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Holiday Seashell Crafts

Looking to do some holiday decorating with seashells? You’re in the right place. We’ve been busy making ornaments this week from shells found on the beach right here at ‘Tween Waters. They’re so pretty, you can even gift them to family and friends (if you can part with them). Here’s what you’ll need:

 Craft Supplies:

  • Clear plastic ornaments
  • Sand
  • Krylon Glitter Shimmer spray
  • Acrylic paint (red, beige, black and white)
  • Ribbon or pipe cleaners

 

 Shells Used:

  • Giant Heart Cockle for Santa face
  • Scallops or clams for snowmen
  • Dosinias
  • Mini shells 

 

For the Santa face, you’ll find step-by-step photos below. We glued on googly eyes, but you can also just use paint. This is a kid favorite! 

For the snowman, start by painting the shell white. My buddy, Leo, (pictured) created his by using a worm shell for the carrot nose. So clever. 

For filled ornaments, use a small funnel to pour in sand. Then just drop in any shells that fit through the opening. You can leave the shells natural or spray them with Glitter Shimmer.

My sister made the dosinia ornaments by spraying them with Glitter Shimmer and hot-gluing a ribbon atop. They’re so elegant. In fact, the full name of the shell is “elegant dosinia.” You can do the same process with sand dollars. 

Need a really special gift? How about a shelling charter? You can leave right from the dock at ‘Tween Waters and head out to explore the outer islands. This is a fantastic adventure that any shell-hunter would love. 

I really hope you’ll create some seashell ornaments of your own. Please post your creations to our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram. We’d love to see them. Happy Holidays!

Step 1: Paint shell white
Step 2: paint a face area
Step 3: paint on Santa’s hat
Step 4: add eyes, nose and mouth
Leo and his snowman ornament
clear ornaments filled with sand & seashells
Leo and Jordan making seashells ornaments.
Snowman seashell ornament by Leo.
Elegant dosinia seashell ornament.

 

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Ride the Shark Boat

If you’re looking to make a splash on your next visit to ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, you’ve got to take a ride on the exhilarating Shark Boat! Talk about creating an unforgettable memory — the Shark Boat is the newest watersport activity offered right onsite at ‘Tween Waters through Captiva Watersports. Up to six riders can enjoy the Shark Boat at a time, each in her or his own seat, and the oversized pontoons on the sides make it very stable, and easy to get on and off. 

Ready to ride? Just step on and hold on! You’ll be skimming across the water in no time, with the wind in your hair, yelling for more. The Shark Boat ride is about 15 minutes in length and you don’t have to worry about steering as you’re towed behind a jet ski driven by a USCG certified captain. What a thrill! And it’s only $20 per rider. 

If you enjoy the water but don’t want to get wet, parasailing is another exhilarating option. No physical ability is required either. Just sit on the rear of the boat and be gently lifted to 800 feet in the air. Up to three people can soar at the same time. And those views of the island, the Gulf and Pine Island Sound!! You might even see dolphins or manatees.  

Whatever your level of activity or your budget, Captiva Watersports has something for you. Discount coupons can be found at their website along with any age, height or weight restrictions. You can also find coupons in your “Resort Rewards” coupon book you’ll be given upon check-in. 

Have fun out there!

 

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Finding Sand Dollars on Captiva

If you love sand dollars, you’ll be pleased to hear that beach goers have been finding lots of them washed up on the shores of Captiva and Sanibel lately. I’ve been blessed to find a few, nearly white from being faded by the sun. I’ve also found lots of live sand dollars, which are illegal to keep, in Lee County. Do you know how to tell the difference?

How to Tell if a Sand Dollar is Alive:

Movement: Put the sand dollar in your palm. If its little hairs are moving, it’s alive. Those hairs or spines are called cilia.

Yellowing: Hold the sand dollar in your palm for a minute. If it leaves a yellow mark, it’s alive. (That substance is called echinochrome and it’s harmless to humans.)

Color: Sand dollars turn gray or white when they die.  When alive, they can be dark brown to purplish-reddish.

Smooth or Hairy: If it’s smooth, it’s ok to keep. Sand dollars shed their spines/hairs when they die. If it’s hairy, place it back in the water.

Here are few more fun facts to share with your kids:

  • Sand dollars move by using their spines/hairs (cilia).
  • They live from 6 to 10 years.
  • Sand dollars have teeth, five to be exact. (Have you ever shaken a sand dollar and heard it rattle? Those are the teeth!
  • In the Legend of the Sand Dollar poem, the five doves are actually the sand dollar’s teeth.
  • The mouth of the sand dollar is called “Aristotle’s Lantern.”

If you find sand dollars and want to pack them safely to bring home, wrap each one with paper towels, toilet paper or tissue and place inside a Tupperware-style container about the same size.

Also, a shelling charter to the out-islands may be just the ticket to finding a secret stash of sand dollars.

Happy hunting!

