Sanibel Island Vacations, with Photos and Videos
Sanibel Island vacations = paradise!
Sanibel Island is located in Southwest Florida, just off the coast of Ft. Myers. It's below Tampa and is situated in the Gulf of Mexico.The barrier island is rich in natural beauty and wildlife, providing a peaceful respite, unlike the hustle and bustle of many vacation destinations. Sanibel is a place to kick back, soak up the sun, splash in the gentle waves, and dine on delectable seafood, fresh from the gulf. It's almost like being on a Caribbean island without needing a passport or leaving the U.S. There’s a fascinating history, too, which can be explored during Sanibel Island vacations.
Sanibel Island history
The island’s first inhabitants were the Calusa Indians. They survived largely from seafood caught in the fertile waters, including oysters, whelk, clams, and conchs. They made excellent use of the shells, too, turning them into tools. They also used mounds of the shells as foundations for their huts in an effort to avoid flooding tides. Some of these ancient shell mounds are still visible.
The first European to discover Sanibel Island was Ponce de Leon, in 1513. He named it “Santa Isybella.” For years, the Spanish battled the Calusa for the isle, resulting in Ponce de Leon’s death. Though the Spanish were unsuccessful in their bid, they all but wiped out the Calusa by introducing measles and tuberculosis to the endemic population, who had no natural immunities to the diseases. By the end of the eighteenth century, the Calusa were almost completely obliterated.
The next visitors to Sanibel were the pirates, in the early 1800s. It was one of the favorite haunts of the infamous buccaneer, Jose Gaspar, until he was captured by the U.S. Navy in 1812. Even so, the island was still largely avoided by settlers because of frequent raids by the Seminoles.
The Civil War brought an increased military presence to the area, and after the war, the island was safe for settlers and fishermen. The Sanibel Lighthouse was completed in 1884, and by 1889, almost fifty families were living on the island. Most grew grapefruit and vegetable crops, and most supplemented their income by fishing.
By the end of the nineteenth century, industrialists like Henry Ford had discovered Sanibel, and the Casa Ybel Resort was built. In 1928, docks were constructed, and a ferry service was added. More and more visitors flocked to Sanibel Island, including the famous political cartoonist, Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling. The Sanibel Causeway was completed in 1963, making the island more accessible to tourists.
Sanibel Island shelling
Sanibel is much more than a history lesson. Sanibel Island vacations offer beautiful pristine beaches with dazzling white sand and clear turquoise water. It’s one of the best places in the whole world for shelling because of its unique placement in the gulf. Sanibel Island shelling will reward collectors with many different types of shells, including some rare finds.
Fishing and Sanibel Island vacations
The fishing here is legendary, too, and is a popular aspect of most Sanibel Island vacations. Inshore and bay fishing will produce catches of redfish, snook, trout, black drum, Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, pompano, whiting, ladyfish, and tarpon. Artificial reefs and hard shell bottoms make for excellent offshore fishing for grouper, snapper, shark, cobia, king mackerel, permit, amberjack, and barracuda.
Sanibel Island vacations for snorkeling and diving
Sanibel Island vacations also provide great places for snorkeling and diving. The water is warm and clear, with lots of artificial reefs that attract marine life. Expect to see moray eels, nurse sharks, jacks, cobia, and huge grouper.
Sanibel Island accommodations
Visitors to Sanibel will discover numerous lodging choices, along with a wonderful year-round climate. Sanibel Island accommodations include oceanfront condos, resorts, quaint cottages, cozy inns, hotels, motels, and other beach rentals. There are also several campgrounds and RV parks, which help make Sanibel Island vacations affordable for everyone.
Other things to do on Sanibel Island vacations
Shoppers will be giddy with excitement on Sanibel. They’ll find a wide selection of swimwear, children’s clothing, sunglasses, sports equipment, gourmet foods, jewelry, men’s apparel, women’s clothing, toys, books, pottery, furniture, and art. The boutiques also carry a fascinating array of unique gift items and unusual souvenirs to serve as treasured mementos for Sanibel Island vacations.
Dining on Sanibel and nearby Captiva is an adventure in itself. Choose among bistros, grills, cafes, sandwich shops, delis, burger joints, pizzerias, seafood shacks, ice cream parlors, and beachfront restaurants with live entertainment. Some of the dining venues on the islands are even pet friendly! Even better, free online coupons are available for restaurants on Captiva Island and Sanibel Island vacations!
What else is there to do on Sanibel Island vacations? Plenty. Ride a bike, see the parrots at Jerry’s Supermarket, play golf on two island courses, go for a hike, bird watch, visit the Sanibel Historical Village and Museum, visit the Shell Museum, canoe, swim, kayak, or take a cruise to nearby Cayo Costa. In just a few minutes, you can be at the fabulous Naples Zoo, too!
One of the must-sees on Sanibel Island vacations is the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. It offers a four-mile scenic drive, walking trails, bike paths, canoe trails, and an observation tower on over 6,000 acres. Visitors to the preserve can see thirty species of mammals, fifty species of reptiles and amphibians, and 238 bird species. A few of the stars include endangered and threatened species like indigo snakes, bald eagles, American crocodiles, American alligators, wood storks, Peregrine falcons, loggerhead turtles, and manatees.
Sanibel Island vacations are unforgettable. The tropical atmosphere is totally laid back, and there’s something fun to do and see for every age group. Since Sanibel and Captiva Island are really practically one island, a trip to Sanibel is like getting a two-for-one vacation deal.
So what are you waiting for? Search online for a great package deal or Sanibel hotel rates today. You won’t regret it!
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