Sanibel Island Travel Guide

USA  #2 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
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    #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. (You may want to wear water shoes to protect your feet.)

    Beachgoers routinely praised Bowman's for its excellent shelling and expansive sands that let visitors find their own spots with ease. Several also enjoyed riding their bikes to the beach, saying that the ride is easy along the nearby path.

  • #2
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    #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 islands 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 unique dining experience. Stay a few extra minutes for one of the romantic sunsets along Captiva Beach. Recent travelers found these beaches quieter than the ones in Sanibel. Even so, parking is limited, making it difficult to bring your own set of wheels. There are also fewer facilities on these beaches.

    You can access Captiva Island from Sanibel by driving up Sanibel Captiva Road and crossing the Blind Pass Bridge, which connects the two isles. Parking costs $5 per hour at the beaches, but the beaches themselves are free to access. Restaurant and shop hours may vary.

  • #3
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    #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 and shopping opportunities. 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 do need some pointers, browse through the variety of shops in Periwinkle Place as a starting point, where you'll find everything from kitschy souvenir shops like Tiki Jim's to upscale stores like Congress Jewelers. 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.

  • #4
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    #4 in Sanibel Island
    Beaches, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Blind Pass Beach spans across both Sanibel and Captiva Islands. It's a great place to find shells, fish, sunbathe or watch the sunset. One thing you might want to skip at this beach? Swimming. Blind Pass is susceptible to strong currents. Nevertheless, it's a favorite among vacationers for its beauty and excellent collection of shells. They do warn, however, that parking is tricky and the facilities are average as there are only restrooms and showers on the Captiva side.

    Parking at Blind Pass Beach costs $5 per hour and the beach is free to explore. It is located nearby Blind Pass Bridge, which connects the two islands. Visit the Sanibel Chamber of Commerce's website for more information.

  • #9
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    #9 in Sanibel Island
    Free, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    This lighthouse was in service from 1884 to 1972, and was used to light the entrance into San Carlos Bay. Now, this iconic Sanibel Island landmark on the island's eastern tip is a little worse for wear. Recent travelers did not find the lighthouse to warrant a long visit and were disappointed that the lighthouse doesn't accommodate climbers. They say the surrounding beach area is good for shelling, but note that it's constantly crowded.

    The grounds of the more than 130-year-old Sanibel Lighthouse are always open to the public.

  • View all Photos
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

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    Natural Wonders, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

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