explorer

Ocean’s Allure

By Melanie Pagan

Do you hear that? The open ocean calling your name? Judging by the amount of life on Sanibel these days, the waves are certainly beckoning some souls.

Whether one is physically on island, or just frequently dreaming of a view where the ocean meets the sky in an infinite horizon, our March/April issues cater to the individuals who feel ultimate tranquility at sea.

We cover all things water-related in all four publications, from boating to fishing to seafood, so no matter where you are, you can enjoy the essence of the islands.

In Times of the Islands, we bring you tongue-in-cheek illustrations by Dave Drotleff of a Sanibel dweller’s favorite activity: shelling! Variations of the notorious “Sanibel Stoop”—like the sneaky stoop and the silly stoop—are detailed so beachgoers can identify these characters next time they’re out on the sand.

But it’s not just the humans of the islands the magazine focuses on. Flip the pages and you’ll find out more about the alligators that freely roam Sanibel, and how man and beast have come to coexist over the years.
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Gulf & Main features historical fish houses and the bygone fishing industry they represent. Read further for a story on nautical knots, and the importance of tying one that’s seaworthy.
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Pick up a copy of RSW Living, and you’ll see how we’ve captured the mighty presence of the tarpon in Boca Grande, with insight on what it takes to reel in the powerful Silver King. Also inside, nature-lovers can learn some of the best places to enjoy local waters, from popular spots to hidden gems.
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Bonita & Estero includes one avid surfer’s account of riding unexpected waves on the Gulf, right off secluded Cayo Costa State Park.

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As always, you can expect to find stories about local booming businesses, inspirational people, trends, events and more, but let’s be honest: visitors and residents alike are interested in the area for one main reason, and that’s because we are never truly alone here. We are always surrounded by the sea.

Melanie Pagan is the Assignment Editor and Social Media Coordinator at TOTI Media, Inc. Follow her on our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.

The Big Picture

By Melanie Pagan

It may be a late New Year’s resolution, but I’m seriously considering carrying a camera with me whenever I go out. Southwest Florida is blessed with so much natural beauty that it can be difficult to breathe in every gorgeous moment. Every morning driving over the Sanibel Causeway is like a guessing game of anticipation. Will I see a pelican diving in the water today? Or perhaps an osprey will be perched on the railing, eyeing its next prey.

But wildlife sightings don’t just happen on the islands. Brightly colored butterflies and honey bees can often be found dancing around blooming flowers in Bonita, and powerful birds like hawks, or even eagles, are at times visible in the sky.

When photographers come to Southwest Florida, they know they have some major shooting opportunities, and we thought our January/February Outdoors & Sports issues would be a great place to showcase some of their works. In Times of the Islands, we’ve dedicated an entire spread to breathtaking snapshots of Blind Pass and Roseate Spoonbills, all taken by Sanibel-based photographer Jonathan Tongyai.

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Reflections by Jonathan Tongyai

Even more Southwest Florida photographs are celebrated in the pages of Bonita & Estero Magazine, where we profiled five artists—Garth Francis, Mark Renz, Peggy Farren, David Meardon, and Gordon Campbell—and their shots of lush landscapes and exotic animals.

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Great Egret Display by David Meardon

I know I can only hope to mimic the talent of these individuals through pictures of my own (although I can certainly admire them in our magazines!), but we are constantly surrounded by precious moments here in Southwest Florida, and they are just begging to be captured in time.

Melanie Pagan is the Assignment Editor and Social Media Coordinator for TOTI Media, Inc.

Hello, Twenty Fourteen

By Melanie Pagan

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At the start of any new year, thoughts of how to make the next 365 days better than the last flood through countless minds.

But while everyone is stuck trying to master changing threes to fours when writing out dates, we at TOTI are continuing to plan stories as far out in advance as November/December. Producing bimonthly magazines requires us to work so far ahead that we can easily forget about the now.

So, this is us reflecting on 2013, and looking forward to the future.

In the last year, we have worked with a number of innovators, expanded our team, grown our loyal fan-base, created a stronger internet presence, attended marvelous events and have done our best to capture special sides of the area we call home.

Like anyone else, we have experienced some bumps in the road, but it’s the mountains and valleys of life that keep the journey exciting. Through trial and error, we’ve managed to keep a consistent mindset: work diligently to give readers a high-quality magazine to indulge in.

