a sluggish economy, a bad real estate market and poor job market, is anyone feeling X-masy?


Or maybe it's a political statement about the holiday.


Some people don't like the religious aspect. Some people don't like the social aspect. Some people don't like the commercial aspect.


In fact, though he is not on Sanibel, a friend of ours, a gifted and creative song writer and singer has gotten fed up with the diluted sense of Christmas and has written a protest song that is up on youtube.


It's really cute and for those reading this blog, you might want to take a look and listen and pass it on.

Just click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGcwZKz3CGo

And, oh yes, Merry Christmas one and all!



Monday, November 30, 2009

Five Good Reasons to Spend Christmas on Sanibel


Why would anyone want to spend Christmas on a tiny barrier island in the tropics?


For many, the answer lies in the question.


But for those who might be seeking a few more details, here they are:


1. Let's start with the obvious, the weather. The mornings in late December may begin briskly with temperatures in the mid 50's, but by noon they are approaching 70, generally accompanied by sunshine and dry air.


2. Although you will miss the Luminary Festival which happens on December 4, you will still be on time to enjoy the colorful and entertaining decorations. The lights adorning the palm trees and along walk ways just make the Island even prettier and more romantic.


3. The School House theater will be putting on a cute and comedic play entitled Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) to add to the holiday spirit during the time of your stay!


4. You have a great excuse to do absolutely nothing. Don't want to shop, visit Aunt Tillie, be stuck in traffic, eat just for the sake of eating? Don't worry: you can avoid all that on the Island if you choose. And you can cover your tracks so no one will find you.


5. You have a great excuse not to have to get dressed up for anyone, buy a present for anyone, have an obligation to anyone. Just put on clean shorts and a fresh shirt and you can pretty much go anywhere. Feel like a scrooge? It's ok. Keep your money in your wallet. No one is going to be looking for presents from you on the Island.


Stay up all night if you please. Get up at dusk if you want. Set your clock to Island time. Set your mind to Island "tude". This will be the best getaway you ever had!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Unanticipated and Unexpected on Unpredictable Sanibel Island



Though the word unpredictable sometimes has a negative connotation, it is only used positively here in the context of this post.




For me, from the very first visit, Sanibel Island has not been predictable. Though a nature island, it has every amenity one could ask for. Though a popular, world class vacation destination, seclusion, privacy and tranquility are easily found. Though an American enclave, it's obviously a comfortable place for people from around the world.




So the word unpredictable simply means it is and always has been full of surprises.




On our last visit, quite recently, I made good on my intention to visit the "home" of Tim, my window washer. My husband and I stopped by one day to pay a visit as well as pay for Tim's last efforts on our vacation rentals.




The first surprise was Tim's charming domain. Tim lives in a trailer in Periwinkle Park. But those who may have an established image of trailers and trailer parks need to delete that image from their memory bank. This trailer park is quite lovely and Tim's own digs are delightful. Though small, his trailer is impeccable and the best use of space I have ever seen. Entering it, one feels as though they are coming into a tent, not a hard structured space. The decor is a mix of Tim's own art, pieces he has purchased and a decor influenced by his travels and life in such places as the Sudan and Morocco. He has done much of the work in and around his trailer on his own, and has created a unique retreat for himself. The location of his trailer is arguably the most private in the park and he has built comfortable decking to enjoy the solitude and views afforded from the property he sits on.




But the location offered an additional surprise apart from Tim's place.




Here, tucked away in the island's only trailer park, is a fabulous mini zoo. Besides the pictured Cockatoo, there are swans and parrots as well as lemurs and other mammals. Apparently the owner of the park has been collecting birds for many years.





Each morning a very well informed and helpful zoo "keeper" provides daily show for visitors. Every day at 10 a.m. the zoo’s care taker talks about the birds what they like and dislike, and usually lets the kids pet the birds.




Given that Sanibel has so much wildlife, it was not at all anticipated that there would be an attraction of this nature on the island.




Even a simple day of paying bills on Sanibel ends up being something to write home about!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Holy Smoke! Sanibel's Little Neighbor Gets Things Smoking!


Captiva is a smaller island than Sanibel by far, but certainly not without its charms.




No, it does not have Ding Darling nor the miles of biking/walking trails, but its cutesy/artsy presence is greatly enjoyed.



We are aways game to go to Captiva though even that short distance from Sanibel needs a reason. And we do go over to McCarthy's Marina to catch the boats to other Islands as well as to have a bite of lunch at the outdoor cafe at the Green Flash.



Now we have one more reason to drive the 2 miles from our vacation rentals to the smaller of these two barrier Islands.



One thing we are a bit challenged by on Sanibel and Captiva is to find inexpensive (as in cheap!) places to eat where there is some atmosphere. There are the usual pizza parlors and a couple of sports bar pubs where one can eat inexpensively, but they really don't feel/look any different than anything you might find in New Jersey (or Michigan or anywhere!)



So we were delighted to find Holy Smoke, a BBQ "experience" located in South Seas Plantation. The small but sparkling clean restaurant might not attract us were it not for the spacious outdoor deck. There, with palm trees waving in the breeze, you can eat chicken wings, pulled pork and several styles of ribs.



The night we ate there we had a triple delight. We really enjoyed chatting with the chef and his assistant, both very welcoming and friendly. We also enjoyed meeting a young German couple--- with the most adorable baby---- who were the only other diners there and, at our invitation, came and sat next to us. And, though it initially alarmed us, we were amused when some neighborhood raccoons, the cutest bandits you could imagine, came around literally standing on two legs and "begging" for a hand out.



So we had nice company, two legged and four legged, good service, an "island" atmosphere and very reasonably priced food.



The food was not the best bbq we have ever eaten. Nor was it the worst. So we are hopeful it will improve. But even if it doesn't, we will be back. Finding tasty food with an outdoor environment, helpful, friendly service and good prices is incentive enough to return.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Eagle on the Beach at Sanibel




We've been on Sanibel Island for the past week.



