Immerse in an ECO-Tour and Experience Southwest Florida Islands by Boat

“Captain Brian Holaway is well versed in the intricacies of our unmatched locale. He can guide to and through a multitude of out-of-the way tidal creeks, bayous, keys and islands. More important is his passionate interest and respect for the region. With unique insights from his many explorations and his studies, not only does he identify the birds and wildlife that inhabit our semi-tropical watery land, but he explains their interconnectedness to their environment and each other. In addition, he shares the fascinating history of rugged people who came long before us: Florida Native Indians, the Calusa, the Spanish, the Cubans, early homesteaders, and the wisdom evident in the growth of their culture.

You will come away with great enjoyment and a new understanding of this beautiful place and its history.”

Historian, Betty Anholt
Author of Sanibel’s Story

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Perfect Weather with The Johnson's

The  weather was perfect for a day of shelling and exploring. Brian, Nancy and I started our trip by traveling to the north end of Cayo Costa to the recently reopened lagoon. The tide was going out and very low. I took along my paddle board for exploring areas that you normally don't see. Nancy and I went for a spectacular cruise on the board watching lease turns and reddish egrets, royal turns and oyster catchers. We also observed moon jellyfish cruise by as we paddled. Next Nancy went on the board herself, then Brian took the board for a spin. The current at the mouth of the lagoon was moving at 5 mph this made paddling a little challenging.  The tide was even lower after everyone finished paddling. We shelled the shallows and found many nice shells. Shells found were a large sharks eye, sun ray venus, olives, fighting conchs, banded tulips and the BIGGEST common nutmeg shell I have ever seen.  Next we traveled around the northern tip of Cayo Costa past a forest of Sable Palmettos. A special place on the island indeed. We traveled past Punta Blanco and Mongongo Island and Part Island on our way to Pineland on Pine Island. We ate diner at the Tarpon Lodge. This is one of my favorites. The staff at the Tarpon Lodge do an excellent job and the food is always superb. After a scrumptious diner we walked across the street to the Randell Research Center. The Randell Research Center is a fifty acre archaeological  site. The site has precolumbian shell mounds and a precolumbian canal. Our visit was a short one because the mosquitoes were very lively. It was time to start our voyage back to Captiva. We left Pineland and made our way to the south end of Cayo Costa to watch the sunset. The dolphins were numerous as we slowed down to watch the sunset. The sunset was inspiring, we all observed the rare optical phenomena "the Green Flash". This was the first time I have been able to catch it on Camera. If you zoom in on the second to last sunset photo you can see the flash. In all my years of guiding and watching the sun fall I have only seen 3 in 15 years. This being the third. It was a beautiful day and better sunset, I look forward to the next trip in August with the Johnson's.

Sun and Moon

The sunrise and moon view from Cayo Costa.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Today I traveled by boat and stand up paddle board (sup) to Cayo Costa. A long time client and I explored the lagoon on Cayo Costa. Wow!  What a great time exploring. I even rode a wave  from the gulf to the lagoon. Yes this part of the island is open. ( just a side note for the mom and daughter from Minnesota/ North Carolina I met last December on a windy day. The lagoon opened the week of May 17th we had strong winds for 10 days.) I enjoyed paddling around places I have not been before.  For the first time I can feel the pulse of the Island. My explorations in the last 2 weeks have given many new insights on Cayo Costa. I look forward to July's full moon and exploring more.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Family Fun

I had a wonderful trip with a wonderful family, Mike, Danielle, Rachel, and Camden. The water was calm and inviting as we set the anchor on the beach of Cayo Costa. Danielle and Rachel found sand dollars, fighting conchs, sun ray venus and olive shells. Mike was exploring the water and finding olives shells that were very large. Camden played on the beach and made sand muffins. We observed ghost crab holes in the sand and a live lighting whelk. Rachel found the live shell intriguing. I love it when you can see kids learning about the sea and whats in it. The time flew by quickly, we pulled the anchor and started our voyage back to Captiva. Rachel took the helm and did a great job driving on the way back. Rachel smiled the whole way. When her mom asked," How was driving the boat?" She replied,"easy peasy lemon squeezy."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Busy Bee and Crew

