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Beautiful Sanibel Island and the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast

Program Number: 20899RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/1/2013 - 12/6/2013; 2/14/2016 - 2/19/2016; 2/21/2016 - 2/26/2016; 2/28/2016 - 3/4/2016; 3/6/2016 - 3/11/2016; 3/20/2016 - 3/25/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Sanibel Island, Florida
Price starting at: $999.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Pure white sand beaches strewn with 400 species of shells; wetlands and mangrove swamps; and wildlife like manatees, dolphins, tortoises, alligators and nearly 250 species of birds make Sanibel Island a tropical Eden tucked along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Get to know this fascinating island like a local. Learn why the “Sanibel Stoop” is the preferred posture on the local beaches, encounter marine life inhabiting island waters and discover the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the U.S.


• Join volunteer docents inside Sanibel Historical Village and Museum, a tribute to the island’s early pioneers where each building has been restored to its original state.
• Meet a special kind of marine expert on a beachcombing field trip with a conchologist who helps you identify the many species of shells washed up on shore.
• Spend a day at the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, examining the lives of these two remarkable men.

Activity Particulars

Each group will have the same fieldtrips and excursions but the pace of the program will vary by date. The ACTIVE groups will walk up to two miles while the MODERATE groups will walk up to 1 mile per day. Walking on mostly flat terrain with some rocky, sandy surfaces. Standing at cultural sites and stair climbing.

Activity level varies by date;
Active dates include: 12/4, 1/15, 1/29, 2/12, 2/26, 3/12, 3/26
Moderate dates include: 11/13, 1/8, 1/22, 2/5, 2/19, 3/5, 3/19, 4/2

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

2-14-2016, 2-28-2016

This departure will feature a MODERATE level pace.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

2-21-2016, 3-6-2016, 3-20-2016

This departure will feature an ACTIVE level pace.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

Sanibel Island

Beautiful Sanibel is on the Gulf Coast of Florida, just off Fort Myers. This barrier island has been inhabited for thousands of years, first by ancestors of the powerful Calusa tribe, and much later by pirates! The island is now home to a wide range of flora and fauna, and many outdoor attractions.

Full service beach resort with complimentary amenities such as kayaking, biking, tennis and beach chairs.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Charles Sobczak

Charles Sobczak is an award-winning author who lives and writes on Sanibel Island. His first novel, Six Mornings on Sanibel, was originally published in 1999 and is currently in its seventh printing. He has written several other novels, a fictional memoir and a collection of selected writings titled Rhythm of the Tides. In 2010, he published a regional nature guide, “Living Sanibel - A Nature Guide to Sanibel & Captiva Islands.” The book quickly became the best-selling book on Sanibel and rose to #34 nationally for nature guide sales on during the winter season of 2011. One of his other nature guides, “The Living Gulf Coast-A Nature Guide to Southwest Florida,” won the Gold Medal Presidents Award for the best work of Adult non-fiction, 2011, by the Florida Publisher’s Association.
Meals and Lodgings
   West Wind Inn
  Sanibel Island, Florida 5 nights
 West Wind Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: The West Wind Inn is a charming beachfront hotel.
  Contact info: 3345 West Gulf Drive
Sanibel Island, FL 33957 USA
phone: 239-472-1541
  Room amenities: All rooms have a coffee maker, refrigerator, color cable TV, phone, alarm clock, hair dryer and a safe. Most rooms have a small microwave oven.
  Facility amenities: Air conditioning, pool, butterfly garden, tennis court.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior:  Reservation required. Call hotel for additional information.
  Additional nights after:  Reservation required. Call hotel for additional information.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3 to 5 p.m. in hotel lobby for registration. You will be staying at West Wind Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after lunch on Friday. Box lunch avaliable by 11:00am You will be staying at West Wind Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. N/A
  Parking availability:
Free parking at hotel
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sanibel Island, Florida
  Nearest city or town:  Fort Myers
  Nearest airport:  Fort Myers
  From End of Program
  Location: Sanibel Island, Florida
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Southwest Florida International Airport


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Select Transportation
phone: 800-395-9524


Per Person/One Way:


$75 for 1-2 persons
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


depending on traffic, 1-1/2 hours 




30 miles


rent a car at the airport and park free at the hotel or call the van service.


Southwest Florida International Airport


From Airport






Per Person/One Way:


Approximatly $55
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:







Driving Directions
  Interstate 75 or Fort Myers Airport From I-75 or from the Airport: Leave 1- 75 at exit 131 onto Daniels Road. Go west and cross over US 41. When you reach Summerlin Road, turn left. Summerlin Road takes you directly to the island toll plaza($6.00). Once on the island make a right hand turn onto Periwinkle Way. Follow 2.6 miles to the stop sign, make a left turn at the stop sign onto Tarpon Bay Road. Go to next stop sign, turn right on West Gulf Drive. The West Wind Inn will be 2 miles ahead on your left.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival & Check-in, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
(Sunday, December 1)

Note: You'll recieve author and lecturer Charles Sobczak's book "Living Sanibel: A Nature Guide". Charles Sobczak will be giving a wrap-up lecture on Friday morning.

 Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 3:00pm.

Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar desk in the lobby to pick up your arrival packet containing your name tag, the up-to-date schedule, and to confirm the time of the orientation session.

Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

 Dinner: The dinner buffet provides a changing daily menu of salad, choice of main course, side dishes, rolls and butter, dessert, and iced tea, soda, coffee/decaf, water.
 Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome, introduce everyone, and provide key staff contact names and phone numbers. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Take the rest of the evening to settle in, relax, and prepare for the full day ahead.

Accommodations: West Wind Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Edison and Ford Winter Estates
(Monday, December 2)
 Breakfast: The breakfast buffet provides a hot dish each day, assorted cold cereal, fruit, breakfast breads, milk, juice, coffee/decaf, tea, and water.
 Morning: Enjoy a leisurely morning getting acquainted with your fellow Road Scholars or take a walk along the beach. We will leave the hotel in the late morning due to the special evening activity at Edison and Ford.
 Lunch: Today we will have lunch in Fort Myers.
 Afternoon: Visit Edison & Ford Winter Estates and take a look at tropical “Old Florida” as it was enjoyed by two giants of American science and technology, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Edison purchased his home and land in 1885. His good friend Ford bought the adjoining property in 1916. Together, the properties comprise more than 20 acres of botanical gardens, historic buildings including the Edison Ford Museum with its impressive collection of inventions, artifacts, and special exhibits plus Edison’s Botanic Research Laboratory.
 Dinner: Dinner at Edison and Ford Winter Estate
 Evening: More than 120 years ago, Thomas Edison created the very first strand of electric light bulbs for use as a Christmas decoration. Following in this tradition the Edison and Ford Estates celebrate the season with Holiday Nights; each December the Estates twenty acres of gardens and historic buildings are seasonally decorated with Old Florida charm and lit up with millions of colored lights. Holiday Nights include nightly entertainment by school and community groups, culinary demonstrations, book signings and appearances by artists.
Accommodations: West Wind Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Beachcombing, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
(Tuesday, December 3)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at hotel
 Morning: Field Trip: Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. Founded as a tribute to early pioneers, this small complex tells the story of Sanibel from the time of the Calusa Indians 3,500 years ago through the era of Spanish exploration to families who settled on the island in the 1800s. Seven historic buildings representative of life on the island have been moved here and restored. Hear stories of Sanibel from a museum docent.
 Lunch: Enjoy a changing daily choice of salad (such as chicken, shrimp, tuna ) on a bed of fresh greens, or a sandwich (such as BLT, Beach Club, Ham & Cheddar), plus a sweet treat, iced tea, lemonade, water.
 Afternoon: Field Trip: Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. This museum of seashells and conchology is devoted to furthering awareness of nature and the natural environment through education and research. Learn about shells and mollusks as you view live specimens in tanks and more than 30 exhibits of mollusks from around the world including shells in art and history, habitats, rare specimens, fossil shells, common Southwest Florida shells, and more. A special feature of the museum is its garden and exhibit dedicated to actor Raymond Burr (Perry Mason, Ironside) who was a shell enthusiast and supporter of the museum.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the hotel.
Accommodations: West Wind Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Bailey Shell Museum, Sanibel Historical Museum and Village
(Wednesday, December 4)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Field Trip: Beachcombing. There’s more to the beach than surf and sand! Learn about beachcombing and shelling, colored glass, sea beans, eggs and all sorts of natural treasures awaiting your discovery -- including how to find the best treasures.
 Lunch: At the hotel.
 Afternoon: Field Trip: J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Led by an expert, spend the afternoon exploring areas of this 6,300 acre nature preserve that is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the U.S. In addition to other wildlife, the refuge is renowned for its spectacular migratory bird populations. A single paved road, 4.25 miles long, loops through the preserve, along with gravel side trails. The NWR is named for Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling -- nicknamed Ding -- who was an important figure in the conservation movement and instrumental in founding the National Wildlife Federation under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. During a tram ride, an experienced naturalist will help you spot wildlife most visitors would never see.
 Dinner: This evening we will dine out at a popular local restaurant, Timbers.
 Evening: Hands-on Experience: Shellcrafting. Bring your shells and learn what you can make with these unusual items of natural beauty and wonder. See examples of the kinds of charming objects you can make from collected shells. Roll up your sleeves and become an artist!
Accommodations: West Wind Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation
(Thursday, December 5)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Field Trip: Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. SCCF has a 6,900 square foot nature center for education, exhibition, and operations in addition to four miles of trails winding through various habitats. Since incorporating in 1967, SCCF has acquired and preserved some 1,800 acres of environmentally sensitive land on and around the islands that include critical wildlife habitats, rare and unique subtropical plant communities, tidal wetlands, and freshwater wetlands along the Sanibel River. Learn about the history of conservation on the islands and the work of SCCF.
 Lunch: Lunch on Captiva at the Green Flash Restaurant.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Returning to the hotel, you will have time for personal independent exploration on Sanibel, strolling along the beach, or just relaxing.
 Dinner: Enjoy conviviality and good food at our farewell dinner with a fun and tasty "luau" at the hotel.
 Evening: Entertainment: Famed ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson entertains with his "pals" Danny O'Day and Farfel. After years of touring in comedy stand-up, Jimmy was featured on many television shows throughout the 1950s, appearing with everyone from Milton Berle and Ed Sullivan to Kate Smith, Gary Moore, Jackie Gleason, and Pat Boone. He starred in his own TV show during the 1960s as well as numerous special events around the country. In 2011, celebrating his 70th year in show business, Jimmy Nelson was dubbed Dean of American Ventriloquists. He has never retired and continues as an active performer to this day.
Accommodations: West Wind Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Presentation by local author and Departures
(Friday, December 6)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Presentation: Author Charles Sobczak. For our final session, we hear from this notable writer who is the author of "Living Sanibel: A Nature Guide" and "Six Mornings on Sanibel" as well a number of other books. Hotel check-out is by 11:00am.
 Lunch: The program concludes with lunch. A box lunch is provided that you may eat at the hotel or take away with you. We hope you have enjoyed this learning adventure in Sanibel and southwest Florida, and will return for other rewarding Road Scholar programs in the future. Please stay in touch and share your memories, pictures, and comments via the Road Scholar Social Network. Best wishes for all your journeys!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Sanibel Island, Florida BIG ARTS Sanibel
Known as Sanibel and Captiva’s home for all the arts, BIG ARTS has been providing cultural enrichment and fulfillment to island residents and visitors since 1979. BIG ARTS began when a group of artists dreamed of a cultural center on the island. Today, BIG ARTS members and participants enjoy a wide spectrum of performing and visual arts events, and the community participates in more than 200 educational classes and workshops each year. Please see their online schedule for specific programming. For additional information, visit
  General Overview
Explore the Island or relax by the pool.
  Periwinkle Way
Stroll down Sanibel Island's main street and busiest commercial district, where you will find a unique array of cafes, shops, and restaurants.
  Schoolhouse Gallery
Quaint gallery featuring work by local artists.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