Live Sand Dollar.
Full moon and a perfect sand dollar.
Fingers stained yellow from live sand dollar.
seashells and sand dollar on Captiva.
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Grill Out on Vacation

When I think of summer, my first thoughts are sunshine, swimming, and grilling on the barbecue. It’s hard to beat an afternoon of splashing in the pool, anxiously awaiting those hot-off-the-grill burgers. It’s like a rite-of-passage this time of year. That’s why as soon as school got out, we headed to Sanibel for a stay at Beachview Cottages, part of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, and indulged in all of the above.

My spouse, Michael, is known as the grill master in our circles, and his lemon chicken is approaching legendary status. Since Beachview Cottages has grills on site for guests’ use, he was grilling up a storm. (I love that!) All the grilling utensils you need like tongs and long-handled spatulas are available to loan at the front desk, no charge of course. And if the resort has charcoal briquettes on hand, you’re welcome to them.

Grilling out on vacation is easier on the budget, too. You can bring your own groceries if you’re driving to the resort or visit one of the grocery stores on the island, like Jerry’s or Bailey’s. You can also pick up all the sides you need, ready-made.

Not a griller? You can cook in the kitchen of your cottage or choose to dine out. West Wind Inn is right next door, and their Normandie’s Seaside Café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; their Upper Deck Pool Bar is open 11am to 8pm.

As a side note, each resort property of the Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts (‘Tween Waters, Castaway Cottages, West Wind Inn and Beachview Cottages) have onsite grills available.

Happy grilling and happy summer!

Beachview Cottages unit with bbq grill.

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Celebrate Education at ‘Tween Waters

Teacher Appreciation week is May 6th-10th and that got me thinking about educational travel. After all, the world is the ultimate classroom— and the knowledge we gain from exploring different destinations is invaluable. If you’re looking to sneak in some educational lessons during your stay at ‘Tween Waters, here are a few ideas. Learning has never been so fun!

Geography 

Geography is the reason why Captiva and Sanibel are the best beaches for seashells in North America, and the world. Stretching for miles into the Gulf of Mexico, and shaped like a crescent moon, the islands act like a sieve, scooping shells from the Gulf and gently tossing them ashore.

Science

From finding seahorses in seagrass to exploring mud flats for gastropods, Sanibel Sea School has programs that teach marine conservation in the coolest of ways – for adults and kids. At the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, learn about shells from a scientific perspective through interactive exhibits and live tank talks.

Botany

Do you know the three types of mangrove trees in Florida? Take the tram tour at J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and you’ll learn a little ditty about red, white and black mangrove trees.

Biology and Ecology

From the marina at ‘Tween Waters, take a kayak, fishing or sightseeing tour with Adventure Sea Kayak & SUP. Explore sea life and habitats with a guide or on your own. These trips can even be tailored to different ages.

History

‘Tween Waters and Captiva House are both on the National Registry of Historic Places. Take your kids to read the official plaque at the resort’s entrance and discover the fascinating story. For a little history on these barrier islands, take an eco-tour with Adventure Sea Kayak & SUP.

Show & Tell

Every March, the Sanibel Shell Festival takes place at the Community House on Periwinkle Way. Next year’s show (in 2020) will mark its 83rd year.

I hope you love these suggestions, and if you have any more, post them to our Facebook page. And in honor of educators everywhere (including my sister!), Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. You deserve to be celebrated every day.

Stand Up Paddleboard tour.
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Get Your Pickleball Game On

Do you play pickleball? No need to let your skills fade while you’re on a beach vacation at ‘Tween Waters, you’ll find pickleball courts right on site. And if you haven’t tried this addictively fun sport, it’s time to get on the pickleball train and see where it can lead you.

Pickleball is older than Doritos. In fact, the game was created the same year that Spaghetti-O’s were introduced and the iconic movie, The Sound of Music, was released. The year was 1965. Crazy, right? If you’re late to the pickleball party, you needn’t worry. The game is easy to learn and easy to play. Maybe that’s why it’s the fastest growing sport in the United States.

So, what is pickleball? Country music singer and avid pickleball player, Jake Owen, describes it this way, “it’s a short version of tennis, but with a paddle and a wiffle ball.” It’s played on a badminton-sized court, using a net that’s two inches shorter than tennis, and an oversized ping pong paddle. Did I mention that he plays pickleball with Kid Rock, who installed a pickleball court at his house?

You have got to try it. No matter how young or young-at-heart you are, you can play pickleball. And it’s a very social game, especially playing doubles, since you stand so close to each other.

Prefer other sports? You can always play tennis on the lighted courts at ‘Tween Waters or beach volleyball across the street, right next to the sparkling Gulf of Mexico. But I hope to see you on the pickleball court – soon.

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West West Inn, a Pool With a View

As a guest of ‘Tween Waters, you have access to amenities at their sister properties, including the West Wind Inn on Sanibel. And the pool deck at the West Wind Inn is a family favorite. Wait till you see the views! Their pool area is just steps from the Gulf of Mexico, overlooking 500’ of private beach. And while it’s not nearly as big as the pool at ‘Tween Waters, it is plenty spacious, and it’s heated so you can swim year-round. Towels are provided, as are bathrooms, and you’ll find plenty of loungers, and tables with umbrellas.

