284-Sanibel Captiva, Florida
Located just 30 minutes west of Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast of Florida, the sister islands of Sanibel and Captiva are renowned for their natural beauty, spectacular white sand beaches, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets and exotic shells and wildlife. Both barrier islands are unique in their own right, while having in common rich intrigue and adventure. The story of Sanibel and Captiva Islands goes back to centuries ago, to a period when Native Americans inhabited the islands and Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon first encountered the Calusa Indians in 1513. Other stories give accounts of infamous pirates who sought a safe haven on the islands, and pioneers, fishermen and clergymen who ventured into the wilderness to prospect for a better way of life.
There are different accounts regarding how the islands got their names, some factual and some interesting folklores. The Spanish, in the 1500s, first called the islands Costa de Caracoles, which translates, “Coast of Sea Shells,” rightfully so because of the colorful shells that abound on the shoreline of the islands. Some time in the late 1760s, sailors began referring to Sanibel as “Nibel,” a Spanish word meaning level because of the seemingly parallel position of the islands to the horizon. A label “S” on a map was later interpreted to mean san or saint, leading to San Nibel, but that name did not stick, and in the mid-1770s, San Nibel was changed to Sanibel by a mapmaker. Captiva is believed to have been mapped by the Spanish for the first time as “Cautivo”, meaning “single male captive.”
Sanibel is the larger of the two islands and is connected to Fort Myers by the Sanibel Causeway Bridge. Roughly two-thirds of Sanibel have been designated off-limits to development and preserved, featuring spartina grass in the highlands and mangrove swamp in the low areas. With an eclectic mix of nature, wildlife conservation land, and a bounty of rarely seen seashells on its 15-mile shoreline, Sanibel has 22 of miles of paved trails, including the Rabbit Road Trail and Dixie Beach Road.
Most of Captiva is very narrow and it is much more laid-back than Sanibel, with a small and quaint village in the northern part of the island. Its 5 mile of pristine, secluded beaches offers respite from the crowds, incredible opportunity for shelling, while its 700 acres of state land preserve is there for exploration of wildlife and undiscovered treasures.
The charm and character of the islands are much to be desired.
All sizes are approximate.
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