Where to stay on Sanibel Island, FL

  • Post last modified:November 27, 2021
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Sanibel Island is a true vacation paradise in Southwest Florida. The long beaches, beautiful nature and laid-back Sanibel lifestyle are certainly appreciated. But where to stay on Sanibel Island for the best experience?

You find Sanibel Island lodging in the areas East End, Mid Island and Far West. In addition on the nearby Captiva Island and in Fort Myers there are more hotels near Sanibel Island.

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Where to stay on Sanibel Island, FL

East End – Places to stay on Sanibel Island near the lighthouse

East End is the first area on the island that you get to when you travel by car from the mainland. It’s the option for where to stay on Sanibel Island that gives you the best possible access to mainland Florida.

From Blind Pass Bridge in the island’s west to Sanibel Causeway in the east it’s 11 slow miles (18 km) to drive. So it’s definitely more convenient to stay at Sanibel hotels further east on the island if you plan to go to the mainland a lot.

Additionally Lighthouse Beach Park on the eastern tip of Sanibel is one of the most popular sights on the island. The picturesque park with a lighthouse, pier and beach is a beautiful place to be near.

The Sanibel Island places to stay in East End also offer the most beautiful sunrises on the island. A morning walk at Sanibel Lighthouse with the sun rising in front of you is the perfect way to begin a day on Sanibel Island.

In short, East End has the best places to stay on Sanibel Island if you want the ultimate mainland access. On top of that the Sanibel Island hotels in the area also have Lighthouse Beach Park near and offer the best island sunrises.

  • Stay in East End for: Sanibel hotels near the lighthouse.
The Sanibel Island Lighthouse
The Sanibel Lighthouse.

Mid Island – Sanibel Island hotels in central location

Mid Island is the second Sanibel area that you get to when you come from the mainland. The Sanibel hotels in the Mid Island area give you a central base for exploring Sanibel Island.

The Sanibel Mid Island area is the heart of the island. Along Periwinkle Way in the Mid Island area you find many of the island’s restaurants and stores. That’s where most visitors go to have a bite or a refreshing drink.

If you stay at Sanibel Island hotels at Middle Gulf Drive or the eastern part of West Gulf Drive you have very easy access to Sanibel’s main strip. So then you effortlessly can get to the island’s hub of activity from your Sanibel hotel.

Although it’s called West Gulf Drive the address still gives you central Sanibel Island access. A large portion of Sanibel Island remains west of West Gulf Drive.

With a location further west you have the famous J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge closer compared to if you stay at Sanibel hotels nearer the lighthouse. The wildlife refuge is a unique Florida attraction and a Sanibel highlight.

In conclusion, Mid Island has the best Sanibel Island places to stay if you prefer to be centrally located. From the Sanibel hotels in the area you have a convenient island base with easy access to the island’s main drag.

  • Stay Mid Island for: Central Sanibel hotels.

Recommended Sanibel Island hotels in the Mid Island area

Island Inn – A superb beachfront Sanibel Island hotel

At Island Inn you find both peacefulness and a central location. From the beachfront Sanibel Island hotel you can hear the crashing waves and spot exotic birds. In addition it’s also easy to get to many of the island’s restaurants from the Sanibel hotel. The combination of peacefulness and a central location makes Island Inn one of the best places to stay on Sanibel Island.

West Wind Inn – Another central beachfront Sanibel Island hotel

Just a stone’s throw west from Island Inn you find West Wind Inn. Located on the Gulf of Mexico it’s also a Sanibel hotel that offers the whole package. In the beautiful yet central location it’s easy to unwind. Time after time West Wind Inn is mentioned as one of the best Sanibel Island beachfront hotels.

Beachfront location on Sanibel Island.
The beach on Sanibel Island.

Far West – Stay on Sanibel near Captiva Island

The Far West of Sanibel Island is the very western part that’s closest to Captiva Island. It’s the option for where to stay on Sanibel Island that is located furthest away from the mainland.