I'm always a little perplexed at how November is such a light month for visitors to the Island as it is invariably a beautiful month with perfect temperature. This month is no different. It's been hot, sunny and breezy every day with enough cooling down at sunset to allow for the ac to be shut off and windows thrown open.



There are even fewer visitors here this November than others when we have visited. The down turn in the economy has left many vacation rentals empty and most restaurants begging for customers.


But we have enjoyed every moment here on this tropical paradise and have had a few nice surprises with meeting some lovely new people and discovering a few new places to eat.


The nicest surprise came today when I wandered to the beach by myself and sat looking at the incredible number of pelicans and shore birds gathered there. There obviously must have been a huge school of fish close in to land as the pelicans and smaller birds were diving into the gulf repeatedly coming up with tasty morsels. Also close in were several dolphin jumping for joy it seemed at the bounty of food just below the water's surface.


The most amazing sight, however, and one I had never witnessed on Sanibel, was the eagle who was walking along the beach. He appeared to have no fear whatsoever of the few beach goers and was walking up to them within arms reach.

The beach goers were racing back to their condos and houses to grab their cameras, and the eagle seemed to be waiting for their return.


When the cameras arrived, the eagle just posed and walked about close to the wannabe nature photographers.


I thought perhaps he was injured and was a bit alarmed, but after posing for a dozen portraits, he fluffed his wings and flew away, amazingly graceful in his departure.


Perhaps his friendliness is due to the fact that he has been able to garner not only admiration but some handouts from beach goers, and that would make sense.


Or, perhaps, like most "wild" creatures on Sanibel, he knows that all creatures great and small are welcome on this little island, protected and treasured.


Either way, his presence was awe inspiring.


Friday, October 30, 2009

No TREAT: The Horror Tale that Ties New Jersey and Sanibel Island





This is going to be a more somber post than most on this blog.



Although it is Halloween week-end, this is not meant to frighten.



In part it's my need to vent.



But mostly my need to spell out why/how Sanibel Island is such a special place.



I live in Essex County, New Jersey where for the last several years there has been a bitter divide among those who want to kill the deer in a nearby reservation and those who don't believe that the kill is humane or necessary.



Like most tales, there are many elements too lengthy to go into here, but suffice it to say that the emotions run high on this issue.



What runs low is the outcome, depressingly low, as the "powers that be" decide year after year that the deer must die. Despite alternatives available, the denouement is death to the deer.



OK, I've tipped my hand: I don't want the deer to be killed, not in this way, and not for the reasons given. And probably not for any reason.Yet, I have yet to hear that the alternatives to the kill are seriously considered, except by those who oppose the kill. There is little debate, little deliberation and, quite honestly, too little opposition to the kill. Those against are sincere and dedicated, but they are outnumbered. The principle is not the thing here: might makes right in Essex County, New Jersey.



That's where Sanibel Island comes in, if only in my mind.



Sanibel had for years adopted a policy of live and let live with its alligator population. In fact, when discussion did arise about killing off alligators, there was such an outpouring of emotion that those for killing were not only out numbered, they were drowned out with the crescendo of nay sayers. The alligators, said the opposition to the killing, were here first. We, the humans, must live with their presence.



But as the population grew in number and size, alarm also grew. There was one person killed some years ago that fanned the fires of concern, and when the next person died as a result of, not the attack itself, but an infection from the bite; even those dedicated to the concept of live and let live had to back down.



And so the largest of the gators were killed. How humane the killings were, I don't know, but they were successful. There have not been alligator attacks in quite some time though it is never wise to stray too close to the water sources on the Island and never is it allowed for humans to feed the gators. So there is a tacit agreement between the upright species and the long-tailed species to stay out of each other's way, and for the most part it is working.



But the process in coming to the conclusion that the gators needed some serious wild life management consideration was one no body could fault. No one wanted to kill them, it was purely a life or death situation. Even now, Islanders are reluctant to report when a gator comes close to their home as they don't want to be responsible for it's being killed as a potential danger.



So the extreme juxtaposition to me is the decision here in Essex County, New Jersey where little, if anything, stands in the way of slaughtering benign deer and the protective society of Sanibel where the sanctity of all life, alligators included, is paramount in the culture.



Sanibel is not just a place. It is a culture onto its own. It's also a state of mind. There is no other place like Sanibel.








Monday, October 19, 2009

The Art of Window Cleaning on Sanibel Island




Tim Macko is my window cleaner for both my vacation rental Blind Pass Condo E201 and vacation rental home, Toucan House. Tim comes over twice a year for both properties, does a super job and sends me the bill. He's been doing this for at least 6 years, and he never disappoints.




Half way into the client/supplier relationship, it was obvious to me in our brief conversations that Tim was more than a window cleaner and I discovered that he is an artist as well. I have been saying for these half a dozen years, that I want to see the murals and art work he creates. In his affable way, Tim is enthusiastic about the prospect. But, always the but, my time on the Island is so diffused with the things Joe and I must do for the properties, friends we want to catch up with, and the explorations we can never get enough of, the opportunity to view Tim's work as never realized.




So I just now went on a little search on the internet to see if Tim has a website.




I did not find any, but found a delightful article on him in the Fort Myers "Florida Weekly" written back in December 2008.




To be sure, none of us are simply the reflection of what we do for a living. And certainly Tim is more than both a window cleaner and a local artist. He's a world traveller, has served in the peace corp, creates murals and wall finishes for clients in several cities, some far from the Island.


But, I do see a connecting thread between his business of window washing and the obvious love in his life, creating art. To me, it's more than a connection, its a reliance on each other. Art needs light to create beauty and without glass none of it could take place.


