Relaxing on the beaches during the quieter summer months is a favorite among island residents and visitors.
Sunny hot days, rumbling thunderstorms and little traffic.
Welcome to Sanibel in the summer time.
If you are craving a peaceful getaway without congestion, long lines in the grocery store and a price tag that fits more easily in your budget then the islands in the summer could be your way to go.
During this time of the year the mercury soars to temperatures in the mid 90s. The gulf waters often feel to the touch as though a long hot bath was drawn for you.
But if you don't have an aversion to heat the beaches offer up their teal surf and sand without the crowds. Shop owners tend to feature hot deals and discounts on one-of-kind finds by local artisans as they get ready for the fall and winter seasons.
Restaurants often promote two-for-one deals as well as happy hour specials during the summer months.
Bridgit Stone-Budd, marketing director for the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of commerce, said she recommends people check out the organization's web site where business members often list red hot deals such as discount lodging rates. During the summer accommodations are often slashed below what they run during in-season rates. The web site can be found at www.sanibel-captiva.org.
Summer on the islands entices many to enjoy simple pleasures such as taking a stroll along the beach, skimming the island on a bike, sipping a long, cool drink in the shade, nibbling on an ice cream cone at one of the several ice cream and sweet shops and checking out wildlife near sunrise and sunset when critters are most active.
The "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge is open from dusk to dawn all week long except Fridays. Tram rides and kayaking tours are available for reasonable fees at the Refuge's concessionaire the Tarpon Bay Explorers. To make a reservation and experience a close-up with nature including birds and mammals, call 472-8900.
With the absence of the winter crowds, now's the time to try out a new sport leisure activity such as skim boarding or paddling. Yolo Sports on Captiva has a variety of rentals and sales. Ask for Scott Slind, a surfer and staff member for help.
Some find the summer months a time to read, reflect and ponder without the crowds and hoopla.
Public Relations executive and part-time resident Art Stevens adores the serenity and beauty of the beaches in the summer months. Stevens said he loves to walk along the beach and take in the wildlife.
"Just truly enjoying nature," he said with a sigh.
He said he also enjoys going out for a leisurely dinner at one of the island restaurants sans the long waits. And he loves the fact that he does not need to use a pool heater to jump into warm water at his home.
Shelling for gems from the sea costs nothing and can be a fun family adventure. The Bailey's Matthews Shell Museum located on San-Cap Road features programs for children as well as tours of the museum for a modest fee. And those lucky enough to find a junonia can come to the Sanibel-Captiva Islander and have their photo put in the newspaper as a reminder of their adventure.
Kathleen Hoover, Public Relations Manager for the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum said she adores time at the sea.
"My deepest sense of peace and tranquility is found by the sea. Proximity to nature brings a sense of sanity to a world increasingly fraught with complexities and the challenges of everyday life," she said. "While hunting for shells everything else fades into the background. Finding the perfect shell is nothing short of amazing when you think of the tumultuous storms survived and the journey as they're tossed about by crashing waves, landing just above the tide line as if they were placed there just for me."
For more information about the Shell Museum and its program, call 395-2233. Cost for a family of four to visit the Museum is less than $25.
For local attorney and Sanibel resident Jason Maughan, a relaxing summer day on Sanibel equals a day of grilling and chilling along the Causeway beach at dusk.
"You can watch the sunsets," he said.
Local residents list thunderstorms and the tranquility of some of their island joys during the summer.
"Sun, Surf and Sand," said Stone-Budd. "Rolling thunder showers in the afternoon. These are a few of my favorite things."
Sanibel resident and artist artist Myra Roberts said she lists the quietness and sensational sunsets as inspirational.
And for those looking for a cool place to relax and escape it all, the island boasts the Island Cinema where first run movies are shown and the Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater where patrons can enjoy live, funny performances.
Madison Mitchell, the Schoolhouse Theater's marketing director, said the two show currently playing "That's Entertainment" and "Where the Girls Are" will engage the entire family. But hurry fast because "That's Entertainment closes on Saturday, Aug. 15th and "Where the Girls Are" ends Thursday, Aug. 13. For tickets or more information, call the Schoolhouse Theater at 472-6862 or visit their website at www.TheSchoolhouseTheater.com. The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater is located at 2200 Periwinkle Way Sanibel.
Still not sure how to enjoy the simple summer time pleasures the islands have to offer? Try them all. Take an evening walk to one of the island's sweet shops grab an ice cream cone, take your chilly treat and stroll to the beach and watch a marmalade sunset spread across the sky. Even better take a loved one with you to share these simple island pleasures.