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Introduction

Sanibel Island is located on Florida’s west coast. It is about 30 miles long and 5-6 miles wide. Its main town is Fort Myers Beach. The island is home to more than 40 different kinds of plants and animals.

Sanibel and Captiva Islands were originally two separate islands – Sanibel Island is the larger of the two. The islands are connected by the Sanibel Causeway, a 675,000-pound bridge that provides a vehicle/pedestrian link between the two. The causeway remains open for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is the only vehicular connection between the islands. The causeway is a popular attraction that is utilized by visitors and locals alike.

Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island, USA bay during sunny day, toll bridge highway road causeway, turquoise water, cars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanibel Island is a barrier island less than 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Together with its sister island, Captiva, Sanibel is part of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Area. The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is the official non-profit organization of Sanibel and Captiva Islands and is dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural and cultural resources of the islands. The Foundation works in partnership with other organizations on the conservation and preservation of the islands and their unique ecosystems

In addition to 1300 acres on Sanibel and Captiva, the foundation also manages 500 acres on Pine Island.

​The Sanibel and Captiva Islands are surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, so they get a lot of sunshine during the day and a good amount of cloud cover at night. The islands are also surrounded by numerous lagoons, which are natural saltwater ponds. You can even enjoy the scenery from the water! In addition, there are several islands located off the coast of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, and there are plenty of unique and beautiful beaches located there.

Sanibel and Captiva Islands are perfect for couples and families wanting to enjoy the beauty of the Florida coast. Find beaches with soft sand and clear waters, or explore the islands’ natural beauty with its parks, gardens and more.

Sitting on the Gulf Coast, Sanibel and Captiva Islands are sandy beaches that are perfect for families and couples to enjoy. Find your perfect getaway in the family-friendly islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

Visit the Sanibel Chamber of Commerce’s website for more information.

Blind Pass Beach spans across both Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

Sanibel and Captiva Islands are perfect for couples and families wanting to enjoy the beauty of the Florida coast. Find beaches with soft sand and clear waters, or explore the islands’ natural beauty with its parks, gardens and more.

Before you go you might want to check out the Sanibel island webcam

Things to do on Sanibel Island

The best way to see the wildlife of Sanibel Island is from a boat. The island has many different types of birds, dolphins and manatees. There are also many different species of fish in the waters surrounding the island.

The area has some of Florida’s most beautiful beaches and mangroves, as well as many interesting wildlife species. There are also several nature preserves on the island where you can view native plants and animals in their natural habitat.

Explore the Island by Bike or Foot

Sanibel Island has so much to offer couples and families. Both islands are just a short drive from one another, so it’s easy to enjoy the best of both worlds. You can get some fresh air and sunshine while getting in some exercise. Take a bike ride along Sanibel’s Shell Road or take a bike tour to see some of the beautiful beaches on the island. Both biking opportunities offer a lot of fun for all ages.

Off the beaten path and away from the crowds.

Both Sanibel and Captiva islands are just a short drive from one another, so it’s easy to enjoy the best of both worlds. You can get some fresh air and sunshine while getting in some exercise. Take a bike ride along Sanibel’s Shell Road or take a bike tour to see some of the beautiful beaches on the island. Both biking opportunities offer a lot of fun for all ages.

 Check out the Sunsets:

Sunsets in southwest Florida are some of the most spectacular in the world. Sunsets on the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva are unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else. Sunsets are part of life there. They begin in the evening and last into the morning. Our Gulf Coast sunsets have a magical beauty, but they are also a part of the wildlife that calls these islands home. You should always keep your eye on the horizon and never, ever take your eyes off the sunset. It’s best to start late and head home early to see the sunset. You’ll have to keep an eye out for alligators in the mangroves or kayakers out on the Gulf when you visit Sanibel or Captiva after dark. Make sure you park your car in a safe place as well.

Beaches of Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is home to many beaches, some of which are extremely private, while others are great gathering spots for boaters. Here are a few of the best beaches on Sanibel Island you can explore by boat.

  1. Blind Bass and Turner Beaches
  2. Silver Key Beach
  3. Bowman’s Beach
  4. Tarpon Bay Beach
  5. Gulf Side City Park
  6. Lighthouse Beach

 

Explore Sanibel’s walking trails

Sanibel has miles of paved and unpaved walking trails. The paved ones are very popular with runners, hikers and bikers. But if you want to explore what the island has to offer, you’ll have to take the unpaved roads. The paved ones aren’t really meant for walking, but they’re good for running, cycling, in-line skating, rollerblading and skateboarding. The unpaved roads are great for walking and biking. Just remember to slow down and watch for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. And don’t expect to spot any hikers. The island is very flat and you’ll see virtually no elevation change.

You can rent bikes from Sanibel Bicycle (5398 Sanibel-Captiva Road, at Mile Marker 3.5). There are two trails on Sanibel: Wildflower and Turtle. The latter is a 7-mile bike ride which includes a boat ride through Tarpon Bay and through the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.The Sanibel Bicycle shop also rents kayaks and canoes. If you want to try standup paddle boarding, it’s also available.

