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Irish and Easter Fun at ‘Tween Waters Inn

March is a magical time at ‘Tween Waters Inn. In addition to a St. Patrick’s Day party at Crow’s Nest on the 17th, and a spectacular Easter buffet at Captiva House on the 27th, there are lots of ways to celebrate spring and ‘get lucky’ with fun happenings around the island all month long.

The Lions Club of Sanibel and Captiva has its annual arts and craft festival the weekend of March 17, 18 and 19. It takes place from 9am to 5pm at the island’s Community Center and the suggested entry donation is $5.

See the Easter Bunny and hunt for eggs at the Children’s Spring Festival, Saturday, March 26, 2016. Egg hunts, a giant slide, pony rides, games, crafts, face painting…all the things a kid would love. Hours are 10am to 1pm at the Community Park on Periwinkle. Activity armbands are $10.

Easter Sunday, you’ll find a bountiful buffet at Captiva House from 11:30am to 6pm. The displays are a feast for the eyes and the carving station and buffet will please even the pickiest eaters.  Call for reservations, 239-472-5161, ext. 421.

The Sanibel Farmers Market happens every Sunday through April, but it’s far from typical. In addition to fruits and veggies, you’ll find a plethora of culinary delights, from brick-oven pizzas and BBQ to lobster rolls and German bratwurst. Hours are 8am to 1pm.

Consider yourself lucky? Here are two things even the locals wish for:

See the elusive green flash. Just as a rainbow is created under certain conditions, a green flash is an atmospheric event. It is caused when light refracts, usually in a cloudless and cool sky. It will only last a second or two so don’t blink as the sun’s last rays are setting into the water, right in front of the resort.

Find a Junonia. You’ll make everyone green with envy if you find one. This gorgeous seashell is on every sheller’s bucket list. You can even get your picture in the local paper if you find one.

I wish you the luck of the Irish this month and every month, and Easter blessings.

 

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Keeping Resolutions, Captiva Island-Style

I really don’t like making resolutions because I’m not very good at keeping them. This year however, I have a fool-proof plan. Yes, I want to lose a few pounds and be more active. I also want my kids to spend more time outdoors and less time in front of a screen. And alone-time with my spouse would be a miracle. I need a family vacation to fit with my New Year goals. The answer is ‘Tween Waters Inn.

A family vacation to ‘Tween Waters Inn makes keeping resolutions easy. For exercise, there is a fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment. The view is inspiring because it overlooks the pool (bikini bod encouragement?). But think outside of the box, and get your exercise in along the shore. Walk to the left and in two miles you’ll be at Blind Pass, where Sanibel and Captiva meet. It’s also a popular shelling spot. Round trip takes about 90 minutes. (Sometimes I call for a ride back!) Walk right, and you’ll end up at Redfish Pass. This is where Captiva and North Captiva go their separate ways. Again, 90 minutes round trip…and what a peaceful journey.

For the more active, there are tennis courts; rent a one- or two-person kayak and paddle the scenic back bay mangroves in search of wildlife like manatees or dolphin; the pool is heated so you can swim year-round in comfort; yoga on the beach is always a nice treat; and you can rent bikes onsite. I’d better make a reservation at The Spa at ‘Tween Waters to soothe my rarely used muscles. A couples’ massage would check off the last item on my list. Yes, I definitely resolve to vacation at ‘Tween Waters Inn. Come and join me, the weather is perfect.

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Mysterious Sand Sculptures and a Championship Festival

You never know what you’re going to find when you wander down the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva. Case in point, while out looking for seashells, I have stumbled upon some amazing sand sculptures (see photos). I have found them all over the island, every month of the year, from the tip of Captiva to the Sanibel lighthouse.

I don’t know who builds them, or why, or what their motivation is, but I do know that these creations create quite a stir among beachgoers. After all, who wouldn’t want to just happen upon a smiling dragon? Or an octopus where every little suction cup on every leg has been created by the placement of a perfectly shaped seashell? Whoever you are, thank you for leaving these treasures!

While these sculptures are exciting to find when you find them, if you want to be guaranteed the chance the see sand art, plan to visit the Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship that’s held each November on Fort Myers Beach. (This year it’s Nov 20-29.) Talk about jaw-dropping. It’s the largest sand sculpting competition in the state and it draws hundreds of amateurs (and 25 master sculptors) from all over. In fact, USA Today and CNN Travel have named this is a ‘must see’ and one of the 10 best sand sculpting competitions in the world. And, ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort is a short ride away from all the excitement. Here’s a You Tube video that my friend Lauren and fellow VISIT FLORIDA insider made about her visit.

I hope these photos encourage you to come build your own sandcastles and other fun creatures. All you need is your imagination – we’ll supply the sand and water. If you do get creative, post your pics to our Facebook page. Build on!

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Take a Walk, See the World

Orange Bird of Paradise from South Africa. Bougainvillea from Brazil. Yellow Trumpet from Paraguay. You can take a botanical trip around the world at ‘Tween Waters Inn and you don’t need a passport, just a comfy pair of shoes (or flip flops). 

Read moreTake a Walk, See the World

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Seashells on Captiva Island — Treasure at ‘Tween Waters Inn

Having now lived in Florida for seven years, one would think I knew a little more about the largest attraction to SWFL — the seashells — but in fact, I have kept myself fairly blissfully ignorant. I say, “blissfully ignorant” because I know that if I would ever learn the names of the shells, which shells were rare, which shells to look for and how to find the best ones, I could never simply walk down a Southwest Florida beach again without a bloodthirsty search for perfect hidden treasure.

IMG_2667-1But alas, it was time I take the plunge, stoop on Sanibel, crouch on Captiva, and educate myself on this treasure from the sea. I enlisted the help of a friend to help identify some of what is said to be 250 species of shells on these barrier islands, but if you’re not as lucky as me to have a local shell-educated friend, ‘Tween Waters Inn, Captiva Island and Sanibel Island boast a variety of local experts willing to take guests on shelling expeditions in search of knowledge and the perfect souvenir (for a small fee of course).

I learned five of the easier shell names to remember and identify, including angel wings, kitten’s paw, shark’s eye moon shell (my favorite, not only for the name but the stunning swirl of colors), calico scallop and lighting whelk — only 245 more species to remember!

Innsider Tip: If you’re the type the usually wins the a raffle or lottery, then be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the prized Junonia shell — it is not only fairly elusive, but also considered lucky if you should unearth one.

With an abundance of shells, it should be easy work to find a small souvenir to fit in your suitcase, but if you’re seeking the full shelling experience, I also picked up a few tips on digging up the best of the best in crustaceous treasure:

  • Make certain to have a container to keep your shells in as you search: As an inexperienced “sheller,” my pockets and hands did not have nearly the capacity necessary.
  • Don’t forget a hat and sunscreen: Typically, you have to get up early in the morning around low tide, to snatch up the perfect shell before your competitors, but it’s still hot and still sunny.
  • Pay attention to moon phases and tides: It’s amazing what a difference a full moon can make on the extremity of the tides!

But the best recommendation I can give to an inexperienced sheller is simply to stop and enjoy the experience. There is no better sound than the tinkling give and take of the shells being pulled into the ocean by the waves!

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