Sanibel Island is a tropical retreat known for its quiet shores and its warm, shallow water. Beach goers can enjoy local seafood restaurants, swaying palm trees, and an abundance of sea shells, while nature lovers flock to the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to see alligators, herons, and other wildlife.
Sanibel Island is decidedly sleepier than many other Florida beach resorts. Take a stroll down Periwinkle Way, the island’s main street, for shopping and restaurants, or head to one of several public beaches on the island to take advantage of the sun and sand. Visitors can enjoy the island independently or explore Sanibel as part of a multi-day tour of Florida’s West Coast, which typically also include the Everglades and Fort Myers.
Things to Know Before You Go
Sanibel Island is a favorite Florida destination for families, thanks to its relaxed vibe and calm waters.
Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and swimwear; many of the beaches have limited shade.
Bring insect repellent, as sand flies can bite.
How to Get There
Sanibel Island is accessible via Florida Highway 867 and is approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Fort Myers, Florida. The easiest way to get there is by car, but be prepared to pay a toll to cross the Sanibel Causeway. The nearest airport is the Southwest Florida International Airport.
When to Get There
While the weather is best between January and April, this is also the peak tourist season on the island; be sure to book ahead if you’re visiting during this time. September and October tend to be the quietest months.
Shelling on Sanibel Island
Collecting seashells ranks among the most popular pastimes on Sanibel Island—so much so that the act of bending over to pick up a shell is known as the Sanibel Stoop. The practice is permitted on all public beaches, so bring a bucket or net bag to hold your treasures. Look for larger shells near the Captiva side of the island and smaller shells closer to the lighthouse.
- Things to do in Florida
- Things to do in Naples
- Things to do in Sarasota
- Things to do in St Petersburg
- Things to do in Tampa
- Things to do in Clearwater
- Things to do in Boca Raton
- Things to do in Everglades National Park
- Things to do in West Palm Beach
- Things to do in Fort Lauderdale
- Things to do in Miami
- Things to do in Orlando
- Things to do in Key West
- Things to do in Grand Bahama Island
- Things to do in New Providence Island
- J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
- Fort Myers Beach
- Zoomers Amusement Park
- Lakes Park
- Edison and Ford Winter Estates
- Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
- Southwest Florida Museum of History
- IMAG History and Science Center
- Burroughs Home & Gardens
- Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium
- Manatee Park
- Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve