Pirates cheer as cannons fire smoke across the sea. Yet while the pirates are actors and the cannons are just miniaturized toys, the ship they sail upon is anything but pretend—it's a 65-foot steel-hulled vessel designed by a naval architect to look like a Spanish galleon.
Named for the prized Spanish currency of yore, Pieces of Eight Pirate Cruise evokes the golden age of buccaneering as it sets sail from Salty Sam’s Marina. The ship is helmed by a merry band of pirates—such as Pick Pocket Pete, Peg Leg Meg, and Fancy Face Phil—that bookends lessons on pirate history with sing-along chanteys and skits. The 90-minute family-friendly cruise also includes map-reading trivia, face painting, yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum. During the ride, passengers are welcome to explore the upper and lower decks or step inside the grand salon for ice cream, pretzels, and other treats.
In addition to its all-ages cruises, Pieces of Eight hosts an adults-only cruise on Friday nights, which includes cocktails and its own revue. It also charters private cruises to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions.
The 9-hole SNAG (Starting New at Golf) course at Alico Family Golf does not look like your average course. To begin with, there are no holes; instead, players take aim at a raised target called a Flagsticky (which looks like a thicker but shorter flagstick). A hole is completed when players have stuck their ball—a velcro sphere slightly smaller than a tennis ball—to the Flagsticky using two colorful clubs: a Launcher (made for all full swings, pitches, and chips) and a Roller (the SNAG equivalent of a putter). The modified game fosters golf skills for players of all ages, though its colorful nature and lower degree of difficulty make it ideal for kids or aspiring cartoonists.
The golf complex cultivates a love of the game across other facilities, including an 18-hole miniature golf course and a driving range with 60 grass hitting stalls and ten covered bays. For its efforts in promoting golf, Alico Family Golf has become the home for The First Tee Lee County. The charitable organization supports golf programs for young people as a means of developing character and enriching lives.
At the helm of Mangrove Masters is Florida native and USCG-certified Captain Jack Boutchyard, who loves to introduce visitors to the waters he calls home—specifically those surrounding Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Captain Jack brings along all gear, including fishing licenses, rods, and bait for flats fishing charters that chase trout near the grass flats and redfish when the tide goes out. For a hands-off outing, the sunset cruise charts course toward a horizon bathed in soft pinks and purples, presenting a colorful backdrop for dolphins and manatees at play. Treasure hunters can also opt to meet Captain Jack on the dock for a short jaunt to the white, sandy shores of North Captiva Island, which is only accessible by boat and teems with riches such as conch shells, sand dollars, and buried chests filled with pirate baseball-card collections.
The scope of the Southwest Florida Museum of History is as vast as the ocean that once covered the region. The art, artifacts, and reconstructions that comprise the museum's permanent exhibits and rotating exhibitions explore the period some 40 million years ago, when the giant megalodon swam in the area's shallow seas; the early half of the Common Era, when Calusa Indians occupied the same terrain; and the point in 1904 when railroad tracks reached southwestern Florida for the first time, connecting it to the rest of America. The fossilized remains of a giant ground sloth, a 1920s luxury railcar, and an 1800s cattle driver's cabin are highlights of the museum’s exhibits and displays, which together serve as a humbling reminder of history’s vastness and an indirect reminder to walk your giant ground sloth.
For Pat Glaunert, tennis rackets have been like a pair of butterfly wings. They’ve carried him across the US—from Louisville, Kentucky, where he oversaw all operations as director at Top Gun Academy, to Indianapolis, where he owned and operated his own adult and junior tennis academy.
Now the director of Three Oaks Tennis Center, Pat puts to work certification with the United States Professional Tennis Registry to teach children and adults. His intro courses teach basics to beginners from forehands and backhands to volleys, overheads, and serves. His cardio-tennis sessions build upon basics by pairing swinging and footwork exercises with energetic music and muscle-building activities, which do not include bench-pressing ball machines.
During guided tours, captains transport passengers between the coasts and along waterways of the barrier islands. They may embark on explorations of Cayo Costa State Park, a natural wildlife preserve, or take guests shelling and swimming off Sanibel Island beaches. Powerboats, jet skis, and sea kayaks are also available for rent, allowing customers to explore the bay and islands on their own. Many perfectly seaworthy crafts begin their departure from the company's hexagonal wooden pagoda, which huddles on a sandy shore separated from the surrounding hotels by gently waving palm trees.