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20899
Florida

Beautiful Sanibel Island and the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast

Discover the rich cultural and ecological heritage of Sanibel Island as you explore its museums, photograph its diverse wildlife and beachcomb for shells with an expert conchologist.
Rating (4.94)
Program No. 20899RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,499
Florida

Beautiful Sanibel Island and the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast

Discover the rich cultural and ecological heritage of Sanibel Island as you explore its museums, photograph its diverse wildlife and beachcomb for shells with an expert conchologist.
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,499
Length
6 days
Rating (4.94)
Starts at
1,499
Program No. 20899RJ

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 11 - Dec 16, 2022
Starting at
1,499
Jan 8 - Jan 13, 2023
Starting at
1,749
Jan 15 - Jan 20, 2023
Starting at
1,749
Jan 22 - Jan 27, 2023
Starting at
1,749
Feb 5 - Feb 10, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Feb 12 - Feb 17, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Mar 5 - Mar 10, 2023
Starting at
2,699
Mar 19 - Mar 24, 2023
Starting at
2,699
Mar 26 - Mar 31, 2023
Starting at
2,699
Dec 3 - Dec 8, 2023
Starting at
1,699
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 11 - Dec 16, 2022
Starting at
1,979
Jan 8 - Jan 13, 2023
Starting at
2,249
Jan 15 - Jan 20, 2023
Starting at
2,249
Jan 22 - Jan 27, 2023
Starting at
2,249
Feb 5 - Feb 10, 2023
Starting at
2,399
Feb 12 - Feb 17, 2023
Starting at
2,599
Mar 5 - Mar 10, 2023
Starting at
3,979
Mar 19 - Mar 24, 2023
Starting at
3,979
Mar 26 - Mar 31, 2023
Starting at
3,979
Dec 3 - Dec 8, 2023
Starting at
2,199

At a Glance

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 US.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking on mostly flat terrain with some rocky, sandy surfaces 1-1.5 miles per day. Standing at cultural sites and stair climbing

Best of all, you’ll…

  • 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.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
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,” which quickly became the best-selling book on Sanibel Island.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Charles Sobczak
Charles Sobczak View biography
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,” which quickly became the best-selling book on Sanibel Island.
Profile Image of Joyce Matthys
Joyce Matthys View biography
Joyce Matthys is an expert in shells, the science behind them, and the art of shell collection. Working typically with small groups, she makes sure all questions are answered and that the shells participants find during their beach walk are identified. She focuses on the scientific aspect of seashells while exercising her hobby of shell collecting.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Historic Sanibel and Captiva Islands: Tales of Paradise
by Jeri Magg
The story of Sanibel and Captiva Islands stretches back over three hundred years, to a time when natives roamed the islands and Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon first met and tried to subdue the Calusa Indians in San Carlos Bay in 1513. The next few centuries were flooded with pioneers, fishermen and clergymen in their quest to tame the wilderness in search of a better life. Discover how anthropologist Frank Cushing visited pioneer Sam Ellis in 1895 after the farmer discovered bones on his homestead and how President Theodore Roosevelt's men saved a little girl from drowning when he lived on a houseboat in Captiva to study local marine life. Join local history columnist Jeri Magg as she recounts the storied history of these little slices of paradise.
The Living Gulf Coast: A Nature Guide to Southwest Florida
by Charles Sobczak *Lecturer*
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.
Images of America Sanibel Island
by Yvonne Hill, Marguerite Jordan
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
Florida's Seashells- A Beachcombers Guide
by Blair and Dawn Witherengton
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.
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 3 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Sanibel Island, Florida
D
Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Edison & Henry Ford Winter Estates
Sanibel Island, Florida
B,L,D
Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 40 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking about 1 mile; standing at museum.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: With our Group Leader, we’ll board a motorcoach and set out on a full-day field trip to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates and Gardens, a National Historic Landmark that comprises 20 acres of historical buildings and gardens. Renowned inventors Thomas Edison and Henry Ford became lifelong friends after meeting in 1896. They maintained an active correspondence, vacationed together, and eventually had winter homes near one another in Fort Myers. During a self-directed exploration, we’ll be able to see the museum, Edison's lab, and hear tales of these two famously complex men as we see how their indelible legacies changed American industry as well as Fort Myers itself.

Lunch: At Edison and Ford Estates.

Afternoon: As we continue our Edison and Ford Estates field trip, we’ll have time to explore independently before returning to the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, we’ll be joined by local Sanibel author Charles Sobczak for a presentation on local wildlife and the history of species found in Florida.

DAY
3
Sanibel Historic Museum, Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
Sanibel Island, Florida
B,L,D
Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 12 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking about 1 mile; standing up to 3 hours during field trips.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: For our next field trip, we will board a motorcoach and ride to the Sanibel Historical Village and Museum. Founded in 1982, it traces local history from the days of the Calusa who arrived here roughly 500 BCE through Spanish explorers and early 19th century pioneers. Each building moved here — dating from 1896-1926 — has been restored. Docents will lead our exploration. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: Back aboard the motorcoach, we will ride to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. This is the only museum in the U.S. solely dedicated to shells, the animals that make them, and their importance to the environment. It features more than 30 exhibits of mollusks from around the world. A museum educator will lead the exploration as we see exhibits devoted to shells in art and history, shell habitat, rare specimens, fossil shells, common Southwest Florida shells, and more.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Beachcombing, Free Time
Sanibel Island, Florida
B
Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

Activity note: Walking for approximately 2 hours; sand. Field trip is weather dependent. Extent of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will hear from an expert conchologist on the art of shelling and what we can expect to find on the beach. We’ll then walk out to the beach with the conchologist to do some beachcombing on our own. We’ll look for shells, sea glass, sea beans (also known as drift seeds), and other gifts from the sea amid the surf and sun – as the weather allows.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Complimentary beach chairs, bikes, kayaks, and more are available at the resort.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge
Sanibel Island, Florida
B,L,D
Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; in/out of a pontoon boat. Walking about 2 miles; boardwalks, uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will set out via motorcoach on a full-day field trip to the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the U.S. and world renowned for its migratory bird populations. President Harry Truman issued an executive order establishing the refuge in 1945. Many years later, it was named for Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, an ardent conservationist who helped create the National Wildlife Federation and loved to go birdwatching here.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll return to the wildlife refuge for a study cruise aboard a quiet, environmentally friendly, covered pontoon boat. The captain will provide commentary as we cruse and learn more about the refuge, the mangrove estuary, and the amazing wildlife as we look for some of the numerous species of birds that call this area their home such as egrets, herons, ibis, cormorants, and pelicans. Dolphins and manatees have also been spotted.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure after our closing session in the morning.

DAY
6
Sanibel History, Program Concludes
Sanibel Island, Florida
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a local expert for a final session on Sanibel's fascinating history. This concludes our program. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.