Our home from home on Sanibel was the Island Inn and I think it truly reflects the best of what to expect in this part of the world.
Our stunning condo had a bedroom that could be partitioned off from a generous sitting area and patio doors out onto a balcony with sea view. Although in February the weather wasn’t being too kind, just staying by the sea was a tonic.
It was great fun to stand in front of the discreetly placed beach cam at the same time as phoning my son in the UK so he could see the view. The main supermarket on the island is Baileys, also on Periwinkle Way.
It is well-stocked, with lots of goodies although prices are not particularly cheap. One very good thing is that the Island Inn offers a concierge service in which you can pre-order some food to be in your room on arrival.
Great idea for the weary UK traveller. But whatever the weather, winter is peak season when ‘snowbirds’ from colder northern states and Canadians love to spend many weeks in Florida. This makes it busier on the roads and in the popular restaurants, but worth it to escape freezing weather.
For quieter times look to the ‘shoulder’ months of May or September. Both Sanibel and neighbouring islands, including Captiva, which you can drive to, are known for shelling.
There are those who visit here who are experts at spotting a good specimen – sand dollars are prized – and those who wander slowly along picking them up on the beach take on the pose known as the Sanibel Stoop.
They are looking for whelks, conchs, olives, jujonias, cockles and tulips from all over the Gulf as well as the southern Caribbean. It’s the position and shape of the islands that effectively scoops up this treasure trove.