Sanibel Island Travel Guide

  • captiva beach
    captiva beach
    by doug48
  • Sanibel Island
    by abi_maha
  • alison hagerup public beach
    alison hagerup public beach
    by doug48

Sanibel Island Highlights

  • Pro
    Aussie666 profile photo

    Aussie666 says…

     great walking/shelling and off season lack of crowds 

  • Con
    WanderingAimlessly profile photo

    WanderingAimlessly says…

     Can be crowded and public parking is expensive 

  • In a nutshell
    ellielou profile photo

    ellielou says…

     a welcome respite from the unchecked development found elsewhere in the Sunshine State 

Sanibel Island Things to Do

  • J.N. Ding Darling Refuge

    after sanibel island's beautiful beaches the ding darling national wildlife refuge is one of the most visited attractions in sanibel. the refuge was created in 1945 and is named after j.n. "ding" darling who was instrumenal in saving this part of sanibel island from development. this 6,400 acre refuge has mangrove forest, cordgrass marsh, and...

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  • Beach Activities

    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...

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  • Historic Sanibel Lighthouse

    First lit on August 20, 1884, the 98-foot tall iron skeleton tower closely resembles the current Cape San Blas lighthouse tower. Both towers have a central spiral staircase beginning about 10 feet above the ground.

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Sanibel Island Hotels

Sanibel Island Restaurants

  • The Lazy Flamingo

    the lazy flamingo is a casual "key west" style restaurant and bar in sanibel. they specialize in local sea food and casual american fare. good food moderately priced. their shrimp dishes were quite good.

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  • Gramma Dots

    Great setting. You can smell the water. (You decide if that is good or bad.) Most items are fried. The grouper sandwich is popular, but I'm not fond of it. You can't go wrong with a burger and a beer. Service is solid in a diner sort of way. Prices reflect the location.

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  • Morgan's Forest

    This restaurant came highly recommended to us by Bob, (AKA) tropicdiver. He is an expert on this area, if you are going here, please check out his pages. As it turns out, he is also an expert in good food, his favorite eating spots, became ours too! This is deffinately a tripple threat restaurant! They have it all! Great food, great service, and...

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Sanibel Island Nightlife

  • Nightlife

    In a lot of beach towns, (and I mean A LOT), the beach closes at 11:00pm, and you are not allowed back on it until dawn. In Sanibel, most of the accomidations are walking distance to the beach, and a quiet deserted beach. A quiet, moonlit walk on beach can be had here!

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  • fun bar

    the bar at the bubble room restaurant is located on the second floor. this very interesting bar is decorated with hollywood memoribilia. a fun place to have a drink or two in captiva. casual.

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  • Here, you can hold hands, and walk on...

    In a lot of beach towns, (and I mean A LOT), the beach closes at 11:00pm, and you are not allowed back on it until dawn. In Sanibel, most of the accomidations are walking distance to the beach, and a quiet deserted beach. A quiet, moonlit walk on beach can be had here!

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Sanibel Island Transportation

  • Transportation

    I used Santiva Cab this time to get to Sanibel from the airport. What a pleasant surprise. The van was new and comfortable - other cabs I used in the past were older and did not seem so clean. The driver, Roland, really knew the island and was really friendly and professional. I felt like I got my money's worth at $55. I will call them again to get...

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  • Local Maps

    It's pretty hard to get lost as this is a small island with a few well-marked main roads. Okay, so we did go around in circles a few times, but we weren't paying attention! The main roads across are Periwinkle Way, which you come onto as you leave the causeway (really long bridge). You'll run into Tarpon (not Tampon) Bay Road. Go right to get onto...

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  • Santiva Cab is the new kid in town and a...

