Florida A1A Trail Leg #5: Sanibel & St. Pete Beach

 

Two Contrasting West Coast Havens: Sanibel Island and St. Pete Beach

 

Sanibel and Captiva Islands

 

Located off the coast from Ft. Myers, Sanibel Island is 8 miles long, Captiva is three miles long.  A friendly server told us locals call Sanibel a playground for millionaires, Captiva for billionaires. 

 

 

A visitor is introduced to Sanibel by means of a long causeway that is lined with many small beaches, people fishing in the water, boats cruising across the broad blue green bay.

Upon leaving the causeway, we were immediately impressed by Sanibel’s lush tropical vegetation and landscape.  The below chart illustrates the amazing variety of local birds.

For tourists like us visiting the island for the first time, we recommend the very centrally located and comfortable West Wind Inn where we enjoyed our stay very much. 

A long white beach chock with sea shells lining the Gulf Coast graces the inn’s grounds.

Many activities are available like a shuffleboard court for the older set and big pool for the kids. 

For those who enjoy a cocktail, wine or beer to witness a famous West Coast sunset, an elevated bar and grill is a great place to sit back and capture it.

After a great dinner in a Captiva Island grille and breakfast at the inn, we headed north on A1A and headed towards St. Pete Beach, our last destination.  When staying in St. Pete Beach, we recommend the Hotel Kimpton Zamora, a virtual Spanish castle that is well located for beach access and nearby the Don Cesar Hotel. 

The Zamora, across the street from the beach, uses a nearby private club for beach access and amenities and has a lovely patio bar and grille on the Intercostals Canal and a rooftop gathering space.  Servers provide food and drink for patrons to enjoy views of the Gulf and cityscape.

The pink building dominating the skyline in the above photo is the historic and magnificent Don Cesar Hotel recently restored to original splendor and once again flourishing.  Patty and I sensed that we had stumbled upon a cool new section of St. Pete Beach forming and benefitted greatly from the combined amenities of the Zamora and Don Cesar.

The above pastoral Mexican scene is a three dimensional painting on the side of a St. Pete Beach strip Mexican restaurant that I think is cute. 

The above photo was the third in a series of four descending shots to symbolize the end of our visit to St. Pete Beach and Florida A1A Trail Tour.  We urge travelers to stay on the A1A Trail as much as possible – it will be slower and at times frustrating but always incredibly rewarding.  Trust us on this.