Surfrider Beach Club
Surfrider Beach Club is in Sanibel Island, FL. Sanibel Island is out in the Gulf of Mexico, off the shore of Fort Myers. I love Florida; it is my second favorite State to visit and vacation in. I have had the honor of traveling to Florida more than 25 times over the years. With many trips to Orlando for all the theme park fun, and even more trips to watch the Space Shuttle launches, and enjoy the beaches on the East Coast of Florida.
It was not until recent years that I started to visit the West Coast of Florida and it certainly has its charms. The Gulf of Mexico seems so clear and amazing. This will be my first trip to Sanibel Island, and I am excited to visit.
Video by The Megan Daily
Day One Travel & Arrival
Typical for me and a trip to Florida, my journey begins with a rather long drive down I95 from Virginia. This trip is so far that I will do it in two days. The total drive time will be about 14 hours and I will do the first 10 or so to Jacksonville, Florida today, then wake and finish the drive in the morning.
As I write this, I will not put it down as two days under this heading, because if I was 20 years younger, I would likely still drive it all in one day. I have done that by going to Miami on the East Coast at least 4 times that I can remember. Stopping only a rest stop and taking a 40-minute nap in the car on the way down, and back home.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- DVD Player
- Ice Maker
- In-Room Safe
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- Activities Center/Desk
- BBQ Grills
- Walking Trails
- Business Center/Fax
- Fitness Room
- Concierge Services
- Hot Tub
- Outdoor Heated Pool
- Internet Access
- Kid’s Activities
- Live Entertainment
- On-Site Security
- Gift Shop
- Computer With Internet (Shared)
- Game Room
- Picnic Area
Unless there is an accident, the trip down I95 is an easy one and a straight shot. You stay on I95 all the way to Jacksonville, then if you are heading to the West Coast, change over to 301 and then to I75 to reach the West Coast of Florida.
When I stop in Jacksonville, I typically just stay in an airport hotel since the older ones offer great rates, and are sometimes half the cost of the Jacksonville beach motels. They are older but clean and simple and fine for just resting after a long drive. I must have stayed at the same old Days Inn now 7-8 times on my way down to somewhere in Florida.
I am a creature of habits. If I ever made a hitman’s list, I would not last long since I often do the same things again and again.
About 22 hours after the start of my journey, I arrive at Sanibel Island. Driving across the bridge, the first thing you see is the newer condos on the left and the end of the causeway that also have a giant boat ramp and access area. The causeway toll is $6, but it is so convenient that it is worth every penny, and then some. The causeway is about 3 miles long, but it seems longer. Maybe it is my excitement?
Getting to the resort is easy. You just take the road that you come in on from the causeway and then go until it ends on E Gulf Drive and turn left. Maybe ½ a mile or so later, you are at the resort.
There is a small sign that says Surfside 12 and then you see the villas. The next sign you see is the green sign for the Surfrider Beach Club. When you pull in and park, the office is on the left-hand side of the main building. The villas here are small but well appointed. You have all the amenities that you want or need in the room. Those who fuss about having everything built in the last 5 years will not care for this resort. However, I love it and it is the kind of place I would like to own one day. Clean, simple, with updated bathrooms, and a great beachfront pool area. The comment on the bathrooms may seem random, but when a bathroom is more modern and updated with modern tile or something, it just feels cleaner to me. I know that is strange, but hey we are what we are right?
It was not quite check in time, so I went to the local Sanibel Marina and Gramma Dot’s restaurant. For a vacation town, much less an island, the food prices were low and the food quality was great. I had a sampler platter and was just as happy as can be. That and a few Guinness and I was in a state of food bliss in about 20 minutes.
Later, I checked into the room and promptly got a towel and headed for the beach. The beach here on Sanibel Island is beautiful. It reminds me of the Outer Banks of North Carolina other than the fact that the Sand Dunes here are much smaller. But the beach itself is clean and really looks untouched. Also, the sea shells wash in with the tides here and I can image kids loving what they could find along the beach.
