by Amanda Geronikos
Waterside Inn on the Beach offers a wealth of accommodations: Visitors stay in guest rooms, efficiencies, cottages and condominiums. Cottages and condos are great for families as they offer fully equipped kitchens, though standard guest rooms still offer compact refrigerators and plenty of space. Coin-operated laundry facilities are located onsite, and cribs are available upon request. Just steps from the beach, the hotel is also situated near area attractions, including Sanibel Lighthouse and biking trails.
Our Editor Loves
- Beachfront location
- Guest rooms, efficiencies, cottages and condos
- Refrigerators in all units
Waterside Inn had a great cottage accommodation that was well stocked with everything you could need. We were in Lime 101. The bathroom was cramped but functional. The plantation shutters didn't function properly and we had to move a lamp, phone and chair to open the up wide to see the view of the beach for which we paid so handsomely. The couch was comfy but the cushions were sagging with wear. The dining table was nice but the legs were about to fall off, so it was wobbly. The bed was amazingly comfortable. Unlike most rentals, they had nice dishes, pots and pans, and supplied you with coffee and filters daily. The property was nice, the staff friendly, and helpful. The property had shuffle board courts, beach chairs and umbrellas to use and bikes that could be rented at a reasonable rate. The common area grills and picnic tables were really nice and they provide a grate scraper to use on the grills which was great. BUT, there were a lot of sand dunes with sea oats and sea grape mangrove bushes between the shuffle board courts and the beach that really blocked the view. The sea grape bushes needed to be trimmed down to see the view better. We live on a barrier island 85 miles north of Sanibel, so we understand the importance of sea oats and mangrove bushes like sea grapes to the dunes, but you can trim their height to protect the views while securing the dunes. We were amazed to see the Milky Way and shooting stars on the beach on our moonless nights. That was fantastic.
Then came the down side when we decided to take our chairs on the beach to look at the Milky Way and stars while drinking wine on our 3rd night, versus walking the beach. We sat too close to the dunes, and were EATEN ALIVE by No See Ums bugs. No See Ums, we later discovered, are a swarming microscopic fly, also called biting midges, that inhabit Sanibel year round. They are particularly bad at dawn and dust when there is no breeze or movement. At Sanibel, they inhabit it year round, and bite you all day and night if you are near the dunes. We got bitten on the 3rd night, then when laying too near the dunes the next day on the beach when it was high tide, then during a 1 minute sit in the chairs under the gazebo during the middle of the afternoon, as the gazebo was surrounded by the dunes. The grills were near the dunes so my husband got bit there too. We didn't even try to play shuffle board, as we wanted, for fear of being bitten as the courts were near the dunes. I have over 300 hundred bites on my feet, ankles, legs, arms, shoulders, neck and chest. I have 21 bites in one area by the inside of my left ankle alone. My husband had better bathing suit/tee-shirt coverage than me and only got between 50-100 bites on his ankles, feet and lower legs. No See Um bites itch horribly for 1-2 weeks we are told, unlike mosquito bites that only last a few days. You need 30% DEET bug spray to protect against them, which makes it hard to wear sunscreen at the same time (because they DO bite during the middle of the afternoon). I am now on prescription steroids and prescription steroid cream to get all the inflammation down because I have so many bites all over my body. It ruined the second half of our vacation. We left a day early because we were afraid to leave the cottage. We paid a handsome price to have a cottage on the beach with a view, and had it ruined by biting No See Ums.
What really infuriated us was that the staff warned us about mosquitos at dawn and dusk, and said they had bug spray available, but there was no mention about No See Ums. I grew up in Florida, and have lived here most of my life and never heard of them. I have lived on 3 different barrier islands across the state, and visited many other barrier islands in Florida and all around the Caribbean, and never heard of or encountered No See Ums. We spent 3 vacations in Ft Myers beach, just across the way from Sanibel Island, and visited during different times of year, and never encountered No See Ums. But when we checked out early and told the staff why, they acted like it was no big deal and would not even consider modifying their no refund for early check out policy (common in Ft Myers Beach, too, be forewarned) despite us leaving because of the severity of my bites, which the staff acknowledged. When I asked why we were not warned about No See Ums, like mosquitos, when we checked in so we could have protected ourselves, the staff member, in her cheerful friendly voice, deflected by telling me she had lived there 40 years and how badly she had been bitten by No See Ums in the past, offering advise on using Colgate White toothpaste on them to stop the itching. When I repeated the question, she continued to deflect. That is what really made us angry.
We will NEVER return to Sanibel Island. We only went there because I am a huge fan of Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford series, centered on the character's life on Sanibel Island. We got to see the places mentioned in the books, which was great, and we had great meals at Doc Ford's Rum Bar and the Timbers restaurant (note, the Over Easy Café is over rated). That was great, as was seeing the Milky Way and shooting stars on the beach. But, Sanibel is a mangrove swamp island where No See Ums thrive. I think they fail to mention them because it will hurt their tourism industry. We paid good money for what was a nice accommodation on the beach. We have stressful jobs and needed the relaxation, which we got for the first 3 days. But, why pay that much money and then be afraid to go out on the beach you paid to be on to get some relaxation? And, Sanibel's beaches are so full of shells, you cannot walk them without shoes or water shoes. Great if you are there for shelling, but not great if you are there to relax with long walks down the beach. The water was also super murky so you couldn't even see the bottom of it by the shore. Probably from all the brackish waters in the many mangrove canals that feed into it. We are going back to Ft Myers Beach and Melbourne Beach on the east coast of Florida in the future. BE FOREWARNED!!! This was a huge disappointment for us. We are giving it a 3 star rating because the accommodations were good and so well appointed. I am giving the location 2 stars, simply because the views on the beach were fantastic and we saw great wildlife (dolphins, manatees, and flying sting rays) while on the beach. I recommend you visit our hometown beaches of Treasure Island Florida if you want a nice sandy beach with clear water of different shades of blue. We don't vacation at home because we find ourselves working in the yard too much instead of relaxing. But when we came home a day early, we spent the rest of our vacation walking Treasure Island beach instead. I also recommend the area I grew up in, Fort Walton Beach and Destin, Florida in the panhandle. The panhandle has by far the prettiest white sandy beaches with clear multi-shade turquoise waters in Florida and is family friendly.
I would consider coming back to waterside inn unlike hotels within blocks of them that I would not return to. There’s an awesome view from our room. The beach seemed private and it’s very quaint and picturesque. I also like how the pool is situated on the property. It is very safe for kids. Only complaint is the odor in the room. I think the a/c filters need to be cleaned possibly but I used some essential oils to help with that. However how the rooms are situated it feels like you are the only one on the grounds.