Sanibel-Captiva - are barrier islands on the lower Gulf Coast of Florida, 125 miles south of Tampa. Sanibel Island and it's sister, Captiva, are known widely for their pristine beauty and unspoiled landscapes.
Encouraging commercial interests to design and build relative to the island's charm, residents have created a modern tropical splendor for themselves and visitors alike.
On Sanibel, one feels the call of the tropics and the inclination is to stay forever in this island paradise.
Lost in the swaying palm trees and gentle gulf breezes is the fact that the mainland and city bustle is about 10 minutes back across the causeway bridge.
Approximately one-half of the island is in conservation and the six-thousand or so permanent residents work hard at keeping the other half in tune.
It is a place where bike and foot trails abound (over 20 miles), none of which includes the 15 miles of beach. If you intend to tour the island by car, parking can be a problem.
Bike rentals are plentiful. The island is virtually flat, and the 20 miles of paved recreational trails are very inviting.
Most of the paths follow the major roads, making it very easy to access the main points of interest.
It's even possible to bike the entire length of the island using the paths (along Periwinkle Way and the Sanibel-Captiva Road) from the east point's Sanibel Lighthouse (where you'll also find a nice beach and an intriguing collection of driftwood and, nearby, a popular fishing pier) to the west end.
Both Sanibel Island and Captiva Island have been voted in the Top 10 Florida Beaches by the Travel Channel!
Sanibel Island is a unique barrier island with east-west orientation that differs from the typical north-south layout.
This east-west designation has helped Sanibel earn its reputation as one of the Shell Islands - prime spots along Florida’s coastline for gathering perfectly intact shells in every shape and size.
Bowman’s Beach is the quietest and most remote stretch of sand in Sanibel, while a historic lighthouse beckons visitors to take a stroll on the rustic boardwalk at Lighthouse Beach.
Captiva Island Along with Sanibel, Captiva Island shares the distinction of being 1 of Florida’s Shell Islands. Captiva is generally the spot to find the larger of the intact shells
Turner Beach, though not good for swimming because of fast currents, is the perfect spot for a shell-hunting adventure.
Just be sure to leave any live shells on the beach or risk breaking the strict shelling laws. At sunset, head to Captiva Beach at the end of Captiva Drive to take in a spectacular sunset.
Captiva Beach, This is a great beach for just killing time, holding hands at sunset, or playing a old six-string. A beautiful beach with great shelling. Less crowded than the Sanibel beaches. I would highly recommend making the trip!
Blind Pass Beach, Blind Pass Beach and Bowman Beach are both on Sanibel Island. We tried to go to Blind Pass Beach in the evening but the parking lot was full so we ended up at Bowman Beach.
Bowman was covered in shells.. nothing like we have ever seen before... The sunset was beautiful and it was low tide so the kids could...
Sanibel Island Lighthouse & Public Beach Access & Fishing Pier, This beach has shells, but swimming is not recommended due to causeway currents.
Biking on Sanibel is fun for the entire family
The well-maintained bike paths cover 22 miles of shopping districts and back roads, and they meander through friendly neighborhoods, beneath shady tree canopies, across wooden bridges and along quiet waterways.
By bike is the most intimate way to get to know Sanibel Island. (Captiva's narrow, twisty roads make biking risky.)
22 miles of paved bike paths take you almost anywhere you want to go. They lead to shops, restaurants, points of interest, wildlife centers and beaches.
Many island resorts, hotels and motels have bicycles for guest use, plus there are public bike rental facilities on both islands. (In addition to solo bikes, they rent helmets and kiddy trailers.)
Rabbit Road Trail. The Rabbit Road bike path runs behind homes and along a canal.
If you go biking early in the morning, you're likely to see plenty of the small gray marsh rabbits that give the road its name.
Wading herons and alligator snouts are other common sightings along the quiet one-mile stretch between West Gulf Drive and Sanibel-Captiva Road.
Near its intersection with the Sanibel-Captiva Road path, you'll find a drinking fountain.
Wildlife Drive. Paved with shell and hard-packed sand, this biking route is a bit rough, especially for skinny tired bikes.
