The barrier islands off the southwest coast of Florida are among my favorite vacation places. Even in the dead of winter, sunshine heats most days into at least the 70s on Sanibel, Captiva and Fort Myers Beach.
The main problem for vacationers: From Christmas to Easter, heavy highway traffic to the beaches and golf courses.
This winter season, the drive to the islands is easier.
A new bridge to the causeway from Fort Myers to Sanibel and Captiva is open and stunning with its high views of the bays and marshes along the coast. The old bridge, the one that held up traffic while the drawbridge opened to let sailboats pass on the Intercoastal Waterway, has been replaced. The causeway still has some construction, so you need to drive carefully, especially at night.
Traffic flows smoothly. At least it did during Thanksgiving week when I drove to Sanibel one night for dinner at McT's Shrimp House and Tavern, an old family favorite for shrimp and crab, then again on Sunday for a grouper sandwich and the huge picture windows facing the Intercoastal Waterway from the Green Flash on Captiva.
Bridge toll: $6 on the way from the mainland to Sanibel. Free on the return. For frequent visitors, get a Sun Pass.
Other important highway improvements this year for island traffic include bridges at the turn from Gladiolus onto Summerlin and at the intersection of Summerlin and San Carlos. Both were traffic bottlenecks. Not now, as cars move continuously toward Sanibel through both intersections on what the locals call "flyways."
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Molyneaux is editor of TravelMavens.net. For articles on Florida, cruising, Europe and adventure, CLICK