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Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

Tampa, FL
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93 posts
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Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

Hi Everyone!

Well, we are back from our long weekend getaway to Sanibel and it was AMAZING! This was the first time my husband and I had ever been (which is such a shame seeing as we only live about 2 hours north of the Island). We both loved the charm, the beaches, the food, the sunsets, the shells and just resting and relaxing.

We stayed at Beachview Cottages and they were absolutely wonderful. We had what is considered the smallest size cottage they have and it was good for just the two of us. Next time I'd like to try the one bigger just to see the difference. But they were very clean....ours was newly remodeled....and the location of RIGHT on the beach couldn't be beat. All we had to do was walk off our porch, turn left and go about 50-60 feet to hit the beach. No alarm clocks or phones in the cottages but you could use the one in the office along with the computer they had setup there to check your email. But when you are on a trip like this - why bother!! Cottage had a full size fridge, stove, microwave and a little table to dine on if you didn't want to sit outside on your screened in porch. I noticed that most people used their grills almost every night and if we were going to be there longer, we probably would have too. The staff was great...very friendly and helpful. They provided you with complimentary beach chairs, beach toys and bicycles.

Places we ate:

Jacaranda: GREAT! We hadn't eaten lunch on the way down and wanted to get back to our cottage in time for the sunset, so we actually got their early enough to take advantage of their early bird specials. We sat out back on the patio and it was great. Food was very good & drinks went down smooth- I recommend their Rum Punch!

The Lighthouse Cafe: I can see why this is considered THE place to go for breakfast. Definitely worth the wait. Food was wonderful....we stuffed ourselves silly!

Cheeburger Cheeburger: Ate their for lunch. Shakes are awesome and selection is enough to make your head spin. Burgers were good - not great. But the onion rings were FABULOUS!!! Hubby and I both said they were the best onion rings we had ever had!

The Bubble Room: Went for appetizers and desert after our sunset cruise. Didn't like that they charged you a "fee" if you didn't order an entree. So we got their "Tiny Bubble" which is salad, appetizer & desert - but still $20 each. Had salad and appetizers which were okay and took the deserts to go. Wasn't that impressed when we left the place (other than it had really cool decor). But when we had the deserts later that night - we would have paid $20 for the desert alone!! Eat dinner someplace else and order deserts from there to go!

Lazy Flamingo: We went to the original on Blind Pass and I have to say it was my favorite place out of everywhere we ate! Half the people who walked in were locals (the bartender knew them by name) and that alone is always a good sign! We just ordered Wings and their spicy fries and watched the later football games. Food was great.....atmosphere reminded me of "cheers". Not alot of seating - so get their earlier or be prepared to wait (and people did). Very laid back menu and all the food that passed us looked and smelled wonderful!

Things we did:

Sunset Cruise: We went with Captiva Cruises for our sunset cruise. If you stop at the visitors center when you get on the Island and pick up their "Shoppers Guide" (blue cover) there is a coupone for a buy one, get one free for any of their Cruises. Their sunset cruise is the least expensive at $20 a person. We paid $20 for both of us and that was totally worth it. We brought our own drinks on board (gotta love to-go cups!) and had fun singing along with the guy they had for entertainment. Jimmy Buffett he is not....but he knew all the cool islandy-type music and he was fun.

JD Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge: We toured on our own. Paid the $5 at the gate and did the drive through. Even though it is only 4 miles or so, it took us over 2 hours to drive through because we stopped as much as we could to take picture or look around or take a short walk. here and there. Saw all kinds of birds, fish and other wildlife.

Fishing @ The Lighthouse Pier: If you like to fish and don't want to pay hundres of dollars for a private charter this is the place to go. Stop at the Bait Box (bait shop) across from DQ on Periwinkle and pick up some fresh bait and whatever other supplies you may need and head down there. Turn left at the last street BEFORE the parking lot for the lighthouse beach and it'll take you right to the pier. Lots of locals fish there too as apparently by everyone knowing everyone else but us! LOL We were catching Sheepshead, Mackerel and Jacks....and even a Momma & Baby Manatee came to visit us. Had a ball. We also fished off the beach in front of our cottage and caught small mackerel and catfish (Bleh!), but it was fun.

Bike Riding: I can definitely see why it is considered a preferred method for getting around the Island. We had a ball on the bikes and didn't even go that far. I hadn't been bike riding in years and just had fun!

Shelling: Came home with great shells and I went no further than the beach right in front of our cottages. Found a huge conch shell on the beach (about 6 inches) but had to throw it back because it still had a critter in it! Oh well....still got some great shells. Going to put them in a candle display.

Just a couple of side notes:

Noseeums: They are as bad as everyone says. Don't forget bug spray and don't forget to use it. They ate up my hubby the very minute we walked on the beach. Not as bad during the day. But if you want to be on the beach @ sunset or in the morning shelling you'll need to defend yourself or they might carry you away! Once sprayed down they didn't bother me a bit. (We used the Deep Woods Cutter - my dad swears by the stuff and he's prone to every bug bite known to man!)

Food & such: Food on the Island is expensive. But you are there on vacation and we justified it as it being our anniversary and we were only there from Friday to Monday. If we were staying for a week or so, we probably would have used our grill or cooked. I like to cook - not a problem for me. Gas is expensive too. Make sure you have enough gas before getting on the Island....it was $2.60 on the Island and $2.24 just over the causeway on the mainland.

