Sanibel Island has been appealing to visitors for generations. The island, at 12 miles long, offers unparalleled serene beauty and abundant nature thanks to visionary pioneers in conservation. It’s rich in history with stories of the great Calusa Indians, Spanish explorers and the functioning lighthouse, built in the 1800s. Today, visitors revel in the 24 miles of unspoiled shorelines, numerous world-class outdoor sports, as well as a selection of fine dining and shopping.
Adventures in Paradise masterfully wraps all of it up in an historical tour of Sanibel aboard the coolest trolley, hand-built for the narrow island roads.
The retro open-air trolley carries 20 passengers, who gain insight into the island’s fascinating history and learn interesting facts from an entertaining trolley guide or “trolley dolly” for the ladies. The two-hour tour covers major historical sites and other scenic points of interest. The trolley stops for a short guided tour of the Sanibel Historical Village and Museum, where the island’s story, from the Calusa and Spanish eras to early pioneer families, is told. The Historical Village is home to 10 historic buildings that have been restored to original state.
“The Historical Village beautifully tells of warriors, adventures, fishermen, farmers and proprietors. It’s the ideal place for a stop on the historical trolley tour,” said Evelyn Stewart, founder of Adventures in Paradise with her husband Craig. “We chose to donate a portion of the tour’s proceeds to the museum in appreciation for their mission of preserving our island’s story. Sanibel is truly a charming place we have enjoyed, and shared with our guests, for many years.”
The Stewart’s story has become legendary on the island: Craig discovered Sanibel in 1985 during a business trip to Naples and Miami. After spending less than an hour on the island, he found the first pay phone to call Evelyn in land-locked Oklahoma and exclaimed, “Honey, I found where we are going to live!”
Adventures in Paradise was born the next year and has grown alongside three dapper sons and two pets. Throughout the past three decades, the Stewarts have carefully listened to their guests, watched other families grow and remained grateful for the fortune to share what they love about the island’s waters and nature.
Adventures in Paradise continues to be a family business offering half dozen different cruises, fishing charters and trolley tours. The historic trolley tour runs seasonally from 9 to 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The trolley leaves from its home-base of Port Sanibel Marina, just before the Sanibel Causeway, where there is ample parking for those off-island. It makes pick-up stops at select island resorts, including Ocean’s Reach, with advance reservations.
“The fabulous island trolley is an easy-breezy ride along palm-tree-laden roads for a wonderful way to learn about well-known and lesser-known island landmarks,” said Evelyn and Craig’s son Josh Stewart, who handles the day-to-day operations with his wife Audrey. “We definitely encourage questions from passengers for an interactive, comprehensive tour.”
Thanks to our friends at the “Island Reporter” for the story!