By Lauren Tjaden

You should know about Sanibel Island.

It doesn’t have chain restaurants, traffic lights or high rises, and almost every road is fringed by a bike trail. Sanibel’s beaches tend not to have the very white sand typical of much of the Gulf. The Island is famous for shelling, and conchs, whelks and scallops are literally everywhere.

Likewise, you should know about Sanibel’s sister Island, Captiva. While Sanibel is one of a kind, Captiva is off-the-charts-unusual.

Captiva’s town is tiny, cool and quirky. Picture a shady street fringed with graceful homes that ends at the beach, and shops and cafes nestled amid greenery and palms. Musicians sing outside in open-air cafes. There’s a restaurant where it’s Christmas all year long, and a huge frog statue and a giant’s chair in a miniature garden outside an art gallery. It feels magical there.

And don’t even get me started about Fort Myers Beach, with its frolicking dolphins and a pier that reaches far out over the emerald tinted waters.

For more information, check out Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods

Because you should know.