Sanibel in running to be top Florida beach town

Sanibel Island News

Love Sanibel? A new online survey seeks your vote.

For a column Friday in USA Today, staff travel writer Laura Bly asked “Dr. Beach” — aka Florida International University professor and coastal expert Stephen P. Leatherman — for 10 Florida destinations that combine sand, surf and a welcoming sense of community.

Sanibel Island made the cut.

USA Today took that list and fashioned a survey asking readers to choose a favorite among the “10 best Florida beach towns.”

Bly will visit the winning destination and write an article about it.

“We knew that we wanted to do a story about beach towns in Florida. In the winter, it’s a natural,” Bly said.

Sanibel Island

The poll has precedents: In October, USA Today surveyed readers for the best college football town (Madison, Wis.) and in August, the best lake in America (Tahoe). USA Today is owned by Gannett Co. Inc., which also owns The News-Press Media Group.

“We’ll certainly start a grass-roots campaign here,” Base said Friday, after being tipped off to the travel column and survey.The latest USA Today poll took Ric Base by happy surprise. Base is president of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce.

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency, also has promised to spread the news on behalf of all the favored beach towns, noting in an email Friday to Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau that USA Today online has 15.3 million unique visitors monthly.

Here’s the gist of what Leatherman said about Sanibel: “Yes, ‘you have to pay $6 to get there’ via a causeway. But once you reach this upscale Gulf Coast barrier island, you’ll find the country’s ‘No. 1 shelling area,’ no stoplights, and strict building codes that limit new structures to two stories in height.”

Sanibel faces some formidable competition in the survey. The other beach towns, in alphabetical order, are: Clearwater Beach; Cocoa Beach; Delray Beach; Key West; New Smyrna Beach; Pensacola; Seaside and South Beach (Miami).

The Weather Channel forecast called for a high of 37 degrees Fahrenheit in the McLean, Va., area today, where Bly is based.

Not too surprisingly, Bly noted Friday: “I’ll happily go wherever the readers send me.”

Sanibel Island Shelling
Sanibel is in a competition with coastal Florida towns stretching from Pensacola Beach to Key West. / The News-Press file

Sandalfoot Condominium on Sanibel Island – Recipient of the 2012 Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor and 2012 AAA Three-Diamond Award.  Your home-away-from-home beachfront vacation rental.  Your choice of either a 1 or 2-bedroom, beachfront or gulf view, condominium.   Each completely and thoughtfully appointed.  Relax and spend lazy days sunning or shelling on one of the best shelling beaches of the world; take a dip in our pool or perhaps play a friendly game of tennis or shuffleboard; bike the island trails, fish right from the beach, tee-off at a nearby golf course, enjoy world-class shopping and dining, or go birding at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge – the possibilities are endless!  With so much to offer, Sandalfoot Condominium is the best value for your vacation rental on Sanibel Island.

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