For an artist, light, clarity and vision are instrumental enablers to the creation process. So even more than wanting clean windows, Tim needs them, providing the same for all his clients. The interdependence between art, glass and beauty is crystal clear to me!


Now that I have seen his artistry in window cleaning, I really must see his art work in person!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sanibel Island is For the Birds!



The other day I received an email from a recent rental guest at my condo. He told me about some birds he was fortunate to see in Ding Darling as he had never seen them before.

Shortly after that, I received a news alert from the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation reporting on some unusual avian visitors.

According to the SCCF news alert, the Island was, and perhaps still is, serving as a stopping point for migratory songbirds. They call this interim visit a "fallout".

The Foundation explained that hese fall outs occur when large flocks of birds get caught by frontal systems and are forced to “fall out” on the nearest land. These events happen every spring and fall to a greater or lesser degree but they vary greatly in occurrence at any one
location from year to year.

This fall out, as explained in the news alert, is one of the biggest on Sanibel in the last ten years, both in terms of number and diversity of birds. Generally, the birds will hang around for a day or two before continuing their migration into the Caribbean where they will spend the winter.

Birds seen in this fall, according to the SCCF, include: Blue-winged warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Redstart, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Swainson’s Thrush, Veery, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, and Eastern Wood Pewee.

Now that is an impressive list of seasonal visitors, I must admit, and my imagination is alive with thoughts of what the Island sounds like with so many song birds convening.

But then again, at any time of year, Sanibel offers wonderful bird sightings and wonderful bird sounds. It is an island, afterall, that is truly for the birds.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sanibel's True Colors

Prior to the last Presidential election, there was a lot of speculating on where the state of Florida was going to go.

Historically, the state wore the red in the flag.

In years gone by, Florida was always the "count on" conservative state, though the red was concentrated in the rural areas of the north.

But as folks from New York and New Jersey moved down, and Latinos and Haitians immigrated in, the solid red became subdued in color.

And once
the mortgage crisis hit, jolting the high-foreclosure state and its presidential politics it was any body's guess as to how the state would go in the Presidential election.


As everyone now knows, the sunshine state backed Obama. More Floridians voted for John McCain than Barack Obama on Election Day, but the Democrat sealed his victory in the state by winning more early and absentee votes.

An Associated Press study of 94 percent of the state's total shows that the Republican beat Obama by almost 5 percentage points on Nov. 4, but Obama trumped McCain by 11 percentage points in early and absentee balloting. Overall, Obama beat McCain 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent in Florida, becoming only the third Democrat in 11 presidential elections to carry the state.

But the red has been so diluted by blue on Sanibel, that it has nearly been extinguished.

Lively debate around politics is still alive and well, however, as residents on the Island as well as visitors to the Island, come in all shades.

Open minds and discussion of the political arena and world concerns can be found in every corner of Sanibel, so a search for pure red or pure blue on this 12 mile tropical paradise is difficult to find.

The only pure color that will reveal itself in the end of a search is green. Those who live on or travel to Sanibel largely do so for enjoyment of the environment. And they want it natural, peaceful and green. Luckily for residents and visitors alike, they will find it that way 12 months of the year!






Friday, September 18, 2009

Festivals Abound in and Around Sanibel in October



October is both a delightful as well as delicious month on Sanibel Island.

Stone Crab Season
On October 15, Stone Crab season begins.

Select restaurants celebrate the opening of stone crab season with specials throughout Lee County. Succulent native stone crab claws, one of Southwest Florida's tastiest delicacies, are that much more precious because they're available only seven months out of the year. They are usually served chilled with tangy mustard sauce, or sometimes warm with drawn butter.


The 24th Annual Oktoberfest takes place on the week-ends of October 16-18 and October 23-25. Celebrate German food, music, dancing and culture at Lee County's largest annual Oktoberfest. Highlights include authentic live entertainment from local music groups plus one direct from Germany, along with plenty of German food and beer. Gates are open Friday 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday noon to midnight and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. with church services at 11 a.m. Tickets are $5 in advance, $6 at the door. Location: German-American Club, Cape Coral. Phone: 239-283-1400

4th Annual Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival
Oct. 23 - Nov. 1
Paddlers, competitors, families and outdoor enthusiasts from around the country are expected to attend the one-of-a-kind eco-event. Ten days of festivities will include canoe/kayak races, a kayak fishing tournament, paddling clinics and demonstrations, seminars, family activities, archaeological and environmental events, guided tours, speakers and more celebrations along the Calusa Blueway paddling trail. Location: Based in nine waterfront communities throughout Lee County. Phone: 239-433-3855

If you have not as yet planned your trip to Sanibel for October, air fares are down and there are some great vacation rental condos and homes available and often discounted. Where do you think you can have a better time than Sanibel Island?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Armadillo is Strangest of All Sanibel's "Residents"

Admitting I am smitten by all things great and small on Sanibel Island, I must also concede that not every creature is created equal.

That is not to say that a mama Armadillo does not find her babies gorgeous.


Or that Jane Armadillo does not find John Armadillo enchanting.


But from my point of view, a human one, I am not sure what to make of this hard shelled digger and burrow dweller.

He looks like a rodent-snake with his pointed snout, but this little guy is a mammal.

Armadillos have short legs but can move quite quickly, and have the ability to remain underwater for as long as six minutes.

Because of the density of its armor, an Armadillo will sink in water unless it inflates its stomach and intestines with air, which often doubles its size and allows it to swim across narrow bodies of water. There's no doubt about it, he sure makes an odd duck in the water.


Armadillos have poor vision. The armor is formed by plates of dermal bone covered in relatively small, overlapping epidermal scales called scutes, composed of bone with a covering of horn. In most species, there are rigid shields over the shoulders and hips, with a number of bands separated by flexible skin covering the back and flanks. Additional armor covers the top of the head, the upper parts of the limbs, and the tail. The underside of the animal is never armored, and is simply covered with soft skin and fur.


