Florida

Five Reasons Why You Should Adventure to Sanibel Island

Our favorite kinds of trips are the ones that surprise us. Being the intense planners and researchers that we are, it’s few and far between that a destination takes us off guard. When we heard we were going to the Fort Myers area of Florida, we really had no idea what to expect. We figured it would be warm and tropical, we figured there’d be palm trees, and we figured we might get to try some good seafood. But we had NO idea how truly spectacular (and wonderfully under the radar) this little slice of heaven is.

Today we’re going to give you FIVE REASONS why Sanibel Island should be your next vaycay. So pour yourself some rum punch, put on a little Jimmy Buffett, and enjoy!

1. It’s TROPICAL.

You’re probably thinking “Duh!” But when it comes to travel destinations, this place is tropical gold. It’s easy to get to, it’s affordable, and it feels very undiscovered. 

We stayed at the dreamiest South Seas Island Resort, where palm trees line every street, little blue trolleys take you from one location to the next, employees know you by name, and the sunsets are some of the best we’ve ever seen. (Especially when you’re watching them from the ocean-front pool, holding an ice-cold mojito!)

The ocean views from our room were incredible. We felt like we were in a Nicholas Sparks novel - as the bright blue ocean and lush green grass didn’t seem real! Not to mention the wildlife - we saw dolphins, beautiful birds, manatees, and monkeys!

2. It’s SECLUDED

As we get older, we appreciate locations that feel a little more “off the beaten path”. Sanibel Island is peaceful, quiet, and the very definition of relaxed. Not once did we ever have to wait in line or drive in traffic. We were able to truly enjoy our day, and not have to worry about rushing to get a table for dinner or bypassing the crowds. Whether we were at the resort's Harbourside Bar & Grill, or  Gramma Dot's for a hearty lunch in town, we never felt like we were in an overcrowded tourist hub. This is an extremely rare experience these days (and we loved it)!

3. It’s ROMANTIC

Trolly rides to dinner, sunsets on the beach, drinks by the pool, live music… The South Seas Island Resort is every couple’s dream! While they definitely cater to families, don’t let that sway you from booking a trip. Our stay on Sanibel Island was easily one of the most romantic getaways we’ve had in awhile - and we can't wait to go back! Maybe even with kids! ;)

4. It’s THRILLING

You can easily spend a week in Sanibel and do nothing but chill. (Which if that is how you vacation, we affirm it!!) But if you’re adventure-seekers like us, the options are ENDLESS. In the short weekend that we were there, we went parasailing with Sunny Island Adventures, kayaking in J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, ocean swimming, seashell hunting, and SO much more. We also had some wild weather, which for Californians (in a perpetual drought) is a real treat!

5. It’s BURSTING with SEASHELLS!!!

We know. That’s not something you hear every day. Which is exactly what makes this destination AWESOME. The beaches are FILLED with seashells! 

They’re unique. They’re intriguing. And they’re SO beautifully complex! Make sure you plan to explore the island with a guide, as learning and hunting for seashells was definitely the highlight of our trip. (Bobby could’ve spent ALL DAY collecting seashells!) Check out our blog from last month to learn more about seashells!

***BONUS*** There is SO much to see in the surrounding area

Whether you hop on a boat and head to a surrounding island (for more amazing shelling), or head into Fort Myers for more beautiful beaches, there is SO much to see in this part of Southwest Florida. We spent one day exploring the surrounding islands and enjoyed an AMAZING lunch at the restaurant & inn on Cabbage Key. Our favorite part is that there is more than $70,000 on the walls taped up by guests, and the restaurant donates whatever falls off to charity (which ends up being more than $10,000 a year... AWESOME). We had another day where we toured Fort Myers and saw the amazing shopping, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates (Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were buds), and the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. All that to say... we needed more time!

The only way to arrive on Cabbage Key... by boat!

$70,000 on the walls!

The beach and pier of downtown Fort Myers!

Bobby gaining wisdom for Thomas Edison

One of the many cars in Henry Ford's Winter Estate garage

There you have it. The five reasons (+ Bonus) why you should adventure to Sanibel Island. We’re pretty sure we could come up with about 500 more reasons, so feel free to shoot us an email if you have any questions - and let us know when you do make it out to the South Seas Island Resort! Chances are we’ll drop what we’re doing and come meet you. ;)

Thank you to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel for sponsoring this post!

Sea Shelling is COOL!

We both love the ocean. Growing up in Southern California, time spent at the shoreline revolved around tanning, napping, surfing, or swimming. Occasionally, while walking along the sand you may find a cool seashell that catches your eye and take it home. But here in Southern California, “shelling” is not an activity that we have heard of.

We recently learned that in other parts of the country, “shelling” is a thing. It is what it sounds like… combing the beaches for seashells of various shapes and sizes. Certain parts of the world are much better for shelling than others… like the Island of Sanibel in southwest Florida. So much so that Sanibel is the “Shellebration” location for National Seashell Day on June 20!

We were able to explore Sanibel Island by boat with Captain Brian of Captiva Cruises, and Marine Biologist Stefanie from the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. During our journey we learned why Sanibel really is one of the greatest places to find amazing shells. One reason is that Sanibel is a barrier island, which makes it a plateau that acts as a shelf for seashells. To put it in perspective, 80 miles off of Sanibel the ocean is only 600 feet deep! On top of that, Sanibel also has a hook-like shape, which traps the shells traveling along the north-flowing Gulf Stream. All that to say, there are a lot of shells on the Sanibel shores.

During our time on Sanibel we also learned about shells themshellves (hehe), not just how they arrived on the island. Did you know that every shell is made by a live animal? Shells are the left-behind external skeletons formed by mollusks. As mollusks grow, they secrete calcium carbonate, which hardens outside their bodies and forms the shell. As they grow, the shell grows too. There are more than 300 identified species of mollusks around Sanibel, each that produces a different type of shell! This is another reason why there are so many shells on Sanibel’s shores. Shellers are free to come and scan the beaches for their favorites, as long as the mollusk is no longer living. This is pretty easy to tell, because most likely the shell is empty. If you want to learn more about these little creatures, tune in to #WildlifeWednesday on Facebook with Captain Brian! 

We had a couple shelling sessions (try to say that fast) on both Sanibel and Captiva Islands (another shelling hotbed). It’s definitely addicting and challenging to try and spot various shells in the sand. We recommend you call Captain Brian, because he will take you to the best beaches and will help you spot some beautiful shells. While scouring the beaches, we learned of “The Sanibel Six”. These are six sea shells you should try to find during a vacation on Sanibel. They are the Horse Conch, the Banded Tulip, Alphabet Cone, Lightning Whelk, Lettered Olive, and the Apple Murex. We found two! The Lightning Whelk and the Lettered Olive. We also learned of the prized Junonia, a beautiful brown-spotted shell that are in deep water and rarely wash up on the beaches. Our goal is to spend more time on Sanibel in the near future and find one! 

While we do not have the same caliber of shelling in California, we have already combed our home beaches in search of shells with our new knowledge.  It’s not quite the same as on Sanibel, but it is a fun new hobby! Thank you Sanibel and Captain Brian, we can’t wait to come back!

Thank you to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel for sponsoring this post!