We first biked Sanibel Island back in 2011 and enjoyed it so much we made sure to do it again this year! On Day 6, we woke up early and drove over to Billy's Rentals to rent out 7-speed bikes for the whole day. From there, we biked east to Lighthouse Beach, passing by the marina and several housing areas (while dreaming of our future island home) before turning around to bike west towards the other end of the island.
When we reached the middle of the island, we stopped at Island Cow for lunch and drinks...probably shouldn't have eaten as much as we did though. We felt like taking a nap afterwards :|
One of my favorite things about transportation on the island is that there's only one traffic light - the rest is open road to explore the island by car, bike, or foot. The entire island has bike paths, bike parking spots, traffic crossing signs, and even gazebos with maps showing your location on the island so you don't get lost! Some trails have water fountains, which is really convenient when you use reusable water bottles.
Don't you just love the color of my bike?! :)
We decided to make our last ride be inside of J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. It was only $1 per person on a bike to enter the refuge, which was great! As soon as we entered, we were surrounded by wildlife. I'd highly recommend biking the refuge over driving through it so you can just hop off your bike and walk around as you please. You'll be able to see much more and get the full experience of the refuge that way.
First spotted was a group of horseshoe crabs and thousands of little bait fish! The birds of the refuge surely love living there with an abundant healthy food source. The water was unbelievably clear, so we were able to see a lot of marine life crawling around in the shallows.
...and just wait till you see what Mr. ArtSea Chic found. :)
Mr. ArtSea Chic found two GIANT HORSE CONCH SHELLS!!
Man was I so excited to see a horse conch so big! :) Unfortunately yet again, they were alive, but it was so neat to watch them come out of their shells and move along the rocks to turn themselves around.
We continued to bike on through the refuge and then came across a mangrove overlook. We got to see what the mangrove habitat really looks like within the bundled tree limbs in the water. Tons of tree crabs were climbing from the water onto the trees, while birds were eying the waterfront for any sight of unsuspecting fish.
One of my favorite photos from the trip was captured on the overlook of a bird flying off over the water. :)
By this time of the afternoon, we still had about 5 more miles to ride inside the refuge. Talk about a fantastic workout we were getting in!!haha
We made the last 5 miles count with a strenuous push for our finish...we were out of water, had sunburns, sore butts, and were now sweating like we had just come out of the showers. The worst thing - there were
NO WATER REFILL STATIONS on the trails!!
I was really upset about that! Talk about a serious safety concern, people could faint or be seriously dehydrated by the time they got to the entrance of the refuge if they didn't know ahead of time to bring more than one bottle of water.
We made it back to the entrance of the refuge and guess what we went looking for first - water!! This refill station below is the one and only water refill station in the entire refuge, BEWARE, BE SMART. There were no visible signs from the road that mentioned a water station, and the refuge ranger at the entrance gate didn't mention anything to us either.
Always bring water with you every where you go as a habit.
Luckily we had brought our own reusable bottles with water upon starting our bike ride. If we hadn't, I don't think we would've made it, seriously. It was that hot, and we were that thirsty and dehydrated.
When we were refilling our water bottles, a different refuge ranger walked by and I asked him why there weren't other refill stations within the refuge. He said that they would definitely like to have them, but they are very limited on what they can do due to the island's officials and rulings on where they are placed. I mentioned that it was a serious safety concern, and that something bad could really happen to someone if they didn't know there wasn't going to be any water for them on the refuge trails...and that's when he said the day before we biked, they had to actually rescue a family on the trails because they were severely dehydrated and couldn't go on any further.
If anyone from the refuge or Sanibel Island's council is reading this right now,
I highly suggest water stations become a priority before someone decides to sue or worse, someone dies!! For goodness sake, at least make money off of people and sell cold water bottles at the entrance gate if you're not going to place water refill stations inside past the gate! Or, you can design a really nice Tervis tumbler with the Ding Darling logo on it and sell those and direct people to the only water refill station in the front entrance; there's options that can work here! :| Your welcome, I just solved your problem, now make it happen.
..ok end of my rant, but my serious feedback from our experience, I was very disappointed.
After cooling down and catching our breath, we headed out. But not before a little night critter crossed our path! What in the world is a raccoon doing up at 3PM?!
We were now desperately biking back to our condo...as fast, but as paced as we could. We were so sore!! Mr. ArtSea Chic of course was all smiles and had a little fun.
By the time we arrived at the condo around 4PM, I could barely walk. I was done for the day...almost.
We biked a total of 22 miles!
We rested for about an hour and had dinner at the condo so we could be around the beach just steps away when low tide hit around 8PM. We didn't have to go back to Billy's Rentals to turn in the bikes because we paid extra to just have them pick up the bikes at Ocean's Reach under our carport in the morning since we knew we'd be SO tired! Worked out very well.
I love low tide so much :) You get to see so many neat little marine creatures you had no idea you were near stepping on during high tide!ha Watch my low tide video below to see just how far out the water was that day, it was incredible! All videos and photos taken with my Watershot housing! A perfect protector against saltwater, sand, and crabs...yes, angry crabs like the one below also.
Now, let me just pause here and remind everyone that this trip to Sanibel Island was Mr. ArtSea Chic's first. I had been to Sanibel twice before...and he totally out-shelled me. But I was so proud!! :) haha Not only did he find the most lightning whelks, I'm pretty sure he found the most species as well. He even found a live sharks eye!
Me on the other hand, that evening I was finding a lot of things that wanted a piece of my hand.
I found a neat little lettered olive digging in the sand :) Watch below to see him make his way through the sand.
Ahh, what a day! I get tired all over again just thinking how many miles we biked and then our evening shell adventure. But we sure did sleep well :) So much fun and a good active day before Day 7's water adventure on the Sanibel Thriller bright and early!
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