Sanibel Sea School Blog

The Gift of Discovery: Private and Family Learning Programs at Sanibel Sea School

October 27, 2021
Sanibel Sea School

Sanibel Sea School strongly believes in the value and benefits associated with learning together as a family. Families create shared memories while finding a seahorse or holding a blue crab, and there are several social and developmental benefits of learning together. Family members play a vital role in helping children develop a foundation for lifelong learning by embracing the joys of curiosity and discovery—a process that unfolds from childhood into senior years.

Sanibel Sea School offers family-private programs by boat, paddle craft, or from shore in a variety of diverse barrier island habitats on Sanibel. All sessions are hands-on, customizable, and guided by the families’ needs and interests.

Land-based private programs are designed for all ages to learn more about the ocean. These two-hour sessions are $60 per person and scheduled Monday through Friday. We typically suggest exploring either a seagrass bed, gulf-side beach, or a mangrove hammock:

Seagrass Beds

While learning how to identify seagrasses and learning about their ecological role, families also use different types of nets to catch the creatures that call it home. The animals are kept in small portable tanks for a brief but closer observation and released back into the grass. Seahorses, small fish, crabs, shrimp, snails, and comb jellies are all possible sightings on this excursion.

Gulfside Beach

Sanibel Island offers world-class beachcombing, shelling, and wildlife watching opportunities. Knowledgeable marine science educators lead families on a casual guided walk to explore the shore’s wrack line to see what’s washed ashore. We talk about the more mysterious objects we find on the beach, look for live mollusks, and learn a bit of shell biology. Depending on the tide, we’ll wade out to the sandbar in search of sand dollars and sea stars, too.

Mangrove Forest

There is nothing like sinking knee deep into stinky mangrove mud with your family. Seriously, this is an experience that will either bring you together in mutual discomfort or uncontrollable giggles. While getting muddy, we’ll learn about Florida’s mangroves, how to identify them, and why they’re incredibly tough trees. We’re sure to spot fiddler crabs and mangrove tree crabs along the way.

If these options don’t sound exciting, Sanibel Sea School can easily customize a session from a course catalogue with more than 30 marine-science topics.

Paddle and Boat Programs

Sanibel Sea School’s paddle-based or boat-based private programs are a great way to explore places that aren’t accessible by foot. Both kayak and stand-up paddleboard sessions offer an opportunity for your family to enjoy an active experience on the water while you learn about Southwest Florida’s unique flora and fauna. Paddle-based and boat-based sessions are two hours long and $75 per person.

Pontoon Programs

Come aboard The Ripple Effect, Sanibel Sea School’s large, shaded pontoon boat, for a 3-hour private boat-based program. The cost is $400 for up to six people, and $500 for groups of seven to 12. These programs run Monday through Friday based on education staff availability. Private, boat-based trips cruise San Carlos Bay, adjacent to Sanibel Island. This estuary is a rich environment that supports a diversity of habitats to explore and discover. Trips are tailored for families’ interests and abilities. 

Whether exploring by land or by sea, a family private session is the perfect excursion to do together this holiday season while the kids are out of school and northern friends and relatives are in town visiting. You can also gift a private session as a holiday gift or to visitors. Please email to learn more about these programs.

Part of the SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Family, Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.

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