Category Archives for "Activities"

Museum

By Rebecca Paisley | Activities

1. Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum

credit: sanibelsusan.com

One of the favorite activities of visitors to the beaches of Sanibel is shell collecting. Colorful, pretty, mysterious, small, and big, the shells make interesting souvenirs. But, why not learn a bit about them so that you can differentiate between your shells and determining whether one is a common fig shell, a banded tulip, ajunonia, or a pen shell? The best place to learn about the shells and the animals that made them is the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. If you are looking for unique things to see & do on your Florida getaway, this museum will delight visitors of all ages.

This fascinating museum was established 20 years ago and contains some of the largest shells in the world, such as the Goliath conch, the Atlantic trumpet triton, the lightning whelk, and the horse conch. The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is one of the best things to do on Sanibel Island FL for couples and families. There are exhibits of Sanibel shells and shells from all over the world and fossils of shells such as the Ecphora, which lived almost 30 million years ago. The museum is also a wonderful place to learn about the original inhabitants of Sanibel, the Calusa people. You can discover a little about their lives and the uses they had for shells in their daily lives.

2. Sanibel Historical Museum and Village

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Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, founded in 1984, tells the story of the life of early residents of Sanibel through the seven historic houses they lived and worked in. It is the story of the Calusa people, Spanish conquerors and the early pioneers who made their home on the island in the 1800s. The historic buildings were moved to the Historic Village from their original locations and restored to the original look, and they are furnished with antique furniture, clothes, household items, tools, and kitchen gadgets.Among others, there is the 1896 Sanibel School House for White Children with original desks, the 1913 Rutland House, a typical “cracker” house made of Florida pine with eleven-foot ceilings and a wide hallway to keep it cool, and the 1900 Sanibel Packing House, where local farmers brought their vegetables, citrus fruits, and other produce to be packed and shipped “up north.” The museum holds frequent special events, concerts, and lectures.

Aquarium

By Rebecca Paisley | Activities

The closest Aquarium exhibit with Sanibel Island is Imaginarium Science Center. Located at 2000 Cranford Ave
Fort Myers, Florida, Imaginarium Science Center offers Animal Lab features a variety of native and non-native critters including American Alligators, Green Iguanas, Ball Pythons, a red Rat Snake, a Black-Tailed Prairie Dog, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, Turtles, White’s Tree Frogs and Mexican Axolotls.

credit: i-sci.org

The Imaginarium is the type of place where you can touch a cloud, become a weatherman (and get a souvenir video tape), brave a Florida thunderstorm, or even help excavate dinosaur remains. No visit is complete without taking part in the “Hurricane Experience,” the 45-mile-per-hour winds will truly blow you away. Live animal encounter shows take place each day where kids and adults can actually touch intriguing sea creatures such as stingrays. This is one exhibit you’ll need to reserve a seat for. Enjoy interactive sports and physics exhibits as well as a popular 3-D movie.

The Imaginarium is an incredible museum meets aquarium, hands-on experience, that promises to entertain and even inspire creativity. Here, children and their adult companions enjoy diverse diversions like running through rainstorms, experiencing tropical storm force winds and reporting about it on the museum TV screen. The museum’s exhibits also include the Dino Dig where kids look for real fossils, the Sporty Science Arena to test your physical skills and Tiny Town for kids under twelve. Outside, you’ll find the Fisheye Lagoon where you can feed sea creatures and learn about marine life. You can even feel some of the resident reptiles, mammals and fish in designated touch tanks and during programs. With demonstrations every hour and feedings twice daily, you’re sure to have fun in this underwater exploration. Tanks feature a variety of aquatic life including sea urchins, sea stars, flounder, snails, stingrays, puffer fish, and horseshoe crabs!There is always something creative going on at the Imaginarium.

