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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 (4.91)
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
Program No. 20899 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 12 - Dec 17, 2021
Starting at
1,499
Jan 9 - Jan 14, 2022
Starting at
1,649
Feb 6 - Feb 11, 2022
Starting at
1,899
Mar 6 - Mar 11, 2022
Starting at
2,099
Dec 11 - Dec 16, 2022
Starting at
1,499
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 12 - Dec 17, 2021
Starting at
1,979
Jan 9 - Jan 14, 2022
Starting at
2,149
Feb 6 - Feb 11, 2022
Starting at
2,499
Mar 6 - Mar 11, 2022
Starting at
2,919
Dec 11 - Dec 16, 2022
Starting at
1,979

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 Lebuff
Charles Lebuff View biography
Charles LeBuff is a historian and naturalist who worked at Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge and lived in one of the lighthouse quarters for 22 years. He became a charter member of the Sanibel City Council and had a part in keeping Sanibel, Sanibel. Charles has written many books about the island including “Sanybel Light: An Historical Autobiography” and “J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.”
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.
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 Bonita Dorsman
Bonita Dorsman View biography
Growing up on the island of Aruba, Bonita Dorsman’s love for turquoise water and beautiful beaches stems from her roots. After finishing high school, Bonita chose to continue her education in the U.S. Needless to say, her interest in travel peaked after meeting people with different backgrounds and cultures. When the opportunity arose, Bonita decided to pursue a career as a group leader. An adventurer at heart, Bonita is up for any challenge and is a great addition to any Road Scholar program.
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.
Gift from the Sea
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
While on vacation on Florida's Captiva Island in the early 1950s, Lindbergh wrote this essay-style work taking shells on the beach for inspiration, and reflecting on the lives of Americans, particularly American women, in the mid-twentieth century. She shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment during her visit. Over a quarter of a century after its first publication, the great and simple wisdom in this book continues to influence women's lives.
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.
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. ***You will receive a copy of this book at the start of the program as we visit many locations mentioned in this travel guide.
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
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.
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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 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: 5:00-6:00 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. 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: In the hotel dining room, we’ll order plated meals from a select menu with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

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. Walking about 1 mile; standing at museum.

Breakfast: At the hotel, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet with choices such as eggs and omelettes, waffles, oatmeal or grits, bacon, sausage, potatoes, fresh fruits, yogurts, granola, cereals, and more plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

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 famous men as we see how their ingenuity and hard work changed American business and industry as well as Fort Myers itself.

Lunch: At Edison and Ford Estates, choose what you like from the lunch buffet that includes sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit salad, cookies, and a nonalcoholic beverage.

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, we’ll have a plated set meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

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 Village & Museum, Bailey 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. Walking about 1 mile; standing up to 3 hours during field trips.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

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: Hotel plated meal 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, we’ll have a plated set meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

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.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

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: Hotel buffet.

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, we’ll have a plated set meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

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, we’ll have a plated set meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences 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: Check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

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!






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