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A Winter Wonderland for Manatees

One of my favorite things about a winter vacation at Tween Waters Inn, besides the beautiful weather, is the influx of manatees. When temperatures dip to the north, the manatees head south looking for warmer water. Here’s a quick guide of where to find them and what to look for.

 

How to spot manatees

Look for round swirl patterns in the water. The swirl is caused when their large paddle tail moves up and down.

Scan the water for dark masses. Manatees usually surface for air every 3-5 minutes, but can stay down as long as 20 minutes. You might also see their snout and whiskers poking above the water’s surface.

 

Where manatees hang out

The marina at Tween Waters Inn is a fantastic place to see manatees (and dolphins)! They tend to hang out by the docks and by the mangroves to the right of the kayak rentals. <Innsider TIP: If you have a bayside room at Tween Waters Inn, you can often see manatees from your balcony/lanai!>

Manatee Park in Fort Myers is another great location. The power plant next door pumps out warm water so the manatees gather in droves. It’s quite a sight, and it’s a nice drive from the resort.

J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge is only a few minutes away and in addition to manatees, you can see all kinds of birds and an assortment of wildlife, including gators and otters.

 

Manatee laws

‘Look but don’t touch’ when it comes to manatees. If you’re kayaking or paddle boarding, try not to cruise over top of a submerged manatee; you never know when they’ll resurface. They might pop up right beside you though, and that’s ok! Just admire and enjoy your good fortune.

See you at the docks with fingers crossed!

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Summer Bucket List

Summer is here! If you’re like me, you’ve got a list of things you want to accomplish in the next few months, some for yourself, some for your family.  Luckily, ‘Tween Waters Inn can help, and what could be better than accomplishing goals while on vacation?

Try Something New

Rent a jet-ski and race across the water. Be brave and sing karaoke at Crow’s Nest. Ever tried yoga on the beach? You can here. Expand your horizons and get out of your comfort zone!

 

Be One with Nature

Set off on an eco-adventure by renting a kayak and paddling through the mangroves. Look for dolphins, manatees, beautiful birds…who knows what you’ll see! Maybe even an otter.

 

Expand Your Palate

Sushi? Scallops? Anything other than a chicken nugget? Try new foods at Captiva House Sushi. While younger ones may not want to try tuna sashimi (although it is SO good!), maybe a Dragon Roll could pique their interest. And, eating with chopsticks falls under the category, “Learn Something New!”

 

Be Adventurous

Get a bird’s eye view of Captiva when you try parasailing. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Or, how about sailing? It’s a bit lower key but still exciting as you cut through the waves with the wind in your hair.

 

Be Still

Take time to just do nothing and re-center yourself. I recommend spending a few hours at the brand new adult-only Serenity Pool with private cabanas (you’ll find it by the tennis courts). Of course, a visit to the Spa at ‘Tween Waters is always good for the soul.

 

Learn Something New

Just down the road is the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. Their Welcome Center is not only air-conditioned but has fantastic interactive displays about animals found on the island. It’s not only educational, it’s fun.  

 Enjoy your summer!

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Birding ‘Tween Waters Inn and the Islands

I didn’t need to go any farther than the marina at ‘Tween Waters Inn Beach Resort & Spa to photograph some of the most charismatic in the bird kingdom. Like resort mascots, a great egret and great blue heron strutted the docks and posed waterside. Pelicans stumped pilings, dive-bombing for fish they spied from their lofty perches. Within eyeshot, a pair of ospreys tended a nest atop a piling platform. I couldn’t quite make out if there were chicks yet, but this is the time of year they hatch. Next time I’ll bring binoculars.

Nearly 450 species of birds have been identified on Captiva and Sanibel islands, including the rare flamingo, great white pelican, and white-crowned pigeon that birders spotted  recently at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. One of the nation’s hottest birding spots, especially this time of year, “Ding” is more famous for its pretty-in-pink roseate spoonbills. They and other iconic species – reddish egrets, yellow-crowned night herons, pelicans – are easy to spot from Wildlife Drive. Even better, take a sunset paddle or boat cruise at Tarpon Bay to watch birds flock in to roost.

The refuge is part of the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail, as is Lighthouse Beach Park at Sanibel’s eastern end. Birders flock there particularly in fall and spring to witness a phenomenon known as “fall-out” – when migrating birds literally drop from the sky, exhausted from a long flight over water. Before you head out on your birding adventure, grab a laminated “Sanibel & Captiva Birds” flipchart from the T.H. Osprey Gift Shop.

White pelicans flock to “Ding” Darling this time of year.
The ‘Tween Waters Marina great blue heron preens.
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