Sanibel Island Journals

West Coast of FL: St Petersburg, Ft Myers, Sanibel

A February 1994 trip to Sanibel Island by stevewall

Quote: Exploring the central west coast of Florida, including Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Many nature preserves with great wildlife of birds, gators, and fish and seashells. Rowing through a mangrove stand and some good food.
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In 1994, we stayed at a delightful restored Victorian bed and breakfast because it sat directly on Tampa Bay. Ms. Tony Powers was a wonderful host. Her husband, Gordon, was a snit sour, but really a good guy. No wonder - he taught fifth-graders.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

Bayboro House
1719 Beach Dr. SE
Sanibel Island , Florida
823-4955

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Nearer the center of downtown, which we unfortunately discovered rolls up its streets around 6pm! We also just wanted to experience a different B&B and meet the Welsh hosts, Allan and Suzanne Lucas. She made the most wonderful breakfast treat, the Welsh Cake, which was a like a firm cinnamon pancake. She would greet us each morning as follows: "Are you fit and well?" in her charming Welsh accent. We liked that and adopted it. $55 per night in 1994

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

Mansion House
105 5th Avenue N.E.
Sanibel Island , Florida
821-9391

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We drove down for 7pm dinner reservation. (approx. 70-80 miles from Tampa). We stayed in the Honeymoon Suite in the "Tower," which featured a Jacuzzi. It is very difficult to describe Chalet Suzanne and "do it justice," but I would call it an eclectic, charming jumble of a little European gingerbread fairyland village featuring add-on architecture. The dining room environment: Bizarre, eclectic charm of a collection of objects surely collected from estate sales and thrift shops locally and in Europe. Chipped china that doesn't match, silverware that doesn't match, and chairs that don't match! We had planned to come here for our 25th wedding anniversary for at least 1...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

Chalet Suzanne
3800 Chalet Suzanne Dr.
Lake Wales 33859
(813) 676-6011

Ivy House

Hotel

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This is more like a big bunkhouse/hostel, but it did have a few rooms. We stayed in one of those. They have hearty breakfasts. They also lead canoe trips, which we took and you can read about in another entry. For some people this is a great place, for you hotel/motel folks, maybe not, but it was great experience.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

Ivy House

Sanibel Island , Florida
(813) 695-3299

Jensen's On The Gulf

Hotel | "Jensen's Gulfside"

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We stayed all this week at Jensen's. Brenda and Lennie, from southside Chicago, are the managers. We're on the top third floor "motel suite" which has a small fridge, microwave, toaster, percolator, and dishes but no kitchen or real dining area. Those items are in what can best be described as either a tiny room or a large walk in closet. We all three of our suitcases open on the floor of that space and clothes hanging on a rod that ran the length of one wall. There is a BBQ grill on the beach that I made chicken on one evening and steak on another. Bed sheets and towels and linens are provided. We had to bring our own beach towels. We purchased disposable paper cups, dinnerware and plasti...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

Jensen's On The Gulf
P.O. Box 460
Captiva Island
(239) 472-4684

The Garden

Restaurant

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Owned by two Frenchmen, one of whom is the chef Jean Noel Bonnel, it featured French cuisine and fine local jazz. Many local musicians dropped in and jammed. The trumpet player sounded like the mellow style of Bobby Lewis in Chicago. A great rhythm guitarist laid down a great beat aided by a tasty acoustic bassist. We had a selection of Tapas, including Shrimp Provencal and Lamb steak with Tiramisu from Delizie Bakery in Tampa for dessert.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

The Garden
217 Central
Sanibel Island , Florida
896-3800

Saffron's

Restaurant

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We had a great dinner here. Their specialty is Caribbean cuisine. To get there from I-275, take exit #13 (38th Ave. North) and proceed west to 28th Street. They're on the northwest corner. Park in the rear. It is owned by a woman from Jamaica who owns a coffee plantation there. Very popular! Worth it. Do it!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

Saffron's
2801 38th Avenue North
Sanibel Island , Florida
522-1234

Crabby Bill's

Restaurant

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Had lunch in Indian Rocks Beach along the Gulf. It is very well known. Susan had great crab cakes. I had very good grouper. We had a great view of the perpetual parade of auto traffic on Shore Drive. Enjoyed a conversation with a couple from Sarasota. We were struck by many 8x10 color photos of all the great TV star wrestlers, all with severely physically handicapped children, which adorned the walls. Discovered that many wrestlers live in the area and celebrate events at the restaurant.

