Average Monthly Temps

  • Jan - 74 / 53
  • Feb - 75 / 54
  • Mar - 80 / 58

The forecast is for
GREAT weather!

Trying to decide the perfect time for your trip? Be sure to read through our helpful tips for
Timing Your Visit

Did You Know?

- The Shell Fair is coming March 1 - 3! Enjoy Arts & Crafts, live touch-tanks, exhibits and, of course, shells, shells and more SHELLS! Get information on this and other fun island happenings on our Special Events Calendar.

- Periwinkle Way was not named for the shell as commonly thought, but rather the pink and white wild flowers that grow on the islands.
Fun Tip

The Sanibel Historical Village and Museum is a collection of late 19th and early 20th century buildings that brings early Sanibel back to life and relates history of the islands. The vast collection of pictures and newspapers alone are well worth the visit.
Open November through mid-August, Wednesday - Saturday; 10am to 4pm, although summer hours may vary.
Shelling Tips

Because of the pattern of ribs on the outside of the shell, Wentletraps are sometimes called Staircase Shells. The name comes from the German word "wendeltreppe" meaning "spiral staircase". Wentletraps are very common on the beaches, often found in the high-tide line. Lighthouse Beach is a popular, and usually lucrative, place to search.

Wentletrap; picture courtsey of The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
Are You Ready...

...to spend a year on the Islands? You can with the 2007 CALENDAR from BestofSanibelCaptiva.com! - Calendars are still available and once again, all pictures are courtesy of members of the Message Board. Visit the Cool Stuff! store and get yours today!

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Island Happenings

122 Years Young - The Sanibel Lighthouse
Standing on Pointe Ybel, the Sanibel Lighthouse has been an island fixture since the mid-1800s. At 102 feet tall, it is probably the most recognizable and most photographed structure on the island. How much do you know about it's history and that of the early keepers?

Sanibel became home to the first English-speaking settlers in 1833 as part of a colony planned by land investors. It was this small group who first petitioned the government for a lighthouse. Their request was not successful...and neither was their settlement. Due to disease and Indian unrest, the settlement was abandoned in less than five years.

Soon after, Punta Rassa, on the mainland, became a major port as cattle were driven to the docks from across Florida to be transported to Cuba. In 1856, the Lighthouse Board recommended a beacon on Sanibel to light the port, but again, no action was taken. After the Civil War, a third request for the lighthouse was made in 1878 and finally granted. Congress was slow in allotting sufficient funds for the project, but the needed $50,000 was finally obtained in 1883.

Work on the lighthouse foundation began in March of 1884. The superstructure was fabricated in the north and shipped to the site. Just two miles from Sanibel, the ship carrying the lighthouse sank. Hardhat divers, brought up from Key West (a several day trip), were able to recover all but two of the pieces. Two keeper’s dwellings, also supported by iron pilings, were built on site along with a 162 foot wharf. The lighthouse was lit for the first time by keeper Dudley Richardson on August 20, 1884.

The first light was a coal burner. The Keeper had to climb the 127 steps, light the burner with a match at dusk and return at dawn to blow it out. The light operated like a clock, with a weight on a rope synchronized to the flashing light and had to be wound at regular intervals. Kerosene was carried up in five gallon cans.

Accompanied by his wife and two sons, Henry Shanahan moved to Sanibel Island from Key West around 1890, and soon became the assistant keeper at the lighthouse. When Keeper Richardson resigned in 1892, Shanahan applied for the position. At first, the authorities refused to promote him to Head Keeper because he was illiterate. However, when he threatened to resign, he was given the promotion. At that time, the nearest neighbors were the Rutlands near Bailey Road. After several years of living at the lighthouse, Shanahan’s wife died, leaving him with their seven children. Mrs. Rutland had become a widow, raising five children alone. She and Shanahan married and had one more child, for a total of thirteen! Needless to say, the family helped run the lighthouse, and when Henry died in 1913, his son Eugene became Keeper. Later, one of Henry's stepsons, Clarence Rutland, served as Keeper from 1936 to 1941.

In 1923, the dwellings were modernized with indoor plumbing and enclosed porches. That same year, the light was converted from kerosene to acetylene gas.

Coast Guardsman Bob England came to the lighthouse in 1946 with his wife and infant daughter. The following year, a hurricane caused severe erosion on the island and left one of the dwellings standing in a foot of water. The dwellings were abandoned during this time. Anyone willing to live in the dwellings didn't want the responsibility of the lighthouse. Between concerns over the erosion and lack of an onsight keeper, the decision was made to automate the lighthouse in 1949.

Once a Keeper was no longer needed, the dwellings didn't remain empty very long. In 1949 they became home to employees of J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. In 1972, the Coast Guard proposed discontinuing the lighthouse, but feedback from island residents and mariners convinced them to keep it. The City of Sanibel assumed management of the property in 1982. The tower remains under Coast Guard ownership. Today, City employees live in the dwellings and help maintain and supervise the property.

The light itself has been upgraded several times, most recently in 1965. The original, a third-order Fresnel lens, now sits in the Sanibel Historical Museum along with the Rutland home.

September 1933   Bob England and Family, 1946   Original light being placed in Historic Museum

From the Forum
Our Message Board remains a VERY popular addition - many folks visit several times a day, logging on to see what's new in their favorite vacation spot and taking a little armchair trip to the islands.  Come "Dream" with us at BestofSanibelCaptiva.com!

A quote from a visitor:

"I started reading messages on this board about two months ago when [we] first considered going to Sanibel. We wanted a peaceful and relaxing place [and] I have to say that I thought your group here was a little over the top when it came to your love of Sanibel and Captiva. Now that we have visited your area.....I completely understand your zeal. Sanibel and Captiva can be whatever you want it to be...I really appreciate all that post on this forum."

Kid Friendly!
"Can anyone recommend a few good restaurants to visit with a toddler? Nothing upscale please, but we also don't want to eat fast food or pizza every night."

Almost every restaurant on Sanibel and Captiva is very kid-friendly, but there are some that are especially great:

On Sanibel
- Cheeburger Cheeburger - awesome burgers and real milkshakes, made to order. Don't miss the frings!
- Hungry Heron - huge menu and nightly specials plus choices for kids with heartier appetites as well as traditional favorites. Two TVs (silently) play cartoons.
- Island Cow - another very large menu. Let kids pass time waiting for their food with ring games and a visit with the iguanas on the back patio.
- Lazy Flamingo - kids meals are served on a frisbee; great for beach play later!

On Captiva:
- RC Otters - The Captiva version of Hungry Heron plus live entertainment.
- Bubble Room - fun atmosphere and great desserts.

Most restaurants also offer their menu as carry-out; perfect for those nights when you don't feel like cooking but packing up the gang and heading out sounds too much like work.

Come see for yourself!

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monthly tide charts for your trip!

Sanibel & Captiva Islands are waiting for YOU!

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