Water Park

By Rebecca Paisley | Activities

While Sanibel Island is home to beautiful beaches, the water parks are also the ones that keep on bringing visitors back time after time. Perfect for the year-round sunshine, they also often have gentler rides than roller-coaster parks, so they are fun for the whole family. Here are the best water parks Sanibel Island has to offer.

1. Sun Splash Family Water Park

credit: sunsplashwaterpark.com

credit: sunsplashwaterpark.com

Sun Splash Family Waterpark is Southwest Florida’s largest waterpark with more than 14 acres of slides, pools, food and fun for all ages. It is located at 400 Santa Barbara Blvd., just 2.5 miles north of Veterans Parkway in Cape Coral.  Kids go crazy for the adrenaline pumping speed slides and others that allow you to free fall through a five-and-a-half story drop. If that’s too much excitement, grab a float and peacefully bob down the Main Stream River Ride. There is
a Tot Spot for the little ones and plenty of chairs for mom and dad to stretch out in the sun. Food and concessions are available and lots of special deals are offered throughout the summer, so be sure to check the events calendar online.

This waterpark has the steepest, fastest, and most extreme attraction in the in Sanibel, the combination of them are Thunder Bump, Terror Tube and X-celator. All of them has 457 feet and you will slide drops down at speeds up to 40 feet per second and 30 mph! adrenaline pumping!. The water park closed from Monday-Friday. Only open Saturday-Sunday from 10 Am to 5 Pm.

2. Sun-N-Fun Lagoon

credit: napleswaterpark.com

credit: napleswaterpark.com

Located adjacent to Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (CMON) in North Collier Regional Park, it provides a get wet, splashy sequel to a museum visit. The family can kick back in the lazy river or wave water pistol war, dare the five steep 38-foot slides, swim in the dive and lap pool or snooze on the sand beach. The little ones love the Turtle Cove Pool, where they can play with others their size – ages 5 to 12 – amid colorful fountains and showers. A concession operation sells food, ice cream, sunscreen, swim diapers and other pool and beach necessities.

Sun-N-Fun Lagoon is a family experience, therefore they ask that the appropriate swim attire is worn throughout your visit. In addition, children in diapers are required to use waterproof protectors. In order to guarantee their
guests to be comfort and safety, Sun-N-Fun Lagoons limiting their capacity. Admission into the park may be suspended during the day due to periods of high attendance.

 

Kids Arcade Parks

By Rebecca Paisley | Activities

credit: imgrum/zoomersfun

Zoomers Amusement Park is an indoor and outdoor facility with a Family Fun Arcade, featuring  Winner’s Circle where great merchandise and the latest electronics can be won. Zoomers offer an amazing assortment of games, rides and attractions which are sure to make your experience a memorable occasion for all ages. Each of party rooms features panoramic views of the park and surrounding areas. Zoomers is a child’s dream place with Cobra Rollercoaster, Voodoo Island Mini Golf, 2 Go-Kart tracks, Bumper Boats, Tilt-A-Whirl, Go Kart Drop, Water Wars, and our six  Midway rides designed especially for younger children.

Located on Summerlin Road, Zoomer’s is conveniently close to Sanibel Island as well as Fort Myers Beach. Close to the Tamiami Trail (US-41) and easily accessed from the I-75, it provides a fun escape with hours of activity for all ages.

credit: instagram/zoomersfun

Go-karts are a major part of the fun with a slick Go-Kart Track for weaving skillfully around the tire-edged course. Parents take up the challenge to compete with their kids and youngsters as young as three years of age can ride along as there are two-seater karts as well as singles.

The family fun arcade is a great place to hide out from the heat or summer showers. From Pac-Man to Aliens and Kung-Fu to Whack-a-Mole there is a host of virtual entertainment for those who love games. You may even leave with a nice prize to take home.

There is no admission fee to Zoomers. You can purchase a Z-Card in any amount you wish.  Games and attractions at Zoomers range from $9.99 for adults accompanying a child and from $14.99 for children. If a parent chooses to ride with a child, the parent must pay for that specific ride.

