We spent a lovely week on Sanibel Island in Florida last week. We've been going there for almost 20 years, and some years ago bought three weeks of a timeshare at the Casa Ybel property on the Gulf. We usually rent out the units, but decided to use a week this year. And after the Winter we've had, a week in the sun was wonderful.
Sanibel is protected by heavy zoning, largely to preserve the wildlife at the Ding Darling Nature Preserve and the other smaller preserves on the fragile barrier island. There are no high rises on the beach as in nearby Fort Meyers, no McDonald's, no minigolf. What there is are wonderful beaches famous for shelling, flocks of beautiful waterbirds at the Ding Darling, lots of bike paths, kayaking in Tarpon Bay, and opportunities for relaxation.
You can drive over the Causeway to Fort Meyers to the Red Sox training camp if the team's there, or take a boat to uninhabited Cayo Costa State Park, another barrier island.. Sadly, the restaurant scene is largely mediocre and overpriced, although we managed to have some good meals. (Our favorite is the very casual Doc Ford's on Rabbit Road, where we go late to avoid the crowd and get a table on the patio for grilled snapper or shrimp and grits) And there's a fantastic farmer's market on Saturday mornings, where we picked up pristine shrimp and organic veggies for dinner. (and your boiled peanut and fried pork rind needs can be satisfied at the market as well, if that's your thing.)
Larry discovered fishing on our last trip two years ago, and spent time on the fishing pier near the Lighthouse with a group of "old guys" (and a goodly number of women of a certain age who seem to outfish their husbands). He was determined to get something of eating weight, and after consultation with his new best friends and the addition of some heavier tackle, managed to land lunch. Mmm, fresh grilled whiting and mackerel. He's still mourning the loss of the huge spanish mackerel that bit right through the line two feet from his hand.
Evening entertainment on Sanibel consists of grabbing your beverage of choice and heading down to the beach for sunset.