My husband and I were really feeling the effects of stressful jobs, albeit ones that we love, and felt a need for a calm and relaxing get-away.
After some research on the internet and talking with friends, we decided on Sanibel Island off the Gulf Coast of Florida. The idea of doing nothing more stressful then walking along the ocean or choosing a book or restaurant for the day was exactly what we needed.
We chose February as the month to travel south. Yes indeed, we also needed a break from snow and ice, and thought that Sanibel Island would be a great place to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
We found an old but refurbished motel, the Seaside Inn, which was right on the water with a short path to the beach. The Seaside Inn is clean and comfortable with a microwave and small refrigerator.
A breakfast of bagels, cream cheese, juice and coffee were delivered every day and there were free copies of the New York Times in the lobby. The beds were extremely comfortable and the pool was heated.
Even in the middle of the high season on Sanibel Island, we had no trouble finding a corner of the beach with chairs and an umbrella provided for us by our hotel. We had a perfect view of the ocean or the sunset.
The birds on Sanibel Island are magnificent. I have never seen so many different ocean birds gathering on the shores. Their comings and goings were a nice distraction when I tired of watching the water, napping or reading my novel.
We made one Sanibel Island tourist foray to the J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. I highly recommend a visit there. We took the trolley tour so that we could have a guide for wildlife, flora and fauna. You can also bike, hike or drive through on your own.
Each day we cleaned up, dressed and went to town for one meal. We often chose lunch because the evening traffic on Periwinkle Way is extremely slow and stress-producing on its own.
For dinner, we were more likely to open a bottle of wine, head to the beach to watch the sunset and then return to our room to heat up something simple for dinner to eat on the beach or patio.
We did try a few of the local restaurants. By far, our favorite was Traders Restaurant. The food was beautifully prepared and the atmosphere was fun.
We understood that no visit to Sanibel would be complete without a visit to Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille Restaurant which is owned by mystery writer Randy Wayne White whose novels are inspired by the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. He named the restaurant for his main character, Doc Ford. The food was fine here. The Sanibel experience was the best part of the restaurant.
We drove to Captiva one afternoon to try out the Mucky Duck. This is a pretty zany place with unremarkable food but a fun atmosphere and a great view. We planned to return, but never made it back, for the daily sunset party on the beachfront cocktail patio. We had our own sunset parties instead.
When you tell friends about visiting Sanibel Island, their immediate response is something along the lines of “Ah, the seashell capital of Florida”.
John noted on our first lazy day there that he was unimpressed by all of those people who were collecting seashells. He thought they were too bored with nothing else to do with their time. By the end of the week, John had developed the “Sanibel Slouch” as he also scoured the beaches for interesting shells to bring back home as reminders of our trip.
We truly hated leaving Sanibel Island when the week was over but now we can look at our shells or the picture now on my phone’s wallpaper and can be transported back to the place and space that provided such a nice respite for a short while.