Every year for the last decade now, my family has taken a trip to Sanibel Island. We love it there! Going to Sanibel has become a tradition and it is one that my family looks forward to each year. From the Daytona Beach area, it is about a five hour drive. Sanibel Island is located right off of Fort Myers.
Here are 10 things to love about visiting Sanibel Island:
- Biking. Sanibel Island has to be one of the most pedestrian friendly places there is. There are paved bike paths everywhere and people are biking, running, and walking to their destinations and to get exercise. It makes me wish that every city was this pedestrian friendly! We routinely bike 20 miles in a day, going all over the place on bikes. You can rent them or take your own, but you will not want to miss biking the island.
- Beaches. There are numerous beach accesses around Sanibel Island and its connecting Captiva Island. You can check out numerous different beaches to explore. There are opportunities to take excursions, swim, and more. Yes, we live by a beach, but the beaches are different there. Take some kind of flip flops or water shoes, because the millions of shells on the beach will hurt your feet if you go barefoot. We stay close to the beach (about a 6 minute bike ride away), so we even go down there at night with our headlamps on and take a walk to explore.
- Shelling. Hands down, Sanibel Island has the best shelling in the state of Florida! We love finding so many great seashells there. Check out my post here on the shelling and see the many shells we bring back on our trips.
- Dining. While we cook most of our meals in the travel trailer, it's nice to get to dine out and try some new spots. Each year we go to Cheeburger Cheeburger, and this year we also checked out the vegan cafe called Sanibel Sprout. There are a lot of little cafes and restaurants on the island, giving you a chance to explore new places.
- Wildlife. If you enjoy seeing wildlife, you will like visiting Sanibel Island. Especially if you are a birder, like me! You can visit the wildlife refuge there and see lots of birds, in addition to alligators and other wildlife. When the kids were younger, we used to drive through the wildlife refuge. Now that they are older, we have biked and hiked through it. My favorite is to bike through it, making stops along the way to observe and take photos.
- Learning. There are some great learning opportunities on Sanibel Island. You can visit the CROW wildlife center, the Shell Museum, and the Conservation Foundation, among other places. Plus, during our stay, we always leave the island for one day to explore somewhere and hike. Each year, we pick new places to explore on that day. Some of the places we have explored on the day we leave the island include the Corkscrew Swamp, Hickey Creek Trail, Manatee Park, Edison & Ford Winter Estates, and Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve.
- Relaxing. There is just something about being on an island that is relaxing. Once you make your way over the bridge you will just feel that you are on an island and you will want to be on island time, which is taking things slow and relaxing!
- Sunsets. Captiva Island, which is connected to Sanibel Island, is just minutes down the road. The beaches there offer wonderful sunset views. Many people head to a Captiva beach in the evening to watch the beautiful sunsets.
- Camping. If you enjoy camping, you do what we do and stay at the Periwinkle Campground, right on the island. For the last three years we camp on the island. It's wonderful! It's an affordable way to stay on the island and take advantage of biking everywhere. Plus, with the travel trailer we can cook many meals right there, rather than eat all meals out at restaurants, so that saves money. It's about $60 per night to camp at Periwinkle Campground. They offer both tent and RV camping. Before we had the trailer, we stayed in a hotel on the island once (too expensive!), and the other years we used to stay at a hotel right off the island (about half the price of staying on the island, then we'd drive over the bridge each day to spend the day on the island).
- Trying some place new. You may be looking for a new place to check out, and this will give it to you. You will have a new island to explore and enjoy!
Each year, we take our trip to Sanibel in either the winter or spring. This year, while I was there I asked a waitress when the busy season is. She said it's summer time. I'm sure she would notice the fluctuations in crowds during the different times of year, but according to US News & World Report, the best time to visit Sanibel Island is December through April (when we always go). We always get nice temperatures, very little rain, and it's always pleasant enough to bike the island. I'm afraid in the summer it would be too warm and possibly too buggy enjoy the biking.