We headed for the islands of Sanibel and Captiva after making our own waffles for breakfast by the pool. Just a few miles north on Highway 41 we turned off for Bonita Springs. What a lovely place; especially if you have a few million dollars to spend. The houses in Bonita Springs are dream-like: those on the beach side are built on stilts and are literally built on the beach. They all have balconies overlooking the Gulf of Mexico with steps down onto the beach. Many have a very ‘beachy’ feel to them; timber built and painted in bright colours. Others are far more palatial with grand staircases to the front door, 3 or 4 garages and sometimes 3 or 4 stories high. They resemble hotels more than houses. It was a simple pleasure just looking at them.
Just past Bonita Springs is a state park called Lovers Key. We caught a glimpse of it from a bridge and were drawn to the sweep of white beach and it looked pretty quiet. So we decided to take a look. Although it cost us $6 to park it was more than worth it. You know if you have to pay here, the quality will be high. Lovers Key is a 1616 acre park. It sits between Naples and Fort Myers and is made up of 4 barrier islands, one of which is Lovers Key itself. The beach is about 2.5 miles long and we found the sand to be almost like flour; so white, fine and soft. On Miami Beach we were some of the oldest people on the beach but here we were some of the youngest. This is where the many well-heeled Americans from the north come for months to enjoy their well-earned retirement. So it felt good to be young again!
So we settled down on the sand and swam in the Gulf of Mexico and forgot about time. Rachel started collecting shells. We only found out later that this beach, and the area in general, is renowned for its shells. There are literally piles of shells inches deep, heaped up along the shoreline. People ‘in the know’ come down to the beach at the right time of day to collect the best shells, before they get broken by people stepping on them. There is actually a shell fair on this week, where stalls are set out in the surrounding towns for collectors and crafts people to enjoy. Before long we were both avidly searching for the best we could find. Here’s Rachel engrossed in her search:
And here is the fruit of her labour – a shell fish (i.e. a fish made of shells):
Later, we walked around the barrier islands as the sun began to dip to the horizon and before we left I got all romantic, since we were at Lovers Key, and produced this masterpiece:
An elderly gentleman who was passing by said “I know a song about that”. I’m glad he didn’t sing it! I’m also glad he liked it as Rachel was more interested in her fish. Such is life.
Part way through the day we realised we would not make it to Sanibel and Captiva. But no matter; they can wait for another day. The sun was setting and we headed back but it was still very warm so the car roof stayed down. Rachel spotted a beach bar so we stopped and watched the sun setting – spectacular!
A perfect end to a perfect day.