Sanibel Island is located off the coast of Florida in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. This little island is only about a three hour drive from Fort Lauderdale. It was fun to drive straight across Florida – we passed by the Everglades and a Panther National Wildlife Refuge (I didn’t spot any.) Below are my six tips for things to do when visiting Sanibel Island!
Try Paddle Boarding
This was definitely a highlight for me! I had never tried paddle boarding before this and my cousin and I were a little skeptical to try. The Inn we were staying at rented them out for free, so we decided to give it a try. It was perfect! The water was warm and calm, though we still fell off a lot, we each had the chance to stand up and paddle for awhile. It’s a great workout too (those boards are heavy!)
Search for Dolphins
When my cousin told me that the last time she visited Sanibel Island she found herself swimming with wild dolphins, I was hopeful to get the chance to see them myself. (Dolphins are by far my favorite wild animal!) It didn’t take long. The first night we were there we saw a pod of dolphins playing so close to shore. It was pure magic! The best time to see dolphins is usually at dawn and dusk, but they are out and about throughout the day. Keep a close eye on that water.
Catch the Sunset @ Captiva
This island is famous for it’s magnificent sunsets. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the sun going down. It turned from blue, to golden yellow, to pink then purple before finally setting. One of the best spots to catch the sunset is at a place called The Mucky Duck. You can sit right along the beach with a beautiful view of the ocean and sky.
Sanibel is also famous for it’s extremely shelly beaches. It was fun walking along the beach seeing what treasures we could find. Some of the shells were absolutely beautiful! Years ago, my parents actually celebrated their honeymoon in Sanibel, so I brought back some special shells for them to keep. <3
It is very popular to bike around the island. Our Inn offered free bikes, so we barely used the car once we arrived. With plenty of sidewalks and bike racks throughout the island, this is one of the best (and most fun) ways to get around.
Visit the J.N.Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge
Most of the island is actually taken up by the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge consists of over 6,400 acres of mangrove forest, submerged seagrass beds, cordgrass marshes, and West Indian hardwood hammocks. It is home to over 245 species of birds that are protected in this refuge. Though we never made it to the refuge, it has plenty of trails to explore.
Bonus Tip: Check out all the fun mailboxes! Almost every house or cottage we passed had the funkiest mailbox. Doesn’t it make you want one like this?
So those are my tips for visiting Sanibel! Have you ever been? What else would you recommend?
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