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Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.
Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00 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 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. Sanibel Sea School will pick best locations for kayaking field trips depending on a number of local factors including weather, wind, and sea conditions, in order to ensure the safety and comfort of the group. Participants will be responsible for loading/unloading kayaks at paddling locations, and carrying the boats to/from the water’s edge. 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.
Activity note: Loading/unloading kayaks; carrying kayaks to/from water; getting in/out of kayaks; paddling approximately 5 miles; about 3.5 hours on the water. Walking approximately 1.5 miles; flat, sandy beach. Getting on/off passenger vans; driving approximately 6 miles; about 1/2 hour.
Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll choose from a variety of dishes on the breakfast buffet with selections such as eggs, waffles, oatmeal, grits, breakfast meats, potatoes, fresh fruits, yogurts, granola, cereals, and more, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: Boarding our passenger vans early, we’ll set off from the hotel to our kayaking location for the day. Upon arrival with our Group Leader and our Sanibel Sea School boating leaders, we will engage in an introduction to best practices when kayaking, dos and don’ts, and kayaking safety. Aboard our kayaks, we’ll catch Sanibel at its most glorious time—sunrise. Launching just before dawn, we’ll venture into the stillness of the pre-dawn morning to catch the sunrise and all the wildlife activity that begins with the cresting of the sun. As the sun rises, we may see manatees, dolphins, and the many birds that are beginning their day. In the fall and winter months, there is the added gift of the migratory birds that winter in southern Florida. Back at the hotel after our early morning paddle, we will hear from an expert conchologist regarding the art of shelling – or looking for seashells – and what we can expect to find on this beach. Next, we’ll walk out to the beach with the conchologist to do some beachcombing on our own as we 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: At the hotel, we’ll have plated meals with coffee, tea, water included.
Afternoon: Then we will transfer with Sanibel Sea School to arrive at the east end of Sanibel Island, which will allow us paddlers to experience the three major coastal ecosystems – mangroves, seagrass beds, and beaches – which are highly integrated and provide habitat for a diverse array of marine creatures. During this field trip, we will paddle a cross-section of ecosystems to discover first-hand how they are connected. We are sure to see local wildlife during our paddle and by the end of our journey, we will have a new appreciation for how integral these three ecosystems are to the state of Florida and our planet. Transportation will be provided from Sanibel Sea School to Lighthouse Beach where we’ll hop back into our kayaks to set out into the water for a view of the lighthouse from the perspective of local resident fishermen and boatmen. This location is weather dependent and subject to change based on the gulf winds.
Dinner: 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.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Loading/unloading kayaks; carrying kayaks a short distance to/from water’s edge; getting in/out of kayaks; paddling approximately 7 miles; about 5 hours on the water. Currents are dependent on local conditions; our boating leaders may adjust our field trip locations if weather, wind or sea conditions are too difficult.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: With our Group Leader, we will set off with the Sanibel Sea School to Bowman's Beach for a morning paddle among the mangroves. The Bowman’s Beach Mangrove Bayou is sheltered from the wind and offers a calm experience that is great for any level of kayaking skills. On this venture, we will paddle through a breathtaking mangrove forest as we search for resident wildlife, use our senses to differentiate between Southwest Florida’s four native mangrove species, and learn why these “walking trees” are so important to the long-term health of our coastal system.
Lunch: At a picnic area between paddles, we’ll have boxed lunches with bottled water included.
Afternoon: Using the vans, we will transfer to the canals for an afternoon paddle, which we will reach via kayak from the Sanibel boat ramp. Though the canals are manmade, a paddle through these winding waterways often lead to amazing wildlife sightings. The calm, slowly flowing waters in the canals create a tranquil setting for marine creatures to be found. Throughout this paddle, we may encounter by fauna such as dolphins, manatees, and stingrays while also seeing the residential side of Sanibel, as opposed to its resort neighborhoods. We’ll then return to the hotel.
Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: Arriving via van with our instructors, we’ll reach our field trip location where we’ll set out on our night paddle adventure. Our kayak instructor will provide educational, the source of the “living lights” we will see—bioluminescence—is dinoflagellates, single-celled organisms common in marine environments. Each bioluminescent dinoflagellate flashes only a fraction of a second when disturbed by water movement, but its high concentrations in the warm Sanibel water create beautiful bluish-white trails of light caused by swimming fish and paddling kayakers. If we’re lucky, a swimming manatee may be completely illuminated by a spectacular, otherworldly cloud of “living light!” We’ll then return to the hotel.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 18 miles roundtrip, approximately 1 hour. Walking about 1.5 mile; standing up to 2.5 hours during field trips; flat terrain.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: For our next field trip, we will board a motorcoach and ride to the Sanibel Historical Village and Museum where docents will lead us on our exploration. Founded in 1982, it traces local history from the days of the Calusa who arrived in Sanibel at roughly 500 BCE, through Spanish explorers and early 19th century pioneers. Each of the restored buildings here were relocated from their original sites and date from between 1896 to 1926.
Lunch: At a local restaurant, we'll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Next, we'll set out via motorcoach to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife to explore the exhibits and listen to a lecture given by a member of the CROW team. Back aboard the motorcoach, we will ride to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, 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 meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Driving approximately 18 miles; less than 1 hour total roundtrip. Getting in/out of kayaks; paddling approximately 3 miles total; about 3.5 hours on the water. Walking approximately 1 mile total throughout the day; some uneven terrain; loading and unloading kayaks.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: After arriving via vans provided by the sea school, we’ll set out aboard our kayaks for a morning paddle with our instructor on San Carlos Bay, which will immerse us in multiple marine ecosystems. During this paddle, we will circumnavigate a mangrove island, Fisherman’s Key, discuss the importance of mangrove islands, and search for wildlife such as dolphins, manatees, pelicans, egrets, and even some elusive sharks.
Lunch: Hotel plated meal.
Afternoon: We’ll then return to the hotel via by van for a presentation given by a local Sanibel author on his book that is dedicated to the study of Florida predators such as alligators, sharks, and panthers.
Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a delicious plated meal for our farewell dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.
Evening: With our Group Leader and instructor from the sea school, we’ll enjoy the evening on the water as we paddle out to a great sunset location to watch the sun recede beneath the horizon before paddling back after the final sun glints have gone. Floating in the tranquil evening, we’ll experience the sights and sounds of the water after dark on this relaxing and fun paddle. We’ll then return to the hotel for the remainder of the evening at leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure after our closing session in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: For those who want to get in a little more time on the water, feel free to use the hotel kayaks for one more paddle this morning with our Group Leader. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels, If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. 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!