Rookery Bay Learning Center See Undisturbed Mangroves

Rookery Bay Learning Center   See Undisturbed Mangroves

Rookery Bay Learning Center

Just 10 minutes from Marco Island, the Rookery Bay Learning Center is a 16,500 square-foot facility.  Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in the United States.  The learning center has four research laboratories, a 140-seat auditorium, and a two story visitor center. The visitor center offers a variety of hands-on experiences.  These include aquariums and interactive exhibits addressing ongoing research and stewardship within the reserve.  There is also a nature store, gallery and picnic area.

The center has 3 “focus” tanks, one oyster tank, a seagrass tank, a 180 gallon marine life exhibit and a 2,300 gallon mangrove tank. The relatively new observation bridge, 1/2 mile “Snail Trail” and viewing platform encourage visitors to explore the surroundings. Visitors may see manatees, tarpon and even sharks when conditions are right. Visitors can experience a short walk through tangled mangroves, palms and oaks with resurrection ferns, bromeliads, and orchids growing in oak tree bark. The trail also winds past an old homestead dating back to post-Civil War times.

Rookery Bay is an area where rivers and streams meet the sea.  It forms a unique habitat with a myriad of wildlife including 150 species of birds.  Many threatened and endangered animals also thrive in this and the surrounding 10,000 island area of Southwest Florida.

Rookery Bay Programs and Tours

Rookery Bay Learning Center offers many opportunities for visitors to explore and learn:

Science Saturdays:  Families learn about environmental science and the natural world.  Visitors have hands on experiences with marine-life touch tanks and scientific displays.  Science Saturdays are from 9 am to 4 pm October through April.

Kids Free Friday Summer Program:  From mid June to early August Kids Free Fridays provides free admission for children 12 and younger with a paid adult.  Weekly topics include sharks, manatees, sea turtles, and birds.  Program activities include story time, naturalist lecture, craft room and face painting.  A food truck is on site from 11 am to 1 pm.

Guided Sunset Bird Rookery and Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tours:  Visitors can paddle through magnificent mangrove tunnels and shallows on a 2-3 hour guided kayak tour.  This tour offers the opportunity to see wildlife like sea stars, large snails, birds, dolphin, and manatee.  Prior kayaking experience is not required.  Tours offer single and tandem kayaks and accommodate children ages 3 and up.  Tours are offered daily and registration is required.

Guided Boat Tours of Rookery Bay:  A relaxing boat tour offers an up-close and personal experience with this unique coastal environment.  The tour is led by Rookery Bay staff with an emphasis on learning.  Five different tours are offered, each with a different theme.  The tours provide a chance to see native wildlife and a great opportunity for photography.

Hours and Contact Information

Hours: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday – Friday year round.
https://rookerybay.org
(239) 530-5940

Click here for a video on Rookery Bay:

https://youtu.be/fCxtiF2NTdw

Sea Mar CondoWe recommend a visit to Rookery Bay for our guests at Sea Mar Condo.  Sea Mar Condo is located in Marco Island, FL  It is located on the 19th floor of South Seas Towers with beautiful views of Crescent (South) Beach and the Gulf waters.  Visit our website to see availability and rates and contact us for the vacation of a lifetime!  http://www.seamarcondo.com

Marco Island’s Climate and Weather

Marco Island’s Climate and Weather

Marco Island’s Climate and Weather

Beach with Marco Island Logo

Marco Island’s climate and weather are all year round perfect!  Did you know that Marco Island has an average of 205 sunny days each year?

The “Busy Season”

The “busy season” on the island is January through mid-April when the temperatures range from 71-75 during the day.  The months of July, August, and September are the hottest months. During those months the average temperatures ranges from 87-88 during the day and highs can get into the mid to upper 90s.

The winter months of January, February and March are heavily sought by Snowbirds each year.  The winter months have mild night temperatures and warm, comfortable days.  Marco Island is a great escape from other areas of the country where winter brings snow and ice.

Summer and Fall on Marco Island

Although the winter months are busy each year, the summer and fall months are beautiful and less crowded on the island.  There is no restaurant wait lists during the summer and fall months.  The Gulf water temperature is bath water warm and pleasant.  My husband and I have always taken a Marco Island September vacation each year.  It is one of our favorite months to visit the island.  This is a great time to go shelling or to do water sports on Marco Island.  August and September are hurricane months.  It does pay to make plans closer to those months or to make sure your vacation can be cancelled in the event there would be an evacuation notice due to bad weather.

