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Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

Toronto
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Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

Our family (40s parents, 3 kids 9-12) have done Sanibel four times and love it. I'm looking for some advice to plan a trip to the Florida Keys but would like to ask people who enjoy Sanibel for input. (Better to ask nature lovers, than say Kew West partyers).

We're looking at summer 2010 and want nature, snorkelling (and yes will do the tour boats but is there nearby snorkelling in shallow water for the countless hours they will want to spend?).

Ideally, a house or condo rental (not keen or tight canal fronts), less crowded, including kayaks and/or boat in rental. Near or located in nature setting.

I've read forums extensively although still getting my head around the areas. It seems middle keys (pine key) might be good.

Thanks in advance.

Bill

Brandon, Florida
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1. Re: Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

For snorkeling, anywhere on the Keys, from Upper to Key West, will have tons of places to do it. The kids will love going to Robbies in Islamorada to see the huge tarpon that swim right up to the pier.

Greenville, South...
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2. Re: Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

Hi! I thought I loved the Keys until I made it to Sanibel!! That being said, in Islamorada (which is around MM 60 or so) there is a great place to stay called The Islander. It's an all-suite property and they have HUGE lanais out back. They have connecting units in which the lanais connect as well. They have 2 very large pools, one of which is a cool zero-entry type. There is a bar and restaurant on site.

A few miles down the road on the left is a cool, little beach just off the road - Anne's Beach it's called. A boardwalk takes you through the mangroves over to a few nice covered places to picnic. The last time we were there we grilled fresh-caught mahi over a disposable grill, melted butter in a broken down beer can, and ate with our hands!! Doesn't get any fresher than that!

At MM67.5 you'll find Long Key State Park. They have a canoe rental service, it's about $5 for as long as you care to paddle. The have a marked trail and provide you a map with things to lookout for listed. We had a blast! The water is very shallow, only a foot or so deep at mid-tide. We saw all sorts of fish, jellyfish, birds. Just pay attention to the "Be Aware of Soft Mud" sign at the canoe ramp. My daughter thought she'd wade for a minute and wound up chest deep in muck. Luckilly they have a bathhouse just down the path.

Best fish sandwich EVER is at Jerry's - you'll see the billboards for it. We decided to give them a try and so glad we did. The waitresses thought we were stalkers by the end of our stay. Their seafood omlette is to die for (shrimp, crab, scallops in a divine cheesy-cream sauce), the blackened mahi caesar sould have it's own billboard, but the mahi sandwich steals the show. It's 2 inches thick of fried or grilled, blackened mahi, tons of cheese on grilled rye bread!

Happy trip planning-

(Wow, I forgot how much I liked they Keys...)

kansas city
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3. Re: Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

I was going to go down there instead of Sanibel this year, but after talking to the condo owner we decided to stay at Sanibel because of the age of our kids,10,8. I havent been but she and talked on the phone for quite awhile, and i would trust what she says as I fact checked her comments. I will post the link to her condo.

www.quiescence.com

Her brother runs a dive/snorkel shop

www.quiescence.com

interesting things she sent me

www.robbies.com

www.theatreofthesea.com

kansas city
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4. Re: Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

sorry didnt mean to send it yet.

According to her the keys do not have beaches per se like the Sanibel area. Most beachs out there are man made with sand, no long, natural, sand beaches. Hence the great water visibility and abundance of coral.

Dayton, OH / Marco...
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for Marco Island, Everglades National Park, Goodland
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5. Re: Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

I love nature and took the boat from Marco Island to Key West for a day.

You probably already know this ...

Five hours may be sufficient for a family to spend on Key West. Every family was different but this statement was accurate for my family.

Smyrna, TN
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6. Re: Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

If you go as far as Key West, I highly recommend Danger Charters. They have a full day sail that includes kayaking through mangroves, snorkeling and sailing. They provide lunch along with snacks, beer, wine, etc. on the way back to the dock. It is a day well spent.

If you don't want to go out for a full day, they have sunset sails and other options available. Here's their website:

www.dangercharters.com

Captiva Island...
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7. Re: Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

In my opinion Sanibel and the Keys are not very much alike. We stayed at mile marker 89 in Islamorada April of 2007 with our three kids. It was not the Beach Vacation we were looking for. I have copied and pasted below what I wrote in response to another TA member who asked a similar question. I'd just like to add that we also wasted an entire vacation day driving down to Key West. Definitly a party destination and we regretted taking our kids there. If you are looking for snorkeling and fishing the Keys are a pretty amazing "nature" experience. The water is crystal clear everywhere. But if you are looking for nice beaches and a Sanibel feel, stick to Sanibel.

"We rented an ocean front home in Islamorada and my kids could NOT get in the water the entire week. The beach in front of our home and pretty much elsewhere in the keys is very rocky. I am not talking about pebble beaches. These were huge boulders. The grasses and underwater plants were so thick, you couldn't walk through it. The only place where there was a clearing to swim was at the end of our very long boat dock where it was about 14-16 foot deep. My two oldest who are very strong swimmers jumped in there, but were soon afraid to swim with the 4 foot wide stingrays, lobsters, sharks, eels and every single kind of tropical fish you could imagine. We had dolpins come up and swim under the dock all day. It was a beautiful perfect place for observing wildlife and fishing. It was not however, the beach vacation we had hoped for. The closest public beach to Marathon is Founders Park. That was an enourmous dissapointment and not even worth getting out of the car for the very small roped off swimming area.

Having been to Captiva/Sanibel a number of times, we were so upset with ourselves for choosing Islamorada for that trip. Our Trip cost twice what we spend going to Captiva. No kidding. The Theatre of the Seas was a great experience for us and really the only redeeming thing about our trip.For a beach type vacation, I would hands down choose Sanibel over the keys."

I know others posting feel differently about the Keys, just my 2 cents as a parent who actually did the trip with the kids and regretted it. Put Islamorada or the Keys into the search box on this forum and you will find many opinions from Sanibel lovers in regard to the Keys.

Greenville, South...
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8. Re: Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

It is true that Sanibel and they Keys are not really similar at all. Both have great experiences, though.

The beaches are what draw me to Sanibel for, in the Keys like mentioned above, you cannot just walk out into the water. The "sand" is very course, more like large breadcrumbs for lack of a better texture description. We were told that is because there is so much coral in the area; the fish pick off critters from the coral, eat them and "expel" the excessive calcium absorbed after they've processed it.

Sanibel offers me the ambiance of 50's-style Florida I was looking for in the Keys but with the addition of awesome beaches and shelling.

Toronto
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9. Re: Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

Thanks for the input. Yes I do realize Sanibel and the Keys are very different. The common elements that they do share that attracts us are the water activities (swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, etc), wildlife and nature which we enjoyed very much at Sanibel. Kayak trips, Dry Tortuga, Mel Fisher museum, etc etc and NOT wild parties of Key West are the draw. And of course we will top it off with a few days (a week hopefully) in Sanibel too. Can't get enough shells, right? Besides we are driving so have no luggage limit.

Some good suggestions, thanks.

Edited: 23 November 2009, 23:00
kansas city
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10. Re: Need Sanibel-like trip to Florida Keys. Any suggestions

Sorry posted the same link twice. Here is the condo link

http://www.vrbo.com/241529

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