Sanibel Captiva Chamber Dedicates Visitor’s Guide Cover to McCarthy

The Sanibel & Ccaptiva Islands Chamber of Commerce dedicated its 2017 Visitor’s Guide cover to the memory of Paul McCarthy, owner of Captiva Cruises and longtime Chamber member. The cover photo of Lady Chadwick, the Captiva Cruises flagship vessel, was unveiled Tuesday, Oct. 11 during the monthly business luncheon at the Captiva Island Yacht Club, where McCarthy was also a member.

“He left us with a rich and full legacy of stewardship and eco-tourism embodied in Captiva Cruises, whose goal will continue to respect and appreciate the natural beauty of Southwest Florida,” the Visitor’s Guide dedication states. “In 2013, the Chamber honored Paul as Business Person of the Year. He had a generous spirit, a zest for life and shared his laughter and passion with everyone who touched his life. Paul will be missed by all of us.”

McCarthy, a Boston native, passed away Aug. 24 at the age of 63. He practiced law in Chicago prior to discovering the tour boat business. He started Captiva Cruises in 1986 and made the island his full-time home in the early 1990s. McCarthy partnered with organizations like the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation to bring a high-quality environmental message to his Captiva Cruises passengers.

McCarthy’s family from Boston, along with Captiva Cruises staff members Jenny Rando and Brad Junghans, were in attendance for the unveiling. The Visitor’s Guide will be available late January and can be found at the Chamber Visitor’s Center, 1159 Causeway Rd. The Chamber distributes 125,000 copies of the Visitor’s Guide annually.


Enjoying Your Sanibel Experience During Peak Season

As the Mayor of Sanibel Island, I can attest that the number one complaint we receive from our visitors is the negative impact of traffic congestion during peak season. The factors that have created peak season traffic congestion on Sanibel have developed over many years, and implementation of efforts designed to ease congestion will require long-term solutions.

This past year, our City Council and Planning Commission held workshops to develop a strategy to address this challenge. We brought together a partnership of our residents, Chamber of Commerce, realtors, hoteliers and business owners to implement the strategy that will improve everyone’s Sanibel experience during peak season. We also are coordinating these efforts with Lee County and the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau.

Our long-term plans include:

• Utilizing technology to provide real-time information to motorists. Our plans include live-streaming of traffic conditions, instant-messaging traffic alert systems, and electronic signage before the toll booth advising motorists of on-Island traffic conditions;
• Hardscape to change traffic patterns. The City of Sanibel is participating in a regional study to determine the feasibility of installing a roundabout on Sanibel to alleviate stop-and-go traffic;
• Behavior modifications, including developing a culture of employers utilizing flex-time schedules and carpooling during the weeks of peak season; and
• Information sharing to help residents and visitors make informed decisions. Starting immediately, we are sharing and disseminating detailed information on Sanibel’s traffic patterns so motorists can best plan their Island travel to avoid peak congestion.

We all want visitors to Sanibel to enjoy a quality experience while they are on Island; nobody enjoys their visit when most of the time is spent in traffic. Through a careful analysis of traffic patterns, we now can provide guidance on how to plan your travels to the Island. In peak season, nearly 13,000 vehicles come onto the Island daily, with heavy on-bound traffic congestion between the hours of 8 a.m. to noon and off-bound traffic between the hours of 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. On a weekly basis during peak season, Saturday traffic volumes are the highest, and traffic volumes are the lightest on Sundays and Tuesdays.

To enjoy your visit to Sanibel between now and April:

• Avoid driving on and off the Island during these peak times
• Plan in advance to travel around the Island by foot and bike
• Remember the best way to enjoy the Island and avoid traffic is to stay on Island – have dinner and shop on Island to avoid traffic delays
• Check the City of Sanibel website at for traffic updates
We look forward to your visit to our Island.

Kevin Ruane
Mayor of Sanibel

The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce Earns State Recognition

Sanibel, FL (Aug. 25, 2015) – The Francis P. Bailey, Jr. Visitor Center on Sanibel has been named one of only thirteen official Florida Certified Tourism Information Centers in association with a new VISIT FLORIDA program.

The VISIT FLORIDA Certified Tourism Information Centers (CTICs) Program brings VISIT FLORIDA recognition to Visitor Services facilities around the state, providing these facilities and their staff with benefits that enable successful promotion of travel to and throughout Florida.

To become an official Florida Certified Tourism Information Center, visitor centers must meet requirements specified by VISIT FLORIDA, such as: centers must be a VISIT FLORIDA Partner, centers must be open year-round at a minimum of five days per week, centers must be located in a convenient and accessible location for the ease of travelers, and centers must have access to parking and restroom facilities to accommodate visitors including persons with disabilities.

