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Sanibel Programs


Learn about ocean activities for kids, adults, and families at our Sanibel campus.

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Sanibel Programs


Learn about ocean activities for kids, adults, and families at our Sanibel campus.

Marine Conservation Through Experiential Education

There's nothing better than a day of discovery on the ocean. Come get your feet wet with us as we explore Sanibel's unique marine habitats. Maybe we'll find a seahorse in the seagrass, spot a manatee or two, or discover some tiny creatures that live between the grains of sand. You're sure to leave Sanibel Sea School with ocean memories that will last a lifetime!


Looking for programs at South Seas or Sundial?

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Courses


Our courses for children include fun activities like snorkeling, surfing, swimming, and fishing.

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Courses


Our courses for children include fun activities like snorkeling, surfing, swimming, and fishing.

Sanibel Courses (ages 6 – 13)

Come and enjoy the best part of your vacation and perhaps one of the best experiences you've ever had!

Typically, 20 students per day are enrolled in our courses. On rare occasions, we add resources to accommodate a maximum of 30 students. Students are divided into groups of approximately 10 students per adult lead educator. Interns and volunteers assist educators in the classroom and in the field.

Each day, two subjects of study are offered. The first is covered in the morning, and the second in the afternoon following lunch. At the end of each course, every student receives a Certificate of Mastery that outlines what we accomplished.

Lunch: We take a break and enjoy lunch in-between the morning and afternoon courses. If you’re unable to bring a lunch, a basic deli lunch may be purchased. Children with special dietary needs should bring additional or alternative sustenance.

Looking for learning opportunities the whole family can enjoy? Click here to learn more. 

Please note: our course calendars are published at least one month in advance - the March calendar is posted by January 31st, April calendar is posted February 28th, etc.

What to Bring

  • Swimsuit
  • Sunblock (we ask that you do not bring sunblock in a spray bottle - it gets in eyes, can ruin equipment and clothing, and isn't great for the environment)
  • Hat 
  • Wading shoes* 
  • Bug repellent 
  • Towel 
  • A bag for shells or fossils, if you'd like
  • Jacket if you easily get chilled in a light wind

Don't bring disposable water bottles: Single-use disposable water bottles are a real problem for our planet. We don't allow these types of water bottles on our campuses. The islands of Sanibel and Captiva have great drinking water. We can provide you with a loaner reusable water bottle, or you can purchase one from us to help remind you of your time with us. In your day-to-day life, please find ways to reduce the use of single-use disposable water bottles.

 

Fees

Full-day, no lunch $110
Half-day, no lunch $55

Refund policy: Please click here to view our Day Program Cancellation Policy. 

Click here to download a PDF of our course descriptions. 

*Flip-flops and slip-on sandals are not great shoes for wading, because they often fall off in the water. We recommend shoes that are specifically designed to get wet, with a heel and toe that fit snugly over the foot. 

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Adult Programs


Whether you're interested in fishing, birding, or learning about marine biology, we offer an activity for everyone.

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Adult Programs


Whether you're interested in fishing, birding, or learning about marine biology, we offer an activity for everyone.

Ocean Discoveries for Grown Ups

Throughout the year, Sanibel Sea School offers a variety of classroom and field-based learning opportunities for adults. Join us for a boat trip, learn to cast a net, or hold a tiny sea horse in the palm of your hands. No matter which course you choose, you're sure to experience Sanibel in a whole new way!

Adult courses are open to students ages 18 and up. Students who are 15 and older may register if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 18. 

We also offer customizable programs for groups and families of all ages!


Barefoot Academy

Take an in-depth look at our local ecosystems with our Executive Director, Marine Biologist Dr. Bruce Neill, and Sanibel Sea School's team of marine science educators. This year, we've added new educators and new field trip destinations. Program time will be split between the classroom and the field, so be sure to bring your sunscreen, your towel, and your wading shoes!

Schedule: Wednesdays, 9 AM - 12 PM (check specific course listings for exceptions)

1/25/17: Where does our water come from?

Cost: $55

Educator: Bruce Neill

On an island situated at sea level and surrounded by saltwater, have you ever wondered how fresh, clean drinking water comes out of our sinks? During this session, we’ll experience first-hand where our water comes from during a field trip to the Island Water Association.

Location: We will meet at Sanibel Sea School located at 455 Periwinkle Way.

2/1/17: Birds of the Slough

Cost: $55

Educator: Johnny Rader 

Southwest Florida is a bird’s (and birder’s) paradise. Sanibel is home to hundreds of magnificent species, but did you know that just inland from us there is an extensive freshwater slough that also provides great habitat for a slightly different assortment of our feathered friends? Bring your binoculars (or borrow ours), because we are going to take a trip to the Six Mile Cypress Slough to see for ourselves.

Location: We will meet at Six Mile Cypress Slough located at 7751 Penzance Blvd. in Ft. Myers. 

