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Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

montana
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Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

First of all, I have a day and a half post cruise to spend in Florida. I'd really like to take my 3 kids sea shell hunting. They like doing that better than swimming actually. I plan to leave the port at 8:00, drive to Fort Myers, spend the night either on Sanibel or Fort Myers, and then head back to FLL the next day for a 4:00 pm flight. Is this doable?

Secondly, do you recommend staying on the island, even for one night? The prices are so much higher. I was leaning toward staying at one of the gateway hotels, or even an oceanfront room in Fort Myers beach is half the price of Sanibel. Can you still enjoy Sanibel, hunting seashells, without staying there? Is there a great advantage? If you go to the public beaches are they crowded and are the shells picked over? (finding a conch shell on the beach is on my bucket list!!) This will be Easter weekend, so I'm sure it will be a zoo no matter where we go. Any input would be greatly appreciated!!

Hell, Michigan
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1. Re: Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

I'm assuming you mean leave Miami at 8 am? Its a 3-4 hour drive to Sanibel, the traffic won't be great on Easter weekend.

So that gets you there 12 - 1 pm, then leave the next day by 9/10 am.

It's doable, but would be hectic - depends on how much you want to see Sanibel.

IF you do do it - I think I would want to stay on Sanibel -then you can get up at sunrise and walk the beach - one of the best shelling times. Ft Myers is pretty nuts then - so it would be easier to stay on Sanibel and not deal with finding parking, day trippers, etc.

IF you decide to stay on Ft Myers, there are gateway hotels near the causeway, reserve in advance to get the best rate. Parking might be tricky that weekend at any of the area beaches, mid day when you will be arriving. You could park at one of the bike rentals and ride to the beach instead.

I dont know - you could do it - I don't know if it would be worth all the driving for that amount of time.

I haven't made the drive from miami - maybe someone who has will give their 2 cents. Also - can you change your flights to leave from RSW?

Wyoming & Sanibel
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2. Re: Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

Hi, my neighbor-to-the-north!

Well, yes it may be doable, but the traffic that week-end may make it a little tougher. In good traffic, I'd plan on a minimum 3 hour drive from the Lauderdale Airport onto Sanibel but it certainly could take longer.

I'm assuming you would need to rent a car and I don't know if you've ever been on a cruise before, but it can be tough to walk off the ship that early. You'll have customs (most likely) and if you have luggage, then you will be off-loaded in a particular order.

But let's assume the best, you are off the ship at 8am & actually in a rental car by 8:30, you'll be on Sanibel by noon. Check in and change and find something to eat, maybe on the beach by 1pm. Sunset on April 12th is 7:51pm, so it gives you a nice long afternoon for shelling.

If you decide to stay off-island I'd add an extra half-hour just for the extra unloading & and loading. The biggest problem you would have is finding a place to park mid-day that week-end to get to the beach. Sanibel has limited beach parking. The largest parking lot would be at Bowman's Beach, which is towards the north end of the island (the causeway will put you on the south end). What if there's no parking? You'll just have to wait until someone leaves. So your precious time on the beach could evaporate.

I would not recommend you stay at Fort Myers Beach if your destination is Sanibel -- the traffic there can be absolutely horrific. I was trying to get to Beach Seafood in early January and sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for over an hour. If you want to take your chances with parking and spending the time driving back & forth over the causeway, then stay at one of the gateway hotels, La Quinta or Country Inn & Suites (I think that's its name).

When you are limited to public parking and beaches, and you show up mid-day, it is more likely things will be picked over, but on Sanibel that doesn't mean much -- you will see more shells than you can imagine. You will not be disappointed and the beach by most beach standards, even that week-end won't be "crowded."

Wyoming & Sanibel
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3. Re: Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

Interesting how identical our responses were, lol!

I assumed the cruise is into Lauderdale, if it's Miami, ouch! The traffic will be worse and it will take longer.

Hell, Michigan
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4. Re: Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

Shell net - I just assumed Miami, as that is the port where the cruises I have taken have left from. Now I am thinking about it - is there a car rental at the port? Won't they have to take a shuttle to the airport and then get the car?

I don't know - I think this would only be worth it if they were for sure leaving the East coast at 8 am.

Are there good shelling areas in the keys? That might be a better solution.

montana
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5. Re: Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

Yes, we cruising out of Miami but flying out of FLL. It might be crazy, but I think we are going to give it a try. My husband loves to drive, and he is awesome navigating in a new area. There is no rental car at the Miami Port but a taxi will take us just a few miles to avis or dollar. Or we could get a taxi to the airport and get a car there. I thought about going to the keys but from what I've heard the traffic is worse on that road. My sister died of cancer 15 years ago and a month before she died, she and her husband spent a week on Sanibel because she wanted to be near the ocean and she loved it. All she did was brag about the shells and the sunsets. I'd like to go there for that special reason too. I'll look into changing flights but my guess is it will cost a fortune.(nothing is cheap to and from Montana) Thank you for all your advice, especially about traffic and parking. That is why I love TA so much! What would I do without you.

Hell, Michigan
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6. Re: Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

Have a wonderful trip - I hope you find peace on the beaches of Sanibel. I am very sorry for your loss. If you need any other info, please do not hesitate to ask.

Here is a link for places that rent nightly:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g34616-i231-k20685…

If you want info on hotels near the causeway, I can get you that also.

Captiva Island...
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7. Re: Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

I would plan to be at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport very early for your flight back home. We flew out of FLL on Easter weekend 2 springs ago and it was pure heck. I have never experienced such craziness in an airport in my life. The entire airport was packed, there was no where to stand let alone sit. It took about 3 hours to get from curbside luggage check in and through security to the gate. I have flown on holidays from other airports and have never seen anything like it! Just want to make sure you give yourself enough time!

Captiva Island...
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8. Re: Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

I am so sorry, I also want to tell you that I am sorry for your loss. I do hope it all works out time wise for you and you are able to visit Sanibel.

Greenville, South...
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9. Re: Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

I have made the drive from Miami to Sanibel. It was crazy & I have driven in San Juan and New Jersey! We wound up missing our flight to Charlotte, got the last plane out to Philly, then only to fly to Charlotte and drive 1 1/2 hours to Greenville. Yuk! I wouldn't normally suggest it..

That being said, Sanibel is my favorite place on earth (so far) and any effort to get there would be just rewarded by the experience. If a conch shell is on your bucket list, best be prepared. You'll need a great big bucket for all the ones you'll find. Just remember-no live ones!

I'm arriving in May the night before our weekly condo rental and we are staying at a "gateway" hotel - Country Inn & Suites, less than $80 for the nite...

Sanibel Island...
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10. Re: Sea shell hunting-Sanibel, is this doable?

Check in time at most places is 3,to 4 PM. Once in awhile you can luck out and check in early but don't count on it.