We flew into Tampa this trip, it saved us 2000.00$$$ So we kind of had to... but I sure missed not landing at RSW. It took us just a little over 2 hrs, going down 275 from Tampa airport then onto I-75 the rest of the way. Apparently going down that 275 way saves about 20 minutes in drive time, from what we were told. I have to confess that our family, particularly my husband and I, we get a little.........um.....cranky, to put it lightly, when we travel. So after a 10 hour day of travel, finally going over the causeway, the blood pressure starts to drop, the kids quit bickering, and then we hit Periwinkle and we take a big sigh,.........we are home. Everyone else here is just a tourist, touring my home, or so I pretend.
We pick up keys, and head to Pointe Santo. We stayed in E31 this year. It was in a great location. The breezes were plentiful coming off the gulf onto the lanai. I was really grateful that we had an upper unit to catch those breezes, especially in July. I also was grateful for the ceiling fan on the lanai, and I will always make sure there is one in any place I rent from now on. It helps so much, not just with being able to tolerate the heat, but to keep the noseeums away. The condo is the best stocked one I have had on Sanibel. The people have owned forever there, and the kitchen had more in it than any other I have seen. There is also a small lanai off the kids bedroom, so my son could put his fishing gear there and not litter our main lanai with all his stuff.
Ok, so we were there for 2 weeks and after the 1st day, all the other days run together, so I will just point out the highlights.
I conducted my own “Buffalo Shrimp throw-down”. I tried some from, Biddles bucket, Doc Fords, Key lime bistro. Doc Fords wins it hands down. The texture was crispy and the shrimp fresh. The other places the texture was dull, the shrimp seemed like the frozen type you buy at the grocery and bake in your oven, and then toss in sauce. Just soggy and uneventful, but Docs was really good.
Biddles Bucket: We ate here twice, not because the food was just out of this world, it was good, but it had great prices and kept the kids entertained. Upon entering the restaurant there are buckets of games that you can take to the table to play. In the back is a game room area with a big screen Playstation and other games. The food was good and the prices were great. Finally, a place not charging 25 to 35$ for dinner. The Frogmore stew was good, and no it does not contain frogs. Just shrimp, sausage, onions and corn simmered together. Also fried pickles are good. A pitcher of beer is 7.99. This was the place we went to the first night, and it was a great place to unwind after a long day and let the kids play. The decor could definitely use a facelift. Bright green walls with a black ceiling and dingy floors. The owner was there and I told our server to please tell him that the black ceiling needed to be changed if nothing else. Apparently no one cared for my decorating tips, since the owner just started laughing!
Sweet Treats: I had planned all along to order take out from this place, but I never did! I just had sweets, which were delicious. The coconut gelato is decadent and creamy. The Chocolate Fantasy cake is enough for 2 and so good. I also had a frozen chocolate covered keylime pie on a stick. I liked it however my family was not that crazy about it. I did have some shrimp bisque soup one day, and did not care for it. There never was much business there, the parking lot was always empty and few people in the store when we visited. They need to market themselves a little better, and display more of the items they prepare.
DocFords: Twice, because we love it, and it is the only place in Florida that puts some “kick” into their seafood. We would order lots of appetizers and Yucatan shrimp and split everything.
Gramma Dots: I kept thinking of Sunny when I was here, because I know our waitress had to be the one she had that spilled beer on her kid and didn’t apologize. She was a pretty blond that is not very friendly and could give a rip if something is not to your liking. Am I right? Our food was good, and we had no problems, but I witnessed another table that were not happy, and that waitress was less than helpful. The food here is always consistently good, and we only do lunch here since their prices are sky high for dinner. It does irritate me that they do not offer refills on their soft-drinks.
Key lime bistro: We ate here out of desperation, for some reason. The prices are so insane for what you get, we ordered some appetizers to split, watched that ants crawl all over our table, and got out of there as fast as we could. Will not go back unless desperate again (for a reason I can’t remember why!)
Sanibel cafe: Sooo very friendly staff here. I will make an effort to come back every visit. We ate breakfast here, pancakes are great, everyone was happy with their meal.
Island Cow: Staff was nicer here than usual, but the food was so-so. It always has been a so-so place for me, but my hubby likes it so we always have to go. This time, he agreed that the food was just ok and we can find better at other places.
Cheeburger: It was rather dry meat this time around, not nearly as juicy as usual.