Sea Mar Condo at South SeasThe months of November and December are also very nice in Marco Island.  The weather is still very warm ranging from 73 to 80 degrees with plenty of sunshine.  It is a great time to sit on the beach and relax or walk along the Gulf sands.  At our condo, the heated pool feels great during this time of year.

Average temperatures on Marco Island

During January – March temperatures range from 71-75 during the day.
During April – June temperatures range from 78-86 during the day.
During July – September temperatures range from 87-88 during the day.
During October – December temperatures ranges from 73-83 during the day.

Sea Mar Condo

Sea Mar Condo is located on the North end of Marco Island with a spectacular view of Crescent Beach and the Gulf water.  The condo is located on the 19th floor of South Seas Tower 4 with an oversized balcony that is perfect for a morning cup of coffee or a late afternoon nap.  We want your stay to be enjoyable every month of the year.  http://www.seamarcondo.com

Marco Island’s Esplanade and Smokehouse Bay

Marco Island’s Esplanade and Smokehouse Bay

Marco Island’s Esplanade and Smokehouse Bay

Esplanade Shopping

Esplanade Marco Island

An afternoon at Marco Island’s Esplanade and Smokehouse Bay is an all inclusive treat.  Let’s start the afternoon off shopping in the unique shops in the Esplanade.  This italian-style village consists of upscale retailers and small specialty stores.  The architectural detail is beautiful and colorful.  The lush landscaping and fountains add to the retail experience.

The Esplanade is located on North Collier Boulevard, Marco Island’s main street.  The area has more than 1,100 feet of waterfront on Smokehouse Bay.  There is retail and office space, 72 multi-family waterfront residences and a 77-boat slip marina.  Visitors at the Esplanade are treated to the promenade along the waterfront and a courtyard opening to the water.  Let’s not forget the beautiful marina and great dining and shopping!

Smokehouse Bay Dining

CJs on the BayTwo of my favorite Marco Island Restaurants are located in the Esplanade.  Dining at CJs or Mangos offers a delicious meal while dining waterfront.  Be sure to take your camera as this is one of the most beautiful places on the island to capture a great sunset picture over the marina and Smokehouse Bay.  It is a very relaxing spot to have an after dinner drink as the sun slowly sinks below the horizon.

End the evening with an ice cream cone at Cold Stone Creamery as the evening is winding down.

Sea Mar Condo LogoVisit our website at www.seamarcondo to see our rates and availability. Our website also provides lots of information about things to see and do in Marco Island.  Let us help you make the most of your Marco Island vacation!
www.seamarcondo.com

Seeing the Naples Pier at Sunset

Seeing the Naples Pier at Sunset

The Naples Pier at Sunset

The historic Naples Pier is located on the Gulf of Mexico at the West end of 12th Avenue South. The Naples Pier is a favorite location for sightseers and fishermen with plenty of space to cast a line. The Pier features restrooms, showers, a concession stand with covered eating area, and beach supplies.  It is one of the most photographed piers in the United States and even an amateur photographer can get a great shot during the sunset hour.

A Historic Landmark

The Naples Pier was originally built in 1888 as a freight and passenger dock. It was first constructed by newspaper man Walter N. Halderman, founder of Naples.  The pier was initially to act as a location for loading and unloading goods and baggage to help local commerce, and to serve a hotel located across from it at the time. After its construction, the Naples Pier became a popular location for social gatherings like parties and dances.

In 1922 most of the Naples Pier was destroyed by a fire from a discarded cigarette.  It was rebuilt in 1924 extending it’s length to 1,000 feet.  The pier has also had several renovations due to hurricane damage, the latest of those in 1960 and 2015.

Completed, the newly renovated Naples Pier remains a monument to the local lifestyle and culture.  It is also a major attraction for both locals and tourists alike to visit while in Naples.

Parking at the Pier

Parking for beach access in the City of Naples requires the resident or visitor to have a beach parking permit, feed the parking meters, or pay-by-space. This is enforced year round.

Parking Rate:
Cost is $0.25/6 minutes
$2.50/hour
Credit/Debit Card: Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover
Cash: Quarters only

Features of the Pier

Fishing from the pier does not require a fishing license, as the City of Naples has purchased a bulk fishing license for the Pier. The beach at the Pier also features volleyball nets and is one of the best places to catch a spectacular Naples sunset.

