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!
Thanks to today’s technology, you can have real-time Sanibel traffic conditions right at your fingertips.
The FREE Sanibel Street Cam App is now available to access the popular City of Sanibel “Street Cams.” Six high-quality cameras throughout the island “live stream” Sanibel road conditions and have received very positive feedback since their installation last year.
During “high season” (the timeframe from roughly Christmas through Easter), Sanibel Island experiences heavy on-bound traffic congestion from 8 a.m. to noon and heavy off-bound traffic between 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. To best enjoy your visit to Sanibel, guests are advised to try to avoid driving on and off the island during these peak times.
For more information, or to install the app, click here. Of course, you can always opt to stay at Ocean’s Reach, where you can grill out under the trees at The Grove and catch a gorgeous sunset on the beach afterward … all a million miles away from that pesky traffic!
With a nickname like “City of Palms,” it’s no surprise that neighboring Fort Myers is a perennial recipient of the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City USA” distinction. For the 25th consecutive year, the foundation has honored Fort Myers for its commitment to effective urban forest management.
Fort Myers achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: A tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an Arbor Day observance and proclamation, and an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita.
Fort Myers was the first city in Southwest Florida to become a Tree City USA, and has held the distinction for a quarter century. The city grows many of the trees currently being installed at city properties.
“Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community first-hand,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Additionally, recognition brings residents together and creates a sense of community pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.”
Trees provide many benefits to a community when properly planted and maintained including improved visual appeal of a neighborhood; increased property values; reduced home cooling costs; removal of air pollutants and providing wildlife habitat.
More information on the Tree City USA program, visit www.arborday.org.
Well, you can’t find all this in Minnesota!
One of our owners’ sons, Tim S., couldn’t believe his good luck during his recent holiday visit. He said he found seven — yes, seven! — huge Horse Conchs this time around, in addition to a table-sized collection of more beautiful shells.
Wonder if he bought a new suitcase to take them all home?
Thanks to our friends at “Gulfshore Life” for the following:
Must be something about island life that makes people friendlier.
Sanibel Island was named the fifth-friendliest city in the nation (the term “city” used loosely here, of course). Expedia compiled their friendly city list based on ratings data from its users about quality of service in local hotels and an overall congenial stay in the areas.
Here’s what the site had to say:
“This white-sand island hideaway boasts zero stop lights and miles and miles of coastline that make the Sunshine State proud. With laid-back beach town vibes and signature Southern hospitality … and after tapas at Traditions on the Beach—Sanibel’s oldest restaurant—you’ll swear it’s also one of the most delicious cities, too.”
Wailea, Hawaii, ranked No. 1. Four other Florida towns also made the list. Read more here!
Need another reason to visit us in December? How about a sunset stroll past Captiva’s “Chapel by the Sea,” bathed in holiday lights and a perfect example of the beauty of the season on our islands.
Captiva Island’s charming Chapel by the Sea — once a schoolhouse — holds services yearly from the second week in November through the end of April.
This year, you are invited to be a part of its Christmastime tradition, no matter where in the world you are. For many years, a cherished tradition has been to hang wreaths on the interior walls of the chapel, in memory and celebration of loved ones. The names of those remembered are then shared during the service on the Sunday before Christmas. This year, for a small donation, you can add a wreath of your own in memory of someone whose name will be included during the special service. For more details, click here.
Even if you can’t visit for Christmas, we welcome you to come relax with us either before and after the holidays. Ocean’s Reach is offering special rates for a pre-Christmas visit, when you can take in festive lights all over the island. And for those who will need a break after the busy holiday season, we still have availability for the first week of January. Please call us at 800-336-6722 to learn more.
From its small origins as a fruit and vegetable stand 50 years ago, Huxter’s Market & Deli has grown into a favorite stop-and-shop locale on the island for guests and residents alike.
They recently unveiled a comprehensive makeover, both indoors and out. Next time you drive by, be sure to stop in!
P.S. Don’t worry — Huxter’s has kept its famous fried chicken!