After lunch, visit the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, 18328 Gulf Blvd., Ind. the preeminent refuse and rehabilitation facility for injured seabirds.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

Crabby Bill's
401 Gulf Blvd.
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
(727) 595-4825

Cafe Creole

Restaurant

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It has New Orleans style jazz on Friday and Saturday evenings. Susan enjoyed some great crab cakes. This was in 1994, so I am not sure if they are still in business.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

Cafe Creole
1330 E. 9th
Sanibel Island , Florida
247-6283

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We had dinner at The Original Columbia, 2117 E. 7th Ave. We got the "Original 1905 Salad." The food was mediocre, nothing like the food 5 or 10 years previously, when it was great. This was a tremendous disappointment, because I had planned this part of the trip for years and raved about the place. After dinner we enjoyed a Flamenco show performed by a local folklorco ballet group of 5 or 6 women and one man who danced to taped music. How much I had hoped it would have featured a great live guitarist! Although they were passable, this was a disappointment as well. (This was is 1994, so I don't know it things have improved. Perhaps a call to the Tampa newspaper would be in order to get an ...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

The Original Columbia
2117 E. 7th Avenue
Sanibel Island , Florida
248-4961

Chalet Suzanne

Restaurant

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Approx. 70-80 miles from Tampa. Just south of Disney World a bit in central Florida. The fantastic meal consisted of : 1. Cinnamon Grapefruit with chicken livers served in a cigar ashtray. Uh huh. I told you it was a strange place with no references to anything you had in the past! 2. Romaine Soup: our favorite! 3. Vinaigrette salad of hearts of palm (Susan's favorite), zucchini, and lettuce with Swiss potato rolls, which were wonderful! 4. Creamy lime/lemon sorbet. 5. Lobster Newberg Lump Crab Sare 6. Crepe Suzanne, bitter Orange 7. Cherries Romanoff The only downer was that midway through our meal a group of six jerk...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

Chalet Suzanne

Sanibel Island , Florida
(813) 676-6011

Old Captiva House at 'Tween Waters Inn

Restaurant | "Old Captiva House Restaurant at 'Tween-Water Inn "

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Wonderful wait staff and service. I had a tasty half rack of lamb which was pan seared. Susan splurged on Surf and Turf with Julian veggies, special Scalloped Potatoes and a salad.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

Old Captiva House at 'Tween Waters Inn
15951 Captiva Drive
Captiva, Florida

The Sanibel Cafe

Restaurant

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Had a nice lunch there. The tables were glass tops above a "box" containing shells spray painted white. I think it was a project from Shell Craft 101.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

The Sanibel Cafe
2007 Periwinkle Way
Sanibel Island , Florida

The Mad Hatter

Restaurant

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Located just before the bridge to Captiva. Brian and Jayne Baker, proprietors.

If this place is still in business, it is worth the cost! We have eaten there on other trips. (Our first visit was in 1994 was for our 25th wedding anniversary)

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

The Mad Hatter
6460 Sanibel-Captiva Road
Sanibel Island , Florida
472-0033

The Moonlight

Restaurant

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We had dinner at a very new and classy restaurant: the Moonlight, featuring Southwestern cuisine and decor. Joseph Archambault and James Taggart are the owners. The food was great. This was in 1994, so better check to see if still around.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

The Moonlight
14970 Captiva Drive
Sanibel Island , Florida

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Enjoyed a wonderful Tapas meal operated by a wonderful friendly couple from Spain. Again the waiter was good. A little off, but really later when we spoke to him, turned out to be an interesting guy. Ted Koppel eats here often. The owner plays guitar.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 22, 2004