Gestation for Armadillos lasts anywhere from 60 to 120 days, depending on species, although the nine-banded Armadillo (the only species found in the USA) also exhibits delayed implantation so that the young are not typically born for eight months after mating.

With all these peculiarities, the Armadillo makes for an unusual topic of study and one I would think children would find particularly interesting. If you know a child with an interest in wildlife, you might want to consider purchasing a little book called Dillo, written by a Sanibel resident. A fanciful story about a baby Armadillo, each page is artfully illustrated in water color depicting real life animals and environment.

Real life or works of fiction, Armadillos are among the many aspects of Sanibel's abundant nature worth taking a look at by "children" of all ages!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ghosts on the Water? Sanibel Area Offers Great Tours


Always looking for something new to do on Island, I was thrilled when I tripped across an internet page talking about a Calusa Ghost Tour! I love the idea of encountering ghosts, love indian lore and paddling along the water in a canoe. But alas, the website where these ghost tours are described and arranged appears to be at least temporarily disabled. So I was not able to get any more information but I'll keep looking and post again in the future. This is just too interesting to forget!

But as I browsed through various websites, I was happy to find other not so usual activities in the Sanibel area and slightly beyond:


* Cruise with the marine biologist and naturalist of the Adventures in Paradise tour group in their Sealife Encounter. On this excursion, you will enjoy a wonderful trip for all ages with a unique, hands-on learning adventure. Cruise the bay while watching the dolphins at play, stopping at a deserted island for netting - so wear your beach shoes! This cruise includes a natural history narration, sampling of marine animals and on-board touch tanks for viewing the catch.

* Enjoy a 90-minute Swamp Buggy Tour through Babcock Ranch . Experienced guides offer in-depth descriptions of birds, animals, plants, and the cattle and horses that are raised on the ranch. Visitors will see panthers, alligators, and many other animals living in Southwest Florida.

* See the beautiful plants and trees at the Edison Estate. Edison's Botanical gardens include more than 1000 varieties of plants imported from all over the world.

* Take a walk on the Six Mile Slough Preserve by moonlight.

Everywhere, one turns, beauty and nature abound on Sanibel Island.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two By Two: Retirement on Sanibel Island




At least 12 years ago and long before the dream of retirement was even close, I read a book by a husband and wife team about the best places in Florida to retire. Husband and wife, Betty and Richard Fox, wrote Where to Retire in Florida when the Sanibel causeway toll was still $3.00 and residences in the luxurious Sanctuary neighborhood were selling for $475,000. Now you know that was quite a while ago.




So if you were to read their guide, you would note that the details are much out of date, but their descriptions of the Island are still on target.




The book described dozens of towns and cities in Florida with a "he said" , "she said" format and rated the places where they visited with stars, 5 stars being the highest rating.




They did not always agree with each other, and Sanibel and Captiva, clumped together in their review, was one example of their discord. She said "A great place for nature and a nice place to visit, but not to stay", rating the Islands only 3 stars. But it was his words that stayed with me and helped prompt the curiosity to explore Sanibel when we were looking to purchase in Southwest Florida. "There is no spot more beautiful in Florida than the Sanibel/Captiva Islands.'' And he did give the islands a 5 star.





The page on Sanibel, as it did for all the towns they profiled, gave basic facts about the geography, weather, cost of living, crime statistics and health care available on the Island. Of course all of that demonstrated that Sanibel was a safe, comfortable place to retire to.





But their visit to and evaluation of Sanibel was what most visitors would find in a short stay: the abundance of nature, the pretty surroundings, the diversity of restaurants and shops.





Were I writing a similar book today, of course I would have to adjust all the economic factors upwards (those homes in the Sanctuary are now a million dollars and more!), but I would also provide more insiders "insights" as to why the Island is so appealing to (fill in the blank) retirees, young families, investors, vacationers. And it's much more than a pretty face, good golfing, great boating and roseate spoonbills.





The Island is a small town offering not just lots of things to do, but the ability to meet people easily. For retirees who want to be active and make new friends, it is an easy place to do both. Our friends on the Island, already retired, can't make their days stretch far enough. They have bike riding and shell collecting, they volunteer for the worthy organizations on Island and they partake of the many concerts, lectures and get togethers that are in abundance in high season.





They play tennis and take cruises, they see plays and explore the back waters in canoes and kayaks. They invite their friends and relatives to "come on down" and explore the island with them.





And for those who are one-somes and not two-somes, the opportunities for friendship and exploration are just as plentiful.





Indeed, if one were to assemble all the components of an "ideal" retirement location, Sanibel would have most, if not all the most desirable traits!






Thursday, July 16, 2009

One Picture on Sanibel is Worth a Thousand Words




Vacationers on Sanibel Island are always scurrying around seeking the perfect gift to take home with them. They want something that will remind them of the Island, not too big, not too heavy, not too expensive and something that has both a distinct Sanibel "flavor" as well as unique character.






Some vacationers choose to take home a special sea shell that they scooped from the beach and others buy a lovely token from one of the gift shops.






But most don't consider one of the nicest and most enduring "souvenirs" that will mark their holiday with a special joy every time they look at it.






A family portrait on one of Sanibel's beaches offers all the basic requirements for a very unique "take home".






The island has several photographers who specialize in portraits, and while it will cost more than a free seashell from the beach or a modestly priced souvenir from a shop; the portrait is something you will treasure forever.









Your digital pictures are nice mementos to be sure, but a professionally taken photo of the family will have two advantages. It will have a technical proficiency and it will place you in the picture.






Catch the sun setting in the golden tones of late afternoon. Wait a little longer and snap a sky streaked with multi colors. Or have the photographer use a time exposure and capture a darkening sky and emerging moon.






