Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Island Dreams

Want to buy an island? Florida boasts 10,000, many of which are for sale. In fact, if you want to check out the prices of islands throughout the U.S., it’s kind of fun to go to this website:

But if you’re like me and can only afford to visit them, here’s the scoop on three popular Florida islands. I’ve intentionally left out the famous Keys for two reasons. 1) I could do a whole week or two just on the Keys; and 2) I’m saving them in hopes my novel set in the Florida Keys grabs the interest of an editor. It was just completed a couple of months ago after a year and a half of blood, sweat and tears…and prayers, of course.

So off we go to three absolutely beautiful tropical venues on our lovely but oil-damaged Gulf of Mexico. And if you haven’t read my previous post yet, scroll down for an interview with author Max Elliot Anderson and a chance to win his latest book for boys, Lost Island Smugglers. Comments must be posted by midnight, Friday, Aug. 6.

Marco Island (pictured above), famous for its fabulous sport fishing, is located off Florida’s southwest coast. It’s the largest of the Ten Thousand Islands (has anyone actually counted them?) and offers nearly four miles of sweeping sands and aquamarine waters, including inland waterways that are home to thousands of exotic birds. If you go, check out Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center which offers tours of research labs, a huge auditorioum, visitor’s center, 2,300 gallon aquarium, nature reserve, gallery and picnic area.

Sanibel is considered North America’s shelling capital, with more than 400 species of shells that wash up on its beautiful beaches. Conch shells are the most common, but shellers like me delight in finding many rare varieties too, like the Lion’s Paw (pictured at right). When you’re tired of shells, dine in some of the excellent restaurants, go golfing, play tennis, fish, bike or canoe – there is no lack of things to do on this gorgeous island. And somewhere on Marco there’s a place that sells awesome gelato – it’s the first place I ever tasted what has become one of my favorite desserts. If you go, Fly into Fort Meyers International Airport. It’s just a short drive from there.

I’ve never been to Anna Maria Island, but you gotta love the name. It’s not famous for spectacular beaches or the most recreational opportunities, but Anna Maria will provide beautiful ocean sunsets and secluded beaches, peace and quiet. One of the cool things about this island is that it doesn’t have any fast food or convenience franchises, chain stores, high rises or a stoplight…and the community intends to keep it that way. Favorite activities include boat charters, ultralight air tours, kayaking and parasailing. You’ll find Anna Maria just south of Tampa Bay and west of Bradenton.

Enjoy this recipe from Andy’s Island Seafood (pictured at left), located in Matlacha (pronounced "MAT-la-shay"), an old fishing village on Pine Island (near Fort Meyers), chock full of art galleries and island charm.


1 ½ lbs. wild Florida shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup diced pineapple
½ cup diced water chestnuts
2 Tbs. fresh Florida lime juice
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. Florida honey
1 Tbs. minced garlic
2 tsp. soy sauce.

Combine all ingredients and toss well. Chill for 2 hours. Drain and place on broiler pan. Broil 3-4” from heat source for 3-4 minutes or until shrimp are opaque and pineapple
begins to brown.

No comments:

Post a Comment