Sanibel Island is a beautiful location near Fort Myers Beach, Florida. Nearly 12 miles long and three miles wide, this island paradise called to Keith and I this January. Hosted to stay at the West Wind Inn by friends from the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel we couldn’t resist!
We decided to drive down so we would have a way around once we were on the island.
We have visited the Fort Myers area before, but had never stayed and spent measurable time on Sanibel Island. There is something about driving over the bridge on to Sanibel that makes you feel like you are separated from the rest of Florida. Be prepared to pay the toll though, it costs $6.00 to get on island time!
West Wind Inn
Staying at a resort allows access to beach front. This was especially true of the beautiful West Wind Inn Property.
I love the fact that this Inn has a bit of history. It is connected with one of the oldest inns on the island. West Wind Inn’s sister Property ‘Tween Waters is located on Captiva Island, which is accessible to Sanibel by bridge. Back in 1926, they say maybe because of stories of sports fishermen like Teddy Roosevelt fishing the backbay of Captiva, they opened an inn.
Checking in late Monday afternoon our stay lasted until Thursday morning. We had three blissful nights! Our room was a King room and was perfect with a screened in porch and a HUGE shower. There was a mini fridge that even had a freezer and there was a microwave which came in handy for some of the extras we brought back to the room.
There are a lot of amenities at the resort. With free bikes to ride, shuffleboard and more there is also laundry service which we took advantage of Wednesday afternoon. You can rent beach chairs for a nominal fee of $20.00.
Right outside of our room was a view of the lovely pool and pool bar. The pool was great fun. I tried it out on Wednesday afternoon. Room prices vary throughout the year so check out the website for pricing.
The Normandie at the West Wind Inn
Dining at Normandie Cafe at the West Wind Inn was a wonderful experience. Keith really liked the fact that throughout the entire island everything is casual. That also went for the Normandie. While all the food there was good we especially loved the Baked Scallops and Keith’s all time favorite soup, Lobster Bisque. We had breakfast at the Normandie every morning and several times had our favorite server Nick.
Walking the Beach
Every morning during our stay on Sanibel Island we got up and walked to the beach. This gave us a chance to get some exercise and see the sun come up and there is nothing as lovely as the sun over the ocean!
Keith surprised me getting into shell collecting. For those that know that he is a Graham Bradley tractor collector, I got a kick out his comment that one shell in particular looked quite a bit like a Graham Bradley fender! It was great fun.
Things to do on the Sanibel Island
Visit the Sanibel Lighthouse which is part of a park and beach area. While you can’t go in the lighthouse or the keeper’s houses, it is still a lovely walk and view. The idea to build the lighthouse was first proposed by some of the settlers of the island way back in 1833. Nothing really happened until after the Civil War . It was 1883 when they finally received the $50,000 they needed to fund the construction. The building of the lighthouse finally started in February of 1884. The first lighting was on August 20th, 1884.
We stopped in several shops on the island. Keith’s favorite was the Island Trader Antique Store. I found a cool glass sailboat that fit a wooden shelf perfectly in my living room.
Annie Banion of the Fort Myers Beaches and Sanibel took us to lunch at the wonderful Melissa’s Café where they offer Modern American Food. I opted for a grilled romaine salad with shrimp. Every meal except breakfast during my stay had seafood involved! Our server Helen was great and the food was fresh and delightful.
We also shopped at Tuttle’s Sea Horse Shell Shop where Keith found a book titled Liberated written by a the son of a World War II Veteran.
One stop I wish we would have had more time at was the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. With several preserved buildings we walked through them and did take time to watch a film that shared a bit of the history of the settling of the island.
Things to do on Captiva Island
Our favorite activity was a sunset cruise that we took from Captiva Island. Captiva Cruises out of McCarthy’s Marina lasted an hour and a half, and cost $35 per person. We saw dolphins, white pelicans and an amazing sunset! I loved that they told stories as well.
One fascinating story about the history of Captiva Island we heard on the ride was that a hurricane hit around 1921 and a farmer that had a tomato farm was thankfully in Fort Myers. The hurricane was so severe that it split the island in half. The farmer’s field was where the split occurred today it is called Redfish Pass.
A stop at Jensen’s Marina on Captiva Island will most likely allow you a view of a manatee or two.
Jensen’s also has a cool fishing museum that has several photos, including one of a gentlemen we met, Ted Larsen. Ted is a retired Colonel in the Marines who served in Iraq in 1974.
Another lovely spot on Captiva Island is the by the Chapel by the Sea. Built in 1901 as a school and used as a church as well, it is now a non-denominational church.
Fun Dining on Captiva Island
After our sunset cruise, we saw the famous Bubble Room. Annie had suggested stopping at this iconic place and so had my hairdresser Jeff Engels of Engels on Edward. Jeff said that the orange crunch cake is a must and he is right!
The entire restaurant is a big toy box! The food was amazing served by a waiter in a Boy Scout uniform! We also had lunch at a great dining place called the Green Flash! With a high location the view was wonderful and the food was great along with the service!
Sanibel is everything the hype says it is. It is beautiful, romantic, peaceful and fun. If you are in need of a bit of sun and Florida fun, make plans to head there and soak up some of the island ambience!