By The Seashore with AWA

Seashells and lighthouse

An Accidentally Wes Anderson Adventure Through The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

When Ponce de León went out looking for the Fountain of Youth, he instead stumbled upon Sanibel Island. Things may not have gone as planned for Ponce, but awed so by its beauty, he dubbed the island “Ybel” after his beloved Spanish Queen Isabella. It’s more than a pretty stretch of beach laden with seashells (“The Seashell Capital of the World,” we hear) and when the gang from Accidentally Wes Anderson went adventuring that-a-way out into Fort Myers and Sanibel, they were seeking neither seashells nor eternal youth. What they found swimming in and around those pristine coastal waters some folks have been searching for almost since Ponce named the place, and, well, Sally, you’ll just have to read on.

A beach access in Sanibel, Florida that opens onto the water. A seagull flies overhead.

Sea cows, mermaids, teddy bears of the marine world, whatever nickname you prefer, manatees are fleshy, docile, and loveable and you’re sure to see a few during your visit. If you’re down for a treasure hunt, you will find more shell varieties on these beaches than anywhere else in North America.

In fact, they are one of the few places in the world where “shelling charter captain” is an actual career. You will find shell seekers in the famous “Sanibel Stoop” and “Captiva Crouch” positions scouring the sand for a rare Junonia shell, the holy grail of shelling.

Known for some of the best fishing in the state, fishermen flock to grab grouper, snapper, and snook. Just keep an eye out for peckish Pelicans always waiting to steal your lunch (or your catch).

Yellow A-Frame house

There is nothing we love more than a good A-Frame. The historic ‘Old Florida’ inns and motels of Sanibel offer a perfect place to survey your shells in addition to a solid night’s sleep.

Shells & Creatures of Fort Myers and Sanibel

Illustrative diagram of a variety of sea creatures

01. Bottlenose Dolphin | 02. Hermit Crab | 03. Brittle Starfish | 04. Sand Dollar | 05. Great Blue Heron | 06. Roseate Spoonbill | 07. Loggerhead Sea Turtle | 08. Stone Crab | 09. West Indian Manatee

Illustrative diagram of a variety of seashells

01. White Baby Ear | 02. Spotted Slipper Snail | 03. Atlantic Fig Snail | 04. West Indian False Cerith | 05. Junonia | 06. Humphrey Wentletrap | 07. Shark Eye | 08. Pitted Murex | 09. True Tulip | 10. Alphabet Cone | 11. Lettered Olive | 12. Rose Murex | 13. Purplish Semele | 14. Horse Conch | 15. Lace Murex | 16. Saw-tooth Pen Shell | 17. Lightning Welk | 18. Crown Conch | 19. Lightning Welk Egg Casings | 20. Banded Tulip | 21. Calico Scallop | 22. Florida Prickly Cockle | 23. Turkey Wing | 24. Buttercup Lucine