Sarasota & Sanibel: Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast & Islands

Explore Sarasota and Sanibel Island on foot and by boat as you discover nature trails, wildlife refuges, a historic lighthouse and a private island club made famous in the roaring ‘20s.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23571RJ
8 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Sarasota and Sanibel Island are home to human and natural history unlike anyplace else in the United States. Join our local experts and naturalists to learn about a side of the Florida Gulf coast and islands that outsiders seldom get to experience. From estuary ecosystems where herons, egrets, dolphins and manatees are king to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a birder’s paradise, follow nature trails that wind along the shoreline through several Florida ecosystems. Explore some of Florida’s early history, as you trace the De Soto expedition of 1539. Join a U.S. Coast Guard certified boat captain and a biologist to experience Sarasota and its wildlife from the water. And explore the private island club where the wealthy and influential once summered, from Rockefeller to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles, uneven terrain, stairs, standing up to three hours.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Visit the 1890 Port Boca Grande Lighthouse on Gasparilla Island, and spend a day on Useppa Island, the former private get-away for industry giants and visionaries like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
  • On Sanibel Island, go shelling with an expert conchologist who will help you identify conchs, cockles, scallops and whelks.
  • Explore Emerson Point, home to the largest temple mound in the Tampa Bay area, to learn about the Safety Harbor culture who lived here 1,000 years ago.
Featured Expert
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Bonita Dorsman
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.

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

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Bonita Dorsman
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Suggested Reading List
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