The beautiful Sanibel Island has wonderful beaches, shelling called the best in the world and a special bond to nature that could be hard to find these days. Continue reading to find out more about the best things to do on Sanibel Island.
All the best things to do on Sanibel Island
You don’t find any high rises or flashy billboards on Sanibel Island. Instead, this is the place to just unwind and enjoy the amazing nature that you find wherever you look on the island.
- Bike around Sanibel Island
- Visit J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
- Amazing shelling is a must thing to do on Sanibel Island
- Head over to the Sanibel Lighthouse
- Go for a peaceful beach walk
- Explore Captiva Island
- Enjoy a Sanibel sunset from a prime location
1. Bike around Sanibel Island
It’s maybe no big surprise that biking is a popular way to get around on the island. Certainly, the size of the island is very reasonable for going on a bike excursion. But most importantly, there are about 25 miles (40 km) of paved bike trails for you to explore.
So hop on the bike and get ready to discover some of the best things to do on Sanibel Island by bike. Soon you find out that some of the best beaches are the beaches that most people don’t find.
2. Visit J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
For anyone, not just the bird lover or photographer, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel is a big experience. More than 200 bird species have been sighted in the refuge, and that’s just the sighted ones. So look for pelicans, spoonbills, cardinals and egrets among others as you take in the beautiful surroundings.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best things to do on Sanibel as it represents the old and natural Florida. So this is a great spot to find the real you and get back to nature.
3. Amazing shelling is a must thing to do on Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island is literally made of shells. And its shores scoop up the beautiful shells of different types from the Gulf of Mexico. So anywhere on the southern coast of Sanibel from west to east is a good place to go for a hunt. And the shelling on Sanibal Island is world famous and a fun thing to do for all ages.
If you go shelling on Sanibel during low tide and in the morning you improve your odds to find beautiful shells even more. For instance, popular beaches for shelling on Sanibel are Blind Pass Beach, Bowman’s Beach, Tarpon Bay Road Beach, Gulfside City Park and Lighthouse Beach.
4. Head over to the Sanibel Lighthouse
The Lighthouse Beach Park is located on the eastern tip of Sanibel Island. This charming area is one of the top places to visit on Sanibel and it offers a a beautiful beach, some of the best shelling on the island and a fishing pier.
But the most iconic part of Lighthouse Beach Park is of course the lighthouse itself. Sanibel Island was built in the 1800s and has watched over Sanibel Island since then. The beautiful views of the lighthouse are best taken in as you enjoy the beach and the Gulf of Mexico.
5. Go for a peaceful beach walk
The bond to nature is special on Sanibel. Above all, here you don’t need to hurry around and can focus on just yourself and those who mean the most to you.
In other words, Sanibel is the perfect place to relax. And all the quiet and picturesque beaches make up for dreamy beach walks that help you to unwind. As you walk along the shore it’s only you, the sand and the waves.
6. Explore Captiva Island
One of the best things to do when you’re visiting Sanibel is to go to the even more remote sister island Captiva. Captiva Island sits north of Sanibel, and doesn’t have a direct connection with the mainland. But the two islands are connected by a bridge where the northern tip of Sanibel meets the southern tip of Capitva.
Captiva has many of the same traits as Sanibel with beautiful beaches and good old nature. However, Captiva Island manages to be even quieter and more laid-back than Sanibel as it’s further away from the mainland.
7. Enjoy a Sanibel sunset from a prime location
Warm evenings, clear skies, a cold beverage in your hand and a beautiful sunset as day turns into night. Is there a better thing to do on Sanibel Island than ending a day like that?
The best sunsets on Sanibel are on the western side of the island, where you get to see the sun disappear right in front of you. Therefore, anywhere on or near Bowman’s Beach is a great sunset location.
Best things to do on Sanibel Island FAQ
Here you find the answers to some frequently asked questions about the best things to do on Sanibel Island.
Sanibel Island is well-known for the picturesque shelling beaches and adjusting life to nature. And a large portion of the island consists of J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to a wide range of birds and other animals.
Sanibel Island is a tropical gem that’s popular to visit year-round. However, outdoor acitvities are more comfortable during spring, autumn and winter. So avoid the summer if you want to dodge the hottest temperatures.
The Sanibel Causeway that takes you from the mainland to Sanibel is 3 miles long from end to end (4.8 km). But the mental distance is even further as Sanibel is so different compared to the mainland.
Most visitors never see alligators on Sanibel Island. However, Sanibel and its more than 2,200 acres of freshwater wetlands are home to a substantial population of alligators. In other words, they are there but mostly prefer to keep by themselves and not interfere with humans.