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 Things to Do

  • Historic Sanibel Lighthouse

    4 out of 5 stars

    you have to pay for parking but you can see some cool things at the beach near the lighthouse .. cool driftwood make nice photo back drop .. some shells and star fish... sea life .. rays and dolphins. possibly a shark or two but we never had trouble with them. lots fishing.

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  • Beach Activities

    Huge variety of birds all throughout Sanibel and Captiva .. I try to keep some sort of camera with me because when I don't I see something I wanted to capture on film ... lol showing my age .. capture with my camera. You see birds in the water, on pools, marinas, in trees, on the ground .. they are everywhere.

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  • J.N. Ding Darling Refuge

    4.5 out of 5 stars

    I got there every day that we are there .. the earlier you can go the better .. of course in the winter would be the ideal time to go but haven't been there then .. spring and fall are usually when we are there. I've seen crabs, snakes, otters, manatees, lots of birds. But you have to be patient and really look .. birds are illusive to find.

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Sanibel Island Hotels

Sanibel Island Restaurants

  • The Lazy Flamingo

    4 out of 5 stars

    First of all I like seafood ... I'd heard this was good so we gave it a try. Personally I wasn't impressed with the food or the place. We both got different fish sandwiches and we both agreed it was just ok and we wouldn't return. There are just so many better seafood places on the island. I didn't like that it came in a basket so the sandwich was...

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  • Island Cow

    4.5 out of 5 stars

    they serve all 3 meals .. we have lunch there a lot. They give awesome muffins right after your seated .. never know what kind. Another fav is the shrimp tacos, bean soup. Super cute place lots of cow stuff décor. Seating outside ... nice place to relax. we tried their milkshakes once and that s the only thing we weren't super impressed with.

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  • Gramma Dots

    3.5 out of 5 stars

    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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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...

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Sanibel Island Shopping

  • Shopping

    Very cute shop .. hand made cards, jewelry, hair accessories .. yoga chip which are awesome hair clips that are super comfortable, their famous long lasting catnip. sun catchers, cute decorative things and gadgets. It's girlie stuff not much there guys would want but stuff girls think is cute. theres a cute breakfast place next door

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  • Suncatchers' Dream

    Very cute shop .. hand made cards, jewelry, hair accessories .. yoga chip which are awesome hair clips that are super comfortable, their famous long lasting catnip. sun catchers, cute decorative things and gadgets. It's girlie stuff not much there guys would want but stuff girls think is cute. theres a cute breakfast place next door

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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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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

    Sanibel Island not what it use to be.

    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

    Photo take on July 19th, 2014 by  TC Ferguson
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Beaches
    • Eco-Tourism

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Sanibel Island What to Pack

  • Packing List

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: The beach is FULL of tiny shells so you need beach shoes or at least rubber bottomed flip flops. Of course sunscreen and bug repellant and aloe. but if you try to walk the beach bare footed ... you will not like it. I'd say take a mesh bag for shelling... you never know when you will find a shell our sand dollar .....

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  • What to pack

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: The beach is FULL of tiny shells so you need beach shoes or at least rubber bottomed flip flops. Of course sunscreen and bug repellant and aloe. but if you try to walk the beach bare footed ... you will not like it. I'd say take a mesh bag for shelling... you never know when you will find a shell our sand dollar .....

    more
  • 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

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Sanibel Island Off The Beaten Path

  • J.N. Ding Darling Refuge

    We go at various times of the year and each time it's a different experience. It also pays to go at different times of the day. We have seen various birds, alligator, snake but my favorite it was a mantee and her baby. We were actually stopping to see a bird on a dead tree when my husband spotted the manatee ... yeahhh how cute, having trouble...

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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 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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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 General

  • 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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Explore Deeper into Sanibel Island
The Beach
Things to Do
Island flowers and plants
Things to Do
Museums
Things to Do
Morgan's Forest
Restaurants
Matzaluna
Restaurants
Rosies Island Market & Deli
Restaurants
Bailey-Matthew Shell Museum
Off The Beaten Path
great bird watching
Off The Beaten Path
beach by the lighthouse is worth checking out
Things to Do
One of our favs
Restaurants
One of our favs
Restaurants
Love this place
Things to Do
Birds at the beach and water
Things to Do
lots to see but you have to really look
Things to Do
Not the prettiest lighthouse but worth a visit
Things to Do
Our Favorite Diner spot on the island
Restaurants
Our fav for lunch on Sanibel
Restaurants
We wouldn't return
Restaurants
If you like shells this is your beach
Things to Do
If you like shells this is your beach
Things to Do
beach birds
Things to Do
Manatees
Off The Beaten Path
Beaches
Things to Do
Bailey Shell museum
Things to Do
Sanibel Shell Festival
Things to Do
Great food & Ice Cream
Restaurants
What a waste
Restaurants
Best Ice Cream on the Island
Restaurants
Surrounded by boats
Restaurants
Quaint Antique Shop even Dudes would like
Shopping
italian
Restaurants
Presentation, taste, and atmosphere!
Restaurants
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Off The Beaten Path
bowman's beach
Things to Do
j.n. "ding" darling national wildlife refuge
Things to Do
Birds and Beautiful Nature at Ding
Things to Do
Sanibel Island Lighthouse
Things to Do
Bird Watcher's Paradise
Things to Do
See the Spoonbills
Things to Do
Mystery Bird
Things to Do

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Map of Sanibel Island