Sanibel Programs

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





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 Sundial?



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




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!

Our day courses have space for up to 12 students. On rare occasions, we add resources to accommodate a maximum of 24 students. Interns and volunteers assist educators in the classroom and in the field from time to time.

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.

Sea Squirts - Ocean Education for the Little Ones (ages 4 - 6)

Offered seasonally, Fall/ Winter 2018: Mondays, 9 - 11 AM
Children must be bathroom independent

Sanibel Sea School is excited to offer ocean education classes for our youngest ocean explorers. Just like our classes for the big kids, we’ll have a different theme each week that we will explore – there will be crabbing, rock flipping, and traipsing through mangrove muck. We’re going to learn about our favorite sea creatures like dolphins and sea turtles and of course, go on field trips during each class. 

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.




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. 


Adult Programs

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





Adult Programs

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





Sanibel Sea School Lifers: Ocean Discovery for Adults

Learning is a lifelong journey that feeds our curiosity and nourishes the mind and soul. As adults, the school years are over for most of us, but our desire to know more about the world around us persists. At Sanibel Sea School, we believe learning is at its best when it is enjoyable, locally and culturally relevant, and tied to meaningful experiences. We invite you to come along with us as we explore some very timely and thought-provoking ocean subjects during the 2018-19 season. There will be boat trips, film screenings, social events, guest speakers, and more – welcome to Sanibel Sea School Lifers! 

SX3 Lifers 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!

SX3 Lifers Pricing

Semester Package - $150
Includes admission to every event as well as the boat trip. Only those who purchase an entire semester are eligible for the boat excursion. Please call 239-472-8585 to register.

Price Per Event - $20 ($75 for boat trips)
If you do not want to purchase an entire semester, you are welcome to attend any of the events listed. Admission can be paid at the door.

Additional offerings and our birding course have a separate pricing structure, please see details below.

SX3 Lifers: Fall 2018

Topic: Fisheries Management

November 9th (7 - 9 PM): Film & Discussion Night -  The End of the Line  
Sanibel Sea School invites you to watch “The End of the Line”, a documentary by filmmaker Rupert Murray that examines the devastating effects that overfishing has had on the world's fish populations and argues that drastic action must be taken to reverse these trends. We’ll have small bites, beverages, and great conversations.  

No advance registration required, cost is $20 at the door.     

November 16th (4 - 6 PM): Social Event – Fish Bingo
Are you confident in your fish identification skills? If so, come play Fish Bingo with Sanibel Sea School on November 16th! If not, come anyway, grab a drink, and meet some new faces. There will be prizes!

No advance registration required, cost is $20 at the door.

November 28th (7 - 9 PM): Fly Fishing Films & Discussion – Fly Fishing in the Anthropocene & Select Shorts  
Considered a sport by some and an art form by others, there is one thing all fly fishermen have in common: a thirst for adventure. We’ll be screening a few short films about fly fishing in areas almost untouched by humans and others that celebrate this artful sport.  

No advance registration required, donations are welcome.

November 30th (4 - 6 PM): Guest Lecture – Dr. Ross Boucek from Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) has a mission to conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon, and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education, and advocacy. Dr. Boucek, the Florida Keys Initiatives Manager, earned his Masters and Doctoral degrees at FIU studying how weather events impact sportfishes in Florida Bay and Everglades National Park. He now spends most of his time in the Keys, either conducting BTT science, or working with anglers and management agencies to turn BTT science into meaningful management and regulatory changes that improve our Keys fishery.

No advance registration required, donations are welcome.

December 14th (7 - 9 PM): Fly Tying Workshop
Whether it’s the camaraderie, inventiveness, skill, or simply a way to catch more fish, people are thrilled about tying flies. Join us for a night of fly tying with local island experts. We’ll provide all the materials; all you need to do is show up ready to create!

No advance registration required, cost is $20 at the door.

SX3 Lifers: Winter 2019

Topic: Harmful Algal Blooms

January 18th (5 - 7 PM): Film & Discussion Night – DamNation
DamNation brings together perspectives from across the country to reevaluate whether dams were always a positive form of development. Perhaps there are more cost-effective options that meet our needs for power, shipping, and irrigation, while helping to restore rivers, preserve tribal customs, recover fish stocks, revitalize waterfronts, improve recreational opportunities and render watersheds more resilient to climate change. Come watch this award-winning documentary with us and weigh in on the dam solution.

