Island Inn SanibelIsland Inn Sanibel
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Island Inn History

island inn history

Established in 1895, the Island Inn is the oldest Inn on Sanibel Island. For over a century the Inn has served guests and residents on its 10 beachfront acres and pristine beach abundant in shells and silky sand, facing due South on the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1895, founders Will and Harriett (Granny) Matthews came to Sanibel Island from Kentucky, chasing the elusive pioneer dream of a better life for themselves and their four children. Granny Matthews, herself an avid shell collector, chose the location for the Inn at the southernmost point of West Gulf Drive beach. This point acts as a natural shovel, scooping up shells that the currents bring from the deeper waters of the Gulf. Shelling has been a big part of Island Inn history from the early days, as the very first Shell Fair was held on the porches of the Inn in 1937.

Every year in March, people gather to visit Sanibel Island – known as the ‘Shell Capital of the World,’ to compare and appreciate shell collections and shell art at the Annual Sanibel Shell Fair.

Today, the Island Inn’s rooms, suites, and cottages have been modernized and updated, while still retaining their old Florida feel. All rooms have refrigerator, microwave and coffee making facilities and many have full kitchens. Rooms also feature Wi-Fi, HD LCD flat screen TV’s, DVD/CD players, and iPhone/iPod docking stations. The large screened porches overlook the peaceful palms of the beachfront gardens; all just steps from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.