 Go snorkeling

Sanibel Island is home to many beautiful coral reefs.

Go snorkeling and see its beautiful underwater world.

If you’re a beginner, take one of the many snorkel classes offered in Sanibel Island.

Birding

Sanibel is one of the best places in the world to bird. It attracts about 250 species and is home to the largest population of brown pelicans in the world. Some of the birds you can see are herons, egrets, sandpipers, wading birds, ospreys, kites and many other species.

Fishing

Sanibel is a great place for fishing. You might drop a line from a pier or a bridge. But if you have the time you can also walk along the Sanibel River from the Sanibel-Captiva Causeway to the Burkes’ Welcome Center. The Rio Grande will bring you to an area where you can cast into the slough. You can also rent fishing poles or bait at Finnimore’s Cycle Shop. The marina rents fishing boats and kayaks.

The best time to fish is during the day when the water is calm because the fish are most active. Remember, you can’t use a pole in the Sanibel River (the manatee zone) so be careful.

 Enjoy a picnic

Your family can enjoy a picnic on either island. There are picnic tables on the beach in front of the Sanibel Pier and in the Wildlife Drive at J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. You can also stop for a picnic on the boardwalk at the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Center.A favorite for locals, especially at sunset, is the picnic area at the west end of Periwinkle Way. If you would like to eat outside, book a table for a meal at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation restaurant. There’s a $10 surcharge for large groups and you can choose from a set menu and/or purchase an à la carte menu.

Check out Blind Pass Beach

Blind pass e1656958930586

​Blind Pass Beach is a beautiful beach that offers a perfect setting for a relaxing day on the beach. The area is south of the Sanibel Causeway, and the beach is reached by a small dirt road that is only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles. There is plenty of parking, and the beach is so beautiful you’ll want to spend a full day relaxing and enjoying the sun. However, if you are looking for a little adventure, you’ll find a large pier with a restaurant, watersports rentals, and a few places to rent bicycles. There are also restrooms and showers. The beach is very large, so you’ll probably want to park at the northern end of the pier, where a wooden bridge spans the bays. The beach is in full sun, so you will need to bring your own umbrella.

Visit the Sanibel Chamber of Commerce’s website for more information. Blind Pass Beach spans across both Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

Parking is $5 per hour at Blind Pass Beach

The Lighthouse is a Must See

People who have never seen a lighthouse or the Gulf of Mexico may have never seen a lighthouse or the Gulf of Mexico. There are very few people who have never seen a lighthouse. A visit to the Sanibel Lighthouse can be an exciting experience for those who fall into the latter category.

Sanibel’s southeastern tip boasts a distinctive art-deco lighthouse. In 1926, concrete was poured to build the 84-foot white tower. You shouldn’t be surprised if the Sanibel Lighthouse is packed with tourists. Tickets for guided tours are available when you visit. The walk to the lighthouse is long, but it’s worth the effort. It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sanibel Island Maps

You can see a map of Sanibel and Captiva attractions at this website.

Go Shopping

At Sanibel’s two large malls, the Village at Sanibel and the Sanibel Square Mall, you can shop for contemporary fashions, antiques, jewelry, gifts, children’s clothing, housewares, and much more. Build your home on the water and you’ll have easy access to the stores and services you need.

Periwinkle Place is Sanibel Island’s answer to the upscale shopping mall. A beautiful island paradise setting surrounds the shops at Periwinkle Place.

In any case, you’re likely to find yourself along Periwinkle once you’ve arrived on the island.  Start by browsing the assortment of shops in Periwinkle Place, from kitschy souvenir shops to upscale jewelry stores.

Watch Sanibel’s Wildlife

Sanibel is home to some of the best wildlife-watching opportunities in the area. The islands are the winter habitat for the rare Manatee, and in the summer months, sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches. Skunks, raccoons, snakes, and other wild animals roam the islands, as well as colonies of nesting birds, including the largest colony of Brown Pelicans in the United States.

When the migration season begins, the refuge is filled with 245 bird species.

Explore the Museums

The J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge is dedicated to preserving and protecting the wildlife on Sanibel Island. Jay Norwood Darling is credited with preventing developers from selling environmentally valuable land in the early 1900s. After Darling’s death, President Truman signed an executive order creating the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge in his honor.

Educating future generations about the importance of conservation is the greatest contribution the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge can make. In the Visitor & Education Center, visitors are taught enough about conservation to then bring that knowledge and ethic back home.

As a result of a recent technology launch by “Ding” Darling, color-blind individuals are now able to see a greater range of colors while observing wildlife. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Refuge Ranger Toni Westland had some free time, so she decided to refurbish the spotting scopes at Wildlife Drive.

​The sanctuary is located near the Sanibel Causeway and the Lee County Airport. You can get there from the Southwest Florida International Airport via a 40-minute drive.
​It is free to visit the Visitor & Education Center. The J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel and Captiva Islands should not be missed.