2/8/17: Ocean Creations with Guest Artist Sandy Gross

Cost: $75

Experience the ocean through art! Sanibel’s talented glass artist Sandy Gross will join us for a unique, ocean-themed creative session. We’ll visit the beach to find inspiration, then Sandy will guide us through the production of a glass masterpiece that you’ll be proud to display in your home. All materials are included in the course fee.  

Location: We will meet at Sanibel Sea School located at 455 Periwinkle Way.

2/15/17: A Walk in the Mud – Mangrove Ecology at Bunche Beach

Cost: $55

Educator: Nicole Finnicum

A Sanibel Sea School staff favorite, Bunche Beach Preserve is a little-known gem hiding so many treasures – from horseshoe crabs to majestic mangrove forests. During this session, we’ll meet at Bunche Beach and traipse through the mangrove mud to learn about mangrove ecology and have the opportunity to see some of the unusual creatures that call these “walking trees” their home. 

Location: We will meet at Bunche Beach Preserve in Ft. Myers. The beach is located at the end of John Morris Road and there is a small parking fee to park alongside of the road. You will find our educator near the entrance of the beach. 

2/22/17: Manatees and Electricity – An Unusual Combination

Cost: $55

Educator: Johnny Rader

You’re probably thinking, what on earth does electricity have to do with manatees? In this class, let’s find out why Southwest Florida’s manatees thrive near the Fort Myers power plant during the chilly winter months. We’ll talk manatee biology and electricity, and we’ll enjoy a remarkable opportunity to see large numbers of these charming sea cows up close. 

Location: We will meet at Sanibel Sea School located at 455 Periwinkle Way.

3/1/17: Seagrass Under the Bridge

Cost: $55

Educator: Nicole Finnicum

When you drive over the Sanibel Causeway, you are actually crossing San Carlos Bay, which is home to vast seagrass gardens that are teeming with sea life. During this session, we’ll use our seine nets to see who’s living between the seagrass blades. We’ll catch fish, crabs, and maybe even a seahorse or two! Wear your swimsuit and prepare to get wet.

Location: We will meet at the Causeway Island Park on Causeway Island A - this is the island that is closest to Ft. Myers. We will meet on the West side of the island or the left side of the road if you're coming from Sanibel. 

3/8/17: Where the Estuary Begins (A Boat Trip on the Caloosahatchee River)

Cost: $75

Educator: Bruce Neill

Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems on the planet, and we are lucky enough to live next to a very important one here in Southwest Florida. During this trip we will travel by boat from San Carlos Bay up the Caloosahatchee River while we learn about our local estuary, how it supports overall ocean health, and some of the water quality issues it faces. 

Location: We will meet at the Causeway Island Park on Causeway Island B - this is the island that is closest to Sanibel. The side we will meet on is dependent on the wind and water conditions, so please check both sides of the island. Be on the lookout for a white Carolina Skiff boat that says Sanibel Sea School on the side. Doc Bruce will be near the boat in a yellow life jacket and a visor. 

3/15/17: Life in the Dark (Evening Class)

Cost: $55

Educator: Johnny Rader

We spend a lot of time on the beach during the day, but at night, the shoreline can be a very different place. During this special evening outing, we’ll visit the beach at sunset to learn about the changes that occur as light turns to dark and observe some nocturnal sand-dwelling creatures. 

Location: We will meet at Sanibel Sea School located at 455 Periwinkle Way.

3/22/17: Our Barrier Islands – Sanibel to North Captiva (Boat-Based Trip)

Cost: $75

Educator: Bruce Neill

Sanibel Island is part of a barrier island chain that lines Florida’s southwest coast. These islands are strikingly different from the mainland and provide their own benefits and challenges for both humans and wildlife. Let’s take a boat trip along these islands to gain a whole new perspective. Bring along your lunch or a snack for a beach-side picnic on North Captiva!

Location: We will meet at the Causeway Island Park on Causeway Island B - this is the island that is closest to Sanibel. The side we will meet on is dependent on the wind and water conditions, so please check both sides of the island. Be on the lookout for a white Carolina Skiff boat that says Sanibel Sea School on the side. Doc Bruce will be near the boat in a yellow life jacket and a visor. 


Fishing Fridays

Schedule: Fridays, 1 PM - 4 PM

Shore-based classes: 3/3, 3/10, 3/17 / Boat-based class with Cast About Charters: 3/24

Cost: $500/series of 4 classes

Educator: Bruce Neill

This is a practical, hands-on fishing experience. Join Doc Bruce to explore Sanibel’s shoreline from a “fishing folk” perspective. We'll cast a line and see what we can find. Spinning or fly – your choice. Bring your gear and ideas and we’ll have a great time learning with one another. Weather permitting, we might spend one Friday on a boat. Limited to 5 participants. 


Ocean Art with Sanibel Sea School - Sand Dollar Ornaments

Special evening class from 6 - 8 PM on 12/14

Cost: $20 (all craft supplies and wine are included)

Led by: Brooke Linn and Angel Seery 

We don't see much snow in Florida, but we do find plenty of beautiful white sand dollars on our shores. Join us for a night of good company, wine and hors d'oevres, and crafting as we turn these southern snowflakes into island-style decor for our homes - just in time for the holiday season!

