Boating Sanibel/Captiva, Florida
The Shelling Capital of the Western World
From Fort Myers/ Fort Myers Beach head to Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Sanibel, "The Shelling Capital of the Western World", has more shell varieties than any other single beach in Florida. Thick, lush foliage covers the island, half of which is a natural preserve. Sanibel is tethered to the mainland by a toll bridge. Connected to its' sister island of Sanibel, Captiva is approximately 4 miles long. Both of the islands are quaint with colorful restaurants and shopping. Rent a bike to explore islands or relax on the beautiful beaches and enjoy shelling that rivals the best in the world.
Things to See and Do
If you haven't heard already, Sanibel is world renowned for its amazing shelling beaches because it extends into the Gulf of Mexico on a large plateau. It acts similar to a shelf, catching the shells that are rustled up from the winds and current, and pushes them onto the Sanibel beaches. Ask one of the locals about the shelling and they will have the inside scoop on the best places to find the best seashells. One quick tip to help: It is said that the larger shells tend to be near the Captiva end of the island, while smaller seashells are toward the East end, a.k.a. the "Lighthouse" end. And of course, a trip to Sanibel Island would not be complete without a visit to one of the world's largest seashell dealers: Sanibel Seashell Industries.
Old Town Sanibel surrounds the east end of the island near the Sanibel Lighthouse. Historically, it was the center of much of the island's activity; today, it is a place to stroll quaint village shops, inns and restaurants. The Sanibel Historical Society has produced a walking and biking tour to "yesteryear" that is approximately 2 ½ miles long. Maps are available at the Chamber Visitor Center or at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village.
Make sure to check out the Sanibel/Captiva Taste of the Islands, a family fun day of great food from the Islands' most popular restaurants with music and entertainment, all for a great cause, our wildlife neighbors in distress. It is held in the Sanibel Community Park on Periwinkle Way in April.
After a visit to the lap of luxury, visit Cabbage Key, the site for Parrot Heads near and far. Said to be the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger in Paradise!" The island is one hundred acres of tropical vegetation surrounding a historic restaurant, inn and cottages. The main house, now the Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant, was built in the 1930's by the family of playwright and novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart. A panoramic view of Pine Island Sound is provided from the front porch atop a thirty-eight foot Indian shell mound. There are no cars here; not even a paved road but you will enjoy winding nature trails, picturesque views and relaxation in the finest Southwest Florida style.
In the same area you can visit Useppa, which according to Conde Nast is "one of the top 25 true island retreats in the world - serenity, great facilities and fishing, and no cars - Useppa has it all." A private Island Club which maintains its private club status but invites travelers to discover some of the finest in accommodations, activities, dining and dockage on Florida's Gulf Coast.
The Useppa Island Club is the focus of island life. It boasts a tradition of sincere, personalized hospitality which traces to origins before the turn of the century. The history of the island comes alive in the island's historical society museum. Useppa joins family fun and an informal sporting lifestyle with a sense of history and tradition.