Friday, April 27, 2018

Sanibel & Captiva Islands -- A Magic Retreat

Located just off Ft. Myers beach, Sanibel is a great place to spend a weekend (or week) just relaxing island style. What's different is that instead of running north south as most coastal islands do, Sanibel runs east-west, which makes it a great place for shelling. But it has a lot of other amenities, too.

Along the southern beaches of Sanibel.

This is a typical Sanibel beach

The west side of the island is a little less congested than the east. On the east side, you will find the old lighthouse and a lot of residences. The hotels/motels run along the southern side. The northern side has an intercoastal waterway and has quite a bit of undeveloped land, including a wildlife sanctuary.

The lighthouse

"Ding" Darling Wildlife Sanctuary

The sanctuary can be driven on a loop road. We've done that several times. They offer parking at certain areas so you can pull off and check out the scenery. On our last visit, we rode our bikes around the loop. There's a nominal fee to enter.

At the visitors' center

One of the stops overlooks a lake that always has bird life.

Peeking out from the woods.

I saw this guy from high above on a boardwalk.

Lots of water birds are seen in this sanctuary.

Sometimes you see a lot, sometimes you see none.

This is right outside of the sanctuary on the main road.

The beaches

Both Captiva and Sanibel have spectacular beaches. If you are staying on the beach, you'll have miles of beautiful white sandy beaches to explore. If you drive in for the day, it's more limited but there are a few public places. Bowman's Beach on the west end of Sanibel is available. Turner Beach, just past the Sanibel-Captiva bridge has limited parking. If you eat at certain restaurants on Captiva, you can walk down from the restaurants (more on that later).

Sunset is a beautiful time on the beach.

These guys are taking advantage of fish biting on Turner Beach.

During certain times of the year, you will find sea turtle nests. Do not touch!

Sunset when the tide is high.

Common shells.

Sea weed.

Some of the shells I collected.

View from our favorite motel.

Suggestions for places to stay and to eat

The Bubble Room on Captiva

Our friends and family know that this is our FAVORITE place to eat on the islands. The food is good, the prices not sky high (but not cheap) and the entire place is a treasure trove of kitsch.

Welcome to the Bubble Room. There's parking next to the restaurant but sometimes it gets crowded. There's overflow parking across the street.

My favorite -- Bubble Bread. 

The bar

The entrance

Every table is a shadow box of 30s, 40s, and 50s kitsch

It's called The Bubble Room because it has a lot of bubble lights in the decor.

For special occasions

Christmas is one of its themes

The Mucky Duck on Captiva Island

The Mucky Duck is an English pub with great food. It's located right on the beach in Captiva, so if you have to wait for a table, you have a beautiful place to wait. There is also outdoor seating.

The Mucky Duck is located on a dead end street, right on the beach.

You can't see it, but there are yellow duck foot prints leading to the restrooms

Food served with panache.

If you ask for a table by the window, they'll seat you in the middle of the room or in the back and wheel this portable window by you. Location is by the luck of the draw!

The indoor waiting area and bar.

The Over Easy Cafe on Sanibel

This is our favorite breakfast place. We usually bike down to it. It's in a small shopping plaza with some really unique shops. If we have to wait, I go shopping.

I usually eat my breakfast before I think about taking photos. So here's the coffee cup!

The shops have a pond with an interesting inhabitant.

The Island Cow on Sanibel

Voted an Island Favorite, we usually stop here on our way to the hotel for lunch or dinner. It is here that my husband learned to fix black beans and rice with a bunch of trimmings! Be sure to speak clearly to the waiter ... I once asked for shrimp tacos and got fish tacos. We try to eat outdoors but have eaten indoors once.

The Island Cow has an extensive menu and it's very reasonable.

Another place we eat is called Cheeburger, Cheeburger which is one of the shopping plazas on Periwinkle drive. It has your usual burgers and shakes and its pretty darn reasonable.

The only fast food place is a Dairy Queen on Periwinkle drive.


Shalimar Cottages and Motel on Sanibel

This claims to be the motel that is closest to the water on all of Sanibel and from what we've seen, that's true. There is a wing that has efficiency motel rooms and then there are several cottages you can rent. There's a pool but I rarely see anyone in it because everyone is at the beach. The cost is about as moderate as you can get on these islands. It's nothing fancy, but since we discovered it, we haven't stayed elsewhere.

We've also stayed at the West Wind Inn which is a resort even farther west. It's the last motel on the beach (furthest west). Their prices are a little steeper but they do offer a nice pool and bar, along with grills. The water is a little farther walk than Shalimar but not bad.

We've also stayed at Tween Waters Inn on Captiva, but it was remodeled after one of the hurricanes and raised their prices accordingly. It's across the road from the beach in Captiva.

We've never stayed at the South Seas Resort on Captiva but have friends who have and they loved it. But it's pricey. They do run specials occasionally.


One of the big activities on Sanibel is bicycling.  You can rent bikes or bring your own. There are no hills with which to contend. The paths are wide and made for leisurely riding. 

A bridge over a small culvert on the bike path.

We spotted this guy in a canal in a residential area when riding our bikes on the path. They won't bother you if you don't bother them.

So there you have it. Now you know why we love Sanibel and try to go there every year (usually on our anniversary but sometimes on my birthday). Try to stay at least two nights. You can pack a lot in during that time.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Downtown St. Petersburg 2016

We don't live in St. Petersburg but close by.  We enjoyed walking around this morning and then took a slow trip up Central Avenue.  It really is changing and becoming pretty cool.

The Saturday morning market featured the jazz band from Lakewood High School

The tables were full with people eating, drinking and enjoying the music.

Even the vegetables are artfully displayed.

These meters are for a good cause; donations go to helping homeless families.

One of the many, many murals that are adorning the city.

One of my favorite downtown eateries -- Moon Under Water.  Indoor or outdoor seating and every day there's a different menu.  It's always an adventure.

This is 400 Beach, another restaurant that has indoor and outdoor seating.

The Morean Arts Center has a Chihuly exhibition.

Dolphin art.

The Vinoy Hotel -- fancy place to stay (also supposedly haunted).

The marina at the Vinoy.

Straub Park ... where we stopped for a snack of trail mix and water.

A banyan tree on Beach Drive.

Close up of the banyan tree.

I think this is a Royal Poinciana tree next to the Museum of Fine Arts. 

Ferg's sports bar is a short walk from Tropicana Field.

A vintage store with some craft booths.  I got a glass of lavender lemonade here.  Yum!

A mini-Powell's book store ... good selection of new and used books (and they have a map, too).

It was in the mid 70s for most of the day.  Come visit!