We had been swimming lazily around the sandbar for about 10 minutes when two dolphins surfaced just feet in front of us. At that moment we were really glad that we had passed on the $30 a person dolphin cruise in Everglades City and equally glad that we had decided to visit Sanibel Island. Just a few hours earlier we had set up camp at Periwinkle Park & Campground, which is the only campground on the island. The sites had good trees, perfect for shade and climbing, and the campground offered the first single-sort reclycling we’ve seen the entire trip. The staff were very welcoming and directed us to the bike rental just down the road where we picked up a double jogging stroller that we could use to get the kids back and forth to the beach. The jogging stroller worked great and we were able to walk from the back of the campground to the beach in under 10 minutes. Walking to the beach saved us the $2 an hour public parking fees and gave us a great opportunity to explore the island without strapping the kids into car seats or lugging them around in our arms.
The beach at Sanibel Island is a shelling mecca. Due to the island’s east-west orientation the currents bring a multitude of shells ashore with the tides. There are so many shells that it is a bit overwhelming trying to decide which ones to collect. You could easily scoop up bucketfulls without much effort. While we did take a few prized shells home with us, we spent most of the time playing in the calm gulf water. The kids said that they missed the heavy surf of the Atlantic but agreed that it was nice to float around and play water baseball. We were also glad for the calm waters when Five String lost his sunglasses during a rather rough baseball play and Five Spice was able to retrieve them once the water had settled.
Our days on Sanibel Island were pretty mellow besides the competitive water baseball. We would stroll to the beach, hang out in the water and when we needed a break head to the local library. The Sanibel Public Library has a large children’s section where we could pass the hottest hours of the day while reading the kids’ favorite books. Back at the campground we also spent a great deal of time at the campground’s aviary which was situated very close to our site. The aviary not only included a wide variety of tropical birds, such as macaws and parrots, but it also features lemurs as well. The younger Fives were very much taken by Fred, a large macaw, and enjoyed visiting with him on their many trips to and from the restrooms. While we all agreed we would perfer to see wildlife in their natural habitat it was interesting to find such large aviary on the island. Sanibel Island and Periwinkle Park would definitely be places we would return to when looking for a little rest and relaxation or if we ever needed to collect a crazy amount of sea shells.