Captain Will Olds is an aquatic Renaissance man. The U.S. Coast Guard master mariner has dedicated his life to the water—from time spent piloting charter boats across Lake Superior to his days teaching boat safety at the Chapman School of Seamanship—and to his passion for history and the natural world. The multitalented skipper translates his many skills into a daily roster of eco-tours and excursions that whisk visitors along the fluvial highways of southern Florida.
From behind the wheel of his trusted ship, the Calusa Queen, the captain delivers entertaining and educational anecdotes along with views of Charlotte Harbor Estuary and Cape Haze. While not included in this offer, the Matlacha Art Community cruise features stops on terra firma to visit local galleries, and the Peace River Eco-Tour and Cruise wends through a nature preserve for a peek at manatees, alligators, and dolphins. Named for the Native American peoples of Florida’s southwest coast, the ship is inspected and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard and can hold up to 28 passengers along with their spare sets of sea legs.
The guides at Black Water, Blue Water Tours tailor their kayaking trips to the crew accompanying them. Wildlife tours, sunset tours, island-picnic tours, or even journeys under the full moon introduce kayakers to South Florida's Myakka River, mangrove tunnels, and canals laden with wildlife such as manatees. If visitors have specific sightseeing locales in mind, the guides can create an entirely new tour to fit their parameters.
The Alliance for the Arts' concerts, exhibitions, and art classes have become a staple for the aesthetically inclined since the institution's founding in 1975. The center’s three art galleries elicit awe with ongoing exhibits, and its educational programs inspire students to express their feelings through painting and drawing. The Alliance’s schedule of events keeps fans of the performing arts intrigued with plentiful music festivals and dance recitals.
Understanding that each customer has their own sense of style and aesthetic, the knowledgeable framers at The Great Frame Up strive to meet various needs through a wide assortment of frames and the latest technology. With the ability to craft one-of-a-kind frames, the team can also help customers discover a new way of framing their family portraits, artwork, or sports memorabilia. By consulting clients on the style of their home or office, the experts put their know-how and creativity to work in crafting a distinct frame for each space. To further assist customers, the framing specialists offer an online list of tips and trends.
It only took two weeks on the picturesque shores of Tahiti and Moorea to send Craig Stewart into a tailspin. He and wife Evelyn fell in love with the South Pacific’s crystalline waters and beachy breezes, so much so that the prospect of remaining in their native Oklahoma turned gloomy. Six years after the Stewarts’ Pacific vacation, they stumbled upon Sanibel Island. With a love for the waters still coursing through their veins, they uprooted and moved there, making it home base for Adventures in Paradise. In 1986, they started out with one boat—Miss Paradise—and one tour, the sunset dolphin cruise. Today, the Stewart family maintains a much larger operation. Their tour topics range from fishing and shelling to dolphin watching to historical sightseeing on a trolley.
Gulf Coast Kayak sits on the edge of Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve, a scenic sprawl of estuaries, back bays, and mangrove tunnels roofed by the interlaced branches of waterside trees. Their single and tandem kayaks give paddlers a way to drink up this scenery, instead of waiting on the shore, thumbs-outstretched, hoping to catch a ride from a passing mermaid. Alternatively, paddlers can opt for a guided tour, such as the Sunset Birding Tour, which can afford birdwatchers glimpses of osprey, herons, and spoonbills. For those who cannot make it to their storefront, Gulf Coast Kayak is able to deliver kayaks anywhere in Matlacha or Pine Island for a fee.