Sanibel

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Connected by a causeway (pictured above), Sanibel Island sits next to Fort Myers. Until vacationing there last week, I hadn’t spent any time on Florida’s gulf coast (unless you count the Keys).

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About 33 square miles total, Sanibel contains retirees, restaurants, wildlife reserves and many beaches. This one is on the island’s eastern edge and is home to the Sanibel Lighthouse–much more skeletal and less stony than ones you’d find in New England.

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We stayed in an old school (but well-kept) cottage with a porch to lounge on under the palms and at night, endlessly starry skies.

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Across from our cottage, a heated pool. My husband likened the courtyard/pool setup to the one in Melrose Place.

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The best part about staying there? It was about one hundred steps to the beach.

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A closer look at the umbrellas and lounge chairs laid out for us and other guests.

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Sanibel’s beaches have plenty of white sands and an excess of sea shells (and also the very occasional stingray).

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The beach on a pitch-perfect day.

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Away from the beaches, much of Sanibel is nondescript (like the rest of Florida, but with less chains and more tasteful shopping plazas). This residential canal caught my eye for being like nothing we have back home.

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These pink flowers are all over the island.

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Down the road from our cottage, another, decidedly larger resort was also home to a small botanical garden–this, in my opinion, was its star attraction.

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I would not be surprised if there were at least twice as many seabirds on the island as people who pass through it over a year.

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An elegant, dramatic egret.

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I didn’t get as many interesting pix at “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge as I would’ve liked, but I never tired of seeing all the seabirds.

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We found some of the cutest little birds at the beach near our front door.

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Sadly, I did not see any of these crossing the road (nor did I know that a Gopher Tortoise was a specific kind of tortoise).

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I did spot this neat little bird at the Bailey Tract.

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The 100-acre Bailey Tract was my favorite place on the island. Separate from the rest of “Ding” Darling, it’s calm and quiet, a meditative space to seek minuscule lizards, waterfowl and alligators (we didn’t see any of the latter, and I was both disappointed and kinda relieved).

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Squint and this almost looks like Maine, but with less pine trees.

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The beach an hour or so before dusk. I’ll post more pix from Fort Myers and Naples later this month.

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