It's a 4-mile loop around J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, ending 3 miles north of the starting point on Sanibel-Captiva Road.
Along the way, you can stop and hike into the refuge on short trails or climb the bird observation tower. Avoid the road at sunset, when abundant car traffic will kick up dust.
Bicyclists must pay $1.00 per person over the age of 16, (free for children 15 years and under), to enter the refuge Wildlife Drive.
Dixie Beach Road This long, straight, easy stretch of 1.5 miles takes you from Periwinkle Way, near Heart of the Islands shopping center, to San Carlos Bay.
Where the road meets the bay, you can turn right and gaze at beautiful bayfront homes, or turn left and follow a contorted shell road to an undiscovered place where old island collides with new.
Middle Gulf Cemetery Route. East of Casa Ybel Road, the Middle Gulf Drive bike path leaves the roadside and takes you into backwoods.
Here you'll find Sanibel's pioneer cemetery, which is not accessible by car. The path continues over the river and off-road to the beach at Gulfside Park.
Bailey Road-Dunes Circle. Bailey Road leaves Periwinkle Way just west of the causeway and leads to the bay.
If you turn left on Sandcastle Road, you can circle around the neighborhood of the Dunes and its lushly landscaped, lovely homes.
Continue along the 2.5 mile bike loop and you'll eventually pass the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club and return to where you began.
Across from the Dunes exit, an evacuation trail takes a short cut to Sanibel-Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce and Causeway Road.
For an add-on to this biking route, look for a bike path across from the golf club entrance that will take you to Bay Road and an exclusive waterfront neighborhood.
There is a wide range of restaurants available on the islands. These are my personal Top 10 pic favorite restaurants.
1. The Bubble Room Ok, I have to tell you a funny story about the Bubble Room. I visited Sanibel way back when while I was in college and heard about the Bubble Room. For some reason I envisioned the Bubble Room being a really upscale expensive restaurant which it is not! The Bubble Room is a fun, eclectic must see on
2. Over Easy Cafe, This place is very popular so be prepared for a long wait. The nice thing is there are great shops in walking distance to kill the time. The pancakes are huge and yummy! The gulf shrimp omelette was a favorite at the table. One of the best breakfasts on the island.
3. Pinocchio's Original Italian Ice Cream, Selection is not huge, but there are unique flavors like "dirty sand dollar". Servings are huge (even for kiddie size) and the small animal cracker on top of each serving is fun! Ice cream is delicious.
4. Sweet Melissa's Cafe, Truly outstanding culinary delight. You will see original dishes on their menu and local options. Farm to table and you can taste it. The staff and service were superb! A real treat! Imaginative menu and great wine list. Also great local brews available. Really super night with live music too. Treat yourself. Kids may have trouble finding something here but...
5. Matzaluna, We go to Sanibel every winter, and Matzaluna has become one of our favorite Italian restaurants. Very casual, with good food and excellent service, you can call ahead to reserve a table.
6. Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille, A beautiful day on a breezy Island patio, Mojitos, Yucutan shrimp Tacos, Seared Tuna, Grouper all delicious, who could ask for more! Definitely a #1 go to when visiting Sanibel!
7. The Beached Whale, Great place, best chicken wings on the beach, have them during happy hour, they are cheaper, the buffalo shrimp are huge, and awesome.
8. The Island Cow, The Island Cow is a must do on Sanibel. Always crowded but wait times are not too long and they have a large area to wait in. The grouper and shrimp (boom-boom) tacos were just great. The short ribs are also highly recommended. Bring your apppetite since the portions are very generous.
9. Beach Piez, Best pizza on the island ... hands down. A bit pricy, like everything else onto island, but worth it if you want good pizza.
10.Mad Hatter Restaurant, Dining at The Mad Hatter is an incredible culinary adventure. One is warmly greeted and immediately seated. The menu is an array of seafood, pasta, chops and a variety of other options. Anything you order is beyond delicious! Not inexpensive, the food is well thought out and beautifully presented. The portions are generous. It is refreshing to dine at a...