Posts Tagged ‘ColorGallery: Sanibel Island’

Sanibel Dairy Queen--The first fast food chain eatery allowed on Sanibel Island, Fla. Paul Goldfinger photos © 2016. Sanibel Dairy Queen–The first fast food chain eatery allowed on Sanibel Island, Fla. Paul Goldfinger photos © 2016.


Sanibel Lighthouse 2016 © Sanibel Lighthouse 2016     Paul Goldfinger photograph.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  Blogfinger.net


The Calusa Indians were the first inhabitants   (tourists who stayed) of Sanibel Island about 2,500 years ago. You can still visit a shell mound there.

In 1832, Europeans arrived, and we are left with stories of pirates and Spaniards.  More people came in 1862 after passage of the Homestead Act, but it was a small group , and they could reach the island only by ferry.

In 1883 the lighthouse was built, but the community remained small.

Everything changed when a causeway was built  in 1963,  linking the island to the mainland. After that there was “an explosion” of growth on this island paradise with amazing history, wildlife, art, beaches, shelling,  tourism, places to stay, shopping, eateries, and fishing.

The City of Sanibel was incorporated at that time, and the officials there immediately passed restrictions on development; developers challenged those ordinances, but they lost.

In 1974, the Island city established its first Land Use Plan.

As a result, there are few buildings higher than 2 stories, and there are no fast food franchise restaurants  except for the Dairy Queen which has been tastefully located there  for 40 years, owned by the same family, and Subway which is much more recent.

The DQ building was designed and landscaped to fit right in with the regional architecture, and that was allowed around the time of  that Land Use Plan. You can see that great care went into planning that DQ site.

What are not present on the island are amusement parks, honky tonk, boardwalks, bars, hotels, miniature golf, pop music venues, or high rise buildings—not one.  There is nothing there comparable to Mary’s Place or the Greek Temple on the ocean.

But there are  miles and miles of bike paths, and people rent bikes, and small processions of families and visitors pedal all over the place. Also there are  small theaters with quality shows and parking, limited free public beaches where you pay for metered parking, a fishing pier open to everyone, farmers markets, controlled commercial areas, two wonderful small book stores where you can buy foreign films and books that B&N doesn’t  carry, with clerks who actually read books and discuss them with their customers;   and guess what?  A major  piece of the island is pristine and devoted to a national wildlife refuge.  Everyone loves to visit Ding Darling.

Hunting for seashells is a favorite activity, and when people bend over to check a shell, it’s called the “Sanibel stoop.”  There is one golf course.  But there is one drawback: in season, the main drag is clogged with traffic, but it moves, and no one yells or honks their horns.

The Sanibel stoop. The Sanibel stoop.
Eileen at the annual Sanibel sea shell festival. Eileen at the annual Sanibel sea shell festival.


The Bailey Matthews Seashell Museum was established in 1995. It is a remarkable place, and there is no other like it in the US. You can find seashell museums in Thailand and China.

The Island remains popular as a community and as a tourist destination, largely because the entire Island retains its historic look and seems authentic.

Does it have drawbacks? Of course—-no place is perfect.  But the people did get pretty much of what they wanted, and the local government was on their side.

Parking is limited throughout the island, but they have hardly any events to lure crowds.   The visitors are focused on beaching, sunning, biking, and eating.  And limiting parking spacing is a force to prevent crowding—OG should take notice of that as well as the productive cooperation between residents and governance.


Someday we will all look back at our town and we will say, “Oh Look at Me Now.”   Will that be a rueful self examination, or will we be proud of our town and of our investment in it?



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Photograph by Paul Goldfinger  Editor @Blogfinger.net ©  Sanibel Island is on the southwest coast of the Sunshine State.  It connects to Fort Myers by a beautiful causeway.




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The Periwinkle Way. Sanibel Island, Florida. April 7, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

The Periwinkle Way. Sanibel Island, Florida. April 7, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©. Click to see the light.


THE STARLIGHT ORCHESTRA    “Amada Mia, Amore Mio.”   From the movie To Rome With Love

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Sanibel Island. Paul Goldfinger, 2019. ©





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Paul Goldfinger © c. 2015 Florida.

JOHNNY DEPP and HELENA BONHAM CARTER  in Sweeny Todd by Stephen Sondheim

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Gulf of Mexico. 3/6/17.   Sanibel Island is known for sea shelling. Discoveries are made every day. The National Sea Shell Museum is there. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©  Click to enlarge.


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