One picture is truly worth a thousand words, and when it is a picture taken on Sanibel, the worth of a great portrait is priceless!


















Saturday, July 4, 2009

If Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery, Live on Sanibel



Charles Caleb Colton, an 18th century cleric and writer is considered to be the coiner of the phrase that "imitation is the sincerest (form) of flattery". But Colton, who was very critical of landowners would not have approved or even understood how the phrase is appreciated by me, a landowner.




As a landowner on Sanibel twice over, I take not only pride in our vacation rental properties but great joy in offering them to vacation rental guests.




And, perhaps the nicest thing I can get back from a vacation rental guest is the remark that they had such a good time in our condo or house that they want to return to buy one of their own.




Many have made such comments in the 12 years we have owned on Sanibel, and having made them myself when I have had great vacations in a new location, I realize how infatuated anyone on a great vacation can become with their environment.




But the proof is in the pudding.




And just this week while going through my email addresses from past rental guests, I was delighted to see just how many people followed through on their infatuation.




No less than 6 couples who rented from us in the past dozen years now own a piece of paradise themselves. That's of the people I know because we stay in touch. There well may be another six who I don't know about.




And, if you add to that mix another two couples who came to our properties for the sole purpose of doing some Island real estate shopping and succeeded in finding what they wanted, that brings the total to 8.




I wonder how many vacation destinations have that kind of conversion, renter to owner?




But it's easy to understand how a good island experience inspires someone to plant some tropical roots of their own. The Island is not an inexpensive place to buy a house or condo, but the value to price is so high, that it does make you want to explore the possibilities. Just imagine, for $500K for a large condo or medium sized home, you can purchase tropical splendor, awesome wildlife, a beach that is never crowded, an enormous variety of restaurants and things to do and the ability to enjoy all of it 12 months of the year.




It's a safe environment for children, an easy environment for seniors and a stimulating environment for active adults of all ages, birdwatchers, shell collectors, boaters, biking enthusiasts and just your basic beach bums.




Taxes are not on the lowest level of possibilities, but if you live in the metro NYC or many other metro areas in the States, you will be surprised at their affordability.




Sure, your utility bills will be high in the 4 hottest months, but for the remaining 8, you will most often neither need heat nor air conditioning.




In fact, I am hard pressed to think of a reason not to convert your vacation into a home viewing expedition. Can you really name any place you would rather live?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Smitten by a Dragonfly on Sanibel Island






A dragonfly is a type of insect belonging to the order Odonata, the suborder Epiprocata or, in the strict sense, the infraorder Anisoptera. It is characterized by large multifacted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings and an elongated body. Dragonflies are similar to damselflies, but the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest. Even though dragonflies possess 6 legs like any other insect, they are not capable of walking.



The above, a definition straight out of Wikipedia, is certainly one way to look at these little critters.


But I prefer my own view.


Dragonflies were always a source of wonder for me a child spending summers on my Aunt's farm where a nearby creek seemed to be an unending source for viewing them. It fascinated me that this flying insect could make itself airborne with such light wings compared to its heavier body.


In those days we did not know the name, let alone this sophisticated information above, and we just called them darning needles.


But they came to represent those lazy summer days when we spent hours plucking cattails from the banks of the creek (we called them "punks") and letting our feet cool off in the swift flowing waters.


Now that I see "dragonflies" during most of our visits to Sanibel, though I know a little more, the fascination continues and is joined by a different delight.


Dragonflies are natural predators. Among their preferred meals are mosquitoes, and I am always happy to see the dragonflies proliferating knowing that that means there will be less mosquitoes on the Island.

And I am also enamored with all the symbolism a dragonfly engenders. They are associated with color magic, illusion in causing others only to see what you wish, and other mysticism. The are often depicted in Japanese paintings, representing new light and joy. To some Native Americans they are the souls of the dead. Faerie stories say that they used to be real dragons.

The Sanibel dragonfly does bring joy to my life on both the real and symbolic level.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sanibel and Social Media: A New Way to Look and Book




I don't know about everyone else, but there are few things as inviting for me as an inviting porch. No, not a living room or dining room or even family room. That porch is the transition between outdoors and indoors and as such speaks volumes to me about the whole concept of relaxation and good conversation.


So, having duly become one of the trillions of people to participate in Social Media, I was delighted to find a Facebook application that hits on both the invitational nature of porches and Social Media. It's called "Second Porch" , appropriately, and essentially does what Facebook and porches are intended to do. Invite good conversation.


Now, to this date, I have gotten most of my rental inquires on my condo and house through my direct marketing efforts as well as those of my respective rental offices. But I sense a change in the winds.


With Social Media growing at the leaps and bounds it is experiencing, I see more and more commercial applications evolving within the more casual and more friendly parameters of sites like Facebook.


Of course, there is a bit of hopeful thinking in this as Social Media is free as opposed to the high rates of listing vacation rentals on many of the popular vacation rental sites.


But there is probably more realism than optimism in that projection.


Personal referral creates a sense of confidence that no third party testimonial can replicate.


And through Second Porch's application, a Facebook user can choose the vacation rental as a "favorite", suggest it to other Facebook members, rate it and track it. All these functions are free to the vacation rental owner and the Facebook community in general.


As one who likes seamless friendship- to- business transactions, Facebook and specifically Second Porch have a lot to commend them as future vacation rental "go to's".



Saturday, May 30, 2009

An Extraordinary Dining Experience: Sanibel's Traders



Although it is not as extraordinary as a cat eating a melon, eating at Traders on Sanibel Island does provide something very special in the way of ambiance and culinary skills.




The spacious store turned eatery reminds me of our home on the Island, Toucan House. I was immediately comfortable with the environment when we went Traders for dinner recently with friends.




The high wooden ceilings, bright orange colored walls and exotica bedecking the dining area were all very familiar.




