Sanibel Island History and Historical Treasures
Incorporated in just 1974, Sanibel Island may sound fairly “young”, but you’ll feel as though you’re stepping back into a simpler time without the hubbub of other beach towns, and without any stoplights! As far as 2,500 years ago, the Calusa Indians were the island's first residents, and since then, Sanibel has blossomed with a rich culture of art and history inspired by the island’s endless natural beauty. If you’re looking to get to know the real Sanibel Island, visiting these local historical treasures is a must.
Sanibel Historical Museum and Village
What better place to start getting to know the history of Sanibel than at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. Learn the stories of the warriors, adventurers, fishermen, farmers and proprietors of the Calusa and Spanish eras who helped shape the island we know today and tour the historic buildings of the village, dating back to 1896.
USS Mohawk CGC
Did you know that a little piece of World War II resides off the shores of Sanibel Island? The 165-foot vessel known as the USS Mohawk CGC played a role in World War II combat operations, serving U.S. Naval forces in the North Atlantic. After being decommissioned, the ship was cleaned by experts and retired to the Gulf of Mexico to create the USS Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef.
Standing 98-feet tall in the sand, the Sanibel Lighthouse was completed in 1884 and went into service in 1885 in order to help navigate the waters near Point Ybel. Although the lighthouse itself is not open to the public, the area around it, including a fishing pier, trail and beach, is a great area to enjoy with the family, and snap a photo of the lighthouse!
Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
Because Sanibel is known for our shells after all, a visit to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is a must! The museum is the only natural history museum in the U.S. devoted to the cultural, historical and culinary facets of shells and the mollusks that produce them. Explore the wonder of shells from right here in Sanibel and Captiva, as well as from around the world. Feel transported back in time with the museum’s fossil collection and a look at how shells were an important piece of life for Florida’s early inhabitants and the Calusa people.
Can't wait to start exploring the history of Sanibel Island? Start planning your visit today!