Burrowing Owls on Marco Island

Burrowing Owls on Marco Island

Burrowing Owls on Marco Island

Marco Island is known for its beautiful beaches. However, one thing that makes the island really special is its wildlife.  One little creature is especially cute if you get the chance to spot it. The burrowing owls on Marco Island can normally be spotted on the corner of Bald Eagle and Elkcam Street – south side.

As the island grows (more houses being built) the burrowing owls are becoming harder to see. They are protected when the owls are actively nesting.  When the babies have left and the adults stop using the nest, it is then possible to build on a lot. The Burrowing Owl Society provides starter packs for home owners who want to encourage owls to nest on their property.  The number of vacant lots on the island is diminishing fast. (The Marco Review)

Owls are unmistakable birds, and that goes double for a long-legged owl that hunts on the ground during the day. Burrowing Owls are small, sandy colored owls with bright-yellow eyes. They live underground in burrows they’ve dug themselves or taken over from a ground squirrel, or tortoise. The owls live in grasslands, deserts, and other open habitats. They hunt mainly insects and rodents. Their numbers have declined sharply with human alteration of their habitat and the decline of ground squirrels.

Cool Facts About Burrowing Owls

Burrowing OwlsUnlike most owls in which the female is larger than the male, the sexes of the Burrowing Owl are the same size.

Burrowing Owls often stow extra food to ensure an adequate supply during incubation and brooding. When food is plentiful, the birds’ underground larders can reach enormous sizes.

In the absence of suitable homes created by ground squirrels or other burrowing animals, Burrowing Owls have been known to nest in piles of PVC pipe unintentionally provided by humans. Conservationists make use of the owls’ adaptability by supplying artificial burrows made of buckets, pipes, tubing, and other human-made materials.

Burrowing Owls have a higher tolerance for carbon dioxide than other birds.  They spend long periods underground, where the gas can accumulate to higher levels than found above ground.

Nests of Burrowing Owls

Before laying eggs, Burrowing Owls carpet the entrances to their homes with animal dung, which attracts dung beetles and other insects that the owls then catch and eat. They may also collect bottle caps, metal foil, cigarette butts, paper scraps, and other bits of trash at the entrance, This can signify that the burrow is occupied.

The nest burrow can be several yards long and is usually less than 3 feet deep.  Size depends on the mammal that originally excavated it. Burrows tend to make numerous twists and turns, with a mound of dirt at the entrance and an opening at least 4–6 inches wide. The owls often line their burrow with livestock manure, sometimes with feathers, grass, or other materials. When owls dig their own burrows, the process may take several days.  It takes them less time to prepare the burrow for nesting when they use an existing burrow.

Lifestyle of a Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl NestBurrowing Owls hunt at all hours of the day and night. Usually staying close to the ground, they fly, hover, walk, or run, seizing prey in their talons. Between forays for food, they sleep on dirt mounds at their burrow entrances or on depressions in the ground. Disturbed owls bob jerkily up and down, as do hunting owls pinpointing prey. They are mostly monogamous and breed close together in loose colonies. Females stay in or near the nest burrow until chicks fledge.  Males tend to stand guard at a nearby burrow or perch. Males defend their territories against other males by vocalizing, displaying in a weaving crouch with feathers fluffed, or chasing and attacking with outstretched talons. Courting adults—mainly males—display by circling overhead or flying dozens of feet into the air, hovering for a few seconds and then rapidly descending. Pairs vocalize, rub bills, and preen, the male calling and presenting food to the female. Young owls play-hunt by jumping on each other, on prey brought by their parents, and on dung around the burrow.
Credit: The Cornell Lab of Omithology – All About Birds

You Could be Having Your Morning Cup of Coffee Here!

You Could be Having Your Morning Cup of Coffee Here!

Sea Mar Condo: You Could Be Having Your Morning Cup of Coffee Here

www.seamarcondo.com

You Could Be Having Your Morning Cup of Coffee Here

The view from the Sea Mar Condo oversized balcony does not disappoint! Our guests enjoy having the morning cup of coffee here with the warm morning sun. It is such a peaceful and serene setting. It is also the perfect place to sit with your favorite book while having a sandwich for lunch or pizza for dinner.

The view from our balcony overlooks the full stretch of South (Crescent) Beach and the Gulf waters.

