Sanibel Island

by on August 1st, 2010
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Just west of Fort Myers Beach, crossing the bridge brings you to Sanibel Island. Sanibel is a famous haven for shell collectors. So many are seen gathering shells along the shore, it’s called the Sanibel Stoop. The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is the only museum devoted to shells.

In 1963, the ferry was replaced by a narrow drawbridge, which could not handle heavy loads. This was replaced by a high bridge in 2007. The sailboats can now pass under the new bridge without stopping, and this has made it a lot easier to get to the West Florida mainland. A small bridge connects Sanibel with Captiva Island to the north.

Sanibel Island suffered a lot of damage in 2004 when Hurricane Charley struck, and a lot of rebuilding has been done. Many hurricanes have brought havoc to the Florida Gulf Coast throughout history. The history of Sanibel is laced with pirate lore and legend, including rumors of buried treasure.

The earliest modern settlers on Sanibel had a strong conservation ethic, which has dominated island development. A new set of regulations enacted in 1974 prohibited structures over 2 stories, and all fast-food joints. A lone Dairy-Queen that predates this was grandfathered in. Wildlife conservation is big here, where alligators and bald eagles along with many different species live.

The J. N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge covers about 5200 acres, with a five-mile wildlife drive open six days a week. Visitors can watch over 200 native birds species among native Florida plants..Canoes and kayak can also be rented here. Most of the island is within the City of Sanibel.

Within Lighthouse Beach is the historic Sanibel lighthouse, plus a fishing pier and nature trails.Bowman’s Beach is the place for those seeking solitude, being far from any hotel. Blue Dolphin Cottages and Tropical Wind Motel and Cottages are among recommended lodging choices, with nearby shops and restaurants. Tents and motor homes are welcome at the Periwinkle Park Campground.

The Southwest Florida International Airport near Fort Myers is about 20 minutes away. Greyhound Bus Lines stops in downtown Fort Myers, at the Lee County Transit bus terminal.

There are few main roads in small Sanibel, but more than 20 miles of paved bike trails. Renting a bike is a great way to get around Sanibel Island during the crowded winter season.

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