The tables with shady umbrellas come in handy if you want to eat lunch poolside, which you can, because their Upper Deck Pool Bar serves food and drinks starting at 11 a.m. As its name suggests, the Upper Deck Pool Bar is elevated, overlooking the pool and the Gulf. If you thought the views from the pool were great, wait till you step up to order food and drinks. Wow! Last time we were there, we saw dolphins jumping out of the water as if they were putting on a show at SeaWorld. What a sight! There we were, sipping virgin piña coladas, watching a pod of bottlenose dolphins doing flips, over and over – and we had a clear, elevated view of the entire performance. It was the most memorable lunch I think we’ve ever had. Ever.

I hope your family enjoys spending time poolside at West Wind Inn as much as we do. Note that the Upper Deck Pool Bar is open to the public, but to use the pool, you must be a guest or a guest of one of the sister properties.

  Family at West Wind Inn pool.
My niece and sons at the West Wind Inn pool.

View of the gulf from West Wind Inn pool.
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Educational Family Fun

Want to sneak some education into your family’s summer vacation? There are lots of places just minutes from ‘Tween Waters Inn where you can take your family for a dose of knowledge – and fun!

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum– From 1pm-2pm every day, you’ll find a different adventure: Scavenger Hunt Sundays, Shell Collection Mondays, Fossil Dig Tuesdays…plus guided beach walks and live tank talks.

Big Arts– Explore their art galleries or see a live performance by local groups as well as first-class national touring events. ‘Tween Waters is a Platinum Club Co-Sponsor of Big Arts.

 Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife–  CROW is a unique place for older kids to learn about native and migratory animals in the area. Sign up for Wildlife Walks and much more.

 SCCF Nature Center– Learn about the snowy plover in their Education Center and meander along miles of trails that cut through the quiet heart of the island. Check out the SCCF calendar of events.

Visitor & Education Center at J.N. Ding Darling– Entry is free at this fantastic venue filled with interactive displays, programs, exhibits, and a Nature Gift Store. Kids of all ages will be entertained.

Wildlife Drive at J.N. Ding Darling– For only $5 a car, your family can look for roseate spoonbills and other colorful birds, manatees, alligators, raccoons, snakes, fish, and lots of other creatures on a four-mile drive through a gorgeous nature reserve. Note that Wildlife Drive is closed on Fridays.

I hope you love exploring these family friendly places as much as we have, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.

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Free VIP Amenities and Discounts

As a frugal mom, I feel it’s my job to find the best prices for my family, especially when it comes to vacations. After all, going away even for a few days can be a major expense. I always look online for coupon codes and included free extras, and then I found this deal – when you BOOK DIRECT with ‘Tween Waters, you get the guaranteed best rate – AND a long list of freebies! It’s true! And, the included freebies are things your family can actually enjoy. Plus, when you book direct, you’ll avoid paying a daily resort fee. That can be quite the savings. Look at everything you get when you call ‘Tween Waters or go online to book your reservation:

  • Free Bikes
  • Free Kayaks
  • Free Tennis
  • Free Pickle Ball
  • Free Use of Rackets
  • Free Beach Volleyball
  • Free Shuffleboard
  • Free Cornhole
  • Free Bocce Ball
  • Free Fitness Center
  • Free Standard Wi-Fi
  • Free Parking
  • Free Local Paper

And did I mention, no resort fee? You’ll get a coupon book that could save you hundreds more. Get discounts on meals, beverages, spa treatments, activities like parasailing, clothing, and more. Take it from one frugal mom to another, Book Direct at www.Tween-Waters.com or call 800-223-5865 and get the most from your vacation dollars.

One more Innsider Tip: At check in, when they hand you the coupon book, put it in your purse or pocket right away. You’ll want it handy so you can save every chance you get!

 

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Rain or Shine, Girls’ Reunion

What happens when three old friends from high school find each other on Facebook? A get-together reunion at ‘Tween Waters is planned, of course! This recently happened to me and two of my dear friends, Holly and Tina, whom I hadn’t seen in 20+ years.

For our stay, I booked us a gulfview suite with two queen beds, which was plenty spacious, even with loads of baggage. From our balcony, we could see the beach, and the onsite restaurants were just steps away.

The only drawback of our weekend was the weather! You can never control summer thunder storms in Florida, but we definitely were the recipients of a weekend washout. But a little rain (OK, a LOT of rain) couldn’t dampen our spirits. Storms bring up seashells, so we shelled in the rain, got manicures in the spa, and our Girls-Night-In was the best! We ordered a couple movies (aka Chick Flicks) to watch on the suite TV, and got dinners to go from Captiva House (we got one last taste before they closed till the fall for remodeling). So, there we were, curled up on the couch drinking champagne, eating seafood lasagna and key lime pie, watching 50 Shades Darker…yeah, it was awesome!

Spending a rainy weekend with these two ladies was an absolute blessing. Time has changed us all physically, yet at the core, we are the same fun-loving girls from yesteryear. On a side note, between us, we have 9 children – it’s no wonder we’ve lost of minds!

Next time, we’re hoping to lounge by the pool, sip piña coladas, and soak in some sun. Until then, we’ll be on Facebook.

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