Still on our quest to find the best spot for beach combing, we headed to Sanibel and Captiva Islands to spend a day searching for shells & shark's teeth. The beaches of Sanibel & Captiva Islands are known to be the best shelling in Florida. We were going to find out. If we were lucky, we might find one of the prized Junonia shells.
Sanibel is almost a 2 hour drive south of our resort on Manasota Key. We set out early. It was a beautiful day. The view from the bridge to Sanibel was spectacular.
A pelican escorted us across the bridge. He rode the air currents keeping pace with us at 35 mph the entire length of the bridge!
After breakfast we decided to head to Captiva Island first, then work our way back to Sanibel. We didn't see much of the Gulf but the houses were beautiful.
"I told you we should have fixed the air conditioning before we left."
We found a spot in the (almost full) parking lot, grabbed our gear & headed for the beach. That's when we noticed the sign. The parking fee on Captiva was $20 for the first 2 hours! That's a little rich for our blood considering all of the beaches we had visited so far were free or required a $3 daily parking fee.
Back to Sanibel!
We caught a few glimpses of the Gulf on our way back to Sanibel. There are several public beaches on Sanibel Island. To be honest, I'm not sure which beach we visited. Wherever we were, the parking was much more reasonable. Still an hourly fee with a $5 minimum. We paid $7.50, grabbed our gear & set out to find seashells.
Sanibel & Captiva are both known for great shelling. Beach combers can find Conch, Junonia, Coquina, Murex, Lightning Whelk, Tulip, Olive, Conckle & Scallop shells. Sand Dollar & Starfish too. You're allowed to collect them all providing the critters that inhabit them are no longer alive. The beach we visited on Sanibel was also beautiful but... we didn't leave with a single shell! I suspect the lack of seashells was temporary & due to the recent beach reclamation projects.
First Venice, now Captiva and Sanibel Islands. Three strikes & we're out! We spent enough time in the car looking for the best spots for beach combing. Turns out, it was in our front yard the entire time! All of the beaches on Manasota Key are full of beautiful seashells, fossilized corals and our latest obsession - shark's teeth!
On the way back through Fort Myers we passed the Edison Ford Winter Estate. We didn't realize until much later that the Edison Ford Winter Estate contains historic homes, a museum, laboratory & gardens open to visitors. We would be interested in those tours. Next visit.
So, I've been gushing over the beaches on Manasota Key but haven't shared many of our photos yet. (Saving the best for last!) In our final few posts, we'll share the best part of our exciting Florida adventure. Stump Pass Beach State Park on Manasota Key in Englewood, Florida. Our favorite spot to wander, wade, beach comb & bird watch. Stay tuned!
It was windy & chilly the day we visited Venice Beach but we didn't care. The sky was blue, the sun was shining & it was still a long shot warmer than our home in Northern Michigan! We walked the beach looking for shells & shark's teeth but didn't find any on Venice Beach. Recent beach reclamation projects undertaken throughout Florida have temporarily changed the beaches. They're beautiful but the added sand covers the shark's teeth. That's what we were after!
We spent a lot of time on the Venice Fishing Pier watching the fishermen, birds & the waves. But, after striking out on shark's teeth, we decided to check out another beach just down the way. Jason walked the shoreline while Cousin Aaron & I followed in the wagon. I think we'd all agree, we liked Casperson Beach even more. It was rocky, beautiful and the beach combing was better!
The bird watching is fantastic in Florida. So many varieties you just don't see in Michigan. These little guys (below) are Sanderlings and they are hysterical to watch. They chase the waves to pick for food in the sand, then the waves chase them. Back & forth they go as fast as their little legs can carry them. Sanderlings are migratory birds that spend August-April wintering in Florida before returning to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.
We were hooked on beach combing and quickly turning into beach bums but we did take some time off the beaches to explore downtown Venice too. As you can see from our postcard below, Venice is a beautiful area. Visit if you can!
After breakfast, we popped into Sea Pleasures & Treasures gift shop in search of postcards for Uncle Ed but it was the shop's extensive fossil display that caught our attention. The rarest fossils are on display but the shop offers plenty of fossilized shells, bone, shark's teeth & corals for sale too. Sea Pleasures & Treasures is located at 255 W. Venice Avenue in Downtown Venice. The shop doesn't have a website so we'll give them a shout out to spread the word. It's worth a visit to check out their incredible display!
Venice & Casperson beaches were beautiful but we had better luck finding shark's teeth, fossils, shells & coral outside our front door on the the beaches of Manasota Key. We were determined to find the best spot on the Gulf for beach combing. So we decided to check out the beaches on Sanibel & Captiva Islands.
Stay tuned for our next adventure!
A few blocks from Indian Mound Park we found the Artscape Sculpture Garden. It's a small park tucked into a quiet neighborhood, kinda quirky and very cool. Artscape Sculpture Garden is a joint effort by the artists of the Art Alliance of Lemon Bay and other community groups. Artscape Sculpture Garden is located at 460 W. Green Street in "old" Englewood, Florida.
Artscape Sculpture Garden
Jason & I are interested in all forms of artistic expression. Of course, not everything fits our personal taste and we don't always understand the message. (Abstract art is usually above my head.) This sculpture garden contained several interesting works but two pieces really spoke to us.
"Catch of the Day"
Created by Nichole Moranda
Catch of the Day - Crab traps filled with the garbage collected from the ocean. The majority is made of plastic. Some items were lost but most of it is discarded trash. This piece isn't pretty. There's nothing attractive about it but it does makes you think. Hopefully, it inspires people to clean up their act.
"A New Generation Races for the Surf"
Created by Sherry O'Connell
A New Generation Races for the Surf was my favorite piece. I love pottery and who doesn't love sea turtles? I really liked the informational panels around the bottom of the sculpture. Loggerhead Turtles are amazing creatures.
We left the sculpture garden & headed for Dearborn Street. There are several nice artsy-type shops on Dearborn. One had an art studio inside. We popped into all of the stores that were open & grabbed a great cup of joe at Culture Coffee. From there we wandered down the block to Rehab on Dearborn Vintage Gallery. Wow! Rehab is our kind of shop!
Rehab on Dearborn is a cool, funky shop filled to the brim with art, lawn decor, antiques, up cycled/recycled & salvaged treasures. The owners, Les & Teri, are super nice people. Cool & funky just like their shop. We had a nice conversation with them as we browsed. They relayed the background of the pieces that caught our eye and shared several interesting stories of their own.
Check out Teri's cool car! Yep, she drove it to work.
We visited Rehab on Dearborn twice and found things we'd missed the first time around. We left with treasures for ourselves & Grandma Pillywiggin both times. It's a good thing we had the big ol' Roadmaster Wagon! I bought a 3-1/2 foot tall hand-carved wooden statue, 2 metal signs and the fun mermaid prints below by artist Elizabeth James. Artists cards behind the matting say James was born in Poland in 1948 and currently resides in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
If you're in the area, stop in & browse Rehab on Dearborn and check out their Facebook page. Be sure mention the Pillywiggins sent you. Tell them we said hello. We'll be back to shop again next winter!
We'll be exploring the surrounding areas next so hop in & buckle up!
The ol' wagon is headed to Venice, Sanibel & Captiva Islands.