The day was filled with adventure, wildlife and  shells.  Wendy, Lori, Katie, Kim and Chablis explored with me today on Cayo Costa. We witnessed a sea turtle nest that was less than 10 hours old. (Currently 19 nests on Cayo as of today.) Two of the ladies found sand dollars for the first time. Two hard to find guadia nauticas were found much to my amazement. Other shells found were worm shells, chestnut turbines, sun ray venus, and a very rare sea horse. Wow what a find! We also did some geocatching. Kim had asked months ago to check out geocatches on Cayo Costa and gave me the lat and long. I had looked at the lat and long two months ago. It wasn't until last week that I discovered the catch while paddle boarding an isolated location on Cayo Costa.  After a fun time on the beach we ate a quick lunch on the boat. They brought me my own sandwich which was very thoughtful. I pulled the anchor and we started to make our way back to Captiva when a large pod of dolphins appeared at the bow of the boat.  What a treat, the ladies enjoyed the dolphin. Many firsts and good finds were found today, you never know what the sea will give up.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tranquil Beach and Shelling

What a beautiful evening for a shelling excursion. I enjoyed taking Moira, Marty and Kevin to an isolated piece of paradise in search of shells. The beach was empty of people. We were the only people on the beach as far as you could see. The tide was incredibly low and there were shells. The gulf had finally calmed down and the shells were in the swash channels and at the edge of the sea and in the high tide line. Marty found a cone shell within a minute of hitting the beach.  Moira wanted to find sand dollars and she succeeded. She also found  arrowhead sandolllars. This was a first for her. Sun ray venus shells were collected, a worm shell and lots of silky olive shells. We observed a live olive and the tracks from the olive shell. The sky, clouds, and light were stunning. The beach was full of solitude. The sun was starting to set as we skipped across the water. I slowed the boat down and we all enjoyed the last of the sun setting over Cayo Costa.

Sanibel Sisters Take Two

The Sanibel Sisters returned with tweezers in hand  along with one of the  sisters granddaughters. The trip started with "The sisters" giving me one of the shirts they had made. The shirt said,"Got Shells". I Loved it! The next surprise was a beautiful collection of miniature shells they had collected since our last trip. WOW!! The collection is shown in the picture. A beautiful tusk shell, and honestly the biggest key hole limpet I have seen in that good of shape. (Nancy Darling would be drooling) The baby's ear is a treasure from these ladies I will set apart from all others. Well, all the shells will stay in a special spot. Thank you again for the gifts from the sea. Our goal of the trip was to explore the flats on a SUPER low tide. The tide had been falling for four hours when we left the dock. The west southwest wind was holding the tide higher than usual. The decision was made to go to North Captiva and look for shells while waiting on the tide to fall. The tide was to low to anchor at my first choice on North Captiva so we traveled to another spot on the island. Honestly on this day the shelling was not all that great. The high winds and water had washed the beaches clean of most shells. It reminded me of the beach I woke up to on Cayo Costa after a restless night of sleep on a precolumbian shell mound twenty nine moons ago. We stayed at North Captiva briefly. Still waiting on the tide we traveled to the southern end of Cayo Costa. The high water from the previous day made the shelling sparse.  The tide finally started to fall pushing out of  Captiva and Redfish pass, despite the strong wind now out of the northwest at twenty miles an hour. The flats were starting to show themselves as we traveled south.  I set the anchor and pulled the boat over the grass flats and set the stern anchor. The live shells were more than plentiful. We took no live shells but had to work to find the empty ones. Some nice specimens were collected with the tweezers. A very small horseshoe crab was collected as pictured above. One shell collected was very intriguing. A lettered olive. It was silky smooth but looked prehistoric. The coloring on this olive shell was unlike any I have observed before. All great finds. I pulled the anchor and we traveled with a tail wind back to the marina. Shortly after arriving at the marina the moon made its mystical  presence.