Photograph by Diane Speare Triant, BOSTON GLOBE
The simple act of driving to Sanibel — Florida’s secluded barrier island off Fort Myers — puts you in relaxation mode. The three-mile-long causeway bisects a startling blue Gulf of Mexico with a sun-dappled surface seeming to sparkle with thousands of stars. Pelicans glide playfully alongside your car, and fragrant scents ride the air.
Once on 12-mile-long Sanibel, the sky-high buildings that have trampled most of Florida are absent, replaced by seaside-hued structures “no taller than the tallest palm tree.” Tropical foliage hugs streets with evocative names like Castaways Lane, while the absence of any stoplights and the presence of abundant wildlife make it difficult to remember that you’re still in the United States.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who wrote a love song to Sanibel and Captiva in her 1955 volume “Gift from the Sea,” captures the island’s spirit: “People, too, become like islands in such an atmosphere, self-contained, whole and serene; respecting other people’s solitude, not intruding on their shores, standing back in reverence before the miracle of another individual.”