sanibel island is famous for it's beautiful gulf beach and it's excellent shelling. sanibel has six public beach accesses. there is timed ticketed parking at the accesses where you pay for the amount of time you want to spend on the beach. these timed tickets are tranferable to any of sanibel's beach accesses. the best time for shelling is just after a storm or right after high tide. see the attached website for parking information. pictured is bowman's beach on the north part of the island.
The beach itself is full of shells, so do not expect to do much on the sand. However the waters are way to enticing to ignore. SO if you have an inclination to swim do head out, otherwise a game of frizbee is fun too. Ideal activity would be sailing since there are strong winds here. The beaches are pet friendly so we saw many people walking or playing with their dogs while here. Do NOT miss the sunset at Tarpon Bay, awesome colors it's almost like the sky's on fire!
Once you are out of the causeway head straight down the road to reach Tarpon Bay, there are a couple of coffee shops and boutique stores enroute. The parking lot is just before the beach, you need to pay at the meter and short hike later you reach this gorgeous beach where there is sailing, pets activity and more. We witnessed a colorful sunset while here, though all dressed for dinner we couldn't resist getting into the water and hanging around till darkenss set upon us! :) Would love to go back here sometime!
If you like bumper-to-bumper traffic, searching for non-existent parking spots, and seeing the beach from the window of your car, Sanibel is the place for you.
If you are lucky enough to actually set foot on the beach, it's OK but not spectacular. Many beaches nearby are just as nice and much easier to access. Cheaper too.
For the 10,000 cars that go to the island every day (after paying $6 toll), there are about 200 parking spots for public beach access. Parking is prohibited everywhere except designated beach lots, which are woefully inadequate. We spent most of our visit looking for parking. Not fun at all. Go to Ft. Myers public beach instead, it's just as nice, maybe better.
After a long-day of seashell picking in beaches on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, I finally found the beach I wanted. I'm not sure if it is called Turner Beach, but it lies right between Captiva and Sanibel Islands, on the Captiva side. There are literally thousands of conches, whelks, olives, and other shells, and it offers some of the best seashell-picking on the island.
The empty seashells you find layered on the beach once were home to soft-tissued animals called mollusks.
Mollusks build their shells by secreting a liquid that eventually hardens around them. As the animals grow, their shells grow with them. Special glands create color pigments just before new layers of shell harden.
Shells and their inhabitants play an important role in Sanibel and Captiva islands ecology.
They help keep the sand neatly in place and restock it with more as they're crushed by waves and other forces. They provide food for birds and fish. The scavenging and filtering performed by certain mollusks help cleanse Gulf waters.
Because seashells are important to the islands' chain of life, and because Sanibel and Captiva are refuge islands where all life is considered precious, the State of Florida has outlawed the collecting of live shells on the island.
"Live shell" is defined as any specimen containing an inhabitant, whether or not the mollusk seems alive. The law also protects sand dollars, starfish and sea urchins. All shelling is prohibited in J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
IMPORTANT...Shellers are urged to limit even their empty-shell collection. Hauling away seashells by the bucketful diminishes supplies and the value of a single shell.
Distinguished from the great egret by its smaller size , its black bill, and yellow feet, the snowy egretcan be spotted from spring through fall, at the edge of the water in a marsh.
In the latter part of the 19th century and into the early twentieth, snowy egret plumes were very popular on hats. The result was that these birds were hunted until they were nearly extinct.
SNOWY EGRET HABITAD
Found along much of the East Coast and elsewhere in the U.S., snowy egrets spend the winter from South Carolina southward. Their main foods are fish, crabs, amphibians, and insects.
Snowy egrets breed once a year, and females lay three to five greenish blue eggs that hatch in three to four weeks.
Their platform-like nests are built primarily of twigs and are located in trees (about seven feet, more or less, above the ground) or even on the ground.
Over 300 species of birds visit the island, making it a popular spot for birdwatching year round. Many mistake this egret for a heron. The easy way to tell the difference: the heron has yellow-greenish legs, the egret's will be black.
Is the fabled shelling as good as they say? I thought it was pretty good. I grew up in southern California when the shelling used to be pretty good (abalone shells, sand dollars, et cetera), but in Sanibel I found lots of little conch, scallops, welks, and tulips. After the first day what I really enjoyed was finding the live ones stranded in the tidal pools near my hotel and putting them in the deeper water. I had never seen live conch before. I also found some very large live scallops, a 9-legged starfish, and two live sand dollars, one as large as the palm of my hand. Collecting live shells is illegal for good reason and I was always worried someone might come along and take these guys. It's a shame, because once I saw them, I realized how much better it was just to enjoy them temporarily rather than killing them to put on a shelf somewhere.
alison hagerrup beach is the only public beach on captiva island. this beautiful beach is located next to the south seas plantation resort on the northern end of captiva island.
this beautiful beach is located next to the sanibel island lighthouse. this is one of six public beaches on sanibel island. a great beach for fishing and shelling.
find it yet? ok, it looks kind of far away, but this dolphin was just 20 feet off the beach. I never get tire of the Florida wildlife.
We enjoy kayaking out in the bay.
We like to go from the beach at
the end of Buttonwood Lane on
the inland side and kayak to the
fishing pier near the lighthouse.