“VISIT FLORIDA is not looking to franchise visitor centers,” said David Dodd, VISIT FLORIDA Vice President of Visitor Services. “The VISIT FLORIDA Certified Tourism Information Center Program is focused on presenting a consistent Florida message and a quality Florida experience for all visitors to the Sunshine State.”

“We are very proud of our staff and volunteers who look after the many visitors that come through our doors each and every day” said Chamber president Ric Base

The Francis P. Bailey, Jr. Visitor Center is located at the entrance to Sanibel Island and welcomes over 165,000 visitors each year. The Visitor Center is open 365 days a year and provides visitors with comprehensive information about things to do, places to visit, where to stay, shop or dine.



Sanibel, FL (May 11, 2015) – The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce held a Ribbon Cutting to welcome Image Yacht Charters as a new member. The event was hosted at ‘Tween Waters Marina on May 6th.

Image Yacht Charters provides ‘stay aboard vacations’ as well as half-day and full-day charters on their various vessels. Those looking to vacation on the water are offered all-inclusive packages that can be tailored to meet any needs.

“For the short amount of time we have been a part of this Chamber, Image Yacht Charters has received so much support from the other business members,” stated Image Yacht Charters spokesperson Lauren Epidy. “We love all of the new relationships we have formed and are encouraged by the strong backing the Chamber provides,” Epidy concluded.

Ric Base, President of the Chamber of Commerce added, “The Chamber welcomes Image Yacht Charters to our islands and looks forward to their continued growth and success.”

For more information on Image Yacht Charters, visit their website here.



#1 Family Getaway – Sanibel Island

Family Fun Magazine has awarded Sanibel Island the number one destination for families in the entire country. View the Today Show clip above.

Family Fun magazine asked 2,000 families who travel with kids ages 3-12 to name their favorite getaways.

Here are some of their top picks:

1. Sanibel Island, Florida

This beautiful island off Florida’s Gulf Coast was voted the No. 1 overall destination.

“This town is famous for its laid back vibe, where families can just chill out and hang out. They also are known for more than 250 varieties of sea shells,” Mary Giles, deputy editor of Family Fun magazine, told TODAY’s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.

The building code adds to the charm because structures on the island can’t be taller than the palm trees, so you won’t find any high-rises.

“Because the buildings aren’t tall, it’s such a quaint, beautiful place,” Hoda said.

– from May 7, 2015

Best Family Beach Vacations in the USA

U.S. News and World Report Travel ranks Sanibel #3 in their Best Family Beach Vacations in the USA.

Taking the family to the beach can create lifelong memories, as long as every member of the family is satisfied. To help you choose your next family beach vacation, U.S. News considered factors like safe waters, kid-friendly attractions, dining options, spacious accommodations, multi-generational appeal and overall accessibility. The list below features destinations across the country that are most ideal for family getaways, according to travel experts and our readers. Weigh in by voting below, then use this list to plan your upcoming travel.

Why Go: Sanibel Island is a hit with kids for two reasons. The “Sanibel Scoop” keeps little ones occupied for hours as they comb the wide beaches for shells and sand dollars. If you’re not yet convinced, keep in mind that hotel deals are pretty easy to find here.

This secluded Fort Myers offshoot is considered even more low-key, quiet and quaint than its Gulf Coast neighbor, and that’s saying a lot. Casual is the order of the day on Sanibel Island; a shabby chic vibe permeates the Periwinkle Way galleries, restaurants and shops; seashells cover every sandy and linoleum surface. In fact, the abundant seashells have become this island’s (and its smaller sister, Captiva’s) claim to fame.

You’ll find plenty of beachcombers practicing the “Sanibel stoop” — what locals call shelling — on any lengthy stretch of sand. Plan on joining them for at least one afternoon of your stay; that is, if the mood strikes you. The residents of laid-back Sanibel wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lighthouse        Shells




You Only Live Once is YOLO Watersports’ Motto!

From Yoga on a Standup Paddleboard to Scoot Coupe motor scooters, YOLO Watersports are Captiva’s one-stop shop for equipment rentals and watersports activities.

If you are looking for a little fun on Captiva Island, YOLO Watersports has all the sports toys you could possibly need. Located on Andy Rosse Lane, the colorful beach shack building is packed with sports equipment, inside and out.

Quality, safety and value-for-money seem to be the constant theme in customer feedback comments. YOLO certainly doesn’t skimp when it comes to equipment, whether it’s a bike or a beach chair.

Wave runners, stand-up paddle boards and more are sure to give you a great day out on the clear warm waters that surround Captiva Island. Back on dry land, rent a golf cart, motor scooter or bicycle to get you around island-style.

So, get set to have some fun. After all, You Only Live Once, right?

Watersports Activities on Captiva

YOLO Watersports offers equipment rentals and instruction in a number of fun activities such as parasailing, jet-skiing and fly-boarding. If you want to tone up and enjoy the gorgeous scenery at a more laid-back pace, try stand-up paddleboarding. You can even join one of the yoga paddleboarding classes.