Movie Theaters

By Rebecca Paisley | Activities

When you going to Sanibel Island, you never thought about seeing a movie but when multiple days of bad weather, you need something different, watching movies is the best option. Sanibel Island has small but beautiful movie’s theater called Island Cinema. The Island Cinema has been a Sanibel tradition and landmark for over 20 years, with charming little theater (2 screens), Island Cinema always showing first-run movies.  They movie contracts range from 1 to 3 weeks long, depending on the movies are offered at that time. Showtimes generally change on Friday.

When you want to enjoy the movie on your vacation, Island Cinema open box office 30 minutes prior to first showtime of the day. Depending on weather, you will want to arrive before each showtime by 15-20 minutes for choice seating, but in certain circumstances like popular movies or bad weather, you may want to arrive earlier. For general admission ticket holders, the earlier you arrive will grant you a better choice of seats. For VIP ticket holders, you can arrive right at showtime when the concession line will be less crowded, and your seats will be saved where you intended when you purchased them.

Weather is the biggest determiner on whether they are busy or not. Generally sunny days mean you will have an easier time getting good seats. Stormy conditions almost guarantee they will sell out their shows, as they only have 59 seats per theater, 2 handicapped chairs that are removable in the front row, and the remainder of the rows seat 5 across.

Island Cinema privately owned and managed the theater, and are not affiliated with any third party ticketing website. You can visit this only movie’s theater on the island at 535 Tarpon Bay Rd. in the Bailey’s shopping center. The box-office generally opens 30 minutes prior to first showtime of each day.

Besides Island Cinema, Sanibel Island also has Big Arts. In 1979 Big Arts was created by and for the community, and owes its rich history to a small band of dedicated artists who drew inspiration from each other and from the breath-taking island beauty that
infused their work with grace and authenticity. They set out to create a special gathering place where artistic and educational experiences were accessible to all. Big Arts usually  serves with foreign films, documentaries and “edgy” independent films. Although unlike Cinema Island, but this place also an ideal visit if you want to relax watching movies at Sanibel Island.

Golf

By Rebecca Paisley | Activities

There’s something simply satisfying about the thwack of a good golf club strike on the ball, and with these golf experiences you can listen to it over and over again. Sanibel Island has three golf courses, some golf courses are private, public and there’s championship courses, here’s the list

1. Sanctuary Golf Club

At the tip of Sanibel Island, before you cross onto Captiva, the Sanctuary Golf Club sits on the back bay waters of Wulfert Road. Another well-manicured course surrounded by natural woodlands, The Sanctuary Golf Course was designed by the nationally acclaimed golf course architect Arthur Hills, who describes the course as “my island masterpiece” and the property as “elegant, exquisite, and rare.”  Bordering the world-renowned J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the course weaves and winds  for 6,657 yards around nature preserves and lakes, providing panoramic views of the Pine Island Sound and mangrove forests. Golfers often encounter the wide variety of birds and wildlife that call The Sanctuary home.

credit: sanctuarygc.net

2. Sanibel Island Golf Club

Located just off of the shores of Southwest Florida, Sanibel Island is home to some of the area’s best resorts, real estate, and recreation. Known for its gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel Island’s incredible natural setting makes it the perfect atmosphere to enjoy the game of golf. Sanibel Island Golf Club plays like a championship course should: challenging each aspect of your game throughout a fabulous 18-hole course spanning more than 6,000 yards from the back tees layout lush with indigenous wildlife and customer service second to none.  Each hole brings with it picturesque views, natural challenge, and ideal conditions to play your best golf.

credit: florida.twoguyswhogolf.com

3. Dunes Golf & Tennis Club

The Dunes course offers breathtaking views while challenging golfers of all skill levels on perfectly contoured fairways and greens. Voted the “Best Golf Course in Lee County,” by Gulfshore Magazine, the 18-hole course was designed by 10-time PGA Tour Winner, Mark McCumber.  During your game, you’ll experience lush, tropical links on the front nine and the active wildlife preserve on the back nine. You can also hone your game on our unique aqua driving range, the only one on Sanibel or Captiva Island that is open to the public.

