The increasing popularity and rising prices on Sanibel and Captiva Island are reflections of not just the island's rustic charms, but also the populace's commitments to strict limitations of growth in oceanfront properties, high rise condominiums, and preservation of its subtropical assets.

SANIBEL ISLAND was a Calusa stronghold and was a popular fishing spot for Cuban fishermen, but homesteading did not begin until the 1830's and was hardly promoted by the United States Government. Key West Commodore David Porter named the island after Isabella (San Y Bel). A Northern investment plan failed in 1831 and settlement was sparse until the 1880's. Electricity didn't arrive until 1942 and the bridge, which changed the development growth, was not built until 1963.

There is only one automobile entranceway from the south via the causeway from Punta Rassa, an old cattle port near the entrance of the Caloosahatchee River.

(1) SANIBEL CAUSEWAY (1962), a tol roadway, ended the ferrys service started by the Kinzie Brothers in the early twentieth century. Stop at the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE for maps and information. It is the most visited Chamber location in Florida.

Turn left to reach (2) SANIBEL LIGHTHOUSE (1884), known to locals as Point Ybel Light. It is island's most photographed spot and LIGHTHOUSE BEACH has restrooms, a bayside pier, and unfortunately strong currents. Ay 119 Periwinkle is the TRAILER PARK, the site of the 1894 Rutland Homestead.

Return northward on Periwinkle. You'll love the island architecture and realize that most hotels are small and hidden from the roadway. On Dunlap you'll find the (3) ISLAND HISTORICAL MUSEUM, which contains the 1927 ERNEST BAILEY STORE, the 1913 DAN WALDRON/W.D. SWINT HOUSE, and MISS CHARLOTTA'S TEA ROOM. The nearby CITY HALL is an architectural treat of unique design. The BIG ARTS CENTER is a center of social events.

Off Periwinkle is (4) the SANIBEL CHURCH (1917), 1740 Periwinkle, started by English minister George E. Day; the OLD SCHOOLHOUSE (1894), 2200 Perwinkle, near the COMMUNITY HOUSE (1928), 2173 Periwinkle.


  Sanibel Lighthouse                                The Captiva  Island  Inn                                                       The Famous Bubble Room

West Gulf is a good beach drive that may be reached by Tarpon Bay Road, along the latest edition of the Bailey Store founded in 1899. At 630 Tarpon Bay is (5) the OLDE HOUSE SHOPPE, which contains the 1891 Colonel Cooper House. Sights along West Gate include the 1895 ISLAND INN and TRUFFLES, 2255 West Gulf, the 1888 Victorian inn started by Reverend George Barnes.

Nature lovers adore (6) J. N. "DING" DARLING NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE (1945), with its famous five mile drive along Sanibel Island's preserved bayside. The notable naturalist and cartoonist lived in Fish House Studio on a bayside mangrove and inspired the entire island to conservation. The SANIBEL-CAPTIVA NATURE CONSERVATION has a gift shop and famous plant nursery.

Head north to:


Just six miles by two miles, CAPTIVA is small only in size, despite the occupation at the northern half of one of America's top vacation resorts, SOUTH SEAS PLANTATION.

When you cross (1) CAPTIVA BRIDGE (1990) you'll not know it replaces a delightful 1918 one lane wooden bridge. On your left is TURNER BEACH, a small public beach.

Along Captiva Drive is a mix of older residences, newer resorts, and some rustics older retreats. DICKY HOUSE, 15735 Captiva, is complete with guest cabins and a barn. More famous is (2) TWEEN WATER'S INN, 15951 Captiva, where Charles Lingbergh stayed. The island's first restaurant was at 15183 Captiva and the famous BUBBLE ROOM restaurant is at 15001 Captiva.

Downtown Captiva was best appreciated on foot since it is compact and crowded. Go see the (3) CHAPEL BY THE SEA (1901) at 11580 Chapin, built by first settler William Binder as a schoolhouse. The nearby MEMORIAL LIBRARY is an interest site.

Down Andy Rosse Lane are some of the best restaurants in Southwest Florida, as well as the 1921 ISLAND STORE, a two story rooming-house once run by Andy Rosse and later owned by Ding Darling.

The entire northern tip of Captiva is (4) SOUTH SEAS PLANTATION, 320 acres of super resort facilities. Clarence Chadwick, inventor of the check writer machine, took over the old Carter Plantation in 1923, and started a major golf, boating, and tennis resort.