In the Far West it’s really quiet and the area is often referred to as the peaceful part of Sanibel Island. Many island visitors never get to the Far West end of Sanibel.

Most places to stay on Sanibel Island are located in the East End and Mid End areas. It’s also longer from Sanibel Island places to stay in the Far West area to most restaurants on the island.

But from the Far West you have easy access to the island’s celebrated wildlife refuge J.N. “Ding” Darling. Another Far West highlight is Bowman’s Beach that offers stunning sunsets.

All in all, the Far West is a great option for where to stay on Sanibel Island if you don’t mind to be further away from the island’s main strip. It’s the most quiet Sanibel Island area but maybe that’s exactly what you’re looking for.

  • Stay in Far West for: The most quiet Sanibel stay.
Shells on Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island shelling.

Captiva Island – Places to stay near Sanibel on the sister island

A bridge across the narrow Blind Pass connects the beautiful Florida islands Sanibel and Captiva. Sanibel is quiet and peaceful but the northern Captiva is an option for where to stay near Sanibel Island that’s known to be even more quiet and laid-back.

The sister island to Sanibel is located further from the mainland. It’s also smaller and narrower. From some Captiva spots you can see both the Mexican Gulf and the sound side.

Although Captiva is a very small island it has some restaurants and shops. But the selection on the small sister island is of course not as big as it is on Sanibel Island.

In short, hotels near Sanibel Island on Captiva are even further away from the mainland pace. Captiva is a great choice if you like the idea of a downsized Sanibel with fewer visitors and things to do.

  • Stay on Captiva for: Exploring the well-hidden next island.

Recommended hotels on Captiva

South Seas Island Resort – A beachfront resort on Sanibel’s sister island

The northern tip of Captiva is owned by South Seas Resort. The beachfront resort offers a truly unique location with landscaped grounds, a golf course and appreciated facilities. If you’re looking for resorts on Captiva don’t need to look further.

Sunset on one of the most well-hidden Florida islands
Sunset on Captiva Island.

Fort Myers – Hotels near Sanibel Island on a budget

Sanibel Island is a very popular destination and the high demand tends to make the Sanibel lodging rates steep. Therefore it’s not easy to stay on Sanibel island on a budget. But an alternative for where to stay near Sanibel Island on a budget is to look across the bridge.

Across Sanibel Causeway you find Fort Myers. The hotels in the Southwest Florida city are generally cheaper but they are also not on the beach. So you don’t get that island or beach vibe in Fort Myers that the Sanibel Island hotels offer.

But on the other hand you find hotels near Sanibel Island in Fort Myers less than 20 minutes from the island. So then it gets easy to make Sanibel Island day trips.

To sum up, Fort Myers is an option for where to stay near Sanibel Island on a budget. In little time you can get from the hotels near Sanibel Island in Fort Myers to the stunning island. But if you look for an island stay you should look towards the other options for where to stay on Sanibel Island.

  • Stay in Fort Myers for: Sanibel Island on a budget.
Tropical boardwalk in Fort Myers
Boardwalk in Fort Myers.

Search for a hotel on Sanibel Island, FL

Use the booking tool below to find the best places to stay on Sanibel Island. Browse the map for options in various areas, or click on the search button to get all Sanibel Island hotels listed.

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Where to stay on Sanibel Island FAQ

Here you find the answers to some frequently asked questions about where to stay on Sanibel Island, FL.

Where should I stay when visiting Sanibel Island?

East End and Mid End are the most popular Sanibel areas with many great Sanibel places to stay. The Far West is further away from the mainland and the island’s main strip but it’s also a good option.

Where should I stay on Sanibel Island or Captiva Island?

Both Sanibel Island and Captiva Island are great places to unwind. But Captiva Island gets fewer visitors and is more secluded than Sanibel.

Is Sanibel Island or Fort Myers Beach better?

Sanibel Island is quieter and more about spending time in nature. In contrast, Fort Myers Beach is a much more lively place with restaurants, bars and shops right at the beach.

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