    I used Santiva Cab this time to get to Sanibel from the airport. What a pleasant surprise. The van was new and comfortable - other cabs I used in the past were older and did not seem so clean. The driver, Roland, really knew the island and was really friendly and professional. I felt like I got my money's worth at $55. I will call them again to get...

    more

Sanibel Island Shopping

  • Shopping

    This shop is quirky with a large range of item prices for the unpretentious shopper, someone interested in different things from the past. It has more vintage and country store and home goods than just decorative overpriced stuff you often find in antique shops. I found particularly interesting the vintage postcard collection they have (most about...

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  • shopping for shells

    all kinds of sea shells some from around the world Africa to S Pacific , Australia ect sea shells $10 to $200

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  • Quaint Antique Shop even Dudes would...

    This shop is quirky with a large range of item prices for the unpretentious shopper, someone interested in different things from the past. It has more vintage and country store and home goods than just decorative overpriced stuff you often find in antique shops. I found particularly interesting the vintage postcard collection they have (most about...

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Sanibel Island Local Customs

  • Beach Activities

    NO LIVE SHELLING!!! Collecting shells in Sanibel is great fun, and the place is famous for this activity. Live shelling is illegal, and you can be jailed and or fined $500.00 for rape and pillage of local wild life, and rightly so. Enjoy collecting the dead shells, and throw the live ones back! There is no sport in snuffing out the species of...

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  • coffee

    I asked the innkeeper where I could get good coffee on the island. She replied, "The Bean, everyone goes there...7-11 has real good coffee too." hmm, not encouraging :/Still the bean is 'ok' it is a nice place to relax. The coffee was ok, I'm guessing a bit better than 7-11.

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  • Weddings on the Beach

    You can't watch sunset without seeing some lucky couple tying the knot on the beach. Both Sanibel and Captiva Islands are incredibly beautiful, romantic and easily accesible....the perfect place for a beach wedding. Whether you prefer tuxes and gowns, or Hawaiian shirts and shorts, Sanibel and Captiva are the most memorable destination for a beach...

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Sanibel Island Warnings and Dangers

  • Word to the wise

    For 6 out of our 7 day stay, we experienced afternoon thunderstorms. These storms usually ended within an hour, the longest lasted about 2 hours. You could see the clouds building each afternoon, and if you're on the water, you can see exactly where the rain is, and which direction it is heading!

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  • Janie's Story

    Copied from the KATC3 website news story:SANIBEL, Fla. (AP) ? A 12-foot alligator attacked a landscaper Wednesday behind an island home, dragging her into a pond before a neighbor and police officers yanked the woman from the animal's jaws."It was kind of a tug-of-war," said the neighbor, Jim Anholt.Part of Janie Melsek's right arm had to be...

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  • bike lanes

    there are bike lanes that run along both sides of periwinkle way through sanibel island. be very careful when entering drive ways along periwinkle and also when exiting on to periwinkle way. bikes have the right of way and many people on bikes ignore turning traffic. be sure to look both ways for bikes when turning on to sanibel streets.

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Sanibel Island Tourist Traps

  • IveP's Profile Photo
    Photo take on July 19th, 2014 by  TC Ferguson

    by IveP Updated Aug 9, 2013

    Way to crowded and no longer a quiet beach or island. Summer use to be the off time now it's the same as Winter and Spring with its crowed beaches, loud music, and beach gear and trash left on the beaches from all the people. Not the same place it was in the mid 80s. It seems more crowded every years and it seems busier every time. The crowd that comes now has changed the beaches and the island. A "different" type than in the past; many of the new people/visitors like to party hard and drink a lot at the beach, pool, etc. and that leads to loud, rowdy behavior.This is a sanctuary island and there is more disrespectful behavior even with all the signs on the beachs and streets too.

    Unique Suggestions: Since Sanibel has made the "best" lists on the past few years the quaintness and quietness is dissipating. It hasn't been this crowded in 26 years.