But aside from the similarities in spatial dimensions and decor, Traders is a very comfortable place to eat.




Tables are spaced out nicely, allowing for good dinner conversation.




The wait staff is attentive and knowledgeable about the food.




And the food itself is innovative, satisfying and beautifully presented.




Though in the higher priced category of Sanibel restaurants, it is not exorbitantly expensive and there is nothing pretentious in either the decor or menu offerings. Like most places on the Island, one is perfectly "blended" into the atmosphere in a pair of dress shorts or Capris. I did not see a formal looking outfit in the house the night that we were there.




Set back on a large parking lot, Traders has a nice landscaping around it. It does have an island flavor both outside and inn.




We were all very content with what we ordered, and the real dessert was not the sweet concoctions served after the meal but the little shopping spree at the end of the night.




Traders is not only a restaurant, it is a large and lovely store with some nice gift items from around the world as well as locally.




I will have to keep that in mind as shops on Sanibel generally close by 9 or so and the Traders' store is open until the restaurant closes which is probably closer to midnight.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sanibel Movie Theatre Perfect Respite for a Rainy Day




Though the sun is shining brilliantly once again, the past 2 days have been rainy most of the time on our little Island, as well as most of southwest Florida. The rain was really needed, and the area has greened up nicely as a result.

And the downpours provided a great opportunity to do something a little different. We have been curious about the cinema here, appropriately named The Island Cinema.

The little yellow building sits at the far end of Bailey's Shopping Plaza. Even in the rain, it beckons with its cheery color.

Once inside, the tiny lobby entertains the nose with the smell of popcorn and candies of all kind.

Even more delightful is that the triplex appears to have been recently renovated. The seats are cushy and new, looking more like theatre seats on a ship than in a land based cinema.

There are few people here on this rainy, gray afternoon, so, armed with our popcorn and a soft drink, it's our choice of seats.

We are delighted immediately as the pre-movie instructions are played out in a cartoon version of Sanibel. It is an adorable preamble to the feature film. And once again it provides the Island touch even in so simple a thing as a pre-film advisory of what is allowed and not allowed (cell phones, conversation, your own food from home, etc.) during the showing of the movie.

Unfortunately the movie we chose, Angels and Demons, does not live up to the promise of the trailers we had viewed. It is a rather ridiculous movie with an improbable plot that not even the acting talents of Tom Hanks can elevate to credibility. Were it not for the Rome location and some stunning scenes of the city by night, we would have most likely walked out.

But we sit through it, munching our popcorn and hoping that the deluge will have let up a bit when we exit.

Fortunately, it had, so we headed home, content with the theatre and fresh popcorn and despite a bad movie.

Next time we are here, we won't hesitate to return to the Island Cinema. We'll just pick a better movie!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Short Jaunt from Sanibel to Useppa Sure to Please


Though we have been coming to Sanibel for over a decade, much of our time spent on Island is devoted to sprucing up our vacation rentals.

Many of the site seeing possibilities on and near the Island have been relegated to "later" and we end up returning north before later arrives.

But the length of this current visit has allowed for a little more exploration than usual.

Yesterday, we caught a boat at South Seas Plantation and went over to Useppa Island.

Though we had been to Cabbage Key and enjoyed it, the difference between the 2 little islands is dramatic. Cabbage Key, funky and pretty much uninhabited, was fun. Useppa, perhaps even smaller than Cabbage Key, is pristine. It is a tiny tropical gem with lovely cottages and a beautiful Inn gracing the shores.

A private island, the visitor to Useppa only gets an infrequent and short lived glimpse by journeying to the Island for a lunch, look and learn. There, in the tiny museum, one can see history played out in the various exhibits and artifacts.

Continuously inhabited for ten thousand years, Useppa was home to nomadic peoples who roamed in search of food in prehistoric times. About ten thousand years ago, the Calusa civilization arose to become one of the most sophisticated native societies to have evolved in North America.

Centuries later, the waters around Useppa and the surrounding barrier islands are popularly thought to have been populated by fierce pirates seeking bounty and treasures. In one of the area's most important myths, legend has it that in the late 1700s, a Spanish pirate named Jose Gaspar kidnapped and imprisoned a Spanish princess named Joseffa de Mayorga. Gaspar the Pirate is said to have favored Joseffa over all the many women he had captured in his ocean conquests. When his attempts to capture Joseffa's heart were met with contempt, Gaspar used Useppa Island to imprison the proud princess, and the isle came to be known as "Joseffa's Island." Over many ensuing years, legend says that the changing local dialects gradually morphed "Joseffa" into "Useppa," giving the island it's unique name today.

All of this, truth or fiction, is fascinating, but not necessary to enjoying the island. It is a magical little place regardless of the veracity of the pirate myth.

Over the years, the island was purchased and developed by Barron G. Collier and utilized as a base for tarpon fishing and for entertaining the rich and famous. The island was later abandoned and used by the U.S. government as a base for the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Today, it's a wonderful spot to discover during your stay on Sanibel. As you leave the South Seas Plantation pier aboard the Lady Chadwick, you will leave the current century. Arrival at Useppa takes you to a time of quiet reflection. The island's centuries-old tradition of gracious hospitality, and it's long legacy of historical significance await you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tropical Rains on Sanibel


We have been on the island for two weeks now, the time has flown.


After 13 days of non stop sun and breezes, the summer weather is setting in.


The past two late afternoons, as is typical from June through September, the skies darkened. The winds picked up. The rain began to plop, plop on the roofs and trees. Then it poured out of buckets. Buckets and buckets of pouring rain. Buckets and buckets of roaring rain. Sometimes it is so loud, you can do nothing else but sit and listen to the rain. It's a true tropical rain. There is a beauty to it that is more ethereal than real.


