During our first few days in Beaufort, the locals Bruce and I spoke with warned us that Beaufort would get under our skin, and we wouldn’t want to leave. “There’s just something about this place…”, they said.

Nearly three weeks later, as we prepare to make our way back to Georgia, I reflect back to those conversations and must admit the locals were spot-on. This is a great place, and we look forward to a return visit– hopefully, right back in this very house that we rented for our stay.

The memory I will take away with me that is sure to linger is the friendliness of the locals. Throughout our stay, we met friendly people everywhere we went. From the checkout lady at Publix to the gallery owners at Thibault Gallery (who, by the way, didn’t try to sell us anything), to the artists we spoke with during the First Friday After Five Artwalk, to the young guy behind the counter at Sea Eagle Market, to the lifeguards at the Beaufort Public Pool; they were all so warm and welcoming. Southern hospitality is alive and well here in Beaufort, South Carolina!

Visually, I was taken by the beauty of the Spanish moss on everything from the wild oaks, to the crepe myrtles, to even the magnolias. At “The Point”, that stuff was growing everywhere, and it was beautiful. So were the antebellum homes.

The marsh was also surprisingly alluring– something I found myself gazing at often. It was every-changing, as the tide rolled in and out; and, since we were here during the full moon, the tide had as much as a 10-foot swing during a few of those days.

Then, there were the dolphins. WOW! What a wonderful thrill it was to have the opportunity to spend hours observing them in their native habitat rather than in constricting tanks at Sea World. (As an adult who now knows better, I no longer view being a dolphin trainer as something I would aspire to be. I have yet to see the documentary, “Blackfish”, but I’m guessing after I do, my feelings for Sea World (and similar amusement parks) will continue on a downward spiral.

On the culinary end of things, we enjoyed a few good restaurants, but I most enjoyed eating shrimp- and, lots of it! Sea Eagle Market was our seafood source of choice for eight of our home-cooked meals, and seven of those dinners featured medium local shrimp purchased at $5.99 per pound. Boy, were they sweet and FRESH! Sea Eagle owns their own boats, so the shrimp they catch go directly from their boats onto the ice at the market.

Bruce has it down when it comes to cooking those little guys to perfection. Sautee in a little olive oil, red pepper flake, basil, and tons of freshly chopped garlic; toss over whole wheat penne with a little pesto and top with grated romano, and it’s the base for an easy and delicious dinner. Steamed broccoli on top and a side salad make this my favorite shrimp dinner. (The shrimp wraps Bruce made were tasty, too!)

About the only thing I didn’t like about Beaufort was the same thing I have dealt with no matter where we have visited along the coast: no-see-ums. Darn those little buggers! If there was a place I missed spraying with insect repellent, they found it. They weren’t as bad here as they were in Sanibel, but they were bad enough.

Even with the no-see-ums and miserable weather we had for several of the days, I loved this place and look forward to visiting again. After all, Beaufort got under my skin.






Our last couple of days in Sanibel were beautiful. Overall, the weather was terrific; sunny and mostly on the drier side. There were a few humid days in the middle, but our friends were right about it being a really nice time of the year to be there. There was more wildlife to see in November, though, so we would opt for a fall visit, next time around.

We spent the first part of our last full day going over to Captiva to have brunch at RC Otter’s and check out the Manatees at Jensen’s Marina. RC Otter’s is a very laid back place with a casual outdoor dining area and killer blueberry pancakes (Bruce’s choice) and delicious crunchy granola with fresh berries (my choice).

As for manatees at Jensen’s Marina, we were told by our RC Otter’s waiter, last November, that they can be spotted there all of the time, as long as the water is warm. And, as promised, we saw them last November and during this visit. There were five “sea cows” feasting on the sea grass, next to the dock and just feet from the shoreline. Here is one of them:



The remainder of our afternoon was spent kayaking at the J.N. “Ding” Darling Refuge (see my November posts for more info.). And, I am happy to report that Bruce caught another fish; a legal-sized speckled trout, this time around (Wooo HOOOO!). But, just as he did with the pompano, he released it immediately after I shot this photo:


To wrap up my Sanibel posts, I will include more of my favorite shots from the last couple of days. Stay tuned for a post about our detour, as we made our way back home…




There were hundreds of these crabs running around all over the shoreline! They were quite amusing to watch.


We finally took the opportunity to walk to the lighthouse in the morning, so I could get a shot of the sun shining on the roots of this dead tree.


This cormorant, resting in the shade under the pier, may have been sick or injured, because he just didn’t seem to have the motivation to move as I got up close to it.


We learned that osprey mate for life and always return to the same nest. After mating season, hubby and wife fly off to take separate vacations, and then meet again at the nest for the next round of baby-making.



