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Islands are a hit with Road Scholar program

By Staff | Mar 10, 2015

Sanibel and Captiva continue as hot spots for a travel group catering to seniors.

The Road Scholar program will bring groups of up to 30 participants to the islands each week through April. The organization immerses outsiders in local culture. Captiva and Sanibel are particularly inviting, said April Baker, a Road Scholar coordinator in Sanibel last week at the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa. The islands are a Top 5 destination for Road Scholars.

“The group,” Baker said, “absolutely loves it here. They take it all in. It’s a magical place.”

Road Scholar has its roots dating to the 1970s. Founders had traveled Europe, visiting youth hostels during a walking tour of the continent. Two men founded Elderhostel in 1975, later rebranding the program as Road Scholar. Those enrolled in the adventure program travel the world. Costs vary on the time of year and the location, organizers said.

Road Scholars tour southwest Florida in a motorcoach, visiting hotspots like the historical village, the “Ding” Darling Refuge, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation offices, and a visit to the Edision/Ford estates in Fort Myers. The group also dines in local eateries, shells, rolls out beach chairs for pleasant afternoon, Baker said. A highlight of the recent visit was the 78th annual Sanibel Shell Festival at the Sanibel Community House. Other than the enjoyment of visiting, the group absorbs information, learning about local history and culture.

The group is also exposed to local literature. Island poet Joe Pacheco, wildlife writer Charles Sobczak and historian Charles LeBuff are booked to read or lecture during the string of visits.

Outsiders perceive the islands as paradise, mostly for the shelling, said Road Scholar participant Phyllis Hoffman.

“It’s wonderful shelling and the water is just beautiful,” said Hoffman, who lives in Atlanta.

Details about the Road Scholar program are at roadscholar.org.