Sanibel Island is about 45 minutes from Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers. A cab costs around $60. If you rent a car, you'll pay a $6 toll to get onto the island.
Where to stay
Sanibel offers a range of lodging, from house and condo rentals to resort hotels and small inns. Prepare to pay big bucks, but relative bargains can be found. A good starting place is the Sanibel Island & Captiva Island Chamber of Commerce Web site, which has lists of rental agencies, hotels, restaurants and shopping. (www.sanibel-captiva.org/ index.asp). Among hotels:
-- Island Inn, 3111 W. Gulf Drive; 1-800-851-5088. Venerable, popular and on the beach. Winter season rates from $210. Summer rates start at $132.
-- Holiday Inn Sanibel Island Beach Resort, 1231 Middle Gulf Drive, 239-472-4123. Beachside. Winter, from $299; after Easter, $139.
-- The PalmView, 706 Donax; 1-877-472-1606. A block from the beach. Comfortable. Rates drop to $85 on May 1.
Where to eat
-- Lighthouse Cafe, 362 Periwinkle Way. Old Florida feel, wonderful breakfast and lunch fare.
-- Timbers Restaurant and Fish Market, 703 Tarpon Bay Road. Great variety of fish, prepared as you choose. Exceptional service.
-- Twilight Cafe, 2761 W. Gulf Drive. Seafood, steaks, pasta and vegetarian dishes.
-- The Mucky Duck, 11546 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva. Highly popular beachside spot for fish and more.
-- Beaches are world-famous for shelling.
-- Sanibel offers many miles of hiking and biking, and the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge (www.fws.gov/dingdarling) is a prime birding spot. Even those who aren't all that interested in birds are likely to be impressed by the concentrations of beautiful wading birds at low tide. You can drive, bike or take a tram down the refuge's Wildlife Drive.
-- The Bailey Tract is a less well-known but lovely and peaceful interior part of Sanibel. Walking paths.
-- Tarpon Bay Explorers (www.tarponbayexplorers. com) offers guided nature tours, as well as kayak and canoe rentals.
-- There's also fishing, golf, tennis and swimming.