$10 per person, please call (239) 472-8585 to RSVP.

January 25th (9 AM - 12 PM): Field Excursion – Understanding HABs with Doc Bruce
Our local waters have been plagued by red tide, toxic blue-green algae, and other water quality issues since Fall 2017. By the end of this summer, Sanibel’s beaches were littered with dead sea life and our ocean was suffering. Join Doc Bruce out on the beach to separate fact from fiction and learn about the microorganisms that create these harmful algal blooms.

$10 per person, please call (239) 472-8585 to RSVP.

February 1st (5 - 7 PM): Social Event – Red Wine & Red Tide Paint Night
The name says it all: we’re going drink red wine, talk about red tide, and express ourselves on canvas.

$10 per person, please call (239) 472-8585 to RSVP.

February 8th (9 AM - 12 PM): Float Down the Caloosahatchee with Doc Bruce
In addition to offering some breathtaking views, the Caloosahatchee River connects inland Florida with our coastal waters. This river serves as a bridge between freshwater and marine ecosystems – it is a transitional zone that supports a vast array of unique flora and fauna. In this course, we will travel by boat along the Caloosahatchee from Alva, Florida to the shores of Sanibel as we experience this biologically rich environment. We’ll discuss river ecology, learn about the birds and wildlife we encounter (which are often different from those we frequently observe near Sanibel), and look at Southwest Florida from a new perspective.

There is a 12-person maximum for this trip. Registration will be on a first come first served basis. Call our office at (239) 472-8585 to register.

February 13th (5 - 7 PM): Special Feature Film & Discussion –180 Degrees South
Follow adventurer Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Dough Tompkins to Patagonia.

$10 per person, please call (239) 472-8585 to RSVP.

February 15th (10 AM - 12 PM): Field Trip to Island Water Association
Ever wondered where Sanibel and Captiva’s drinking water comes from? Join us on a trip to tour the Island Water Association.

$10 per person, please call (239) 472-8585 to RSVP.

February 22nd (5 - 7 PM): Guest Lecture – Dr. Valerie Paul, Smithsonian Institute
Dr. Paul is the Director of the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce and the Head Scientist of the Chemical Ecology Program. She researches marine chemical ecology, marine plant and herbivore interactions, coral reef ecology, and the ecological roles of marine natural products. More specifically, in her coral reef ecology research she studies the impact of cyanobacterial blooms on coral reefs and the larvae of reef building corals. This is truly a lecture you won’t want to miss and a chance to ask an expert about toxic blue-green algae. 

$10 per person, please call (239) 472-8585 to RSVP.

SX3 Lifers: Spring 2019 (Tentative Schedule)

Topic: Sea Level Rise (Program descriptions coming soon!)

March 1st (7 - 9 PM): Film & Discussion Night – Before the Flood

March 8th (4 - 6 PM): Guest Lecture - James Evans, Director of Natural Resources for the City of Sanibel

March 15th (4 - 6 PM): Social Event – Trivia Night

March 22nd (9 AM - 12 PM): Boat Excursion with Doc Bruce – How will rising seas affect Sanibel’s wildlife?

March 27th (7 - 9 PM): Special Feature Film & Discussion – Chasing Coral

April 5th (9 AM - 3 PM): Field Trip to the Lee County Recycling Center

Fall 2018 Boat Trips for Adults

Climb aboard and take an in-depth, scientific look at our local ecosystems and creatures with Sanibel Sea School’s marine science educator, Captain Johnny. This year, our boat-based courses will take place from the comfort of our brand-new pontoon boat, The Ripple Effect, which provides comfortable seating, a roof, and a smooth ride for up to 12 adults. 

Activity Level: Low
Participants will board the boat from the Sanibel Causeway, which requires one big step up (approximately 2’), and will remain seated on our vessel for the duration of the trip.

Cost is $75 per trip.

Trips will be offered from 9am – 12pm AND 1pm – 4pm on the following dates:

November 7th: Seagrasses
Seagrasses, the true plants of the ocean, make up one of the most productive ecosystems in our coastal region. A one acre seagrass bed produces 10,000 pounds of dead plant material each year, and supports more than 40 thousand fish and up to 5 million invertebrates. During this boat outing, we will explore nearby seagrass beds and catch and release some of the many creatures that call this environment home. 

