If you are looking for a place to flee the crowds and have a relaxing vacation, Sanibel Island is just the place for you. It is unlike any other Florida destination. Sanibel was discovered by Ponce De Leon in 1513 and is the Southern most barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. Conde Nast Traveler Magazine called Sanibel one of the top 20 islands in the world and one of the best vacation spots.
Sanibel Island is a beachcomber’s dream. Known as one of the best seashell hunting destinations in the United States, Sanibel has given a name to an entirely new posture: the “Sanibel Stoop.” On a daily basis, Sanibel´s unusual east/west orientation helps thousands of seashells wash up on shore. Over two thousand varieties can be found on Sanibel´s beaches. Whelk, coquina, conch, scallops, and murex are just a few of the species that are in abundant supply. In addition, sand dollars and starfish can also be easily found. You can identify the different species you find at the Bailey Matthews Shell Museum which has some fantastic specimens.
Birds such as egrets, ibis, anhingas, herons, pelicans, cormorants, and ospreys fly overhead, nest above the roadways and in the trees. Smaller birds such as sandpipers and terns scamper along the beach. And dolphins play along the shore, often traveling in large pods. Turtles sun themselves on the beach and on the rocks nearby.
Sanibel is also a great spot for enjoying all the mysteries of nature. Take some time and drive, bicycle, or walk through the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has five thousand acres, taking up much of the island. You can see egrets and ospreys nesting. You can spy on a perching red-shouldered hawk, or, if you look very closely, you may see an alligator.
Sanibel Island provides for the perfect vacation. Enjoy many miles of unspoiled beaches, 28 miles of bike paths, 50 types of fish, 230 types of birds, 250 types of shells, and 0 stop lights.
The City of Sanibel passed new restrictions on development after it was incorporated; these were challenged by developers, to no avail. Currently the only buildings on the island taller than two stories date before 1974, and there are no fast food or chain restaurants allowed on the island except a Dairy Queen, which was on the island before the laws were enacted. And yet the shopping is wonderful and the restaurants fabulous. You can find everything from an elegant meal with white tablecloths (always with casual dress code) to very informal but still really good food. Relax, enjoy, eat, drink, and, most of all, be merry.