The Art Gallery Cafe

Sanibel Island , Florida

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Shortly after sunup, I crossed the street and walked along the beach. I heard the putt-putt of an engine above and looked up to see a Steerman biplane lumber by. I grabbed some nice documentary shots of the B&B bathed in the warm morning light framed between two tall palm trees. A white wood stork stood on the railing of the porch outside the dining room. At the bottom of the staircase on the railing was a cherub holding a lamp. The ceiling fixture in the hallway above a little roll-top desk was another cherub holding a light bulb in the shape of a small flame. I got the film processed at Eckerts in St. Pete and had double prints so I could send a set of what I'd shot to the Powers of the B...Read More
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We spent quite a bit of time at the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo, which is a new state-of-the-art zoo featuring large natural habitats and a coral reef, which somehow we missed, along with an aviary. I like our new aviary at the Lincoln Park Zoo just as well. They also had a great large pool with two manatees viewed from behind giant picture windows. As nice as it is, I still think the Cincinnati Zoo beats this one hands down. They did have lots of native snakes and lizards. Just what Susan likes! We enjoyed the antics of a duo of Tamarinds. I shot charming video footage of them as well as dramatic stuff of the manatees.
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In the afternoon we took a great guided walking tour of Ybor (pronounced "Eee-bor") City, Tampa. This is the home of a great turn of the century cigar industry that moved here from Cuba. The town was made up of many ethnic and religious groups, all of whom contributed to its flavor. Many had their own cultural and social centers which not only provided social events but social services as well: Cuban, German, Italians and Lithuanian Jews. We assembled at Info at Ybor Square 1901 N. 13th St. between 8 & 9 Ave. Since we had some time to kill before dinner, Susan and I visited the State Museum for Ybor City located in a former bakery featuring a special exhibit on the Jewish con...Read More

The Everglades

Story/Tip

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We had a wonderful breakfast at Château Suzanne seated at a table that overlooked a lake with various birds swimming and flying about. As is usual for this area of Florida, it was foggy and a mist had settled on everything during the evening. Water dripped from the eaves. As we prepared to depart, an enormous "Prime Timers" tour bus arrived loaded with silver gray haired ladies and bald headed men, some of whom sported tam-o-shanter caps. They inspected the apartments that were open and being cleaned, visited the gift shop and had lunch. We drove to the west entrance of the Everglades in Everglades City (150 miles, 3.5 hours non-stop?) There was virtually nothing to see al...Read More
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We took the Shark Valley tram tour both during the day and returned for the sunset one also. Both were well worth it with good guides. Steve Bing led the daytime one and was a treasure of information. He had a great personality and sense of humor. He made us very aware of the delicate ecological balance that had been destroyed by man in the Everglades and referred to it as a dying swamp. During the summer he is in Yellowstone Park district in the "Tower" area and invited us to look him up there in the more wild area of the park and have a guided tour. Early on, he got off of the front of the first tram car from which he was delivering his lecture and strode out into the shallow standing w...Read More
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Today we drove to Captiva. On the way we spent 3 hours at the Corkscrew Audubon Swamp Sanctuary, 16 miles west of Immokalee off County 846. 813-657-3771, a must visit when in the area. It has an elevated boardwalk that is the most scenic of all trails in FL, a natural cathedral of giant bald cypress trees 1¾ mile long with a number of places to sit and observe. It is one of the best spots for photography and bird watching: wood storks, etc., wading birds and other wildlife concentrate in feeding pools close to the trail. alligators, deer, bobcats can sometimes be spotted. Susan found a Barred Owl that she had learned about on the sunset tram tour at Shark Valley in the Everglades. She gave imitati...Read More
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We woke up early to the sound of the surf, made some coffee and walked 70 feet out of our building to the surf and did some shelling. We met Gene Hubbard who was of great help to us in spotting shells. We drove 10 miles back to Sanibel and visited swanky strip mall, Tahitian Gardens at 2007 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel and splurged on four Sanibel T-shirts! Had a nice lunch there at The Sanibel Cafe. The tables were glass tops above a "box" containing shells spray painted white. I think it was a project from Shell Craft 101. I grilled steaks at sunset for dinner. Shortly after I began grilling it began to drizzle which developed into a light rain. I had to keep an eye out fo...Read More
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An absolute must visit while on the islands! I spent the afternoon walking four miles through the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve. Didn't see much, but did video a wood stork killing and eating a snake! Best viewing is from Wildlife Drive at dawn and dusk, especially good at low tide in morning when tidal flat are exposed. Biking is a good way to travel the drive. Insects are out at best birding hours, but since I was there in the winter, there were no insects! Some alligators are about. Inhingas, flamingos, spoonbills, etc., are to be found. If you are shooting photos, you need at least a 300mm tele, 600 would be better. You can hire private guides who are located outside the park to canoe ...Read More

About the Writer

stevewall

stevewall
Chicago, Illinois