Visitors to Sanibel are always within walking distance of the ocean. Most island hotels are on the southern coastline, facing the Gulf of Mexico. Accommodation ranges from simple cottages and beach bungalow-style bed-and-breakfasts to luxurious condo resorts featuring amenities like full-service spas, swimming pools, restaurants, tennis courts, and private beaches. Other lavish options are also available farther west on the sister island of Captiva.
Most of Sanibel Island’s shopping happens in and around Periwinkle Way. Small shopping centers dot the street, and they tend to be filled with an eclectic mix of quirky gift stores, high-end boutiques, and unfussy restaurants. If you plan on spending some time on adjacent islands, you’ll find clusters of shops whose wares run the gamut from fine jewelry to maritime knickknacks.
With miles of tranquil beaches and verdant wildlife refuges, Sanibel Island offers a wealth of things to see and do. While both ocean and island creeks beckon with challenging water sports or relaxing boat rides, there’s also back-bay and offshore fishing, as well as shelling, for which Sanibel beaches are famous; the island is even home to one of the world’s only shell museums.
Located 3 miles from Florida’s west coast in the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel is an idyllic holiday destination ringed by glittering, shell-rich beaches. A popular spot for activities such as fishing, water sports, and golf, the conservation-minded island draws people wishing to observe its magnificent wildlife like bald eagles, bobcats, and American alligators in its reserves, and dolphins and manatees offshore.
Sanibel Island is a haven for families seeking an activity-fueled getaway. Most of the island’s adventure takes place on or near the water, from dolphin-watching to scouring the shoreline to find that perfect seashell to take home. A trip to the island can also be educational, as your kids will have several opportunities to get close to critters that live under the sea.
Southern Florida’s cuisine is known for its strong Caribbean, Latin American, and Asian influences; its specific flavor profile leans on fresh local seafood and the state’s heavy citrus production. While other cuisines such as Italian and Mexican are available in Sanibel and Captiva, uniquely Floridian dishes - and the Caribbean fusion type known as Floribbean - are clearly the most prevalent on island menus.
Sanibel Island’s combination of seashell-dotted beaches and sprawling wildlife preserves makes it one of Florida’s most distinctive - and natural -destinations. You’re just a bit more than 4 miles from the mainland via the Sanibel Causeway, but the island’s casual vibe makes things feel farther away. And if you need a dose of city excitement, bustling Fort Myers is about a 40-minute drive.
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