Reserve your spot now for that morning coffee….visit www.seamarcondo.com for rates and availability or to contact us for a quote.  Remember – booking direct with us saves you $$$ on booking fees charged by our listing sites!

Spring Is A Beautiful Time In Marco Island

Spring Is A Beautiful Time In Marco Island

The Beauty of a Marco Island Spring

Spring is a beautiful time in Marco Island.  There are many flowering shrubs and trees in bloom right now around Marco Island.

The tabebuia heterophylla or pink tabebuia is a variety that will grow to 50 feet. There is also a dwarf variety, T. bahamensis, which will only grow to seven feet. This is the variety you see blooming right now in the medians.

The tabebuia caraiba is a beautiful, yellow tree that blooms along our streets. The tree is deciduous in winter and will make quite a mess while losing its leaves. The reward is the bell shaped, yellow flower produced in profuse clusters before the new foliage forms. They prefer full sun, average moisture and good drainage. No pests bother this tree.

The Hong Kong orchid tree has an orchid like flower six inches wide and rose-purple in color. The flower has a delightful scent which fills the air around the tree. They are an open, spreading shade tree which will grow to 35 or 40 feet in height with a 30 foot spread. The tree is evergreen but loses some leaves when in bloom. There is also a pure white flowered variety, B. purpurea candida, which they have planted along with the pink tabs in the medians.

Marco Island Farmer's MarketThe frangipani plumeria is another fragrant tree which fills the air with a nice, light scent. The flower is used to make the Hawaiian lei. They are a small broad crowned tree which will grow to 20 feet in height with a 15 to 20 foot spread. The flowers come in yellow, pink or white. They lose their leaves in the fall although there is a variety that does not defoliate. The stiff, thick branches are interesting with no foliage until they begin to flower in spring and summer.

The Confederate Jasmine is a woody vine with pure white, one-inch fragrant flowers. They will grow to 20 feet if supported with arbors or trellises. This vine can also be trained in espalier fashion. The Jasmine Minima is a dwarf ground cover variety and lacks the fragrant flowers. San Marco Villas on San Marco Road has beds of this jasmine throughout the front landscaping. You can smell it in the air when you drive by.

The gardenia is a rounded shrub which will grow to eight feet tall by six feet wide. They produce handsome, white flowers up to five inches wide in the spring and early summer. The gardenia is valued especially for its fragrance.

The bougainvillea is also entering the height of its flowering season. It has had a setback because of the desiccating winds of the last two cold fronts.

These are just some of the flowering shrubs and trees which help to make Marco and all of Southwest Florida a colorful place to be.  Spring time in Marco Island is very special and we hope you get to experience it!

Sea Mar Condo Logo

Visit our website at www.seamarcondo to see our rates and availability. Our website also provides lots of information about things to see and do in Marco Island.
Let us help you make the most of your Marco Island vacation!
www.seamarcondo.com

Marco Island Day Trip: Take a Big Cypress Swamp Walk

Marco Island Day Trip: Take a Big Cypress Swamp Walk

Marco Island Day Trip: Take a Big Cypress Swamp Walk

www.seamarcondo.com

For the more adventurous of our Sea Mar Condo guests, what about a Swamp Walk?  I have to admit I haven’t done this and probably will not.  However,  I do know people that have done this and loved it.  I hear the photography opportunities are awesome in  the Big Cypress area.

Take a Big Cypress Swamp Walk
(239) 695-2428

Tours are located behind Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery along the scenic Tamiami Trail (U.S.41) about half mile east of the Big Cypress National Preserve Oasis Visitor Center.

Ok…For those of you who are ready for some adventure…here it is!

A Big Cypress Swamp walk is a getaway and a thrill! Clyde Butcher, an Everglades photographer, leads a guides eco-swamp tour through the swamps of Big Cypress National Preserve behind his gallery. Traverse through a rarely seen world, one with vibrant colors and mysterious sounds while experiencing the serenity of nature in the purest form.

This is a leisurely eco-tour tailored to match your interests and physical ability. Walks are approximately 2 hours long. Clothing suggested is long pants, hat, and old tennis shoes. Also bring bug spray, water bottle, lunch or snacks, and a complete change of clothes.

Rates: Two people – $125 each, Three people $117 each, For people $95 each.

