Sanibel Florida

FEATURED LISTING: Florida ::: Sanibel

Sanibel is the perfect choice for a vacation, whether it is a family trip, a nature vacation or a romantic getaway, which can even end in a wedding! Just off the coast of Southwest Florida, in Lee County, Sanibel Island is about 12 miles long and five miles across at its widest, and offers endless beaches that are a shell collector’s heaven. Six thousand people live in Sanibel though the population swells to twice that and more during vacations.

Famous explorer Juan Ponce de Leon is believed to have discovered Sanibel Island – which he named “Santa Isybella” after Queen Isabella of Spain. The Spanish were unsuccessful in establishing any kind of permanent settlement and legend has it that it was a haven for infamous pirates. Indian raids during the Seminole Wars kept settlers and fisherman at bay and discouraged any permanent settlements on Sanibel for several decades. In1894 Sanibel lighthouse lit for the first time and remains a working lighthouse to this day. The area near the lighthouse was the center of island activity, where most of Sanibel’s early pioneers settled.

In the late 1880s, the beautiful Casa Ybel Resort, known as “The Sisters” was popular with rich tourists seeking sun, sand and sea. Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling first discovered Sanibel on a trip in 1935 and campaigned to protect the island’s fragile ecosystem. In 1945, more than 6,300 acres of mangrove, bay and estuary became the J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which today is home to hundreds of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. It is the most popular place on the islands for watching tall wading birds.

The best way to see the island is on a bike; one can take reach the refuge on the paved, four-mile, one-way road that was built on a dike in the 1960s. Look out for snowy egrets and great egrets, flying over the pools to snatch fish while in flight. Tri-colored herons and reddish egrets can also be spotted in shallow areas along with white ibis. Spoonbills with their bright pink feathers are hard to miss and so are the wood storks, with their massive bills.

In the past, visitors came by a half-hour ferry ride from Fort Myers and Bailey’s General Store was a popular place for provisions. It still is, even after the Sanibel Causeway was constructed in 1963. In 1974, Sanibel formed its own city government and residents have taken care to preserve the island by restricting growth and development today. Sanibel fortunately still enjoys its special ambience and peace with its shady tree canopies, wooden bridges and quiet waterways.

Health Park of the Islands, a clinic on Sanibel, serves the medical needs of the community, from routine check-ups to emergencies and minor surgery. The Sanibel Public Library owned and supported by island residents, features author talks, book discussions, children’s programs and art exhibits.

Sanibel has a large variety of accommodations including luxury resorts, hotels, motels small inns and cottages located on the beaches or marinas on the bay. You can even opt for private homes, condos or go camping.

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