The island needed a good drenching, and it is getting it. Not interfering with a full day of beaching or biking, the rains hold off until after 4, sometimes after 6. They are usually accompanied with loud thunder claps and brilliant bolts of lightning.


They will pound the trees and bushes ruthlessly for an hour or two. Then they will stop as suddenly as they began.


These are tropical rains, and they help to create yet another way to measure the day.


With non stop sunshine, one feels the island is without structure. The sun shines: you wake up to it, you see it disappear, always at the same time.


The rains create a natural segue. There is the time before the rain. Then the rain itself. And the time after the rain. It's the morning, noon, and nighttime of a 24 hour period.


Soon, you will be able to set your watch to it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ten Reasons a Vacation Rental Beats a Hotel Room: A Sanibel Perspective




Sanibel Island, laid back, tropical and natural, does not have huge and old hotels as one might find in any large city.

But there are options of inns and hotels on the Island competing with the vacation rental condos and vacation rental homes.

Since most condos are 7 day minimum rentals and almost all homes 28 day minimum rentals, if one were to be so unfortunate as to only have a night or 2 to spend in paradise, they really have few alternatives to staying in a hotel or inn.

But aside from the issue of having so much more space in a condo or house, today as we updated our phone system (now offering free phone calls to Canada and anywhere in the USA) at the condo and at our home, Toucan House, it occured to me how much value vacation rentals can provide.

Even the simplest services are add ons at hotels, even very, very pricey hotels.

And here is a list of what comes "standard" in many---- if not most---- vacation rentals that would cost you at a hotel or inn, IF they even existed:

1. The vacation rental (home or condo) will most likely offer you a complete kitchen where you can cook in rather than eat out in the hotel or inn restaurant.

2. The vacation rental will offer you a laundry room instead of laundry service that comes at additional cost.

3. The vacation rental will most likely provide free internet service at no additional fee.

4. The vacation rental will, in many instances, provide digital phone service where you can make long distances calls at no extra charge.

5. The vacation rental will offer in/home/condo DVD selections. No need to "pay on demand" for movies in many VR's.

6. The vacation rental will provide books, games and other diversions meeting the needs of a wide range of people.

7. The vacation rental will not only have available free beach chairs, towels and beach umbrellas, but also offer beach toys for kids and adults.

8. The vacation rental invites and allows for family gatherings in a home like setting. Where does the family "hang out" together at a hotel or inn?

9. The vacation rental personalizes the "guest" experience if you rent by owner and often if you rent through an agency. You will be remembered if you return. You are not just a number to the people in this industry, owners or managers.

10. The vacation rental offers free parking. Always.

Why rent a room when you can have a whole apartment or house?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Sweet Smell of Sanibel


We have been on island for a week with two more to go. Each day has been glorious and we have come at a time that offers unusual benefits.

May, although not highly popular, is a beautiful month on Sanibel.

I can only assume that the light tourism is due to families with children not having ability to travel at this time and those without feeling that the Island may be too hot.

Though this May is warmer than usual, it is still outstanding weather. The sun is offset by the breeze and we are doing our 5 mile walks barely breaking a sweat.

All of Southwest Florida, Sanibel included, is experiencing a drought and while we would like to see some rain to green things out a little more, the dry weather has created a particularly odorous island.

Ordinarily, the Island, much of it wetlands, has a swampy scent that hangs in the air. It is not unpleasant, and we have come to welcome it as iconic Sanibel. But this hot, dry spell has bleached the island of that scent.

What has replaced the wetlands aroma is the fragrance of
jasmine, honeysuckle, hibiscus and bougainvillea that seem to carry on the breeze where ever you are. It follows you from point to point and at times mixes with the smell of fresh laundry that steams out of the homes we pass.

We have never experienced the Island with such a lovely aroma greeting us, and despite our looking forward to a good drenching, we will miss the sweet smell of Sanibel we have now grown accustomed to during this stay.

Monday, April 27, 2009

When the Sparks Fly: Fourth of July on Sanibel


Spring has sprung in New Jersey and summer is closing in fast.


We leave for Sanibel Island in a couple of days, and I am hoping the weather is as warm there as it is here.


For those of us who seek eternal summer, it comes and goes much too quickly.


One barely has time to get out the sandals before the leaves are turning colors.


My Aunt Marie used to bemoan the arrival of the Fourth of July saying summer was half way over when it arrived.


But for me, the Fourth of July is the hall mark of a summer holiday. And like other holidays, it is a special time on Sanibel.


For those who want to visit the Island at that time, there is usually a great fireworks celebration to be found. Scanning TripAdvisor forums, I found this post with some good suggestions on how to see the sparks fly on and near Sanibel:


Captiva is not having any fireworks this year. South Seas Resort decided against them.


There will a parade [on Periwinkle starting around 9:30] and fireworks on Sanibel, try for a spot on one of the causeway islands for a great view.


Ft Myers Beach will be doing them as well.


Fort Myers Beach Fireworks
Wednesday, Jul. 4, 2007
Fort Myers Beach Fishing Pier & Times Square, Ft. Myers Beach
239-454-7500
Community Holiday Celebration
Independence Day Celebration on Sanibel


Wednesday, Jul. 4, 2007
Periwinkle Way and Sanibel Causeway, Sanibel Island
239-472-1080
Island Fourth of July Celebration
Red, White and Boom Celebration


Wednesday, Jul. 4, 2007
Cape Coral Pkwy., Cape Coral
239-549-6900
Independence Day Street Party


Riverfest
Wednesday, Jul. 4, 2007
Centennial Park, Ft. Myers
239-332-6813
Fourth of July Celebration


Hot dog! Sanibel summer fireworks sure light up the skies.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Home Sweet Home on Sanibel Island





Owning vacation rental properties is always a bit of a challenge.


There are the initial challenges of where do you buy, what do you buy, when do you buy?