Visitors Center: Definitely stop at the visitors center. They have every pamphlet, brochure, coupon, idea, direction you need. We got some maps and guide and some cool stuff I brought home to share with family & friends about the Island.

Overall we had a FABULOUS time!! The island itself is gorgeous and we just enjoyed the peaceful beauty of it. It was nice to getaway for a couple of days, celebrate our first anniversary with each other and relax. In fact, we said on the way home that we didn't so much as pick up a newspaper, check email or watch the news and the world could be blowing up around us and we wouldn't know.

The Island is not luxury....it is good old island living and a bit of paradise! I felt like I was living a Jimmy Buffet song and that was exactly what we wanted.....a laid back, carefree, beach paradise, relaxing vacation. (Kinda like our wedding was a year ago on the beach in St. Pete). Thats just who we are and we loved ever minute of it. I am sure we'll be back soon!!!

The Bakery
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1. Re: Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

Hey kissyfur -

I am so glad all went well for your weekend. I keep telling folks Sanibel isn't the luxe resort place that Naples or Marco are. Not that there aren't some very luxe condos and houses, it's just that most of the island is very low key and down to earth.

I agree on Bubble Room. I go for lunch and get their Moons over Maimi and coconut shrimp to share and whatever modest main course there is and dessert to go. Usually 2 or 3 and then just pop them in the fridge. Orange Crunch Cake, the chocolate cake and sometimes their Key Lime Pie - though it isn't the classic filling, it is pretty good. Lots of folks love the place. It used to be much better than it is now.

Glad you got the onion rings and not the fries at CheeburgerCheeburger. Fries aren't very good.

Hope you visit again and are able to stay longer.

Sanibel, FL
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927 posts
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2. Re: Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

oh my gosh - that is the best vacation report I have ever read. You so eloquently described the ultimate first encounter with Sanibel. The one that brings people back year after year and keeps their kids coming back as well.

I speak to guests every week that are arriving or departing and they are as excited as you, whether it is their first visit or their 30th. Thanks for sharing , you captured the feeling that is Sanibel and Captiva.

drexel, mo
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34 posts
2 reviews
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3. Re: Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

WOW! I am so glad to hear about your trip. My family of five are planning a trip to Sanibel this Christmas. We are also staying at the Beachview Cottages. Your trip makes me even more excited! I would love to see any pictures you took.

Tampa, FL
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93 posts
8 reviews
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4. Re: Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

You can see some of our pictures on Snapfish - I just uploaded them for friends and family. I also posted a review with picture of Beachview under their section on the Trip Advisor website. Here's the link for my pics on Snapfish:

http://tinyurl.com/vehzg

Also completely forgot to mention - NO SIGN OF RED TIDE!! We were all over the Island - from the Lighthouse Pier to Redfish pass on Captiva and although there was red seaweed in the water it is not to be confused with red tide! We did not see one dead fish and no stinky smell...and my husband is very sensitive to that kind of thing.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions! Will be happy to help!

Southampton...
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5. Re: Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

Wow! Great report, thanks for sharing, we'll be there Thanksgiving week and the info is very interesting and useful to us.

Also, thanks for sharing the pics. I almost had forgotten my Snapfish login info, but I remembered and got on okay. You two look like you had a great time, and everything looked awesome! The beaches looked superb, and not too crowded anywhere.

Again, thank you!!

DaddyO

Boston, MA
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6. Re: Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

What a great trip report! I also love the onion rings at Cheeburger. LOL! We went back to Lazy Flamingo repeatedly during our trip earlier in the month. I love the mesquite grilled chicken sandwich with spicy fries. I think that I could eat it every day. The tag-team wait service is always great.

I was hit bad with the noseeums the very first day of our trip (caught with no bug spray), despite being fully aware of what could happen. It's like the Sanibel hazing ritual!

The Bakery
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7. Re: Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

lol@millabird & no-see-ums!

Tampa, FL
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8. Re: Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

Thanks for the great trip report!!

We also live in the Tampa area and are heading down to Sanibel tomorrow for a 3-day weekend. We're staying at the Island Inn and I can't wait. We're thinking of doing a lot of the same things you did so it's great to hear about the sunset cruise, fishing, etc.

This is also an anniversary celebration for us - our 20th! :-)

Thanks again.

East Windsor, New...
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9. Re: Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

Great trip report. We just got back a week ago and I also did a trip report. We love Sanibel and Captiva and can't wait to go back. I heard that the Florida Swamp Bug Spray is very good. I sprayed but where I made my mistake was the first night I walked down the beach to the Mucky duck and did not spray. Also when you get out of the water and go to sit on the chair you need to spray the back of your legs immediately. The noseeums had a feast on my thighs. Yet my husband got hardly any bites. Morale of story is never leave home without it!! That is Spray! Spray! Spray!.

PS 4 days was not enough time for us there. Next time w go for a week.

PPS. Jensens on the Gulf is an excellent place to stay. Our room was as big as a condo and steps of the Captiva beach. They do not however have a pool.

Washington, DC
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10. Re: Back from Sanibel - Trip Report Inside!!

Hi, I think you've just come back from another trip to Sanibel (November 06) and stayed at the Island Inn. Is that right? Your review and pix were great. We're northerners who don't like big crowds, partying, etc., and are planning a trip to the Sanibel and the Island Inn this New Year's for 5 days. Like you, we're booked in the Matthews Lodge on the second floor. Any trips?

Thanks much!