By Debi Lander
Just south of Fort Myers, you’ll find a chain of small remote islands except Sanibel and Captiva. They’re known for their quiet residential communities, their sparkling white sand beaches, and the Gulf’s pristine turquoise water. Seashells, however, bring them distinction.
Sanibel lies in an east-west position making it one of the few islands that run perpendicular to Florida’s coast. This lineup causes the ocean currents to flush water downward and allows Sanibel to capture shells — thus earning the nickname “Shelling Capital of the World.” The laid-back isle attracts seashell collectors from all over the globe with more than 250 varieties. Add the many outdoor activities to the natural attractions, and you’ve got a wonderful getaway for couples, families, or solo travelers.
I was impressed with the 25 miles of bike paths, most of them shaded and off-road, making them far safer. Half of Sanibel’s acreage has been preserved against development, and buildings must stand no taller than the tallest palm tree.
Nature lovers, especially birders, are drawn to J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This area becomes home to many seasonal mating birds who build their nests in the protected landscape. Best time to visit is late winter through spring.
In addition to beaching, boating, kayaking, golf, and tennis, the east end allows a peek at the historic 98-foot tall Sanibel Island Lighthouse. Don’t expect a circular building. Sanibel