credit: dunesgolfsanibel.com

Snorkeling

By Rebecca Paisley | Activities

credit: kingsbaypilotrestorationproject.com

The beaches of Sanibel Island, as well as those on the mainland or on neighboring islands, offer plenty of opportunities for snorkelers to explore the underwater world. The warm summer weather and the area’s refreshing crystal clear water make an ocean swim simply irresistible. There’s plenty to discover just below the waves including colorful fish, playful dolphins, manatees, majestic rays, intricate corals and plentiful shells. Whether you’re an experienced snorkeler or getting your feet wet for the first time.

Do not worry if you don’t have the equipments, you can rent a basic snorkeling kit and a goodie bag, a mesh bag for collecting underwater souvenirs, from a beach sports shop. Strap on your equipment and swim off right from the beaches of Sanibel Island. In addition to the inshore fish, Sanibel Island is a prime shell-hunting destination, so keep an eye out for shells sticking out of the sandy bottom. If you see one, skin dive down and put it in your goodie bag.

credit: sanibelseaschool.org

There’s a lot best spot on Sanibel Island, such as Bowman’s beach, which is home to countless species of fish and other ocean wildlife, providing some spectacular snorkeling sights both at the reef , a short trip by boat and just off the shore. The beach is also known for its many shells. Next is Cayo Costa State Park. Swim off from the beaches of that island and explore the sponge-studded underwater ledges there. In some areas, these ledges reach up to 2 to 5 feet of water and teem with fish.

While you snorkeling, do not touch the coral, it looks like a rock but it is actually a fragile live animal. Touching, hitting or standing on coral damages it and some corals are sharp or can even sting.  Try to snorkel in water at least 3 feet deep so you can get a good view without damaging it.

Last, don’t go it alone,  causeway currents can make make swimming risky on some days. you can take a guided snorkeling tour with some charter tours. Usually, the tours take you to Cayo Costa to see the local fish and collect shells, and provide snorkeling equipment and a cooler for snacks with your tour. You can schedule a private group tour, which includes up to six members in your party or a mixed group tour of up to six.

Scuba Diving

By Rebecca Paisley | Activities

Scuba diving is a mode of underwater diving in which the scuba diver uses a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) which is completely independent of surface supply, to breathe underwater. This activity is so popular when you are going to beaches, especially in Sanibel Island.

Sanibel Island, near several shipwrecks and 20 artificial reefs that are best viewed while scuba diving. The waters in the Gulf of Mexico offer visibility of 20 to 25 feet, with water temperatures usually staying around 90 degrees Fahrenheit during summer and 50 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. Some of the key sights to see while scuba diving include naturally-occurring limestone rock formations, vibrantly colored tropical fish, coral and game fish.

credit: pinterest/taniamarshall

Visitors call Sanibel Island a “perfect” scuba diving destination. The basis for this praise is most likely the 12 artificial reefs encircling the island. Construction of these reefs has led to increased sea life in the area, which lures both fishermen and scuba divers. Charlie’s Reef is the newest of all the reefs, but it has quickly become popul
ar because of the wide assortment of sea life and the beauty of its location, It is home to a diverse list of sea creatures, including moray
eel, nurse sharks, barracuda, grouper and cobia. Another popular reef is the Belton Johnson reef off of Bowman’s Beach. Divers should look for the yellow and white markers that indicate the location of this five-mile reef. About 15 miles from the coast, near the island’s lighthouse, lies Edison Reef, another popular reef for scuba diving. Formed from the remnants of a bridge, this reef lies in more than 40 feet of water and offers wonderful sights for divers.

credit: pinterest/astfalck

The USS Mohawk artificial reef is a great addition to the reefs off the coast of Sanibel Island, and Southwest Florida. This are
a of the Gulf of Mexico has a variety of shipwrecks, reefs and natural bottom structures that are enjoyed by scuba divers and fishermen of all skill levels.

