Sanibel Island, Florida is an amazing place for a vacation
Sanibel Island, Florida is an amazing place for a vacation!
My family and I decided to take a vacation to Sanibel Island. We had been told about the shores being covered with seashells and that it was very natural (without all those high-rise hotels and condos that you see on most beaches). I’d have to say that after visiting Sanibel, all the good things I’d heard about it were true.
The folks in Sanibel are very dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the island, nearly one-third of the island is a wildlife preserve. There are no tall condominiums, no fast food chains, no large discount shopping centers or malls. Development has been strictly controlled. Even in the areas with shopping and restaurants, on Periwinkle Way, plenty of green space has been left and the foliage is beautiful. Sanibel is a decent size island; it is twelve miles long and, in some places, three miles wide. Sanibel is about more than just the beach. It is an island experience completely unique to Sanibel.
We went to Sanibel for a week of relaxation on the beach, biking and visiting the national wildlife refuge. We rented a nice town-house right near the beach.
Renting bikes on Sanibel
One the best ways to see Sanibel is on a bicycle. You can get to just about anywhere on the island using their nicely paved bike trails. Biking also keeps you from having to find a parking spot for you vehicle. Parking is very limited on the island. We couldn’t bring our own bikes, so we decided rent them for a couple of days. We chose Billy’s Rentals, which had a large selection at a reasonable price. They also rented Segways for those who would rather not ride a bike.
Sanibel Island Lighthouse
I really enjoy seeing lighthouses, so one the first things that we did was go over to see it. It is an active lighthouse that is 112 feet high and is a brown skeletal tower with 101 steps in an enclosed staircase. The lighthouse, which is visible from the beach was constructed in 1884 and is operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. You cannot climb the lighthouse you can only view it from the ground. There are also a couple other buildings you can see, a keepers dwelling and a brick oil storage. They also have a lighthouse museum and gift shop.
Seashell covered beaches and sand castles
One the most famous pastimes on Sanibel Beach, is collecting sea shells. You see people all along the beach searching for shells. Sanibel’s location off the coast makes it a prime spot for seashells to wash up onto its shores. It’s beautiful just looking down at them as you are walking. The beach is kept very natural with trees, plants, birds, flowers and large driftwood visible along its shores. During our stay there was a sand castle contest, where some very artistic people built some elaborate sand sculptures. We made sure to take some pictures of them during one of those beautiful sunsets that you get on the island.
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
One third of Sanibel Island is a wildlife refuge: J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a sanctuary for many species of wild animals, birds and native vegetation. It is a great place to observe and photograph the inhabitants of this unique ecosystem. You can drive your car through the park. It is about a four mile trip. Along the way there are many places for you to stop and view the wildlife. They have an observation tower were you get a good view off into the distance. It is very picturesque scenery with its large number and variety of beautiful birds. You can also fish, bike or kayak in mangroves of Pine Island Sound. There are a number of places you can get out of your car and go on hikes. We went on a couple of hikes. One was out to see a shell hill that was built by the Indians that lived here many years ago and the other was along the Indigo trail.
On another day we decided to go check out Captiva, which is a separate island just north of Sanibel. It is about five miles long and much narrower than Sanibel. North Captiva is another, separate island north of Captiva that can be reached only by boat or airplane.
Captiva Island, sister to larger Sanibel Island, is just over a small bridge which crosses at Turner Beach. Turner Beach is a great place for catching that prize fish and also for finding the colorful shells that these islands are famous for. The beach stretches 5 miles to the northern tip of Captiva Island at Redfish Pass. From the bridge at Turner beach, Captiva Drive is a scenic drive past giant cactus, colorful bougainvilleas and other tropical flora along a stretch of sea and sand ending at “downtown” Captiva, which is more of a quaint little village than a town. We went onto the beach and ate at the Mucky Duck Pub. It’s the only beach front restaurant in the region. This famous pub has an authentic British atmosphere. The food was good, but a little pricey. The key lime pie was great! They also have a daily sunset party on the beachfront cocktail patio, with live entertainment
This was a truly fun and memorable vacation! If you are planning a vacation to Florida, I would definitely recommend that you go to Sanibel!
If you are planning a trip to Florida you should visit the FloridaVacationPlans.com website, which is a great resource for planning a Florida vacation.