Sanibel Island is famous worldwide for its natural beauty and its stringent protection of the environment. Sanibel is a barrier island located off the southwest coast of Florida. It is connected to the mainland by a three-mile-long causeway located near Fort Myers. With its superb weather, twelve miles of pristine beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, rich mangrove estuaries, and abundant wildlife, Sanibel Island attracts visitors and new residents from around the globe.
With seventy percent of the island forever protected from development, Sanibel offers a lifestyle surrounded by nature. One of the largest protected tracts is the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which covers more than seven thousand acres. The island's environmentally progressive policies foster its healthy wildlife populations as well as its world-class fishing.
Unlike some other angling destinations, Sanibel Island offers a wealth of activities and amenities for the whole family to enjoy. The list includes a wide variety of restaurants, fine shops, a movie theater, an excellent local playhouse, sightseeing boat excursions, shell collecting, a state-of-the-art recreation and exercise facility, the Sanibel Historical Village, and the world famous Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum.
The visitor center at the wildlife refuge is a world class facility that includes an exhbition hall, video presentations, dioramas, and periodic lectures.
One of the most popular activities for visitors is shelling. Partly because Sanibel is one of the few barrier islands anywhere that lies perpendicular to the mainland, its Gulfshore beaches "catch" a phenomenal number of shells. This makes Sanibel one of the top destinations in the world for shell collectors.
Ibises, egrets and roseate spoonbills are just a few of the bird species that draw visitors to the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
A huge snook caught near the Sanibel Lighthouse.