Even in an increasingly digital world, nothing beats the feeling of curling up with a magazine in hand, and flipping through glossy pages with dazzling photographs and stories highlighting Southwest Florida’s most fascinating people and places.

We are continuing to implement changes in our 2014 issues to keep this sentiment alive within our readers. With all of the new technology out there, we are easily exposed to hundreds of news outlets, and the shift from just timely articles to in-depth features can be a refreshing break.

So for 2014, our New Year’s resolution is to continue being your source of enlightenment for our beautiful coast. Join us by picking up our January/February issue, kicking back in this gorgeous weather, and reading in the company of Mother Nature. Because everyone needs to unplug now and then, and we promise dozens of great stories for you to get lost in.

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant and social media representative for TOTI Media, Inc.

 

Mermaids, Dolphins, Elves, Oh My!

By Melanie Pagan

This month on the island is truly a special one for residents and guests alike. Captiva Holiday Village holds a series of events that combine the essence of a winter wonderland with a laid-back, tropical twist (think Palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights).

This past weekend, I enjoyed watching the Fourth Annual Golf Cart Parade while it traveled from Chadwick’s Square at South Seas Island Resort to Andy Rosse Lane, looping around Chapin and Wiles Drive and back past the Green Flash restaurant before returning to South Seas. I even managed to snap a few shots of the creative carts amid the excitement!

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This year’s winners included:
Best in Show- American Realty of Captiva’s “Snow Renourishment”
Commercial Category- Kingfisher Vacation’s” Rudolphin”
Non-commercial Category- Mixed Nuts, featuring Betsy Hanna, Terry McClure, Cannella Mullins, Kim and Kathleen Nealon, and Deb Wendall.

Click here to see which events have yet to take place during the Captiva Holiday Village weekends!

A portion of the $20 entrance fee benefitted the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation.

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant/social media representative for TOTI Media, Inc. and she encourages you to participate in our Sanibel Stoop picture contest. LIke our Facebook page for details.

Play Here, Stay Here

by Melanie Pagan

Each morning that I drive over the Sanibel Causeway for work, I fall in love all over again. Even after all the years of frequenting the island in my youth, the feeling of serenity I get when I see Sanibel’s endless horizon from the top of the bridge never subsides. The sight of blue skies and waves as they glisten in the sun, quietly breaking and fading into white sand; the sound of swaying palm trees and pelicans diving for fish in the ocean… it is truly a slice of paradise.

I imagine that our seasonal island guests get a similar feeling when crossing over. Visitors arriving at any of Sanibel’s numerous luxury beachfront destinations will be treated to a front-row view of the water, and they can experience that peace daily.

I recently met with Waterside Inn owner Bert Jenks and toured rooms tailor-made for guests who yearn for that kind of experience. Waterside Inn is one of the many hotels that grant visitors secluded beach access just a few steps from their rooms.

But island tranquility is not just attainable out in the open. Beach-inspired color schemes linger throughout the cottages at the inn, and rooms bear just the right amount of sea-themed accents. Private balconies in units and front porches in suites allow guests to hear calming ocean sounds while enjoying the shade.

As I drove away from Waterside Inn, a maintenance man named John waved me goodbye. Just then I realized: guests may have high expectations for their stay on Sanibel based on the beautiful drive over, but those expectations must be met when they stay at one of our fine hotels—and they are! Not only are views from the rooms captivating, but hospitality services are genuine. Perhaps this is because Sanibel employees are truly happy to work where they do. After all, we do get to be at the beach all year long, and we are able to revisit that introduction to paradise each time we drive over the causeway.

San-Cap vacationers: what is your favorite place to stay on the islands and why? To Fort Myers locals: have you ever taken a “staycation” on the island? If so, where did you choose to rest your head? The beaches of Sanibel and Captiva have been ranked as some of the best in the world, so let’s recognize the establishments that make visits here more enjoyable.

Times of the Islands is the only sophisticated lifestyle magazine for the Lee island coast. Find out where to go to the get the most out of your vacation, or what is happening on the island you call home, by flipping through any of our issues.

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant for TOTI Media, Inc.

Sights from the Waterside Inn at  3033 W Gulf Dr, Sanibel, FL 33957 (239-472-1345):
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