Sanibel Island vacation rentals
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Your guide to Sanibel Island
All About Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island sits around three hours west of Miami and just over three hours south of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The subtropical island’s pristine, palm-fringed shores are separated from the mainland by a three-mile causeway. Visitors come ashore for windsurfing on causeway beaches, dolphin-spotting off the coast, and fishing for redfish and snook. Shelling is a major pastime on Sanibel Island, with Bowman’s Beach boasting swathes of whelk and cockle shells and an annual festival dedicated to this popular activity. There’s even a museum specializing in mollusks and shells — the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is the only one of its kind in the country.
Birdwatchers return to the inland wetlands year after year to spot the vibrant pink feathers of the roseate spoonbill, while the crystal clear waters just offshore are home to plenty of grouper and snapper, and sailboats are available to charter from the island’s multiple marinas. More than 10 man-made reefs within a 30-minute drive also attract snorkelers and divers. Away from the water, tennis courts and golf courses offer more ways to soak up the Florida sun.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Sanibel Island
Sanibel is a subtropical island, so the standard four seasons don’t apply. Conditions in southwestern Florida can be broken down into two seasons — the rainy season from mid-May through mid-October and the dry season. Nevertheless, you can still expect plenty of sunshine during the rainy season, and more than a few afternoon showers during the dry season. Any time of year, you’ll be met with balmy, Gulf of Mexico sunshine, warm ocean water, and even warmer air. October and November are the best months to head to a villa in Sanibel Island in search of shells on the island’s beaches, when tides around Florida are at their lowest. Every March, the annual Sanibel Shell Fair & Show showcases local art made with shells found on the surrounding beaches.
Top things to do in Sanibel Island
Running from Lighthouse Beach Park in the east through a warren of waterways to Tarpon Bay Road around a third of the way across the island, Periwinkle Way is Sanibel’s main thoroughfare. Bikes and beach cruisers are available if you’re looking to cruise along, and you can loop around to Dunlop Road to peruse the farmers’ market, take in a performance at BIG ARTS Sanibel, and get a taste of pioneer life at Sanibel Historical Museum and Village.
Hunting for shells on Bowman’s Beach
Hunting for shells is one of the favorite pastimes for Sanibel Island beachcombers, and Bowman’s Beach is the shell hunter’s paradise. Free and open to the public, its soft sands are studded with conch, clam, and other treasures. The island’s curved coastline scoops up shells from the Gulf, drawing in visitors from far and wide to adopt the “Sanibel stoop” and collect their bounty.
Hopping over to Captiva Island
Sanibel Island’s sister, Captiva, is right next door via a small bridge crossing Blind Pass, and many visitors hop between the two. Just five miles long, Captiva Island is home to powder-soft sands, pelicans, and pastel-hued beachfront buildings. Kayaking, snorkeling, and fishing are major draws, alongside vast sunsets that you can admire from coastal bars.