Marco Island Pickleball Popularity – Pickleball at South Seas Marco Island

Marco Island Pickleball Popularity – Pickleball at South Seas Marco Island

Marco Island Pickleball Popularity – Pickleball at South Seas Marco Island

Pickleball Popularity

PickleballSouth Seas Resort has Pickleball courts for our guests at Sea Mar Condo….but what is Pickleball? If you are like me, I had never heard of this sport until a couple of years ago.

What is “thocking” and “plocking”? Those words come to mind when watching pickleball players using paddle bats and “wiffle”-like plastic balls as they enjoy one of the country’s fastest growing sports.

The thocks and plocks are the sounds of paddles hitting balls in a game similar to tennis, but which is played on a smaller court and relies less on covering distance than on fast reflexes.

It’s a game about strategy and placement of the ball. A lot of strength is not required since the ball doesn’t have to be hit hard, thus making it a game of  fun for all ages.

The sport is played with a paddle and was created for all ages and skill levels. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.

The Basics of Pickleball:

*A fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.
*Played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly
modified tennis net.
*Played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.
*Played as doubles or singles.

A Game for Everyone:

According to USAPA.org, there are over 15,000 indoor and outdoor courts in the United States; and at least one location in all 50 states. Pickleball is being introduced to teenagers in physical education classes in middle and high schools. And though the sport has become more competitive through the years, many players enjoy the social aspects of the game and the ability to stay active in their own towns and communities. Many retirement locations have adopted pickleball as an integrated sports activity for their population of residents. Tennis, racquetball and ping pong players love the competitive nature of the sport and regularly participate in local, regional, and national tournaments.

The History of Pickleball:

The game was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island. It has evolved from original handmade equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the US and Canada. The game is growing internationally as well, in many European and Asian countries.

Why Call it “Pickleball?”

Pickleball has a very interesting name (no pickles are used). The game may have been named after the inventor’s (Joel Pritchard) cocker spaniel, named “Pickles”, who used to chase the ball and run off with it.

The Pickleball Court

The game court is the same size as a doubles badminton court and measures 20×44 feet. The same court is used for both singles and doubles play. The net height is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle. The court is striped similar to a tennis court with right and left service courts and a 7-foot non-volley zone in front of the net (referred to as the “kitchen”).

Pickleball Equipment

Pickleball BallsEach player has a paddle, which is smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle. Players also need a net and a pickleball. The ball is unique, with holes through it like a whiffle ball. Different ball models are intended for indoor and outdoor play. Balls come in several colors, including white, yellow and green, but must be a single color to meet International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) specifications

The snowballing interest in this sport has also prompted executives and board members of the Greater Marco Family YMCA to plan for more courts.

Sea Mar Condo LogoVisit our website at www.seamarcondo to see our rates and availability. Our website also provides lots of information about things to see and do in Marco Island.
Let us help you make the most of your Marco Island vacation!
www.seamarcondo.com

Marco Island/Naples Shopping: Fifth Avenue South – Naples

Marco Island/Naples Shopping: Fifth Avenue South – Naples

Naples and Fifth Avenue South – Naples

5th Avenue SouthWhile much of Naples has a sprawling, suburban feel, its historic downtown is a whole different animal.  Fifth Avenue South is a beautiful, European-flavored and highly walkable district.  It is jam-packed with high-end luxury shops (Naples is one of the wealthiest cities in America) and a thriving bar and restaurant scene. This area is where most of the action takes place.  Third Street South is another lively sector buzzing with nightlife on the weekends.

Naples Pier at Sunset

After drinks and dinner in downtown, stroll a couple blocks over to the Naples Pier and listen to the waves crash along the shore.  This is also the perfect place to capture that perfect sunset picture even if you are an amateur photographer.  (I captured this pic with my cell phone).  The pier area can be a little crowded for the sunset hour,  so get there early, especially if you need a parking spot.

There’s Always Kilwin’s Ice Cream!

Kilwin's Ice Cream NaplesI have to admit that my favorite place on Fifth Avenue is the Kilwin’s ice cream shop.  After walking around shopping and sightseeing it is a real treat to visit Kilwin’s.  My other favorite shops in this area are Fresh Produce and all the specialty shops that have so many unique items.

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Visit our website at www.seamarcondo to see our rates and availability. Our website also provides lots of information about things to see and do in Marco Island.
Let us help you make the most of your Marco Island vacation!
www.seamarcondo.com