The Past And The Future
Sanibel and Captiva formed as one island about 6,000 years ago. The first known humans in the area were the Calusa, who arrived about 2,500 years ago. The Calusa were a powerful Native American nation who came to dominate most of Southwest Florida through trade via their elaborate system of canals and waterways. Sanibel remained an important Calusa settlement until the collapse of their empire, soon after the arrival of the Europeans.
Drawn by its now-famous Florida beaches, shelling, fishing and nature walks, visitors arrived via a half-hour ferry ride from Fort Myers. Many stocked up for the week at Bailey’s General Store, which is still a mainstay of the island today. From native Indians, to Spanish explorers, infamous pirates and brave pioneers, the islands have many a fascinating tale to tell.
Working On Sanibel
Much of Sanibel, other than the main road through the island (and on to the smaller Captiva Island) is residential, but the main drive showcases a wide variety of stores and other local businesses. Many employees of these businesses live across the bridge in the more affordable Fort Myers area.
Getting There – And Staying There
Reaching Sanibel is easier today than it was in the past; in 2007 a brand new three-lane causeway bridge was opened to the public.
Due to this causeway access, Sanibel is a popular tourist destination known for its shell beaches and wildlife refuges. More than half of the island is made up of wildlife refuges, the largest being J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The Island hosts the Sanibel Historical Village and a variety of other museums and theaters, as well as many non-profit organizations like the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, and the Sanibel Sea School.
Business Opportunity On Sanibel
The city maintains its own Chamber of Commerce independently of its neighboring cities, with a tailored set of programs to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses on the island.