If you are not sure If you want to stay in Sanibel, then read this article!
About 2 years ago, my boyfriend and I took a vacation to Sanibel Island, Florida. We stayed 4 nights. It is located on the west coast of Florida, just southwest of Fort Meyers. I cannot tell you how much I loved it!
The first reason why I loved it so much:
The Atmosphere! This island is very quiet. I went at the very beginning of August and honestly, barely anyone was around. The climate is somewhat tropical but it really never gets unbearably hot. No crowds at the beach, no college students running around, and manyei. Apparently, many people from Europe flock to this destination.While I was eating breakfast one morning, we heard a french family near us talking to their children. Also, many celebrities have been seen on the island. This place is perfect for a romantic getaway, or a quiet family getaway without distractions (bad cell phone connection; good for the teens!).
Places to stay
I stayed at The Palms of Sanibel. There are probably about 5 places (at least) on the island that are similar to this. I recommend this choice highly, because your others options are camping, staying in a resort, or staying off the island and paying the fee (mentioned under the negatives) every time you come on the island. So where I stayed is a little cottage type thing. Basically the cottage is one room. I believe I stayed in the green house (fyi) and there are three divisions: kitchen area (with dishwasher, full fridge, sink, dishes available for your use), living room area (TV, couch, coffee table which has extra blankets), and bedroom area (full size bed with night stands on each side) and of course you have your own bathroom with a shower. The reason this place is so great is because it's $100 a night, but you never have to deal with anyone else really (like in a hotel) and its more like a home. They give you towels, 2 bikes to use to get around on the island, walking distance of a beach, grills outside to use, outdoor pool, outdoor shower, beach stuff, shelling equipment, cooler, beach umbrella, screened in porch, back porch by the shower, in walking distance of an all day breakfast restaurant, walking distance of an ice cream shop (homemade ice cream) and its spacious. They also have the rose cottage which has I believe another bedroom for families.
I definitely went to the beach alot! We took the umbrella they gave us, brought a couple of books and just chilled seaside for most of the day. Beaches have white sand and there are many shells. When I researched Sanibel I kept reading articles that it is one of the top destinations for shelling. The beach is also very spacious. We went to a beach (walking distance from The Palms of Sanibel) off Buttonwood drive which was the most quiet and we went to a beach that was off, I believe middle gulf drive, which we biked to, and that was the most crowded, but still not much more than buttonwood. We also went to Bowman's beach at night and I think during the day. I can't exactly why we went at night (it was twilight) I think it was just to check it out to see if we would want to go watch the sunset. And it is the destination to watch the sunset from. We ended up missing it the following day from getting carried away with reading. Note: Bring bug spray!
Besides beaches, we went shopping, biking on the island (which they have several bike shops, even a Segway shop) they have bike paths all over the island and they encourage it as well to preserve the wild life. We also went to the this nice video store which I believe is called Video Scene and they have a really great selection for being privately owned (they had all the Disney classics and tons of foreign movies). We had rented Life Water for Chocolate and Disney's Robin Hood. Considering this was two years ago (before the redbox explosion) we didn't have redbox on the island. But when was just googling the name of the video store I went to, they also popped up 4 redboxes on periwinkle way.Some places we didn't go is a couple of museums they have on the island, JN Darling National Wildlife Refuge (which is supposed to be amazing and I am hoping to work there one day), wind surfing lessons, mini golf off the island. There is a playhouse called the The Schoolhouse Theatre and the cinema is called Island Cinema. There are no water parks or any big attractions like that. Like I said, it is a very quiet island.
Shopping..well I can't remember all the places we shopped at, but the big ones: Trader Joe's, Jerry's of Sanibel (grocery store), we also went to a nice bookstore called Sanibel Island Bookshop. If you are interested in shopping, ladies, a boutique called The Lucky Dog seemed adequate.
The second reason I loved it and wanted to go:
RESTAURANTS! I love to eat at new places. And let me tell you, Sanibel Island has the restaurants; you will not want to go without eating while you are there.
Places I went:
Cheeburger Cheeburger- a great burger shop with really delicious shakes (they have a ton of options, you will leave very full!)
Island Pizza Tower- which has really delicious pizza especially after a long day at the beach!
Schnapper's Hots- a really delicious hotdog place. My boyfriend loved it!
Lighthouse cafe- located 3-minute-walk away from The Palms of Sanibel. Breakfast all day and there has been celebrities spotted in this restaurant. They serve really well proportioned breakfast and its really good stuff.
Pinocchio's Italian Icecream- homemade ice cream sanibel style!
Places I suggest:
The Blue Giraffe
The Lazy Flamingo
Trader Joe's (who does have a restaurant)
Bubble Room Restaurant
Twilight Restaurant and Wine Bar
Gas is really expensive and a rare find on the island
The lighthouse that they have located on the east end is quite lame. You cannot go in it.
There is a toll on the bridge that you take to get on to the island ($5-7 to get on island; to get off is free).
I really like mini golf and it made me sad that we had to leave the island to go mini golfing.
If you like to be exciting and adventurous...and maybe on the wild side, this trip might not be for you.
It is really easy to find.
It is really relaxing and sometimes breath-taking (the water is crystal blue).
I definitely recommend driving there if you can. I drove from Atlanta.
Its obvious that there is a community presence which kind of makes you feel like a friend instead of feeling like an onlooker.
They have culture and history in Sanibel.
I hope this article sparked an interest in Sanibel Island, and maybe got you as excited as I was when I finally decided to make my trip happen.