Recently we were able to escape the great frozen north for a sunnier destination to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Although we've had many great vacations we never went on a honeymoon so we decided to treat this like the honeymoon we've never had. We've visited the gulf coast of Florida many times and we really love the area so we decided to try a new spot, Sanibel Island.
Sanibel is a quiet little island with all the things I need in the winter...sand...sun...good food...and the ocean. It's a great place to relax and let yourself become centered again. I'm not one to lay directly in the sun but sitting under an umbrella or on our covered porch was heaven. The first afternoon we were there I sat and read for hours in the warmth.
If you're looking for great meals this little island is a perfect destination. We were unable to visit every place we wanted to but every meal we had was delicious. Our list of great restaurants are as follows (not necessarily in order);
1. The Lighthouse Cafe - https://www.lighthousecafe.com/ordereze/home.aspx
Home of the World's Greatest Breakfast and from the mimosas with fresh squeezed orange juice to the pancakes, fresh preserves and other entrees I would vouch that claim.
2. Keylime Bistro - Captiva - We had lunch in Captiva at the Keylime and really enjoyed ourselves sitting out on a patio with a warm breeze. The wait staff was friendly, the food amazing and the music was wonderful. A man named Mark Vee played guitar exceptionally well and offered to play songs that were requested. Romantic, delicious and fun.
3. Traders -http://traderssanibel.com/ Fun, eclectic atmosphere with delicious fresh food. We had salmon sandwiches that were to die for.
4. The Sanibel Cafe offered a lighter fare for lunch. http://www.sanibelcafe.com/ Don't let the relaxed atmosphere fool you. This is where the locals eat for a good reason. Delicious sandwiches, fresh fruit, and at a reasonable rate.
5. The Sanibel Steakhouse- http://www.thesanibelsteakhouse.com. We were served the best steaks we've eaten in ages! Yum. Romantic atmosphere with white tablecloths. It was a little pricey but well worth it for a special evening.
6. Thistle Lodge - http://www.thistlelodge.com/ We decided to go upscale for our anniversary dinner. The food was delicious. It was a more chef based meal, which is interesting if you want to try something new. The prices were high but the views overlooking the ocean made it well worth the price.
7. Traditions at the Island Inn - http://traditionsonthebeach.com/ This is another local secret. We arrived early because I wasn't feeling well so we didn't get a chance to enjoy much of the live music. It felt like a traditional resort with heart. Very good food and service. We finished just as the sun set and walked out to the beach.
8. Pinocchio's Original Italian Ice Cream - http://www.pinocchiosicecream.com/ I don't even need to say anything about this spot. Ice Cream says it all!!
9. Over Easy Cafe - http://www.overeasycafesanibel.com/ Another exceptional place for breakfast. The service was wonderful and the food fresh and perfectly made. I had the croissant egg sandwich and it was melt in your mouth wonderful.
We wanted to go to more eateries but we were only on the island a few days so we hit what we could.
There are so many things to do on the island--fishing, canoeing, walking the eco trails, biking (there are trails everywhere and everyone bikes), kite boarding, shelling, and shopping but except for a few excursions we wanted to sit on the beach under the umbrella or walk the beach. After a long battle with a bad cold it was just nice to rest.
There were a few things I would suggest as must do's -
Try the bike trails - get out early before it's too warm.
Visit the lighthouse beach. It's quiet and empty in the morning.
Get up early and watch the sun rise!
It can be a magical thing!
Lastly, shopping is usually a given in a place like this but I really want to highlight one store. B Unique Boutique Sanibel - http://www.buniqueboutiquesanibel.com/ We met the store owner, Sandra, our first day on the island and while I was looking around she told Geo many of the restaurants and places to see while we were there. She couldn't have been more generous or friendly. Her store was filled with unique gifts and clothing that were quality items. She believes in fair trade and empowering women which I think is a wonderful thing that I like to highlight as well. She can even send you items you see on her site so look her up!
So if you're looking for somewhere to spend a few sunny hours during the chill of the north give Sanibel Island a chance. We will be going back and we hope to hear of your adventures there.