Learn exactly what you need to know when planning your vacation to Sanibel, FL!
When I discovered that my family (Mom, Dad, brother, brother’s friend, my boyfriend, and me) was going to be vacationing in serene Sanibel, FL, I was ecstatic to say the least.
The thought of island life appeals to me: sunsets over clear, blue water, laying out in the sun on golden beaches, hunting for immaculate seashells, exploring the island’s wildlife.
As it turns out, there were also some downsides to island life (who knew?), like constantly having to wear sunscreen, since my pale skin burns instantly, and being voted as the best buffet by the local mosquito and noseeum population.
Fortunately though, I definitely think that the fun activities and beautiful sights overshadowed the slightly annoying aspects!
Driving onto the island was breath taking. We drove by a lot of farms on the way, so when we finally reached the coast, the brilliant blue water dazzled me.
Going over the bridge, you get a great view of the blue water, golden beaches, and green island. People were laying in the sun and swimming in the water, and I was instantly jealous! I wanted to be where they were at that exact moment. I didn’t want to be in the car anymore. I wanted to be livin’ it up on the beach! Who wouldn’t, right?
One thing I noticed as we were crossing the bridge was the lack of tall buildings on Sanibel. As it turns out, there is a strict development rule on the island that states no structures can be any taller than the tallest palm tree (although I suspect that the lighthouse is the only exception). This gives Sanibel a rural vibe, even though it is buzzing with life.
If you have ever been to a beach in Florida, you were probably surrounded by high-rise condos and hotels. And because of that, unless you’re on the beach, it is difficult to see the beach.
In Sanibel, you often times cannot see the beach simply because mangroves are blocking your view. Now, there are certainly portions of the island that has beach front property (houses, hotels, condos, you name it). In fact, a lot of the beaches on the island are private. However, from Bowman’s Beach, a lovely public beach, all you see is the ocean, sand, and trees.
Travel on the Island
So, how do you get around on a relatively small island? Bikes, of course! Some of the people I was with brought bikes, but three of us had to rent them (totally worth it).
We stayed at the southern end of the island, and we greatly enjoyed using the bike paths to ride north into the busier portions of Sanibel. Although, the six mile ride back was always tough because, aside from the obvious, we tended to ride back mid-day. This is, of course, when it is hottest and the sun is directly above us, meaning that the short mangroves didn’t provide much shade. Oh well, it was worth it every time! And since biking is popular, most every place we went had a bike rack. It was perfect!
Of course, being surrounded by water, we had to go kayaking. We didn’t take the kayaks into the ocean because we weren’t allowed, but we traveled down a pretty river (pictured to the right). (To be honest, it may not have been a river, but I don’t know what it was, so for the sake of this post, I will call it a river.) It was a lot of fun. The river ran roughly parallel to the beach even though we couldn’t see it through the dense mangroves.
We paddled down the river for quite a ways. Of course, we saw an alligator that thankfully left us alone, and eventually, we found a clearing in the mangroves and found the beach! After beaching our kayaks, we walked up the small slope of sand and found the ocean.
There was almost no one on this small section of beach. I’m not sure how the people that were there even found the spot. It seemed as though there was nothing around for a quite a ways.
We dipped our feet in the ocean and saw Manta rays swimming! I wish I had pictures to share from this neat experience, but my camera is not water proof, so I didn’t take it in the kayak… Oh, well!
J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge was probably one of the highlights of the trip! We saw Osprey, tiny and adorable crabs, tons of birds, and beautiful views.
We saw so many things, in fact, that I wrote a post devoted entirely to my experience at the wildlife refuge!
Food is an activity, right? Well, eating is, I guess.
Regardless, we had amazing food during our stay in Sanibel.
The Island Cow was a quirky restaurant with delicious food! All of their decor was cow-themed. It was a little eccentric but so cool. Their food was delicious and reasonably priced. It was so enjoyable that we ate there twice (once for lunch and again for breakfast)!
The Lazy Flemingo was an interesting restaurant to say the least. I have never been to a restaurant where you sit at a table before ordering and don’t have a server. You had to go up to the bar to order food and drinks (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic).
Since we were a party of 6, we couldn’t sit at the bar, so we sat at a table outside on uncomfortable stools. When we placed our order, we waited forever for our food. We probably waiting at least 45 minutes for our food. Granted, this was not a large place and it was packed. There was probably one or two people working in the kitchen, so the wait was understandable, but not exactly what we were looking for.
Despite all of that, the food was great! If you have time to sit down for a drink and wait on your food, the Lazy Flamingo could definitely be a good stop for you!
The Mucky Duck, which is technically on Captiva Island, is such a fun little spot. It is right on the beach. The wait staff is friendly and silly! They like to play little pranks on you. It’s tons of fun!
Oh, and it’s a Brittish Pub, so seriously get the Fish and Chips, it is so good! I made the mistake of ordering a Burger, which was great as well, but I tried my boyfriend’s Fish and Chips, and I regretted my decision!
The Over Easy Cafe was probably our favorite place to eat for breakfast. They had fantastic food, a friendly and attentive wait staff, and the perfect outdoor dining section. We ate outside every time we went there! It was shaded from the sun, and there were fans to help move the air around but not so much that it was difficult to keep napkins and such on the table.
Did you like what you saw? Check out these Sunset pictures taken in Sanibel!
Have you ever visited Sanibel Island, FL? Do you have some great suggestions for activities or places to eat? If so, let me know in the comments below!
I hope you have enjoyed reading an over view of my trip to Sanibel Island! I will be posting more pictures soon, so check back! Make sure you follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Links are in the sidebar!
Until next time!