Sanibel Island Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Florida Beaches
Credit

Courtesy of Larry Gerbrandt/Getty Images

Free Things To Do in Sanibel Island

If you have extra time, Periwinkle Way is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Sanibel Island
    View all Photos
    #1 in Sanibel Island
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Bowman's is well known for having beautiful, unusual shells, but you'll have to put a little effort into finding the true gems along this beach. Recent travelers found the best method is to step waist-deep in the water and dig your feet into the sand to find the shells.

    Though this area isn't as developed as other areas of the islands, it still offers a few amenities, including picnic tables, grills, bathrooms and bike racks. Plan on bringing your own food instead of visiting one of the popular restaurants located about a mile down Bowman's Beach Road, as they can get pretty pricey. Another unfortunate side effect of visiting this centrally located beach is the $4-an-hour parking fee by the shore. The beach welcomes visitors from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For more information, visit the Lee County website.

  • #2
    Captiva Island
    View all Photos
    #2 in Sanibel Island
    Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Most people think of Sanibel and its quirky little sister island, Captiva, as interchangeable. True, they're both quiet spots with great shorelines, but there are a few differences. Here's a cheat sheet: Sanibel has better shells on its beaches, but Captiva's dining is more eclectic. Souvenir shopping on both sides of Blind Pass Bridge (which separates the two isles) is fairly evenly matched, but Sanibel has an inside edge on art galleries. In short, consider spending your days on Sanibel, then hop over to Captiva for a nice dinner. Stay a few extra minutes for one of the romantic sunsets along Captiva Beach. Recent travelers found this beach quieter than the ones in Sanibel. Even so, parking is limited, making it difficult to bring your own set of wheels.

  • #3 in Sanibel Island
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The island's main thoroughfare is home to several restaurants, shopping opportunities and some of the choicest hotels. So there's no real reason to recommend you visit; there's a good chance you'll end up along Periwinkle at some point in time during your trip.

    If you did need some pointers, consider purchasing a kitschy souvenir at Tiki Jim's, browsing for beaded jewelry at Valhalla and noshing on a char-grilled hot dog at Schnapper's Hots. Hours of operation vary for each of Periwinkle Way's stores, but you can enjoy the picturesque scenery along the street at any time of day. Recent travelers recommend renting a bike as there is a path that links all the shopping spots together.

  • #7
    Sanibel Lighthouse
    View all Photos
    #7 in Sanibel Island
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    One of the first lighthouses on Florida's Gulf Coast, this station on the island's eastern end used to light the entrance into San Carlos Bay. Now, this iconic Sanibel Island landmark is a little worse for wear. Recent travelers did not find the lighthouse too aesthetically pleasing and recommended taking a few pictures before moving along to Periwinkle Way (less than a mile away).

    The grounds of the nearly 130-year-old Sanibel Lighthouse are always open to the public. For more information on visiting, check out the Sanibel & Capitva Island Visitors Center website.

Explore More of Sanibel Island

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

30 Top Florida Weekend Getaways

Spend sun-filled days exploring Florida's beautiful beaches, cities, parks and small towns.

Gwen PratesiDecember 9, 2019

The Best Travel Backpacks for 2020

U.S. News rated the best travel backpacks using recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerNovember 25, 2019

30 Top Wellness Retreats

Rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit at one of these relaxation-focused properties.

Kyle McCarthyNovember 21, 2019

30 Fun All-Inclusive Family Vacations

Book one of these all-inclusive trips that cover food, accommodations and activities galore.

Holly JohnsonNovember 14, 2019

5 Ways Cruise Lines Are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly

Industry considers impact as it looks to the future.

Gwen PratesiNovember 12, 2019

11 Unique and Quirky Cruise Destinations

Venture off the beaten path for an authentic cruising experience.

Christine SmithNovember 12, 2019

The 2020 Best Cruise Lines for Families

Gather up the gang and head out to sea with one of these six kid-friendly cruise lines.

Nicola WoodNovember 12, 2019

The Top Pyramids in Mexico to Visit

Add these ancient marvels to your Mexico vacation itinerary.

Lyn MettlerOctober 28, 2019

30 Top Babymoon Destinations, Trips and Ideas

From romantic beach getaways to big city adventures to glamping in the forest, these locales will inspire your babymoon planning.

Gwen PratesiOctober 15, 2019

15 Tips for Traveling While Pregnant

These tips will help pregnant women travel the world in comfort and style.

Holly JohnsonOctober 10, 2019