Show your toes.
That's the way islanders prefer to
dress their feet-if they dress them at all.

The Search for Sandals and Such

There's nothing like a little sand between the toes to inspire the search for island footwear. The island lifestyle lends itself to comfort in footwear. Whether you're going to a business meeting, to the theater, or to the beach, you're more likely to see islanders in flip-flops than high heels or wingtips. Several island merchants carry cool shoes in hot styles for the beach bum in all of us.

Remember Birkenstocks? If you're picturing a funny-looking shoe that only hippies wore, you have a surprise in store. Times have changed and Baby, Birkenstocks are beautiful-and made to order for island life. You'll find this year's amazing collection next to Island Health Foods in the aptly named shop, Comfort by Design. Not only does this good-for-you shoe store offer a fabulous selection of stylish Birkenstocks for both sexes, it carries the king of comfortable shoes: Mephisto. Expensive, and worth every dime, Mephisto is to shoes what truffles are to mushrooms. 1640 Periwinkle Way in Limetree Center, 395-0666.

If you like the feel of Birkenstocks on your feet, you're sure to love Teva sandals. Comfortable, durable, and stylish, these sporty shoes have earned a place in islanders' hearts. One local source is Footloose Outfitters, in Jerry's Shopping Center, with a large selection for men and women. Footloose also carries shoes by Sperry, Minnetonka, Keds, Nike, and Dr. Martens. 1700 Periwinkle Way, 472-4717.

Teva sandals are also in good supply at Dockside in Periwinkle Place. Dockside, which stocks both men's and women's shoes, also carries Timberland footwear. 2075 Periwinkle Way, 472-5339.

Don't leave Periwinkle Place without stopping next door at Peach Republic. From dressy to casual, Peach Republic has the shoes women love. Sandals by Ann Marino are as tempting as the unique footwear by Art Effects, Calisto, and Inspired Soles. 2075 Periwinkle Way, 472-8444.

Sanibel's only department store, the Sporty Seahorse, on the island's east end, has a good-sized shoe department filled with sandals and other footwear by Unisa, Enzo, Hush Puppies, Aerosoles, Zodiac, and others. Sizes start as small as children's 4/5. (These tiny sandals are accompanied by matching shades; what grandmother can resist?) Boaters will also find dock shoes by Sperry, Nautica, and Liz Claiborne. 362 Periwinkle Way, 472-1858.

You've surely noticed Rinaldi Fashion Shoes on Palm Ridge Road. Owner Tony Rinaldi always parks one of his two beautifully restored classic MGs right in front. He has a large selection of footwear, with several famous brands, such as Naturalizer, Unisa, Soft Spots, Annies, and Grasshoppers. 2330 Palm Ridge Road at Palm Ridge Place, 472-5666.

Outdoor lovers will want to check out the shoes in Stanley & Livingston's. This outfitter is worth a stop, based solely on its aesthetic merits. You'll be trying on shoes among leather goods, flyfishing equipment, kayaks, and hiking clothes in an outdoorsman's paradise. Stanley & Livingston's carries Sperry footwear for both men and women. 2340 Periwinkle Way in the Village, 472-8485.

You'll also find shoes nestled among the fishing supplies at Sanibel Light Tackle Outfitters. It carries Sebago boat shoes and Reef Riders' nonslip boat sandals. Some of the Reef Riders are embroidered in an attractive fish design with matching belts. The shop also carries an interesting transparent flip-flop for women, from Gendha. 2025 Periwinkle Way, 472-2002.

On Captiva Island, Candace Arnold's carries several tempting lines of ladies' shoes, with accessories to match. (Watch out: The clothes here are to die for.) 110 Chadwick's Square, 472-3777.

Not so easily found, Captiva's hidden treasure is The Pelican's Roost. This delightful apparel store is incorporated in the marina at 'Tween Waters Inn. Buyer Cindy Scragg keeps a nice supply of Sperry boat shoes and Reef sandals on hand. If you can't find the shop, follow your ears: Several talking parrots live just outside its entrance. Captiva Road, 472-5161.

Here's the truth about island shoes: You'll gain as much satisfaction being able to leave them off as you will in wearing them. So get a few pairs, not only to match your wardrobe, but to accessorize your home as they lie happily about on the floor. -LBM