Welcome to this hammock-shaped island where time seems to stand still. Sanibel is unlike any other place in the contiguous U.S. Forget high-rises and fast-food restaurants and big-box stores. There are no stoplights, but there are acres and acres of wildlife sanctuary. That is why Coastal Living 2013 readers voted Sanibel among the top three “Happiest Seaside Towns” and Arthur Frommer rated it his favorite travel destination in the world.
This 12 mile barrier island is a sea shell hunter’s paradise. Guests soon discover themselves doing the Sanibel Stoop when hunching over the sand looking for shells. Loggerhead turtles nest here and hundreds of varieties of birds are spotted here. Fish off the pier, go kayaking, or just walk the white sandy beaches. Shoes are only mandatory when you go into the many shops or restaurants. Plan on digging your toes in the sand, forgetting your troubles, and having a tranquil vacation on a sub-tropical island that knows how to provide modern amenities without losing its focus on nature and wildlife conservation.
- Over 70% of the island is wildlife refuge. The Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge is the largest, with guides and a visitor center. The Bailey tract is less than a mile from Pointe Santo.
- There are 15 miles of beaches, 36 miles of bike paths, 230 species of birds, 50 species of fish, 300 varieties of seashells, 60 restaurants, and over 100 shops. Most of the restaurants and shops are on Periwinkle Way, a short distance from Pointe Santo.
- Groceries can be purchased on the island at Bailey’s General Store and at Jerry's Foods.
- There is a Dining Guide listing all local restaurants, many with menus. You can find this at Bailey’s or at the Chamber of Commerce Information Center.
- The Sanibel Lighthouse was first lit in 1885.
- Canoe and kayak rentals are available at Tarpon Bay Explorers, a short distance from Pointe Santo.
- Bicycle rentals are available at Billy’s Rentals and Finnimore’s Cycle Shop. Each will give you a bike path map, which can also be found on their websites. Billy's has recently opened a second location, in the Bailey Center, within walking distance of Pointe Santo.
- Further information about cycling, including a bike safety video, can be found at the website of The Sanibel Bicycle Club.
- You can play golf at the Sanibel Island Golf Club (formerly known as Beachview) and at The Dunes. Both clubs also have clay tennis courts.
- There is a fishing pier at the east end of the island. There are four fish and tackle shops on the island. Fishing licenses can be purchased at Bailey’s General Store.
- The Sanibel Farmer’s Market, located behind City Hall, is open every Sunday morning from October through April.
- Boat tours are offered by Adventures in Paradise, Captiva Cruises, the Sanibel Thriller. and Tarpon Bay Explorers.
- Baby equipment and beach items can be rented at Island Rental Services and Sanibel Rental Service.
Here is a selection of further links to help make your vacation on Sanibel complete.