At 15 miles long and just 5 miles across, Sanibel Island brings together the best Southwest Florida has to offer in an intimate, charming island setting. Spend your morning collecting seashells on its world-renowned white-sand beaches and your afternoon exploring the protected nature that makes up more than half of the island. Tempt your taste buds with cuisine from fresh Gulf flavors to homemade Italian. Stroll...
At 15 miles long and just 5 miles across, Sanibel Island brings together the best Southwest Florida has to offer in an intimate, charming island setting. Spend your morning collecting seashells on its world-renowned white-sand beaches and your afternoon exploring the protected nature that makes up more than half of the island. Tempt your taste buds with cuisine from fresh Gulf flavors to homemade Italian. Stroll the streets lined by colorful bougainvillea and swaying palms to find coastal treasures and fashion in shops and boutiques. With no stoplights and no buildings taller than the tallest palm, the views will always enchant — day or night.
With more than 400 types of seashells that wash ashore on its beaches every day, it’s no wonder that Sanibel Island is known as the “Seashell Capital of the World.” Its unique east-west orientation brings thousands of seashells to its unspoiled shoreline. People from all around the world travel here to do the “Sanibel Stoop” — crouching down to seek out pastel-colored seashells near the turquoise waters. Find your ocean treasures at Blind Pass Beach, Turner Beach and Bowman’s Beach where you can also fish from the shore and catch breathtaking sunsets. On the eastern tip of the island, visit Lighthouse Beach Park where you can see the historic lighthouse, soak up the sun in the sand, or cast your line off the Sanibel Island Fishing Pier.
Families will find recreation and educational signs at Gulfside City Beach Park, and can dive deeper into the world of seashells at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum where kids (and adults!) can interact with live mollusks in Touch Pools and see special rotating exhibitions. When you’re ready to explore wildlife above the water, journey along the Wildlife Drive at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a 6,400-acre refuge that contains the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States, as well as wetlands teeming with reptiles, amphibians, mammals and more than 245 species of birds.
Sanibel Island boasts 25 miles of multi-use paths for strolling and cycling. As you explore, look for special information panels along the Sanibel Heritage Trail to learn more about the island’s unique history. Art galleries feature local and national artists, and BIG ARTS curates artistic experiences ranging from film to performing artists and lecturers to gallery exhibits. Explore coastal fashion and custom seascape adornments in small shopping centers, making sure to stop by Bailey’s General Store, which has been serving the community since 1899. Enjoy casual and flavorful dining at places like Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille and The Island Cow, or head to Sweet Melissa’s Café or Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant for fine dining.
No matter where you go on Sanibel Island, the warmth and charm of this island community will have you coming back for more.
Plan Your Trip
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