Amy’s over easy: I love the atmosphere of this place, and the staff was very nice. Breakfast was good as usual.
East End Deli: We ordered take out breakfast sandwiches, very good. Great place to grab a bite when going to the pier to fish.
OK, so on to other things besides food....if we must. I could not believe how CROWDED it was the first week we were there. What the heck?!! Pointe Santo seemed to be bursting at the seams. The beach was a sea of people. I go every summer, usually over Memorial Day, and I have never seen it this crowded. We would ride our bikes way down some days on Westgulf to the beach access sites to get away from the crowd. That crowd did die down as the week went on, and I did not find it to be as crowded the next.
My teenage son, the fisherman, fished every day all day. He was very successful. Caught lots of Snook, black tip sharks, Spanish Mackarel, Snapper and others. He even caught a Snook in his bait net one time! A couple of nights we were able to throw some of his catches on the grill.
We did go out on a charter one day with Captain Rob McKay. Bean did you recommend him? He is a very friendly funny guy. The fishing could have been better, but it was still fun. It was HOT. That was the only time I truly felt uncomfortable with the heat. The tide was a “dead tide” so there was no breeze for a while. When the tide starting coming back in we finally got some relief and the fish started jumping and coming back to life. A storm rolled in soon as well and we had to cut it short by an hour, so we were not charged the full amount. We saw Manatees, my first time for that, and dolphins playing in our wake, love that.
Shelling: Ok but not that great. We are admitted snobs though. We did bring home a large ziplock full, but in the past we have had way more than that. One day my husband and son were at beach access 7, trying to fish around “the rocks”. They were waist deep or more in water, getting their feet scrapped up on the rocks. My husband reached down to pick up something that had cut his foot, and found it to be a huge horse conch. It is about a foot long. So he has been laboring over it for a while, picking off the barnacles, and now we have to get rid of the black on it. Can we bleach it??
Noseeums: OK, I sacrificed my body to these horrible creations, that should have never been created, so that I could provide the best advice for how to keep them from biting and what helps the bites. Here are my findings.
Repellents- nothing works really. I tried them all. Deep woods off is very oily, and I watched them still land on me, still sting, but die in the oil. I was then covered with little black dots all over my oily legs and arms. I got bit no matter what repellent I used.
These bugs CANNOT fly in the wind. That is why they are out more at dusk and dawn when the wind is down. However, I discovered that at low tide the wind dies down, (Capt Rob told me this), and we would get attacked during low tide times. One late afternoon, sun is out bright, hours away from dusk, we were sitting around the pool when all of a sudden the little #@#%@# bugs started biting. Everyone around the pool jumped in the water. My poor son was at the pier fishing at that time, and he literally was covered with hundreds of bites on his arms and legs.
So the only true prevention is not to be out when the wind is dead. Or be immersed in water and come up for air only when absolutely necessary.
Treatment: Tea Tree Oil- this really does work, but you have to be diligent in applying it several times a day, and at 3 am when you wake up itching. It stinks to high heaven, but my son and I used it religiously, and our bites were gone in a couple of days. I was shocked at how well it worked for him especially; he was absolutely COVERED in bites.
My 5 year old learned to swim in the pool at Pointe Santo. YEAH!
He also learned to go on a VERY long bike ride. He had just learned to ride his bike a couple of weeks before heading down, so I was a wreck with him on the busy parts of the bike path, like near Periwinkle. One day, we biked to Amy’s for breakfast, then down Periwinkle to Dixie Beach blvd, all the way up that very long road. Explored that area a little bit, then back down and had lunch at Cheeburger, then back to PS. So we did break it up a bit, but that was still very long ride for the little guy with an even littler attention span.
My daughter and I got our shopping fix in. We bought little “Sanibel Sandals” charms at Shiny objects. We decided that would be our new tradition, to buy a different one of those each time we visit. FYI, if anyone is looking for old looking nautical maps of Sanibel, they sell them for 3$ at the Sanibel Historical museum. The sell the same exact one at Sanybels finest for 25$.
Overall it was a great 2 weeks, each time we visit it seems to be getting more lush and beautiful since the hurricane. If only it were easier to get there. Coming from Denver seems to be more of a challenge than ever in finding a flight. I am already going to look into Spring Break, we will see if it is doable. I may already be too late to book during that busy time.
Cheers everyone, thanks for thinking of me, I thought of all of you and your experiences and advice offered while I was there.