For dinner, I chose to go to the local Italian spot on the island Matzaluna. It has a cool beach town vibe to it, and the food was good. The restaurant is a part of a 10-restaurant group of Florida restaurants. This is their Italian restaurant and each one of the locations has a different food focus. They offered craft beer, pizza, and pasta, so I was going to be happy with just about any choice. I ended up with a pizza which was wood fired. A wood-fired pizza when done well seems to be the best. It cooks so fast and at such a high temp that the ingredients seem to come together better than an over fired pizza. You also get that nice crunch with your crust.
Day Two Beach Time
It is simple to go somewhere for a beach vacation. As long as the weather permits, you can count on time just spent taking it easy on the beach. I enjoy listening to the waves and watching them pull out and crash back in. Sure, pretty girls in bathing suits are not a bad thing to see either. But nothing to me is as peaceful as the sea or, in this case, the Gulf.
Since there is not land mass around, you get a pretty consistent breeze here to keep you cooler on the beach as well, which is nice. I am here in what Virginia would be the real start of the fall in October. But for Florida it just feels like another Tuesday. In October, the average high here is still 86. With a low of 69. So almost ideal weather. It must be amazing to be here for Christmas because the high is still 77 most Christmas weeks. Talk about escaping the cold.
I had lathered on some SPF 30 and prepared as best I could for a long morning in the sun. I even took a bottle of water, a kindle if I got tired of watching the waves, I could read a book. I stayed until way after lunch time without so much as moving more than my eyelids. The Kindle never even got turned on until I questioned the time due to hunger.
There are many neat little beaches or island spots to go for some food or a beer on the island. One that is a chain is Cheeburger Cheeburger likely names after the Saturday Night Live skit. There are evidentially 18 locations with 17 of those being in the USA.
Here they offer all the burger joint wonder you might want. From 1lb monster sized burgers to shakes and sides, and the list goes on. The food was great, and the service was fast. What is not to like. I bet this chain would do a good business in any vacation town and many normally towns as well.
Sanibel Island is larger that you expect. At over 33 miles, this island has a great deal to offer you and your family as visitors. Just up from the resort is the lighthouse, which is certainly worth a visit.
Built in 1884, it offers a glimpse back in history for beach goers of all ages. All around the lighthouse is a park or preserve like setting which gives the public access to beaches on this end of the island, and the car park and public beach access areas. Since the resort itself has such great beach access, I went to those areas but just stayed a few minutes to look around.
Visiting the General Store
After the lighthouse, I drove to the Bailey’s General store to get some items for a dinner in the villa tonight. I wanted to go back to the beach, take it easy some more, and watch the waves.
You can also visit the local farmers market from Oct-May, which is a great way to support local farms and get some fresh vegetables.
The small town feeling that the island has is a huge plus for me. I love this sense of small town mixed with vacation town fun.
After hours back at the beach, I made my crab cake dinner at the villa and settled in after a nice warm shower for a long fall night’s sleep. That salt water air will put me out like a light.
Day Three Seeing the Island
All the things to do on the island. It will be hard to get any better than my day yesterday with my feet in the sand most of the day. My brain, however, was telling myself to get moving today and see more of this amazing island while I can.
This little museum is something special. There are 10 historic buildings to see and a great little gift shop. Visit the website here to learn a little about the museum and the people who help keep it open and available to all. It is truly a work of love by so many people.
These days it is so amazing to plan for vacations and access all the information in advance online. Here, even on the island, there are live beachcams that allow you to see where you can come and visit.
Sanibel and Captiva have many live webcams to view. Here is a page that links too many.
Wondering about the traffic on the causeway, yes, they have cameras for that too. Although I had almost no traffic on my trip.
On the island, shelling is a favorite pastime for the old and young alike. I have always liked to get up early in the morning and walk on the beach to find the shell that washed up last night while everyone was sleeping.
It is a relaxing thing to do that can get you up and moving, and covering a lot of beaches. Some people like to use metal detectors on the beach too. I have a friend that does that on all of his vacations with his wife to a beach. They set aside the mornings to search the beaches not just for washed up finds but also watches, rings, and other things people tend to lose on the beach in the sand.
I you want to have an amazing island vacation consider this resort and Sanibel Island for sure, just book it through TZort to save.