Sanibel Island is an island located on the Gulf coast of Florida, just offshore of Fort Myers. In 2000, it had an estimated population of 6,064 people. Located within Lee County, Sanibel is a barrier island – a collection of sand on the leeward side of the Gulf Stream from the more solid coral-rock of Pine Island.
The city of Sanibel incorporates the entire island, with most of the city proper at the east end of the island. After the Sanibel causeway was built to replace the ferry in May 1963, the residents fought back against overdevelopment by establishing the Sanibel Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 1974 helping to maintain a balance between development and preservation of the island's ecology. A new, higher bridge without a bascule (drawbridge) having to open for tall boats and sailboats, was completed in late 2007.
Thanks in part to the new causeway, Sanibel is rapidly becoming a popular tourist destination known for its beaches, shelling, and wildlife refuges. More than half of the island is made up of wildlife refuges, the largest one is the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The Island also hosts the Sanibel Historical Village and a variety of other museums and theaters.In August 2004 Hurricane Charley hit the island causing mandatory evacuation for the island's residents and resulting in the most damage done to the island in 44 years.