Parasailing gives visitors an unsurpassed view of Captiva and its neighboring islands. Take a camera for some great photos or buy a souvenir package of action shots taken from the boat as you enjoy your parasailing experience. The premium custom-built winch boat ensures a smooth take-off and landing and can accommodate 1, 2 or 3 passengers on each flight.

Hobie sailboats are available and have all the latest safety and stability features, whether you want to sail solo or take the whole family. Banana boat rides are another popular group activity. Waverunners are an exciting way to enjoy the extensive riding area along the coast and up to 2 miles offshore. Look out for dolphins, manatees, turtles and fish as you zip across the waves.

Getting Around Captiva Island and Sanibel Island in Style

Being on vacation means you can let go of “sensible” and embrace “wacky and unique”. The sunny climate makes it possible to use some more unorthodox means of transport on the roads and cycle trails.

Scoot Coupes are the wackiest way to get around. These fun three-wheeler vehicles are open-topped and tailor-made for the South Florida lifestyle. They seat two adults and are easy to drive using a motorcycle handlebar for steering, rather than a boring steering wheel. They create a more moped-like experience, but with disc brakes, roll bars and safety belts, just in case.

With a twist of the handlebar you’re off – no stick shift or clutch to worry about. Although Scoot Coupes reach up to 55mph, remember the Captiva speed limit is between 15 and 35 mph. Stopping is easy, by squeezing the handlebar brake lever (just like a bicycle) to apply both front and rear brakes simultaneously.

YOLO Watersports also have bicycles, scooters, golf carts and even skateboards to get you around – after all, Captiva is only 5 miles long! Down on the beach you may need beach chairs, umbrellas and surfboards which are all available along with a wagon to haul it to and from the beach.

Whatever you need for your Captiva beach vacation, YOLO Watersports should be your first stop. As you now know, You Only Live Once!

This article provided by Must Do Visitor Guides. Discover more Must Do Travel Insider articles featuring the best tours, restaurants, and things to do on your Southwest Florida vacation here.

Captiva Island, Florida, USA. Photo/debi pittman wilkeyCaptiva Island, Gulf of Mexico, Florida, USA. Photo/debi pittman wilkey


(Sanibel, FL – October 15th, 2014) – The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce unveiled a new look for its 2015 Visitors’ Guide at this week’s Member’s Business Lunch at the Captiva Yacht Club.

The new look features a cover photograph by Denise McKee of L3 Beach Photo, one of the island’s best known photographers. Denise was the chosen winner in a special Chamber photography competition, specifically designed to find an image that accurately captures the essence of Sanibel Island and Captiva Island.

Chamber President, Ric Base, said “Members will know that our Visitors’ Guide is a very popular publication. The cover photograph is an important aspect of its success and we are delighted with the Denise McKee image chosen for this year. We expect to distribute more than 150,000 Visitors’ Guides over the coming year.”

The Visitors’ Guide, published by South West Florida Distributing & Publishing, is offered to all guests at the busy Chamber Visitor’s Center. The Guide is also distributed around Florida and other States at events attended by Chamber Staff to promote the Islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

2015 visitor guideAlejandra Bustamante of SW Fla Distributing, Publishing & Mailing

Denise McKee of L3 Beach Photo

Site names beach on Sanibel among most dog-friendly

Tourism Talk

Site names beach on Sanibel among most dog-friendly

Thursday, July 3, 2014 at 12:57 by Gary White

Summer is the time for travel. Some travelers seek destinations that will allow them to bring their four-legged companions along.

Sanibel Island can claim one of the eight most dog-friendly beaches in the country, as rated by, an animal health and lifestyle website. To be specific, the site named Algiers Beach in Gulfside City Park on Sanibel Island to the list. Dogs on a leash no longer than 8 feet are welcome at all Sanibel beaches.

The site lauds the beach for having plenty of space for owners and dogs to get exercise. Apparently it also scored points for the tropical nature of the island and a nearby nature preserve.

Many area accommodations from luxury resorts to beach cottages to condos and rental homes welcome pets. Be sure to check with each property for information regarding charges and requirements.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island also welcomes dogs (on a leash no longer than six feet) on Wildlife Drive, the refuge’s public access road.

Check out pet friendly accommodations at Where to Stay – Pet-Friendly Accommodations.

Sanibel Ranked #1 on 11 Stunning Florida Towns You Need to Visit

Sanibel Ranked #1 on 11 Stunning Florida Towns You Need to Visit by BuzzFeed

1. For secluded and untouched beauty, visit Sanibel Island.

You won’t find many buildings that are taller than a palm tree on
Sanibel Island, and that’s because the city has taken careful measures
to preserve the natural beauty of the area. The town is markedly devoid
of fast food restaurants, which were banned, and even stoplights. So get
ready to step into a world that feels totally removed from the norm.

buzzfeed posting_6-2014

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