TORONTO — The news reports coming in from Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands are heartbreaking, and the images even more so.
Over the years, Florida holidays have become synonymous with mega theme parks, larger-than-life characters and hair-raising thrill rides. But The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel offer a very different side to the Sunshine State. Famed for its lengthy shell-strewn beaches, vast nature reserves and epic sunsets, Sanibel Island is one of the natural highlights of Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Located 20 miles south of downtown Fort Myers – escape over the three-mile causeway to Sanibel island, a subtropical barrier island with 50 miles of pristine white-sand beaches, 25 miles of multi-use bike paths and recreation trails beside buildings no taller than the tallest palm tree.
As one of the world’s top destinations for seashells, Sanibel draws avid collectors from across the globe who flock to its beaches in search of nature’s treasure. If you want to know your alphabet cones from your painted egg cockles, visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, a vast collection of tens of thousands of native Floridian shells including wentletraps, fighting conches and the rare golden olive shell.
Another big draw is Sanibel’s abundant wildlife. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a 6,400-acre nature reserve with the largest mangroves in the U.S. It’s home to more than 250 different species of birdlife and even more between January and April, when thousands of migratory birds flock to the refuge. There’s also a good chance you’ll see some of the state’s rarer wildlife too, such as the burrowing owl and the striking pink roseate spoonbill, Florida’s national bird.
Like much of Florida, the turquoise Gulf waters surrounding Sanibel are teeming with marine life. Book a Gulf charter cruise and spot pods of bottlenose dolphins, manatees and flocks of white pelicans or take a guided kayaking excursion through the mangroves of the Estero River and witness yellow-crowned night herons, egrets and cormorants sunbathing in the weeds.
With so much to do, it’s worth taking the time to do things right and stay awhile. With an abundance of intimate small inns, Gulf-front resorts and cottages, you will find a property to match any clients’ style of vacationing offering a rare chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Visit www.fortmyers-sanibel.com for more information.