Sanibel Island Archives

February 18, 2008

Sand and Sun


We've been fleeing Boston winters every two or three years for 15 years now. We head to Sanibel Island, a long thin strip of sand just off the coast from Fort Myers' strip malls and fake canals. Sanibel has a huge nature reserve, biking trails, gorgeous seashell beaches, some low-rise condos, timeshares and hotels, overpriced restaurants (it is a resort, after all), all surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico. The Island has very strict zoning controls, so it retained its large swaths of natural areas, flat footprint, and lack of high-rises on the beaches.

We love it here, and bought into a timeshare called Casa Ybel around 12 years ago. We usually rent it out, but elected to use it ourselves this year, probably for the last time before it gets sacrificed to Dan's college bills. It's a lovely, extremely well cared for place with one and two bedroom apartments with screened porches overlooking the Gulf.

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February 19, 2008

Fish of the Seas, and Birds of the Air


On Sanibel Island, you're never far from feathers or fins.

Much of the island is home to the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge,

This a fantastic spot for viewing migratory birds and Florida's natural vegetation. There's a five mile wildlife drive you can walk, bike or drive. Along the way are places to walk deeper into the reserve, nature trails, and viewing platforms along the river and mud flats. Sunday morning, Larry and I went over as the gates opened at 7:30. We saw snowy egrets, herons, ibis, brown pelicans, white perlicans, roseate spoonbills (they look similar to pink flamingoes), aninghas, and lots of smaller species. Sunset is another great time to come. It's also fun to see the amazing photography equipment the serious birders and photographers use.


Just offshore, it is easy to spot dolphins playing in the surf. (yes, I know they're mammels--but they swim, so I'm counting them as fish) They are amazing to watch as they jump and dart, often extremely close to swimmers.

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February 20, 2008

Sunrise on the Beach


Below is a lightning whelk shell.


Brown pelicans.

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February 23, 2008

Spring Training

One of our traditions when we're on Sanibel is to take the drive back over the Causeway and through the Fort Myers sprawl to see the Red Sox in Spring Training camp. The games usually don't start till early March, but it's fun to see the players training, posing for photos, and the accompanying media circus. It always amazes me how young some of these players are, particularly the second-string and farm team kids. The younger players always spend time signing autographs, the older and more well-established players tend to duck into the locker room door after practice, ignoring the shouts of kids and grownups.

And sometimes, you get a photo op with a legend. Larry ignored Dice-K and the rest in favor of an oldie but a goodie--Luis Tiant.


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February 26, 2008

Goin' Fishing

We spent two mornings hanging out on the dock near the Sanibel lighthouse, joining the group of retirees, fishing fanatics, and curious onlookers. Some days it's incredibly easy to catch sheepshead or "prisonfish", so called because of their grey stripes. The sheepshead eat the barnacles on the posts supporting the pier, so all you need to do is drop a line straight down.

Pretty boring, really.The birds were excited, though. Especially when someone's cleaning his catch.



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March 1, 2011

Sanibel Island


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.


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