Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sanibel Island

We've been going a bit stir crazy with all the rain and wind and cool weather.  We had to get outta-de-house!  Even though the forecast called for some rain, the temperatures promised to be balmy so we made a break for it!  A road trip to Sanibel Island seemed like just the thing to lift our damp spirits!

Pathway to Bowman's Beach
We drove the 160 or so miles, much in rain, but clearing as we neared the island.  Maybe we would get lucky today!  

We had no idea what to expect of Sanibel.  A short stop at the visitors bureau later, and we had a plan.
Final approach to Bowman's Beach

No room for shells, but looking for shark's teeth
The island is known for it's fabulous shelling opportunities.  The island is a part of a large plateau extending into the Gulf of Mexico for miles, acting as a shelf for the shells.  It also runs East to West, where many of the barrier islands run North to South.  Shelling is a popular pastime on the island, where we, as those before us, developed the "Sanibel Stoop".  

The beach reminded me of Loblolly Beach on Anegada.  No pink sand or reef, but it had a "feel" to it that took me back there.  The place was understandably popular, with many people out enjoying the respite from winter as we were.  

Our Sponge
A kind "local" offered me some fine shells, but I had to decline.  We have no room on the boat for the kind of shell collection I would drag home, so I must resist.  But that doesn't mean I couldn't find room for a few shark's teeth should they make themselves available...  Sadly, I found none.  But we did find a sea biscuit and a nice little sponge.  My daughter gladly accepted those for her own collection.

A brief shower did nothing to lessen our enjoyment of this gorgeous white sandy beach.  But, with only the one day to spend, we must be moving on...  Our next stop was the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. 

Yellow Crowned Night Heron
We drove through the refuge with frequent stops to take pictures of the abundant bird population. 

The refuge was well laid out with frequent stops.  They have informative plaques providing interesting historical facts...

But I'm here for the BIRDS!

We watched the pelican's dive for food

We watched an Osprey eat this big fish
One more stop remained...  The Sanibel Lighthouse.  

You know how I love lighthouses...

Unfortunately, this one was not open for climbing, but in looking at it, maybe climbing would not have been much fun anyway!  

It looks kind of spindly.  I've never seen one quite like this before.  We took a quick look and it was time to head back to Clearwater.  

It had been a full day of sightseeing.  We visited the "touristy spots" which is a nice change from the secluded anchorages we're used to.

The island is a curious mix of many places we've been...  A little bit of Cozumel, a pinch of Anegada, a healthy dose of Hawaii...  All rolled into one.  We wondered how it must be to grow up on a small island like this, and yet, be in the USA.  

We will probably stop over at Sanibel again, but the next time... will be afloat!


  1. “People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.” ― St. Augustine

  2. You two are in our neck of the woods we just moved from. New Port Richey just north of Tarpon Springs. Since you are heading south, either out in the Gulf or ICW one of our favorite places to stop/stay is Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa or go see Cabbage Key too. If you need a stop overnight a place we highly recommend is the Crow's Nest marina in Venice and be sure to eat at Crow's Nest Restaurant (downstairs for the best burger and clam chowder you've ever had, upstairs is dressey and $$) right there at the marina. If you want to go exploring the marina will let you use bikes for free!
    We love travelling down the ICW so much to see and enjoy! Lots of dolphins too! Enjoy! Hope to meet you when you get to the Keys. Renee and Ryan

  3. Thanks for the advice! We've GOT to start writing this stuff down! Another friend told us that Venice was a nice place to go and we LOVE clam chowder!!! We'll be here in Clearwater visiting with the kids until the end of January, then making our way once again. We haven't begun to plan yet, but I guess the time is getting away from us. Time to START! Thanks for your comments and we'll get to the Keys eventually! Wait for US!!! What is your boat's name?

  4. "RR Dream" She is a 38' Leopard catamaran, we are on the ocean side in a small marina in Tavernier. Ryan and Renee; S/V RR Dream