With seven historic houses in which the early residents of Sanibel lived and worked, the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, founded in 1984, tells the story of Sanibel’s early residents.

Which Airport is Closest to Sanibel Island

Nearest airport to Sanibel Island is Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers. Besides being 28 miles from Sanibel, it’s also the least expensive airport in the area and has plenty of parking.

Visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.  

On the northern tip of Sanibel Island, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is the place for avid shell collectors. The museum has a multitude of fascinating shell displays, from corals and clams to seashells and fossils. It also has a 400-seat theater showing a three-part documentary about the history of shells, as well as a gift shop and a café.

Featured is a new exhibit called “Thrill of the Hunt,” which features a simulated hunt for the hard-to-find shells of the deep. Even if you aren’t that much of a shell buff, you’ll love the interactive displays and the chance to see rare shells up close.

It houses some of the world’s largest shells, including the Goliath conch, the Atlantic trumpet triton, the lightning whelk, and the horse conch.

The shells on Bowman’s Beach are famous for their beauty and variety, but you may have to sift through the sand to find the real treasures.

Shelling Near Sanibel Island

Looking for the best shelling beach on Sanibel Island?  There are no better shelling beaches on Sanibel or Captiva than Turner Beach. which is located on Captiva Island.

Seashell hunters are attracted to it because it has relatively few visitors and a wide variety of seashells.

Allison Hagerup Beach Park: Located on the island’s eastern side, this park is perfect for those looking for a more secluded spot. The park boasts a playground, picnic tables, restrooms, and showers.

As a beach bar, Doc Ford’s at South Seas Resort is themed as a beach shack and has a wide selection of rums, as one would expect from a beach bar.

It serves breakfast all day long and has live music every night.

Captiva Island is home to many beautiful restaurants where you can enjoy fresh seafood or an Italian meal.

surfer forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things to Do at Captiva Island

Check out Captiva Beach, a great place to spend the day.

The powdery white sand, emerald-turquoise water, and impressive sunsets can be found at both Turner Beach and Allison Hagerup Beach Park. Here are some of Captiva Island’s best beaches based on the small details that make them unique.

Turner Beach: This beach is known for its calm waters and soft sand. It is popular with families because it offers plenty of space for kids to run around. There are no lifeguards here, but the beach is patrolled by volunteers who keep watch over swimmers.

Island Cruises And Manatees

There is a lot to do on Captiva Island if you are a nature lover. Sea life is abundant and you will find sea turtle nests, manatees, and even loggerhead sea turtles. You can also take a Captiva Island cruise and view these creatures up close. For more information on Captiva Island cruises and manatees, check out Captiva Island Cruises.

Captiva has a lot of beaches, but the best and most family-friendly is Sanibel East Beach, which is less than a mile from the Mucky Duck Restaurant. You can walk to the beach or take a cab. There is also a boardwalk where you will find restrooms, showers, and a concession stand. The concession stand even sells ice cream! There are also volleyball nets for people to use, if you are looking for a game.

 Shell Seeking And Beach Walking

Even if you’re not staying at South Seas Resort, you can still do pretty much every activity on Captiva. The beach is 5 miles long and almost perfectly rectangular, with Blind Beach to the north and the marina to the south. The Shell Seekers Beach Walk is a fun walking tour of the area, with an orientation and information about the Shell, Cave, and the endangered green sea turtles. Most of it is on the sandy beach, but it also includes the coastal hammock and dunes.

The beach is so beautiful. It’s not just white sand, but also the shells from the nearby coastal caves, which are the largest in the world, and the shells of the green turtles, who nest when the tide is low. The beach is absolutely magical at the right time and is an ideal place to walk if you want to make friends with the turtles or even the sea birds..

Book a Dolphins Cruise

Captiva Island is home to Captain Tony’s Dolphin Discoveries, located on the Captiva Pier. World-class dolphin watching can be found there. You can see many dolphins along the Gulf Coast on a trip with Captain Tony, who leads dolphin and sea turtle tours every day. A dolphin cruise with Captain Tony’s Dolphin Discoveries comes with many exclusive perks, such as special menu items, extra time on the boat, and a welcome gift.  Also, you can go kayaking or horseback riding on the island’s interior if you have time during your stay. For the kids, there is horseback riding available!

Best Restaurants On Captiva Island

There are some really great places to eat at Captiva Island and a few of them are listed below.

Fish House

This is the most popular restaurant on Captiva Island and it is the place locals head to when they want to eat. The food is amazing and the place is always packed.

Water’s Edge

One of the best restaurants on Captiva Island and it is one of the most popular places to eat on the island.

The Ranch

Another great place to eat.

Tween Waters Inn

Tween Waters Inn is the perfect place to take a break and read a book or even write for a while.

The Island Cafe

A great option for breakfast or lunch.

The Marlin Bar is a great place to eat and unwind after a day on the beach and a day of water activities.

 

 

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