Sanibel and Captiva Island Real Estate
The Berry Team

Jennifer Berry, Ken Frey & Chris Tatman
E-mail: or Toll-free 877-472-3535

Historians believe that Sanibel and Captiva formed as one island approximately 6,000 years ago as a result of sediment that rose from the ocean after being shaped by centuries of storm activity. Calusa Indians were the islands first inhabitants, dating as far back as 2,500 years. Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon is believed to be the first European to set foot on Sanibel Island, which he named "Santa Isybella" after Queen Isabella in 1513. The Spanish were unsuccessful in establishing a permanent settlement in the area, but their presence introduced European diseases that nearly wiped out the Calusa population.

According to legend, the Gulf Coast barrier islands served as havens for infamous pirates, including Jose Gaspar, who came to the region in the early 19th century. It was rumored that he built a prison on "Isle de los Captivas," or Captiva Island.

The Seminole Wars kept settlers from arriving in the area until the 1860s. The U.S. government designated Sanibel as a lighthouse reservation in 1870, prompting the construction of the Sanibel Lighthouse, which was first lit in 1884 and remains a working lighthouse today.

Pioneer settlement on Sanibel was focused around Point Ybel, now considered "Old Town Sanibel." By 1889, there were 21 houses and 40 families. In 1892 the population neared 100. In the late 19th century the island became a popular destination for rest and relaxation, hosting visitors such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Hospitality has remained a key industry on the island ever since.

The Sanibel Causeway, linking the island to the mainland, was completed in 1963. Residents feared the easy access would spawn over-development, causing the island to lose its charm and natural heritage. These concerns prompted Sanibel to form its own city government in 1974, empowering residents to preserve the island through land use restrictions that continue to guide growth and development today.

All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. While this information is believed to be correct, it is represented subject to errors, omissions, changes, or withdrawal without notice. All property outlines and square footage in property listings are approximate.