Neighborhood Spotlight: Sanibel Island
While Sanibel and Captiva islands are linked by San-Cap Road, each island has a personality all its own. Repeat visitors and longtime residents are happy to share their favorite Sanibel gems, while first-time visitors will never tire of discovering new areas to dine, explore and unwind.
Only 12 miles long and 3 miles wide, Sanibel Island is known far and wide as the “Seashell Capital of the World” — and for good reason! As many as 400 different types of seashells wash up on its shores every day.
Venture to Bowman’s Beach, Blind Pass Beach Park or Gulfside City Park to enjoy our shell-strewn sands. Low tide in the morning is your best bet for collecting the widest variety of pristine pastel-colored shells. Look around, and you’ll see lots of people doing the “Sanibel Stoop” when they bend down to hunt for seashells. Recovery efforts are still underway from the effects of Hurricane Ian, so not all facilities or amenities may be available at this time. We recommend wearing beach shoes and paying close attention to posted signs.
When you’re not on the beach, there are many other ways to experience Sanibel’s natural beauty. The Bailey Homestead Preserve is part of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, with 9 acres of native landscapes and a garden center open to the public, and another 19 acres dedicated to supporting wildlife. Spend time outdoors cycling or walking along miles of multi-use paths throughout the island, spot wildlife at the beloved J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, or explore the mangrove forest along Tarpon Bay through a guided kayak tour.
The official Sanibel Heritage Trail shares insights into significant sites like the Sanibel Lighthouse, which was relit in a triumphant ceremony months after enduring damage from Hurricane Ian. Standing 98 feet over the Gulf, this local landmark is once again shining bright on the southern end of Sanibel’s shores. Rent a bicycle from a local shop, and you’ll be able to easily explore points of interest along 25-plus miles of paved paths.
As you ride or walk along Periwinkle Way, you’ll pass by cafés, boutique shops and art galleries. Explore and work up an appetite in the fresh air, as there’s always somewhere delicious to stop for a meal. Grab coffee and scrambled eggs at Jerry’s Cafe, get a slice at Island Pizza or cool off with a frozen custard at The Shack of Sanibel. Sunset is the perfect time to sit down for coastal cuisine at Traders or eclectic fine dining at Cielo. Expect a warm welcome on Sanibel Island where the locals are happy to have you back, and you’re bound to have a memorable time.