Top 10 Things To Do In Sanibel Island: Sanibel Island is a beautiful city off the coast of Florida that enjoys an abundance of sunshine year-round and a balmy sub-tropical climate. Sanibel has a small-town feel with an estimated population of only 7500 inhabiting the idyllic island. Sanibel is the perfect blend of white sand beaches, turquoise waters and lush tropical foliage for vacationers looking for a tranquil seaside getaway. As you travel along the Sanibel Causeway feel your troubles and worries melt away as the tropical vegetation, nature reserves and beautiful beaches whizz by you. To help you make the most of your time, we have compiled a list of the best things to do in Sanibel Island.
So drive on through and discover all the wonderful things there are to do in Sanibel Island. From sunset strolls hand-in-hand for lovebirds to scouring Bowman’s Beach for shells, you’ll find something for everyone to enjoy on this quaint little island.
Spot the flamingos at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
If you’re a nature lover then add this to your list of things to do in Sanibel Island. J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places to spot the abundant wildlife that inhabits Sanibel. First, mosey around the visitor centre to learn more about the local ecosystems and animals you can expect to see or ask the knowledgeable guides any questions you may have. Then set off on a guided 90-minute open-air tram ride across the reserve to spot the alligators, flamingos and bobcats.
You can also fly solo on nature trails, the most popular being the Indigo Trail, or paddleboard through the mangroves for a unique view of the reserve.
Hunt for shells on Bowman’s Beach
Bowman’s beach is well-known for its collection of unusual shells but don’t expect to find them just lying around ready for the taking. To find the real gems you’ll have to put in a little work! Some of the best shells are yet to have washed up on the shore, so digging through waist-deep water can unearth some true beauties. Besides shells, the beach itself is expansive with plenty of space for everyone to enjoy a day at the beach.
Explore Periwinkle Way
Periwinkle Way is Sanibel’s main street where you will find most of the town’s funky restaurants and shops. Be sure to try out Blue Giraffe, a bright and fresh island eatery at the heart of Periwinkle Way.
Visit Sanibel Lighthouse
The historic Sanibel Lighthouse is a must-see attraction and is one of the best things to do in Sanibel Island. The lighthouse towers above the beach at 112 feet high, dating all the way back to 1884. The beach that wraps around the lighthouse is one of Sanibel’s best, with sugary soft sand and beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico. The Lighthouse Beach Park also offers visitors picnic tables, shaded areas and restroom facilities along with a pier for those wanting to fish.
Sunbathe on Blind Pass Beach
While Blind Pass beach is not the best spot for swimming because of its strong currents, it’s still a great beach for sunbathing, looking for shells and fishing. The white sandy beach is flanked by lush tropical vegetation giving you the real island experience. The beach stretches for miles so is also great for long, lazy walks along the beach.
Visit Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
Have you always wondered what little sea creature inhabited the shell you picked up that washed up on shore? Paying a visit to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum will answer all your shell-related questions and more. The museum showcases some of Sanibel’s most treasured shells along with a selection of shells from across the world. This is one of the best things to do in Sanibel Island that visitors of all ages will enjoy.
Grab lunch at Sanibel Island Farmers Market
There’s no better place to find fresh and tasty food than at the Sanibel Island Farmers Market. If you’ve worked up an appetite after a day of activity out in the sun, then head on down to the market every Sunday morning for your picks of meats, cheeses, pastries and fresh veggies.
Walk through the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Nature Center
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Nature Center, known as the SCCF Nature Center, is the perfect place for nature lovers to learn more about the fascinating local ecosystems. Walk along the maze-like trails of raised boardwalks along the Sanibel river and wetlands. Along your walk you’re sure to spot snakes, alligators, turtles and plenty of birds nestled amongst the tropical foliage.
Get cultural at BIG ARTS
Art and culture enthusiasts will love paying a visit to BIG ARTS, an art-centric community centre with a line-up of live theatre, musical and dance performances, art exhibits as well as community workshops and classes.
Mad Hatter Restaurant
The Mad Hatter Restaurant is a quirky waterfront restaurant with an upmarket take on the Alice and Wonderland theme and an eclectic menu, taking all who visit to ‘wonderland,’ of that you can be sure. Tuck into five-star dishes with a glass of wine in hand while you watch the spectacular sunset in the cosy and romantic dining room.
Best Things To Do In Sanibel Island At A Glance
There is a lot to do and see for visitors of all ages on Sanibel Island. Here is a quick summary of our top picks:
Best things to do in Sanibel Island for couples – take a sunset stroll along Blind Pass beach
Best things to do in Sanibel Island for families – visit Lighthouse Beach and the J.N. Ding Darling Nature Reserve
Best things to do in Sanibel Island for nature lovers – walk along the trails at SCCF Nature Center or visit the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
Best things to do in Sanibel Island for for foodies – grab a local lunch at the Farmers Market or indulge in fine dining at Mad Hatters