Please note: This button will prompt you to pay for this event via PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to do so. Just click the "Pay with Credit or Debit Card" button near the bottom of the screen and proceed from there. If you prefer, you can also register by phone (239-472-8585) or in person at Sanibel Sea School (455 Periwinkle Way). 


A Tale of Two Fish Screening and Mullet Tasting

Schedule: 3/1/16 from 6-8 PM

Cost: Free 

Enjoy an evening screening of WGCU Public Media's Mullet: A Tale of Two Fish and learn about one of our region's most under appreciated species. The documentary, part of WGCU’s Sustainable Seafood Series, provides an overview of the historical and economic significance of mullet in Florida, and its potential to become a more popular source of sustainable protein in the future. This program will feature mullet hors d'oeuvres prepared by Chef Melissa Talmage of Sweet Melissa's Cafe, which guests will have an opportunity to sample. 

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Families and Groups


Activities for families, friends, school groups, and more!

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Families and Groups


Activities for families, friends, school groups, and more!

We offer customizable ocean experiences for families, school groups, homeschool groups, corporate groups and more. To learn more and arrange a session, contact us at 239-472-8585 or info@sanibelseaschool.org.


Families

Land-based Private Programs

Land-based private programs at Sanibel Sea School can be fully customized to suit your group’s ages, interests, and desired level of activity. One of our marine science educators will lead you into Sanibel’s unique ecosystems for a field-based ocean experience. Choose from topics like dolphins, seagrass, mangroves, wading birds, and more! Where else can you learn to cast a net, hold a tiny seahorse, or come face to face with the amazing creatures that inhabit our sandbars – sometimes all in one day! All ages are welcome, children under 4 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 

Land-based private programs are 2 hours long and cost $55 per person (2 person minimum). 

Boat-based Private Programs

Boat-based private programs with Sanibel Sea School's Executive Director, marine biologist Dr. Bruce Neill, provide an opportunity for your family or group to explore pristine areas of Sanibel's surrounding waters that are not accessible by land. 

This trip can be fully customized to suit your group members' ages and interests. In addition to an overview of barrier island ecology, topics may include mangrove forests, sandbars, estuaries, and more. We frequently encounter dolphins, manatees, live shells, and many bird species, and Doc Bruce will share his vast knowledge of our area and the creatures that inhabit it along the way. 

We suggest that you book this type of program 1 or more months in advance to allow sufficient time for planning. 

Boat-based private programs are 3 hours long and cost $350. Our boat can accommodate 14 guests.

Birdwatching

Each Thursday morning, we offer a walking tour to discover the birds of Sanibel Island's East End. During the walk we discuss basic bird biology and behaviors, as well as learn how to identify the birds we encounter. 

Please Note: Bird Walks are a family-oriented program. Participants under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or adult over the age of 18.

Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Fees: $15 per person,  binocular rentals $5, click here to register online

Shell Walk

Sanibel is a shelling paradise, with hundreds of species waiting to be discovered. Join us for a beach walk to learn basic bivalve and gastropod biology, find out why so many shells wash up on our beaches, and where to look for a few of the most coveted shells. We can't guarantee you'll find a junonia, but we promise you won't leave empty-handed! 

Please Note: Shell Walks are a family-oriented program. Participants under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or adult over the age of 18.

Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Fees: $20 per person, click here to register online

Other Groups

Let us help you plan the perfect ocean experience for your school group, homeschool group, corporate event, or anything else you have in mind. Call (239) 472-8585 to schedule your session today. 

School Groups

With lunch: $50 per pupil
No lunch: $40 per pupil

Homeschool at Sea

We are happy to provide science-based education for homeschool families and co-ops. Please give us a call to begin the process of arranging the curriculum, dates and prices.

A homeschool package consists of five or more 2.5 hour courses tailored specifically to your students. There is a curriculum development fee of $75, and the program cost is $75 per course for 10 students or less, or $150 per course for 10-20 students. 

Other Groups

Please call us to learn more about program options and pricing.

Refunds

Please click here to view our Cancellation Policy. 

Waivers

To complete your registration, please download, fill in and submit the forms as instructed therein.

Course Descriptions

Click here to download a PDF of our course descriptions. 

Scholarship Programs

We have a commitment to those who otherwise wouldn't experience the ocean. Currently, Sanibel Sea School has partnerships with the Gladiolus Learning and Development Center, the Pace Center for Girls, and Pine Manor Improvement Association to offer unique outdoor learning experiences to local underprivileged children. Once a month or more, we meet with kids from these organizations to help them build confidence and gain an appreciation for science while exploring Sanibel’s diverse barrier island habitats with us.

Sanibel Sea School also offers tuition assistance to many island families throughout the year, whose children would otherwise be unable to attend summer camps and other programs. If you are concerned that your child may not be able to participate in one of our programs due to cost, please contact us for more information.