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What to do in Sanibel Florida in 2023?

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A Cook, Software analyst & Blogger.

What to do in Sanibel Florida: From stunning sandy beaches to tropical gardens and rich wildlife, Sanibel has plenty to boast of. The barrier island offers a host of recreational activities that make for an unforgettable vacation.

Sanibel, US
3:50 pm, September 26, 2023
temperature icon 30°C
L: 29° H: 32°
light rain
Humidity 78 %
Pressure 1015 mb
Wind 1 m/s SW
Wind Gust: 3 m/s
UV Index: 0
Precipitation: 0.01 inch
Visibility: 10 km
Sunrise: 7:18 am
Sunset: 7:20 pm

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From kayaking and birdwatching to buying fresh produce at the local farmers’ market and exploring its various museums, there is something here for everyone.

Wondering what to do in Sanibel, Florida?  

Let’s help you create the perfect bucket list with our list of the best things to do in Sanibel, Florida: – 

Hit the beaches  #1

Sanibel is home to many beaches spread over its 15 miles of shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico. All of them have parking and restrooms.

What to do in Sanibel Florida
Some also feature outdoor showers, picnic tables, and grills.

You can make sand castles, catch a stunning sunset or go swimming, there are plenty of recreational activities to enjoy here.

Have a furry friend?

The beaches in Sanibel are dog-friendly provided you use a leash. Some of the most popular ones include Bowman’s Beach and Blind Pass Beach. The parking fee at the public beaches is $5 per hour. 

Go Shelling #2

Sanibel Island is known around the world for shelling. The Island abounds in shells of all kinds. Visitors mostly look for unbroken shells to take home as a souvenir.

Just remember to put back any shell that has a living inhabitant since it’s against the law to do otherwise.

Bowman’s Beach and Blind Pass Beach are considered two of the best beaches in Sanibel for shelling. You’ll find many people collecting shells in their shell bags. 

Bike across the Island #3

One of the best ways to explore the island is through biking. You’ll find plenty of bike rentals here.

The island has a bike path that will take you through the island to explore its various attractions.

Stop by the local stores for some snacks and explore the island at your own pace. There are 25 miles of trails that you can cover. 

Kayak at J N “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge  #4

This impressive wildlife refuge is sprawled over 6,400 acres on Sanibel and Captiva.

The Sanibel part of the refuge is home to mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and marshes.

One of the most popular activities to enjoy here is to rent a kayak and enjoy paddling through the mangroves.

The Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail is around 190 miles long and connects the waters of Lee County to Estero Bay and goes towards the Caloosahatchee River, making it perfect for a memorable kayaking experience.

While you’re there, don’t forget to bring your binoculars along since the refuge is home to around 240 species of birds. You may also spot animals such as alligators and bobcats amongst others. 

Go Golfing #5

Take a swing at the 18-hole golf course with beautiful greens at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club.

The place also has seven Har-Tru tennis courts. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you can enjoy a fun outing here.

Wish to upgrade your skills?

You can also take lessons here. 

Enjoy fishing at Lighthouse Park Beach & Fishing Pier #6

Located on the eastern side of the island, this park is sprawled over 45 acres and offers breath-taking views of the Gulf Coast.

You’ll find the fishing pier at the northern part of the park, where you can try your luck at catching various species of fish including snapper, black drum, sheepshead, redfish, and snook amongst others.

You can also enjoy activities such as swimming, kayaking, and shelling. Don’t forget to check out the Sanibel Island Lighthouse.

The 98 feet high lighthouse was one of the first lighthouses on the state’s gulf coast and offers sublime views of the area. 

Learn about shells at The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum #7

This is the only museum in the country that’s dedicated only to shells and mollusks.

You’ll witness around 550,000 shells, colourful corals, queen conch, seahorses, and the giant Pacific octopus amongst other creatures. 

One of the most popular exhibits here is the sailors’ valentines which showcases 19th-century shell art made by Barbadian women as a gift for visiting sailors to take home.

It also offers a glimpse into the life of the Calusa Native Americans who used to live near the southwest Gulf region. 

Relax at Sanibel Moorings Botanical Gardens #8

Rejuvenate your senses amidst nature at these stunning botanical gardens.

You’ll find many tropical trees and plants here.

From hibiscus and orchids to palm and citrus trees, there is a wide variety of plants found here.

If you wish to go for a guided tour, they are offered to the public every Wednesday at 9 am. The fee for exploring these beautiful gardens is just $5 per person. 

Buy fresh produce at Sanibel Farmers Market  #9

Get a taste of local flavour at Sanibel Farmers Market. It is held every Sunday from October to May.

From baked goods, fish, locally sourced meat, and cheese, you can buy fresh produce here.

Want a snack while you shop?

There are various freshly made dishes sold by stalls here, including fresh pastries, coconut flan, and delectable doughnuts. 

Drive across the Sanibel Causeway Bridge  #10

This scenic bridge overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and offers spectacular views.

This 3-mile-long road connects mainland Florida to Sanibel Island.

It is around 70 feet high and makes for a scenic drive. Built over the San Carlos Bay, it is an impressive sight to behold. 

 Take a day trip to Captiva #11

A short drive from Sanibel Island, Captiva Island is perched near Fort Myers.

The island is home to many stunning natural attractions and offers plenty of recreational activities to enjoy.

From swimming in the crystal-clear waters at Captiva Beach to shelling at the beautiful Captiva Pass, the island offers ample opportunities to relax amidst nature. 

So, start with the one that tempts you the most and get ready for an epic adventure. 

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Q. Is Sanibel Florida worth visiting?

With its stunning sandy beaches, beautiful gardens, rich wildlife, and plenty of recreational activities on offer, Sanibel Florida is a great place to visit. 

Q. What is Sanibel Island in Florida known for?

Sanibel Island is known for its mesmerising beaches and abundance of shells. 

Q. Why is Sanibel Island so popular?

It is known as one of the best shelling destinations in the world. It also draws many wildlife enthusiasts being home to the J N “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. 

Q. Is it better to stay on Sanibel Island or Fort Myers?

Fort Myers has a vibrant nightlife area, perfect for party lovers. But if you’re looking for a laid-back vacation, Sanibel Island is the place to go. 

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