Due to the actions of concerned residents and conservationists in the 1960s, the white beaches of Sanibel Island and nearby Captiva have largely been spared from the dense development that has undermined many of Florida's oceanfront communities. Today, this barrier island, which stretches into the Gulf of Mexico along the state's southwestern coast, is known for restrictions that prevent the construction of homes or other buildings over three stories in height as well as regulations that have been effective in preventing urban congestion and environmental damage. The end result of all these fortuitous actions has been the creation of what the Wall Street Journal named one of the '10 Best Places for Second Homes' in 2010.
The reasons for the Journal's choice are apparent: With fine, powdery beaches, warm weather that lulls inhabitants throughout the year, and a seaside that is famed for its sparkling estuaries, brilliant reefs, and calm anchorages, Sanibel is the ideal locale for anyone who values both privacy and the natural pleasures the sea can provide. Given the high quality of the island's housing stock, the fact that Sanibel is the getaway of choice for a variety of discreet persons of note is also no surprise.
Nature is not Sanibel's only attraction, though, as the small community is also known for the fine dining establishments and elegant shops that line Periwinkle Way as well as landmarks that include the Sanibel Lighthouse, which has guarded the waters of central Florida since the 1850s. The surrounding seaside, however, is ultimately what elevates this small island community above even some of the most rarefied locales in the nation. Encompassing, with Captiva Island, most of the J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel is an ideal location for anyone who loves diving, kayaking, hiking, or bicycling. Its many docks, piers, and anchorages also provide perfect, secure shelter for any yachtsman or sports fisherman who wants to enjoy all that the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico have to offer.