In 1931, this place — aptly named ‘Tween Waters Inn — welcomed its first overnight guests. A hospitality legend now more than 90 years strong was born.
Early guests included Charles Lindbergh, Anne Morrow Lindbergh and other celebrities and dignitaries including Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, namesake of today’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. As an environmentalist and sportsman, Darling’s favorite fishing guide was Captain Belton Johnson — known for his “ability” to transit whiskey from Sanibel to Captiva during Prohibition.
Johnson was well-educated in the waters of Southwest Florida and also captained a 60-foot yacht built for Alice O’Brien. Alice would arrive to Captiva aboard her yacht — the ‘Wanigan” — so named for a storage trunk in lumber camps to house anything that just might be wanted again.
An astute businesswoman, adventurer, sailor, philanthropist and animal lover, Alice built her winter home on Captiva and became an early supporter of the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation.