“All day long just takin’ it easy, layin’ in a hammock where it's nice and breezy.” Kenny Chesney must have been dreaming of Sanibel Island when he sang those lyrics. Cool Gulf Coast breezes, brilliant Florida sunshine, soft sandy beaches, and a fruity tropical drink in your hand -- Sanibel Island is all that and more.
Only 15 miles long and 5 miles wide, Sanibel Island is an oasis for the weary, a playground for families, and a romantic getaway for couples. The island has a laid-back, cozy feel, partly because the buildings are required by law to be shorter than the tallest tree (three stories max).
Sanibel Island has something to offer every type of traveler. It is a lovely spot for a romantic weekend getaway. It offers lots of options for multigenerational travel. If you are traveling solo and looking for relaxation and rejuvenation, you can zen out on Sanibel. The island is also a great place for a fun time with friends.
It’s also quite accessible. Just a quick trip from Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Florida, and you will be swaying to the tropical beat of Sanibel Island.
Here are just a few reasons Sanibel Island is the ultimate beach getaway.
The Beaches Are Inviting
On Sanibel Island, the beaches are the main attraction. With so many beautiful beaches to choose from, you can visit a different one every day. Many of the beaches have amenities, are handicap accessible, and are inexpensive to park at. Keep in mind, however, that the parking lots are small, so you’ll need to arrive early if you want a space.
Bowman’s Beach is a popular white-sand beach that’s great for sunbathing, shelling, and swimming. Algiers Beach in Gulfside City Park offers lots of shade. At Lighthouse Beach, you can take the nature trail boardwalk through wetlands to a fishing pier. Tarpon Bay Beach requires more than a short walk to the sand. Blind Pass Beach has a large parking lot, making it a good option for those who aren’t early birds.
At the Causeway Beaches, you can pull your vehicle up to the water’s edge to enjoy a picnic and a swim. There are no parking fees, and your toes-in-the-sand experience is steps from your car. Get there early and spend the day sunning, wakeboarding, swimming, shelling, and maybe even napping. Bring all your beach necessities and find that perfect beach-blanket spot.
The Weather Is Nearly Perfect
From December through April, when winter-weary travelers seek out spots to warm their bones in the brilliant Florida sunshine, the weather on Sanibel Island is nearly perfect. You can expect highs in the low 80s and lows in the mid-50s.
The temperature is moderated by ocean breezes. From June through September, you’ll encounter bouts of rain during the day, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to low 90s, and it can be humid. During the shoulder seasons -- May, October, and November -- the temperatures are quite mild, and the island is less crowded.
It Boasts An Abundance Of Seashells
Sanibel Island’s unique shape and orientation bring an abundance of seashells to its shores. More than 250 types of shells can be found on Sanibel Island’s beaches, and shelling is a fun way to learn about local sea life.
During your vacation, you will see visitors and locals -- toting buckets and shovels and sporting the “Sanibel stoop” -- unearthing these treasures. It’s almost impossible to walk the beach and not bend down for a closer look.
In early March, the Sanibel Community House sponsors the Sanibel Shell Festival, where you can find seashells of all kinds. The annual event is the place to find unique shells, shell art, and shell jewelry -- everything a shell aficionado or new collector might need.
You Can Participate In Almost Any Water Sport
Sanibel Island offers every kind of water sport imaginable. The island’s proximity to the Gulf Coast, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Sanibel River means that there’s water everywhere you turn. You can canoe, kayak, party on a pontoon boat, fish, swim, surf, sail, waterski, jet ski -- the list goes on and on.
Plenty of local outfitters offer tours and water sports rentals.
Tarpon Bay Explorers is known for its guided nature tours. Additionally, it rents kayaks (including Hobie fishing kayaks), canoes, stand-up paddleboards, and pontoon boats.
If snorkeling is on your bucket list, visit Sanibel Island Cruise Line. Enjoy an aquatic perspective while searching for shells and observing the local sea life. The snorkeling guides will escort you to the best underwater viewing spots on the island.
Ever wanted to try parasailing? You can get a bird's-eye view of the island with Paradise Parasail. The outfitter has years of experience giving bipeds wings and adrenaline-pumping experiences.
The Boating Opportunities Are Limitless
On Sanibel, you can also rent a boat or join a seafaring tour. You can even sleep on a yacht! It’s pretty much all about the water on Sanibel.
Check out the Cayo Costa Beach Escape Cruise by Adventures In Paradise. Stroll the beaches, collect seashells, and enjoy a picnic on the uninhabited Cayo Costa Island. On your trip out, you’ll spot dolphins, manatees, and many species of aquatic birds.
For Intracoastal Waterways boat rentals, visit the Port Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers. The staff members will deliver your watercraft to your dock. The marina offers a number of options, from a 24-foot Regal to a 20-foot Grady-White. Rentals are available for half-day, full-day, and weeklong enjoyment.
How about a sleepover on a yacht? Airbnb offers a 60-foot yacht that sleeps five. Customizable add-ons include a sunset cruise, romantic dinner, spa options, and more. It's certainly a luxurious way to celebrate island living.
You’ll Love The Peaceful Natural Surroundings
Sanibel Island is the perfect outdoor playground. You can experience its beauty in so many ways, from relaxing on its sandy beaches to hiking through its wildlife refuge.
The Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge offers seven hiking trails through lush vegetation where you can spot migratory and local birds, historic shell mounds, and mangrove forests. The Indigo Trail is a 4-mile walk that begins and ends at the refuge’s visitor center. The Calusa Shell Mound Trail is a wheelchair-accessible, .4-mile boardwalk.
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation maintains a variety of hiking trails and native gardens and offers conservation walks. The Periwinkle Nature Trail is a .6-mile hike lined with live oaks and mastics. The Sanibel Slough Trails comprise 4 miles of wetlands and uplands habitat.
You Can Enjoy Golf With Water Views
The premier Mark McCumber-designed Dunes Golf Club is surrounded by water and nature. Situated in an Audubon Society wildlife preserve, the course is both beautiful and challenging.
The Sanibel Island Golf Club on the Sanibel River is surrounded by all the natural beauty that Sanibel Island has to offer.
If you want to play a quick nine holes with gorgeous views, make the short trip to Captiva Island and tee up at the South Seas Island Resort short course.
Bordering the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and designed by Arthur Hills is The Sanctuary Golf Club. This is a private club, and you will need to contact them to inquire about playing the course as a potential or reciprocal member. You will find that it is worth the extra effort.
The Southern Coastal Cuisine Is To Die For
You can dine across the culinary cutting board on Sanibel Island. Fun, family-friendly cafes and quiet, elegant seaside restaurants abound.
Beachy, kid-friendly Island Cow offers everything from gator to grouper in an island-inspired, casual atmosphere. This is the place to make fun family memories on your visit to Sanibel Island.
For a more refined, traditional menu, Thistle Lodge at the Casa Ybel Beach Resort offers casual beachfront dining. The menu features upscale dishes like pecan-crusted yellowtail snapper and diver scallops. It’s the perfect spot for a quiet dinner.
The Beach Resorts Offer Many Stay Options
Sanibel Island’s accommodations are a mix of luxurious beachfront resorts and family-friendly options.
Song of the Sea, perched on a private Gulf Coast beach, is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway. A complimentary al fresco breakfast, free bike rentals, and access to the Dunes Golf Club are just some of the amenities this outstanding resort offers.
Sundial Beach Resort & Spa offers homey condominiums for the whole family. Its close proximity to the beach, children’s daytime program, and access to the Dunes Golf Club make this resort perfect for a multigenerational trip.
Sanibel Island is small, but packed with lots of ways to personalize your vacation experience. Luxury, adventures in nature, and casual beach experiences are all possible on this island in the sun.