    Fun Alternatives: Ft Myers beaches

    Anna Maria Island near Bradenton and close to Busch Gardens and its water park an hour further is Disney, Universal and more

    Honeymoon St park and Caladesi´s island with its white sand beaches were rated America's Best Beach in 2008 in Dunedin, Florida

    Indian Rocks Beach south of Honeymoon island

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Beaches

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Sanibel Island What to Pack

  • Packing List

    Mosquito Repellent if you go out at night. Sunblock for day, are must have's! Water Shoes, once in the water it is pretty soft, but getting there is...ouch...ohh....ouch...ohh. Load 'em if you got 'em! Screen House, Box for food, lots 'o wild life

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  • The norm for the beach and...

    Mosquito Repellent if you go out at night. Sunblock for day, are must have's! Water Shoes, once in the water it is pretty soft, but getting there is...ouch...ohh....ouch...ohh. Load 'em if you got 'em! Screen House, Box for food, lots 'o wild life

    more
  • bug spray and water shoes

    If you are walking the beaches of Sanibel, I highly recommend some type of water shoe, as there are bazillions of shells, broken shells on the beach. Also I am told there can be little sting rays but I didn't see any in the shallows

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Sanibel Island Off The Beaten Path

  • J.N. Ding Darling Refuge

    The wildlife refuge is a protected area for snakes, alligators, bald eagles and falcons. Unfortunately, I didn't see any while there. I spent a bit of time wandering around the refuge and reading the exhibits at the visitor's center. There are a couple of trails in the area, including one which starts at the visitor's center and leads 4 miles to an...

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  • Sanibel Light house

    Located on the east end of the island, part of a wildlife refuge. Don't make a special trip here to tour the lighthouse. There aren't any tours. Best you get is a marker at the base of the lighthouse. It will tell you that the lighthouse was first put into service in August of 1884. I wondered if the lighthouse even existed, as I had to walk...

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  • Water Sports

    There's a few marina's on Captiva which all rent out small watercraft that are easy to handle. That way you can get away from the crowds within 20 minutes and do some secluded shelling north of Captiva, snorkel around Cabbage Key or just go for that all over tan!! They'll provide easy to follow maps and instructions so you don't get lost while...

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Sanibel Island Sports & Outdoors

  • Water Sports

    The pier is near the causeway on San Carlos Bay. Many fish can be caught here because the water is deep and the tide runs swiftly. Best chances of fish to be caught: snook, trout, redfish, Spanish mackerel, and sheepshead. All nonresidents over the age of 16 must have a saltwater fishing license. Florida residents ages 16-65 need a saltwater...

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  • See you later, alligator!

    In addition to spending time on the fabulous beaches, my other most favorite activity on Sanibel Island was a hiking tour across the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors can walk, bike, drive, or kayakthrough the wildlife refuge and will encounter mangrove forests, swampy rivers, unbelievable vegetation...and lots of wildlife, for...

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  • biking

    The Island is very friendly to bicycles. They have bike paths everywhere and rental shops with all manner of bicycles. We brought our own. errr, a bike would be helpful

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Sanibel Island Favorites

  • Beach Activities

    Algiers Beach -Algiers Lane Sanibel Bowman's Beach -Bowman Beach Road Sanibel Lighthouse Park Beach -Periwinkle Way Sanibel Tarpon Bay Road Beach -Tarpon Bay Road Sanibel i use this site to find dog-friendly places for my pooches: www.dogfriendly.com

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  • J.N. Ding Darling Refuge

    Okay, so maybe I'm crazy, but I managed to visit Universal Studios Islands of Adventures and the Everglades in the three days we had in Sanibel. We also visited the J Ding Wild life refuge that is on Sanibel, which has lots of birds and we did see one alligator as we drove through. It has a nice visitor center with things for kids to do. We...

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  • Sunsets

    I met up with Vt veteran TropicDiver while I was in the Ft. Myers area for a little sunset photographic jaunt to Sanibel Island. For those of you who never saw Bob's original pages (he deleted them from VT last year, our loss), he's the connoisseur of sunsets. I’m a beginner at the photography thing, so I’ve been influenced by several of the fine...

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