Sanibel Island made those three questions easy for us. We loved the Island on first sight. We were so enchanted we bought both a condo and a private home. We did it at the moment it was financially feasible.


The next set of questions is how to decorate, how to market, how to price the vacation rental.


But none of those questions is as difficult as is the one that arises when you have a booking in hand for multiple months that gets cancelled. This just happened with our Toucan House for December 2009 through February 2010. The booking was cancelled 3 months out from the booking date, though 8 months in advance of the available months.


In this case, the cancellation was because our renters bought something themselves on the Island. They are very nice people who have stayed in our properties before and we are happy for them. In fact, this makes the 6th couple who rented from us and ended up buying on their own. So we feel that our properties have provided such good experiences with Sanibel that our renters strike out to replicate it for themselves, creating their own sweet home for whenever they might want to visit.


But that still leaves the vacation rental owner with the question as to how to make up for those months considered "in the bank".


Well, you contact everyone who inquired of the house for that period of time in the last few months. But, quite honestly, that is usually futile.
People who are determined to come to Sanibel don't cool their heels.If one house is not available, they will persevere and find another. Missing a winter on the island is not an option for those who find that it has gotten into their blood and under their skin.


The next step is contacting everyone you know on the Island making sure that they know of your unexpected availability. That may yield some results but it's too soon to tell.



Of course you use the various rental sites where the home is advertised and make sure that you mention the home's new status.



And then you blog. Some one, some where may read your blog post and pass it on. You never know for sure where a blog post will land.


So let's see what happens with this post. Surprise me!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Another "Novel" Approach to Understanding Florida: A Great Read for Your Sanibel Vacation


In earlier posts I have mentioned books specifically about Sanibel Island or using the Island for its backdrop.


Because having a great read on vacation is de rigueur, I delight in finding just the right book when vacationing on the Island.


One such novel, based on the history of Florida, is A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith. I read this engaging publication several years ago and was so smitten with the story I bought copies for our Sanibel vacation rental properties. Each time we visit, I have to replenish the supply as renters obviously find the story so compelling they often take the book with them.


And I don't blame them. There is nothing more frustrating than reading half a great book on vacation that does not belong to you! And Sanibel is a wonderful place to lose yourself in a wonderful read. It's hard to let go.


In this best-selling novel, the author tells the story of three generations of the MacIveys, a cattle raising Florida family who battle the hardships of the frontier to rise from a dirt-poor Cracker life to the wealth and standing of real estate tycoons.


The story opens in 1858, when Tobias MacIvey arrives in the Florida wilderness to start a new life with his wife and infant son, and ends two generations later with Solomon MacIvey, who realizes that the land has been exploited far beyond human need.


The sweeping story that emerges is a rich, rugged Florida history featuring a memorable cast of crusty, indomitable Crackers battling wild animals, rustlers, Confederate deserters, mosquitoes, starvation, hurricanes, and freezes to carve a kingdom out of a swamp. But their most formidable adversary turns out to be greed, including finally their own. Love and tenderness are here too: the hopes and passions of each new generation, friendships with the persecuted blacks and Indians, and respect for the land and its wildlife.


A Land Remembered was winner of the Florida Historical Society Tebeau Prize as the Most Outstanding Florida Historical Novel.
Buy the book. Take it to the beach. Read it at the pool. Take it home again. It's a terrific story and helps to put Sanibel in a whole new context.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Re-defining "Danger" on Sanibel


With the recent shark bite in the shallows of the Gulf of Mexico off Sanibel Island comes the usual media blitz about the dangers lurking in the waters.

But let's put this recent nip in perspective.


In the period between 1882 and 2007, there were a documented 5 unprovoked shark attacks in the WHOLE of Lee County (the county where Sanibel Island is located). And regarding attacks leading to mortal wounds, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, 4,406 people drowned in America during 1998. That's about 550 times as many deaths as caused by sharks in an average year.


OK, sharks exist, and once in a great while, one takes a human sample (and more often than not the shark is just looking to see what species the human is before attacking: thankfully most of them are none too keen on the way we taste).

Five bites in all of Lee County in 125 years is hardly worth panicking over. But if you are the panicking type, here are some suggestions for making your Gulf visits as safe as possible:
1. Always swim in a group. Sharks most often attack lone individuals.
2. Don't wander too far from shore. Doing so isolates you and places you away from assistance.
3. Avoid the water at night, dawn, or dusk. Many sharks are most active at these times and are better able to find you than you are to see them.
4. Don't enter the water if bleeding. Sharks can smell and taste blood, and trace it back to its source.
5. Don't wear shiny jewelry which does attract sharks.


But the reality is that it is unlikely that you will ever sight a shark on Sanibel much less be approached by one. And if you are approached, stay cool. Erratic movements will just make the shark curious as to whether you are edible. So be calm in your movements.


All that said, the risk of a shark bite is infinitely smaller than other "dangers" on this beautiful, tropical island. And these can be easily avoided.


Sunburn, heat exhaustion, and sunstroke are much more prevalent than are sharks. So, wear sunscreens, hats, foot protection, sunglasses and extra clothing. Rent an umbrella or sit in the shade as much as possible. Drink plenty of water. Any time you visit the beach, bag up and bring all these items and a first-aid kit down to the beach with you. A day at the beach - or an entire family vacation - can be easily ruined for each and all by bad sunburns, headaches, sunlight sensitivities, heat exhaustion or worse.



Equally prevalent is the lightning storm that can generally be spotted well in advance. Florida is the lightning capital of the USA, but not the world, the international title held by Africa. Lightning storms ares
a serious risk for those at the beach. When you see the skies darkening, leave the beach and head home. Why take the risk to see if it will blow by as it often does?


The joys of a Sanibel Island vacation outnumber 1000 to 1 the dangers. And the dangers are largely preventable. So shouldn't you be thinking of making plans to visit paradise now?