Snowy egrets have yellow eyes, black bills, and yellow legs. Great egrets are larger in size and have black eyes, yellow bills, and black legs. Both species can always be seen around Lighthouse Pier snooping around the fishermen’s bait buckets, waiting for a handout.



This cute woodpecker had made a home in a dead tree, in front of a house down the street from our cottages.


These signs can be seen along the roadside in several areas throughout the island. They’re no joke!




We have made some interesting observations being in Sanibel during the spring, after visiting here during last fall. Most noticeably, we have seen very few calico scallop shells on Lighthouse Beach, whereas they were quite plentiful, last November. Are shells seasonal? I had never given it much thought.

Birds, on the other hand, were something we learned about back in grade school. Some species migrate south for the winter and others stay year around. Last November, the white pelicans had just arrived from Canada. And, we saw birds everywhere. During our paddle through the Mangrove Tunnels, last November, we saw birds all around us. (Check out my Sanibel blog posts for photos.)

Kayaking through Mangrove Tunnels this time was much different. We saw only three birds in the tunnels; none of the species we saw last November. This bird isn’t even on the Sanibel bird species page of the Sanibel Chamber of Commerce guide, so did it migrate from the south where the seasons are opposite of ours? Does anybody know what the name of this bird and where it is from? Perhaps it is a local bird, after all, but we sure didn’t see any last fall.


There haven’t been as many dolphins feeding out off of Lighthouse Beach this time, but we did enjoy watching this one cruising for fish, just 30 or 40 yards off shore. When it spotted a fish, it would chase it up to the shallower water and trap it just feet from the shore. It was quite a show!


As for the water temperature during this visit, it has been perfect at 78 degrees; very inviting for my morning open water swims. Last November, in addition to the horrible red tide, the water temperature was cold; fine for kayaking, but too cold otherwise.

One thing that hasn’t been much different is the fishing. Bruce had no luck last November, but neither did anybody else, due to the red tide and sudden drop in water temperature.

We thought Bruce would have much better luck this time around. Considering his success fishing from his kayak in San Diego Bay (I witnessed him catching a bass on several casts in a row and 5-10 fish in a typical hour on the water.) and at Lighthouse Lakes, in Texas, it seemed like a no-brainer to catch fish here. He did his research and had the right tackle. But, once again, it has been tough. And, once again, we haven’t seen anybody else catching much of anything either. BUT, he did catch this pompano, yesterday.


That was one full day! It began with a fast-paced 40 minute open water swim, followed by a pool training session; a total of 5,000 yards between the two. I capped that off with a PT session in the gym.

After brunch back at the cottage, we packed up for our afternoon kayak fishing trip on Tarpon Bay. The winds had kicked up to 11mph, so we had a rough paddle against the current to a protected area where Bruce caught his pompano. But, it was a fun couple of hours out on the water, before riding the current back to our launch site. And, at that point, we declared the day DONE. It was time to head back, clean up, and relax over dinner- and, dessert.

After dinner, we were strolling by shop windows and noticed a group of guys sitting around in a circle playing guitars and one playing a drum. They were in the Sanibel Café, a breakfast and lunch café that had closed hours ago. When we did a double-take, the owner invited us in and offered us a beer on the house. I mentioned that Bruce played harmonica, but had not brought any with him. The next thing we knew, one of the guys went out to his car to get his harmonica and Bruce joined in on a loosely organized jam session that meets on Monday nights at the café. Bruce blew them away (no pun intended) and it was a fun way to finish off an action-packed day!

I Slept Like a Baby Last Night…

…but, this is a travel blog.  So, back to Sanibel Island… 😉

We woke up this morning to winds too brisk for kayak fishing, so we opted to return to Tarpon Bay to paddle through the mangrove tunnels.



Although we weren’t as lucky this time to see a Roseate Spoonbill or River Otter, we did see many egrets and herons to keep my camera active and both of us entertained.  It was a beautiful paddle, once again; a must-do for anybody traveling to Sanibel Island.


The afternoon has been a relaxing one.  Lunch was very casual; an Italian Sub and California Wrap at Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory.  Once again, Trip Advisor reviews steered us to the right place! 

After lunch and one last walk along Lighthouse Beach, we returned to the cottage to start organizing for our trip home.  Whaaaaaa!  The time, as always, has gone by much too quickly.  We hit the road in the morning, stopping for the night in Ocala, before returning home on Friday.  We are not keen on making the drive in one day, so it will be a slower trip home which is just fine.

Sanibel Island has been wonderful; a place we plan to return to next year.  The only negative was the abundance of noseeum bites we managed to collect on every nook and cranny of our bodies; in between the tons of repellent we were forever spraying on ourselves to avoid them.  But, noseeums and all, we’ll be back!