Unless you have your own boat, you will most likely need a charter service to take you to the ideal scuba diving spots in the area. Its easy to find dive shops or scuba charters right on Sanibel Island, Do not worry if you don’t have a certification, they offers three-day beginner classes that can get you certified. It also provides training for children ages 8 and older. Expert divers will also enjoy their PADI and Universal referral certification dives.

Sailing

By Rebecca Paisley | Activities

Sailing is a fun, safe, accessible and affordable sport that welcomes participation from people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.  There are many reasons why you should sailing in Sanibel Island. Sailing is an invigorating sport that offers many rewards, not the least of which is that it’s simply so much fun. Imagine white sails billowing against a Sanibel Island’s clear sky, the brisk feel of the breeze on your face, and the gentle motions of the boat as it cleanly slices through the water.

credit: xtns.org

While sailing is a great way to enjoy the sea, it also requires you to be an active participant more than almost any other type of boating. When you sailing, you’ll not only become intimately familiar with all aspects of your boat, but also how your boat relates to its environment in terms of everything from the wind to the weather.

At Sanibel Island. you can sail North to Upper Captiva in Pine Island Sound where the water is more protected but has the wind for a spirited sail, or out into the Gulf of Mexico. Cruising along the beach watching the sunbathers admire the beautiful boat you are sailing and racing the dolphins as they jump in your wake is a great way to start the day. If the wind is up and the tide is high we can circumnavigate North Captiva Island, that’s about a 17 mile sail in 3 hours.

If you would care to take the entire day (a seven hour sail), you could go to Cabbage Key for lunch or enjoy the solitude of a beach lunch on Cayo Costa, a state park, where you can swim beside manatees, shell, snorkel, sunbathe or none of the above for a couple of hours. We can tow the dingy and stop at a secluded beach on Upper Captiva or just sail up to Boca Grande for an extended (nine hour) full day sail

Fishing

By Rebecca Paisley | Activities

On Sanibel Island, fishing has been a way of life for thousands of years. Evidence of this is found in the large shell mounds left by the native Americans six thousand years ago. The major fish targeted in the waters around Sanibel are Tarpon, Snook, Redfish and Spotted trout. A lot of mullet are caught too (with nets).

If you are fishing on a budget, all you need is a fishing pole, some tackle, bait, and a salt-water fishing license, but, you do not need a license if you are: under 16; over age 65. If you have some money to spend and really want to catch fish, your best bet is to charter a fishing guide. A fishing guide will provide the boat and the fishing poles and bait, and most importantly, professional fishing guides know where the fish are! You don’t need to have a fishing license if you are fishing with a professional guide, since you are covered under their license.

Fish can be found here year ‘round in Sanibel Island; Offshore, Inshore, Back bay, Pier, Beach and Wade sea fishing. Fish commonly caught on Sanibel and surrounding waters:

  • Redfish– these bottom feeders are caught on the grass flats, along the beaches, and in the waters of Ding Darling refuge. In other words, just about anywhere.
  • Tarpon– In April they start moving north from the Florida Keys. They can grow to 250 pounds and are famous for jumping out of the water when hooked. Boca Grande Pass is the most famous spot for catching Tarpon, but many guides will tell you they can hook you up with just as many Tarpon in other places. The pass can get very crowded during the season.
  • Snook– A serious game fish and excellent eating too. They have very sharp gill plates that can cut most any line, making them a real challenge to land. Pay attention to the closed seasons. These fish are highly regulated.

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  • Spotted sea trout– Small but feisty, this speckled trout is one of Florida’s most- caught game fish. Spring and Fall is the peak season. Found on the grass flats.

    credit: flydreamers.com