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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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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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Identifying The Prize Shells In Your Bucket

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When a shell is unbroken and naturally colorful, it’s considered a prize shell in my book.
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The private beach at ‘Tween Waters Inn offers guests a beautiful stretch of shelling coastline on one of the most famous beaches in the world. You will find all kinds of shell species recognized as native to the Southwest Florida, Gulf of Mexico area. Best of all, shelling on Captiva, Sanibel, and other barrier islands in the area is as simple as walking along on a nearby beach or as adventurous as boating to an uninhabited island.
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When the day is done, the bucket of shells you collect will include more or less of many common shells. While some are more prized than others, all of them may become your favorites. The Junonia shell with it’s bold, brown spotted pattern on a white shell with a distinctive spiral shape, once housed a live mollusk or sea snail creature inside. It has a reputation for being the Prize shell to find on local beaches. The Junonia is ‘the’ shell you just have to hold or pose with to capture a keepsake photo for all time.
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My shell favorites like the Banded Tulip or the Lightening Welk found around the islands, are the ones I can count on finding most often. There’s also the Cat’s Paw, Turkey Wing, Auger, Cockle, Conch and Scallop. The Shark’s Eye Moon shell, Apple Murex and Olive. These are all the shells we can generally find without a doubt. My husband, Eric is enthusiastic about helping me find the beauties that come in all sizes and colors. The feature photo for this post includes many of the shells I named.
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For lots more information visit the popular, world-famous website ILoveShelling.com that was created by island resident, Pam Rambo. Here you can find photos and descriptions for the shells named above and so many more you are likely to find. Check with the Front Desk and the staff can guide you to exciting shelling boat trips, the Shell Museum and of course lots of stores. And remember, most importantly be sure to enjoy!
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Photo of a live Fighting Conk shell temporarily on the beach and destined to go back into the water. 
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