Sanibel Island is the perfect one-size-fits-all destination for everyone, whether it's the topic of a family vacation, romantic couples getaway, or just a solo trip. As one of Florida's top ten best beach towns, it has a reputation to live up to - and it certainly does. This island is full of gorgeous nature to immerse oneself in, it's home to a plethora of tempting waterside restaurants, and, of course, 15 miles of beaches.
With so much to do, it's a tougher challenge to figure out what to do first on this beautiful Florida island. Sanibel plays hosts to many activities that visitors will surely be interested in such as shelling for that perfect work of art by Mother Nature, snorkeling its clear waters, and even hiking. We've got the details on everything a newcomer can fill their day with, from start to finish.
Daytime Beach Activities: Shelling, Nature Walks, Snorkeling& Scuba
Shelling On The Beach
One thing that Sanibel Island is known for (besides its beaches, of course!) is shelling. According to the Sanibel Chamber of Commerce, the island is one of the best places in the world to find unique shells - and its shores are home to more than 250 different types.
It's recommended that shellers look anywhere from the lighthouse all the way to North Captiva, and it's not likely that they'll be alone - people come from all over the world to seek out false angel wings and coquinas. Don't worry, they'll be easily recognized thanks to the 'Sanibel Stoop!' Many hotels along the beach have specific areas that are used just to clean and rinse off shells after beachcombers come back for the day.
Exploring Nature Walks
Sanibel Island provides a tropical feel with its seaside atmosphere, and hiking along its shores is a great way to immerse oneself in it all.
A great family-friendly activity that adults and kids will love is touring any one of the island's self-guided nature walks. See the best views on the island, watch Florida's native wildlife, and explore all of its most photography-worthy spots.
Experiencing Marine Life In Two Different Ways
Offshore activities include snorkeling and scuba, both of which are helped by the shipwrecks and man-made reefs that exist just off the coast. These help marine life to grow and thrive, making for a colorful (literally!) underwater environment to explore. Snorkeling is a great way to take in all of this beautiful sea life from the shore, while scuba allows visitors to get an immersive, in-depth look at both the wrecks, reefs, and tropical fish under the surface.
Out Of The Sun: Food, Historical Tours, Nightlife & Entertainment
Restaurants To Suit Any Taste
Sanibel and Captiva Islands are home to anything from outdoor, pet-friendly dining to lounges and sports bars. So, basically, anything a visitor wants, a visitor can find!
Gluten-free options are available, as well, in addition to steakhouses, breakfast-centered cafes, and, of course, the freshest seafood. Meals with a view are definitely not in short supply anywhere on the island, and any beachside establishment promises a stellar ocean view.
Historic Sanibel Spots
The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village is a must-stop for anyone who's interested in the area's history. During their visit, guests will explore this nod to the 19th and 20th centuries that is devoted to the original pioneers of the area. The town's 1926 Post Office, Miss Charlotte's Tea Room, Baily's General Store, the original schoolhouse, and several homes that belonged to Sanibel and Captiva Island's early inhabitants.
The Sanibel Island Lighthouse, also known as Point Ybel Light, is another historic spot on the island. It's a hotspot for photography and was lit for the first time in 1884; while the lighthouse itself is not open to visitors, the surrounding grounds are beautiful.
There's Always A Party Somewhere
At almost every major restaurant, visitors will find live music or some form of nighttime entertainment. It's always a party on Sanibel Island and its myriad of outdoor decks and lounges mean there are plenty of places spread out and enjoy the nightlife. In town, visitors will find plenty to do just by walking around including theater shows, concerts, art galleries, and festivals. During the peak summer season, there's something to do on any given day regardless of whether it's a weekday or weekend day, so visitors won't ever need to worry about planning their trip around weekend entertainment. Museums are open much of the year, as well, and also host their own historical and themed events.