By: Katie Fleming
Not long ago, I decided to get away during the cold Maryland winter to visit a friend in Fort Myers, Fla. Together, we took a “mom’s day out” to Sanibel and Captiva Islands, which ended up being one of the most memorable days of my life.
Unless traveling by boat, the only way to get to the islands is the 3-mile-long Sanibel Causeway Bridge, which charges a $6 roundtrip fee. Once on the islands, various public parking lots charge $5 per hour.
The islands are very walkable, offering 25 miles of multi-use trails. You will find a variety of dining, theater, lodging, museums, art galleries, and outdoor adventure options. Sanibel Island is preserved against overdevelopment, which adds to its small island feel. This also provides visitors with opportunities for observing wildlife in their natural habitat.
Outdoor activities are the main reason most visit these quiet, family-oriented islands. You can book cruises at the local marinas or rent kayaks, sailboats, paddleboats, and other toys for the water, or rent a bike and take advantage of the many flat trails the island has to offer.
Sanibel Island is one of the top beaches in the world for shell hunting. In particular, Bowman’s Beach is often mentioned as the best place to begin. Finding entire conch shells or live sand dollars is as easy as standing at the water’s edge and scooping up what each wave delivers at your feet.
Just remember to return the sand dollars and other live creatures back to their homes!
For those who like a museum experience, particularly if you have kids or experience a rainy day, check out Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, where you can touch living mollusks or go on an educational scavenger hunt.
When looking for a place to eat, you’ll find an option for everyone. I highly recommend grabbing lunch at the quirky Bubble Room Emporium. Make sure you get one of their award-winning desserts while you are there. It’ll take more than one to eat the slice of cake!
For a sunset that you’ll never forget, drive up to the remote Captiva Island public beach. It’s a perfect spot for a romantic walk or picnic. Life truly does slow down on these peaceful islands, a perfect getaway for families, couples, and individuals.