My Vote Goes to… THE PELICANS!



Happy Election Day (or, unhappy, depending on who ends up winning…)!  You should have seen the lines at the polls, here on Sanibel Island!  I just hope that when I wake up tomorrow, the election will be DONE; no talk of “hanging chads”, “pregnant chads”, “butterfly ballots”, etc.  (Well, that’s not my only hope, but I’ll leave politics out of this post…)

So, the day began for us out on the water, near the bridge that links Fort Myers to Sanibel Island.  The fishing is supposed to be good in that spot and dolphins are often spotted there, as well.  Unfortunately, there was no catching or dolphins; probably thanks to the red tide that has plagued the area as it did last November.

Red tide is a natural phenomenon caused by tiny, single celled algae called Gymnodinium breve.  While red tide causes little more than respiratory and eye discomfort for most humans, it has a more serious effect on marine wildlife.  Exposure to the algal bloom can be dangerous, even fatal, to fish, sea turtles and birds.  Yesterday, we saw numerous dead mullet everywhere.

Needless to say, the fishing has been awful for everybody.  So, while Bruce gave it his best effort, I paddled around and photographed my favorite bird: pelicans.  I also got some shots of the egrets, eyeing the schooling bait fish that came in right up to the shoreline.  My last shot was of a heron, snapped right before it poured down rain and we both got too cold to stay out. 




At the recommendation (once again!) of our Sun City friends, we had lunch at Island Cow; a very popular spot on the island.  The atmosphere was quite cute with their collection of cows throughout the interior.  And, the food was just fine.  But, I am still thinking about Over Easy Café’s Summer Salad that I enjoyed yesterday for lunch.

20 T

The salad dressing alone; raspberry pecan vinaigrette was exquisite.  But, tossed with the mixed greens, red onions, blue cheese, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, candied pecans, and crispy chow mien noodles; it was simply the tastiest salad I had savored in a long time.  So, since it is Election Day,  Over Easy Café gets my vote as my favorite restaurant to go with my favorite bird.  We also had great meals at every other restaurant we dined at, including:  Gramma Dots, Cheeburger Cheeburger (a chain, but recommended by our friends), R.C. Otter’s, and today’s lunch at Island Cow.

After lunch, we browsed the boutiques at Periwinkle Place; all very nice shops.  That was followed by a swim workout at the Sanibel Recreation Center; my 7th and last one on my one week pass.

Well, it’s time to check in on the election.  And, my vote goes to… I’ll give you one guess!

Who Let the Birds Out?

I felt like asking that question, this morning, as we paddled through the Tarpon Bay mangrove tunnels.  There were so many interesting birds; it seemed as if we were paddling through the San Diego Zoo.  But, the funny thing about it was that it appeared as if these birds were escapees from a bird show, where the birds are all trained performers.




When we spotted this Yellow-crowned Night Heron, I paddled up to it very slowly, trying my best not to make any noise with my paddle.  As I got closer and closer, he didn’t seem to be bothered.  So, I took several photos before saying anything to Bruce.  Meanwhile, he stayed quietly behind.

At first, I whispered; still, the bird didn’t fly off.  Next, I talked in a normal voice, but, he didn’t budge!  I ended up getting so close to the little guy I could have poked him with my paddle! 

In all, on the marked mangrove tunnel loop we saw dozens and dozens of various birds that never seemed bothered, as I approached with my camera.  We even saw a Roseate Spoonbill (see above); a somewhat rare sight on the trail.  And, as luck would have it, we saw one of the rarest sights of all out there on the trail; a river otter!  According to one of the guides I spoke with at Tarpon Bay Explorers, he had only seen a handful of them during his eight years with the company.  You will have to take my word for it that we actually did see it, because my photo of the critter was just a blur as he scurried in the dark shadows of the mangroves, hopped into the water, and then swam across to the other side before taking off again.  But, at least we saw it, and, at least I get to share my other photos with you, now that I have the software downloaded from Fuji’s website for my camera.  (I couldn’t wait until I got home…  So, if you would like to see those dolphin shots I got, I added them to my Flipper post.  Don’t get too excited; I missed their heads, but I did get the very tip of the baby’s nose in the second shot.)

So, back to the birds, the following are some of my favorites from today:






This Turkey Vulture had his eyes on a dead mullet, which, unfortunately were plentiful due to the red tide killing them off.  I’m sure that also explains why Bruce didn’t catch any fish in Tarpon Bay today!



Other birds we saw and photographed were Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, White Ibis, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Cormorants, and others I couldn not identify.  I will have more photos posted on my fototime site, after I return home.

Besides paddling with the dolphins, this was definitely the highlight of our Sanibel vacation, so far!  It was definitely for the birds!