Sanibel Island Information & Travel Tipps – learn what makes Sanibel Island the ideal place for your next vacation.
Best Sights and Attractions
Rest and Relaxation far from mass tourism – this is the main selling point of Sanibel, an island in Lee County. Here, regulations dictate that no building can be taller than a palm tree, so big hotels are non-existent. For a long time, Sanibel Island could only be reached by boat – a fact that added to its exclusive atmosphere. Still today, the island does not feature big restaurant chains or even traffic lights. Instead, traffic is regulated the classy way: by policemen with white cotton gloves.
Sanibel Island attracts visitors with its scenic beaches, and thanks to pleasant temperatures and warm water, you can swim here all year round. Alternatively, take a stroll on the beach and fill your pockets with colorful sea shells. Nowadays, Sanibel Island can be reached comfortably via the Sanibel Causeway. The car ride from Cape Coral only takes 30 minutes. Of course, you can always just rent a boat and dock at the extensive Sanibel Marina. The island itself only measures 12 miles in length and can easily be explored by bicycle.
If you have not already collected enough ocean treasures on the beach, you can visit “She Sells Sea Shells“. This aptly named little shop offers beautiful jewelry made from shells, as well as Sand Dollars, little crustaceans that resemble coins. More shells and fossils are displayed at the Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum. Here, you can also see necklaces created by Sanibel’s native inhabitants. For a journey to the old days of Sanibel, visit the History Museum with its exhibits from the 1920s or take a stroll through the historic city center. Sanibel has always been a favorite place for artists who want to capture South Florida’s natural beauty. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the BIG ARTS gallery, which also serves as a venue for theater shows and concerts.
The beaches of Sanibel Island are not only known for their fine sand. Nowhere else in the USA will you find more sea shells than here. Most popular with vacationers is Bowman’s Beach. This coastal spot attracts sun worshippers, shell collectors and wind surfers alike, without being overly crowded.
Located further to the north is Blind Pass Beach, a perfect spot for fishing and watching dolphins off the coast. Do you like romantic walks? Then, Sanibel’s lighthouse is ideal for you. This historic building has helped captains navigate the island’s waters since 1884. Nearby, at beautiful Lighthouse Beach, you can watch pelicans hunting for fish. In the evening locals and visitors alike gather at Sanibel’s beaches to watch the sunset. If you are lucky, you might even see the “Green Flash” – a phenomenon that occurs shortly before the sun sets on the horizon. For more scenic beaches, visit Captiva Island: Sanibel’s neighboring island is just as beautiful, but even more quiet and secluded.
Nature lovers will feel right at home at the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This preserve makes up almost a third of Sanibel Island and is home to animals like herons, pelicans, alligators and Florida’s famous manatees. From May to October thousands of sea turtles are hatching on the beaches. Visitors have the choice to hike on trails through the mangroves or explore the park by car or bicycle. In addition, the refuge features rich fishing grounds teeming with trout, snook and redfish
Accommodation and Restaurants
Sanibel Island does not house any big hotels. But this does not mean that the island is lacking accommodation options. A popular place for vacationers is the Island Inn, a 3-star hotel directly at the beach. Here, guests will find spacious rooms and a restaurant with live music. Located slightly to the east is the Casa Ybel Resort with 114 luxurious rooms. Some of them come with their own balcony and spectacular ocean views. The resort also features a cocktail bar right next to the pool. Scenic nature and a casual, relaxed atmosphere await guests at the Kona Kai Motel. In additional, Sanibel Island has no shortage of vacation houses for rent.
For hungry visitors Sanibel offers a wide variety of local and international dining options: from steak restaurants and vegetarian choices to Chinese food and Italian pizza. Looking for excellent seafood and Latin specialties? Then have a seat at Doc Ford´s Rum Bar & Grille. There is hardly a better place for dessert than Pinochio´s Original Italian Icea Cream. Their Sanibel Krunch ice cream with nuts and roasted coconut flakes is particularly popular. Another highly rated restaurant is Trader´s Café and Store. Here, guests enjoy fish specialties and shrimp cocktails in elegant surroundings.
Climate and Weather
The weather on Sanibel Island is moderately warm, with average temperatures of 23.3 degrees Celsius. However, there is a high chance of precipitation the whole year round – even during December, the driest month. Main season lasts from November to April, but vacationers can still enjoy plenty of sunshine during the summer months.