The reason we were in Fort Myers was because it just so happened to be right next door to Sanibel Island aka Seashell Island (because supposedly it is literally covered in pretty shells). For the longest time I had wanted to visit Sanibel and see this crazy abundance of shells for myself. When I was done with the clothesline, we packed everything back in the car and drove across the causeway to the island ($6 toll for a car, btw).
The first beach we stopped at was called the Tarpon Bay Beach. There is a parking lot with machines that you pay by the hour ($2/hr) and it prints out a ticket with your expiration time on it that you leave displayed inside your car on the dash. You follow the paved path about 100 yards and it ends at some restrooms and then just past that is the sand and surf.
|"piggy-back" tree along the trail...|
I was so excited to finally be there! ...and then we walked onto the beach. The beach was narrow, crowded, and the water was questionable :(. I wouldn't let the kids get in the water beyond just their feet because it was really milky looking...which was strange for the Gulf of Mexico...and it was simply too hot for the little kids to enjoy "shelling". I was pretty bummed, it was looking like my long awaited day on Sanibel was going to be a bust.
|poor little guys...it was really HOT|
We did walk a little ways, and the shells were just as abundant as everyone says. There were rows of them all along the beach at the different tide lines. Just piles and piles of shells :)...
There were more shells washing up with each wave, too. If the water hadn't been such a strange milky color...or if I had known the cause of the color and that it was something harmless...we would have had a wonderful time. The kids could have swam and I could have shelled til I dropped. As it was, we didn't stay very long. I told the kids we would get some ice cream with lunch to make up for not getting to swim, so that was our next stop.
Ice cream is magical :). After filling our bellies with some lunch and a sweet treat, we were ready to give Sanibel a second chance (yay!). I had seen on a map that there was a lighthouse, so I told the kids we would go see it and if there wasn't a nice swimming beach that we'd leave the island and go find somewhere else to swim.
Lighthouse Beach Park has more than one parking lot. We wanted to swim, so we parked in the lot that was kind of southwest of the lighthouse (you can see what I'm talking about on a map). I advise going no later than mid morning if you can and take along a picnic lunch...the lot was packed, we got the very last open spot and people were still coming in and circling after we parked. Same deal as the other lot with the pay machines, they do take debit/credit cards...so that makes it easier.
The walk to the beach was super short. Just across a boardwalk that was right in front of our car...
First impression of this beach? Beautiful, CLEAR water :)! What a relief! Yes, it was a narrow beach and actually even more crowded than the other one, but at that point we were a-ok with it.
|so beautiful :)|
The water was clear, the kids were happily swimming, and I chilled on the sand and soaked it all up. And took pictures, of course ;)...
I didn't even pester the kids to go shelling with me. They were having so much fun swimming and playing in the water with some other kids that I was content and happy to just relax and watch them...
The water was calm and the view of Fort Myers in the distance was neat...
|tiny little waves barely lapping at the shore...|
We stayed for several hours. Me chilling and the kids swimming. When it was time to go, we grabbed our dry clothes from the car and headed to the restrooms to get changed before hitting the road. Only the restrooms were not nearby, it was a pretty good walk through the woods and down a couple different trails to get there. Not a problem, the walk was really pretty and it took us right by that lighthouse that I had wanted to see.
|swampy part of the trail|
All cleaned up and ready for the next adventure, or maybe a nap ;)...