Sanibel v Stump Pass

Last spring we discovered the beach at Stump Pass State Park on Manasota Key. As part of our 14 in 14, we took a Spring Break trip exploring new places along Florida’s Southwest coast, and we fell in love with one of those places, Stump Pass State Park.


In fact, we decided to return in the summer for a short beach trip. A time that’s traditionally spent on our favorite beach, Sanibel, and much to our surprise we found many things about Stump Pass that we liked better than Sanibel. This lead us to evaluate the two beaches.

Shells: Sanibel


Shark’s Teeth: Stump Pass


Fishing: Sanibel

Turtles: Stump Pass

Bicycling: Sanibel

Sunset: Stump Pass


Beach: Stump Pass

Restaurants: Sanibel, Sanibel,Sanibel!!!

Sanibel Grill! Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill! Island Cow! Cheeburger, Cheebuger! Lazy Flamingo! No comparison!


Maybe the best lesson to learn is not to get in a rut. Enjoy a favorite place, but not to the exclusion of trying something new.

We’ll just need to spend more time on the beach so we can go to Sanibel and Stump Pass.

See Turtles!

Unlike last summer, we didn’t plan this year’s trip to the beach as a turtle adventure; however, to our surprise Manasota Key turned out to be a sea turtle paradise. Upon check in, the woman at the desk pointed out the turtle information in the packet and told us that a turtle recently came ashore during the middle of the day and laid its eggs at the corner of the building in which we’d be staying. It was even difficult to find a place to set up chairs and umbrellas around all of the nests.

Then while walking taking a walk on our first night, we noticed turtle tracks on the beach and saw a loggerhead returning to the gulf after making a false crawl. Even though we didn’t see any turtles laying eggs, it’s still pretty amazing to see one on the beach lumbering through the sand.

The next day as we headed out to fish from the shore we met Richard, a volunteer with the Coastal Wildlife Club Turtle Patrol. His job that morning was to excavate a nest that hatched three days earlier to take a count of the number of turtles that hatched and to determine if any hatchlings remained in the nest. When I stopped to ask about the excavation, he drafted me as his assistant.

Richard dug out the nest removing the shells as well as the unhatched eggs while I recorded the information in the notebook kept by the volunteers. He unearthed ninety-nine hatched eggs and eleven more that did not hatch and appeared as though they never developed. Before the excavation, Richard said the nests were averaging about 110 eggs, and that’s exactly what we found.

Our final morning on the beach resulted in another day of working with the Turtle Patrol volunteers. On this day, five nests invaded by predators had to be excavated in search of living turtles. In the first nest 19 hatchlings and another eight pipped eggs were removed and relocated to the Turtle Patrol headquarters for observation and release at a later time.

While three of the volunteers took care of the turtles found in the disturbed nests and then protected them with wire to discourage further problems with predators, I joined a fourth volunteer, Adam, checking on the remaining nests and looking for evidence of hatches as well as new nests. We identified two more nests predated by armadillos, two new nests – one a green turtle nest, which is not very common, and one nest that hatched.

What a great way to spend the final day at the beach!


Grouper Sandwich Quest

A trip to the beach just isn’t complete without lots of delicious seafood so while spending a few days enjoying Stump Pass State Park on Manasota Key we set out to find the island’s best grouper sandwich.

First, we tried Flounders, a place recommended by a woman at our hotel. She described Flounders as a fun place to eat, and I think she’s probably right about that. When we arrived at 3:30 a live band was playing music in the outside bar area.

Unfortunately, the staff at Flounders was preoccupied with the set up of the stage for a dueling piano show later in the evening. That could have been overlooked if the food was outstanding, but that was not the case. The grouper sandwich was average, and while the mango salsa was tasty, the fish tacos were dry. Unfortunately, we were looking for good food instead of fun.

On day two, we headed to Lock ‘n Key, located across the street from Flounders, it received a rating of ‘4’ on Yelp so it seemed like a good place to try. Again we ordered a grouper sandwich to split as well as a prime rib sandwich.

We were a little surprised to find that the prime rib sandwich was a hunk of meat on a slice of bread instead of an actual sandwich with sliced meat, a lesson to read the menu more carefully. And as for our grouper sandwich…it was large and the taste was alright, but again, nothing special. We did splurge on a unique dessert. Banana split pie with several flavors of ice cream with bananas and cherries frozen in the pie topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Yummy, but way too many calories!

Our final attempt to find a delicious grouper sandwich was at the Gulf View Grill, a restaurant with numerous awards plastered on the wall for everything from “Most Romantic” to “Best Dinner”. Gulf View Grill certainly deserves the award for best sunset view, but I hope there’s someplace else on the island with a better dinner. The grouper sandwich was about the same as the fish at the previous two restaurants, but the shrimp dinner came with only 4 fried shrimp and not nearly tasty enough to justify their $20 price.

I could go back to any of these restaurants for another meal, but I’ll need to try something other than the grouper sandwich I craved. Next trip, we’ll have to continue the great grouper quest…or drive another hour to Sanibel Island where I know I can sink my teeth into the World’s Best Grouper Sandwich.