The Living Gulf Coast: A Nature Guide to Southwest Florida

Author: Charles Sobczak *Lecturer*

Description: The Living Gulf Coast is the first comprehensive nature guide to Florida's Southwest region. The book covers six counties: Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Glades and Hendry. There are more than 160 parks, preserves and eco-destinations covered in this work, with sixty-one of them described in great detail. Not only does the book describe these outstanding destinations, it also covers all the major birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians found throughout the region. The bird section includes 291 species with 120 of the most commonly encountered birds covered in exacting detail. It also includes all the major mammals and eighty-eight snakes, lizards, turtles and crocodilans found in the unique ecosystems of Southwest Florida. Charles will be speaking on the program, and he will be available to sign copies of his book after his lecture. It can be found on

Sanybel Light: An Historical Autobiography

Author: Charles LeBuff

Description: Sanybel Light is a comprehensive, fact-filled autobiography written by long-time Sanibel Islander and author Charles LeBuff. It is an authoritative book about the Southwest Florida barrier island and chronicles an earlier, cherished lifestyle on Sanibel and Captiva. This book is about the creation and operation of the Sanibel Island Light Station, the establishment and management of the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. and the birth of the City of Sanibel--plus a host of other subjects. Share the author's intimate knowledge, experiences, and thoughts on the island's ecology, wildlife--especially alligators, sea turtles, and manatees--the live shelling controversy, mosquitos, water supply, red tides, the "Sanibel River," potential dangers, horrific hurricanes, the invasion of exotic pest plants, and the duties of a lighthouse keeper. Come join the author, one of Sanibel's "Founding Fathers," and travel back to those "thrilling days of yesteryear." Appreciate what it was like to live on these barrier islands B.C.--Before the Causeway. Discover the real Sanibel and Captiva, and learn about them from an expert.

Florida's Seashells- A Beachcombers Guide

Author: Blair and Dawn Witherengton

Description: A guide to Florida seashells, including species common to the south eastern United States and the Caribbean. 252 species of seashells, with a color photo of each, as beachcombers are most likely to find them.

Images of America Sanibel Island

Author: Yvonne Hall , Marguerite Jordan

Description: In collaboration with the Lee County Black History Society. The pioneers were a contrasting group of individuals, comprised of diverse ethnic origins and cultures, yet all seemed to share a common goal of using hard work, resourcefulness, and determination to make the island their home. Their efforts and sacrifices greatly contributed to the growth and rich history of Sanibel as we know it today

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As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

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