Florida on a Tankful: Dolphin-spotting cruise in Keewaydin Island

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The sound of trumpets echo under platinum skies for a morning of discovery on the water.

Author Molly Jebber is on board to feel reconnected to nature before writing her next novel.

"We decided we wanted to go on a boat ride," Jebber said. "(We’re) always looking for new ideas. It helps me get detail about description."

The novelist believes there’s nothing fictitious about the wild dolphins she hoped to see.

"I love learning about the facts — how they teach their children, how they name their children, have their own language and are smart," Jebber said.

Jebber and her husband, Ed, joined Naples tour operator Pure Florida to explore Naples Bay.

Capt. Marty Martino guides the catamaran to where wildlife gathers.

"We spotted a dolphin out here," Martino said.

Jebber had a front-row seat to observe feeding dolphins, who seemed happy to show themselves, along with birds having breakfast.

"He’s got a fish in his mouth," Martino said. "Now try to do that without any hands."

Keep your eyes open. Martino knows where to find animals.

"They are (like) a raptor," he said. "They rip and tear."

Halfway through, something unexpected happens when Martino beaches the boat and drops the ladder.

"Right across there is a path," Martino said. "It’s about 100 yards."

Everyone is soon overboard. Passengers quickly take in the attraction to Keewaydin Island.

"It’s quite a surprise to come from one end to the other," Molly Jebber said.

In a natural setting, everyone must arrive by boat. There are no roads, no parking lots and no sidewalks. Lose the shoes. The serenity gives the feeling Keewaydin Island is all yours.

"You have people here who live for shelling," Martino said.

Martino does it all, really. In addition to driving the boat, he’s also a Florida master naturalist, offering insight into the Gulf Coast environment.

All too soon, it’s time to climb back aboard. People like Molly and Ed Jebber will take memories of Keewaydin Island back to Ohio for years to come.

"The white sand, the water is clear, there is not a lot of people there," Molly Jebber said. "It’s very quiet, isolated."

Tankful on Television
You can catch new Florida on a Tankful stories each Thursday and Saturday on News 13 and Bay News 9. New editions play at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m. Classic Florida on a Tankful stories can be found each Friday and Sunday on Bay News 9 and News 13 at the end of each hour starting at 6 a.m.

Tankful on Demand
Catch Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais on your time, now on Bright House Local On Demand, Channel 999. Use your remote to scroll to the right to the TRAVEL category. Then SCROLL DOWN to TANKFUL.

Scott Fais joins Travel Monthly
Catch our own Scott Fais as the Florida Correspondent on the On Demand travel magazine, Travel Monthly. Each month, Scott joins other travel reporters from across the United States as they showcase a wide variety of attractions, diners, parks and landmarks from across America. See Travel Monthly nationally on Time Warner Cable channel 411.  And here at home on Channel 999 in the Travel section.

Bay News 9 – local-news

May 26, 2016 |

First new resort in a decade opens in Treasure Island

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The Treasure Island Beach Resort is the first new luxury hotel to open in the city in 10 years, according to Mayor Bob Minning.

“It’s a very, very, welcome addition to the city," Minning said. "Quite frankly, it’s about time that we had something pop."

The five-story, art-deco inspired boutique resort features 77 rooms, all-suites, that have balconies over looking the Gulf of Mexico. The resort, which opened on March 12, is located at 10800 Gulf Boulevard. Officials said there’s already a strong demand for the rooms.

"We have bookings through the rest of the year, already into 2017," said Robyn Price, director of sales and marketing. "The residents have come to us with open arms. They’re so excited that we’re here."

Price said Spring Break rates for rooms start at $ 449 per night but that will drop to $ 379 during the off season. Amy Taylor’s family from Ohio were some of the first guests at the resort. Taylor said they normally stay at older hotels on the beach but were attracted by the new resort.

"It’s very family friendly. It’s fabulous," Taylor said. “It’s nice to have the view. The pool deck and everything up here is outstanding. Compared to where we’ve stayed before, it’s ground level and you can’t see the water. So, this has been a pleasure."

The resort also features the BRGR Kitchen and Bar that serves gourmet burgers and handcrafted cocktails. Future plans call for a tiki bar and fire pits located next to the city’s beach trail and is open to the public.

“We plan to come back every year," said Taylor.

Bay News 9 – local-news

April 3, 2016 |
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