November 14th: Pelicans
Pelicans are one of the most iconic sea birds. They are able to dive into the water from 60 feet in the air and hunt cooperatively in groups, and they are equipped with a remarkably large pouch that has evolved perfectly to help them capture and digest their food. This trip will be all about watching these giants swim, fly, and forage.

November 21st: Nudibranchs
Nudi means naked, and branch means gills – and nudibranchs are magnificently colored, naked-gilled sea slugs that inhabit almost all reaches of the marine realm! These small, carnivorous mollusks can acquire tissue from their prey, like stinging cells, photosynthetic material, toxins and more. Let’s slow down during this trip and take time to ponder the small things.  

November 28th: Estuaries
Found where watersheds meet oceans, estuaries harbor many of the nutrients to support productive ecosystems like seagrass meadows and mangrove forests. However, nutrient overloads can result in poor water quality. Let’s travel through San Carlos Bay and up the river to explore how to two bodies of water are connected.  

December 5th: Frigatebirds
Frigatebirds are tropical sea birds that spend nearly their entire lives soaring through the sky looking for other sea birds to steal food from. They are known to soar higher than any other bird, even entering freezing altitudes. Let’s take this exploration into the clouds and discover the amazing adaptations of the magnificent frigatebird.

December 12th: The Calusa
Before the European colonization of Southwest Florida around 3,500 years ago, a native tribe of people called the Calusa inhabited this region. They were people of the sea, and they lived near San Carlos Bay for about 2,000 years. During this time, they built large shell mounds, fished for their food, and spent very little time on land. Let’s voyage back in time to explore these waters from the perspective of the Calusa.

December 19th: History of Sanibel
Sanibel has been developing as a settlement for hundreds of years. Throughout the 1700s and 1800s, a number of interesting communities were built on Southwest Florida’s barrier islands. Since then, Sanibel has grown and expanded with the additions of a lighthouse, markets, shopping centers, and a causeway system to get to and from the island. Let’s take a look at how things are and how they used to be.  

Spring 2019 Birding Course

Sharpen your birding skills and set yourself up to enjoy the endless birding opportunities our region offers. Southwest Florida truly is a birder’s paradise. This is a two-week intensive identification course on woodland birds and seabirds – sign up for one or both.

March 5th (9 AM - 12 PM): Woodland Birds; $75

March 12th (9 AM - 12 PM): Seabirds; $75

Additional 2018-2019 Offerings for Adults

December 7th: Ocean Ornament Making During The Sanibel Luminary Festival; Free
Beautifully lit paths will lead the way to merry landmarks, where festival goers can enjoy assorted activities, snacks, and refreshments during the 34th Annual Luminary Holiday Stroll on Sanibel. At Sanibel Sea School, we will have an ornament making station. These will be no ordinary ornaments, but rather ornaments made of gifts from the sea!

No fee or registration required for this event.

March 29th (9 AM - 3 PM): American Red Cross First Aid, CPR, and AED Training; $70  

Please call (239) 472-8585 to register.


Sanibel Sea School is a Proud Provider of American Red Cross First Aid, CPR and AED Training. To learn more, please visit the American Red Cross website.


Families and Groups

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



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


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 $60 per person (2 person minimum). 

Boat-based Private Programs

Boat-based private programs with one of Sanibel Sea School's marine science educators 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 your captain will share his or her 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 Private for up to 6 people: $400

Boat Private for more than 6 people: $400, plus $50 for each additional participant up to 12 participants

Paddlesports at Sanibel Sea School

Sanibel Sea School now offers guided paddlesports adventures for families and groups. There are regularly scheduled programs and private sessions available. Please click here, or call (239) 472-8585 or email for more information. 


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. 

Thursdays, 9 AM - 10:30 AM
$20/ person
Meet at Sanibel Sea School's Flagship Campus (455 Periwinkle Way).
Please call (239) 472-8585 to register.

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.

Discover Shelling

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! 

Thursdays, 11 AM - 1 PM
$20/ person
Meet at Sanibel Sea School's Flagship Campus (455 Periwinkle Way).
Please call (239) 472-8585 to register.

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

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.


Please click here to view our Cancellation Policy. 

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, Child Care of Southwest Florida, the Heights Foundation, 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.