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Sanibel Island, Florida

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Sanibel Island in Florida.

Sanibel Island is an island located on the Gulf coast of Florida, just offshore of Fort Myers. In 2000, it had an estimated population of 6,064 people. Located within Lee County, Sanibel is a barrier island – a collection of sand on the leeward side of the Gulf Stream from the more solid coral-rock of Pine Island.

Thanks in part to the new causeway, Sanibel is rapidly becoming a popular tourist destination known for its beaches, shelling, and wildlife refuges. More than half of the island is made up of wildlife refuges, the largest one is the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The Island also hosts the Sanibel Historical Village and a variety of other museums and theaters.

Known for their premium shelling, Sanibel beaches attract visitors from all around the world. The large amount of shells that wash up on the island happen as a result of Sanibel being a barrier island with an unusual layout having an "east-west orientation when most islands are north-south. Hence, the island is gifted with great sandy beaches and an abundance of shells." It is also due to the fact that Sanibel is "part of a large plateau that extends out into the Gulf of Mexico for miles. It is this plateau that acts like a shelf for seashells to gather." Throughout the year, many people come to the beaches of Sanibel to gather up these beautiful shells to add to their collection. People are often seen bending down looking for sea shells, and this posture has been named the "Sanibel Stoop." There are beaches everywhere on the island, even on the way to the island there are beaches along the causeway which are great to fish and windsurf off of. However, beach parking is very limited and often unavailable. Lighthouse Beach is named after the famous Sanibel Lighthouse, which includes a popular fishing pier and nature trails. The most secluded beach on the island is Bowman's beach, there is not a hotel in sight and it is known for its "pristine and quiet" atmosphere.

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