15 Best Things To Do in Sanibel

Sanibel to many people is heaven on earth. It’s a lush, tropical island that is surrounded by dazzling white sandy beaches, tall swaying palms and an ever pleasant breeze that never fails to rejuvenate a tired soul. This minuscule barrier reef island located in the Gulf of Mexico. So next time you go visiting, remember the following best places to visit in Sanibel and do visit to these top tourist attractions in Sanibel.

Sanibel , FloridaImage Source: wikipedia.org

Here's the list of Sanibel points of interest  and 15 best things to do in Sanibel:

1. Pay a compulsory visit to the J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge

For those interested in reptiles, particularly crocodiles, Sanibel Island’s J.N. (Ding) Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a must visit. The refuge’s dense mangrove vegetation is also home to more than 245 bird species, giant manatees as also thirty other mammal species as well. The crocodile population is seen in the four-mile long Wildlife Drive, which is reachable by either hiking or biking. There are also 3 other walking trails, including the Indigo Trail that connects with the Wildlife Education Boardwalk.

2. Taste Sanibel’s history at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village

Started in 1984, Sanibel Historical Museum and Village tells the story of Sanibel’s early residents. It comprises seven historical buildings I which they lived and worked. These buildings were shifted to the Village from their original locations and fully restored to retain their original. The antique furniture, household items, clothes, kitchen gadgets and tools on display are interesting things to see. It is also a venue for concerts, special events and lectures.

3. See shells galore at The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

This is one place where every shell lover must go. Colorful, mysterious looking, pretty, big and small shells are displayed abundantly here. You also get to learn about types like the fig shell, banded tulips, ajunonias or even pen shells. The unique items manufactured from shells on display never fail to impress and delight visitors of all age groups. Its Goliath conch, Atlantic trumpet triton, lightning whelk and horse conch are some of the world’s largest shells. You also get to see shells from the world over as also 30 million-year-old fossils shells like the Ecphora. The museum also gives you a clear picture of Sanibel’s original inhabitants, the Calusas.

4. Marvel at the engineering of Sanibel Causeway

Commisioned in 1963, the Sanibel Causeway has three bridges connected to two small islands, making it easy for tourists to reach Sanibel. The span connecting Punta Rossa to Sanibel on the Causeway Road stretches over 2.8 miles. Two tiny islands that are a part of the Causeway Island Park serve as popular beaches.

5. Relax at Bowman's Beach

Bowman's Beach, which is located in the island’s middle, off the Sanibel-Captiva Road, is truly a scenic stretch of coastline offering excellent shelling, hiking, swimming and beachcombing opportunities. A great place to take the kids out for a day’s chill out a program. Go windsurfing and/or sailing or simply have a family picnic at a secluded spot replete with barbecue grills, showers, trails and restrooms.

6. Watch the fine and performing arts come together at the Big Arts

This was the brainchild of some eminent Sanibel local artists and has been operational since 1979. Its 409-seater Schein Performance Hall hosts classical, jazz, folk and pop concerts. Then there’s also the 139-seater Herb Strauss Theater where you can watch plays and musicals. For visual arts lovers, the Founders and Phillips Galleries host exhibitions to promote local talent. The center also organizes 250 classes and educational workshops for the Sanibel community and its schools every year.

7. Experience wildlife being treated at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)

CROW is the acronym for the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW). It’s a unique wildlife rehabilitation center that takes care of more than 3,500 injured, sick and/or orphaned migratory and native wildlife patients annually. Its 4,800-square-foot state-of-the-art hospital not only treats animals but also offers externship programs and educational fellowships for veterinary sciences undergraduate students. Graduate veterinarians get internship programs also. The Visitor’s Education Center educates wildlife lovers on veterinary careand conservation medicine by way of presentations, videos and exhibits.

8. Feel the sheer green of The Botanical Gardens at Sanibel Moorings

This six-acre space has some rare and unusual tropical plants on display. Since 2009, the Botanical Gardens at Sanibel Moorings got official recognized as a botanical garden and became a member of the American Public Garden Association. Great for amateur and professional botanists and even those with a penchant for green life. Its cacti, orchid, bromeliad, cycad and palm collections are truly worth seeing. You also have a host of birds, turtles, butterflies ad rabbits to keep you company.

9. Romance the Blind Pass Beach

A secluded and romantic spot strewn with thousands of colorful shells, Blind Pass Beach is on the border of Blind Pass, a waterway between the Captiva Islands and Sanibel, which got sanded over and became a beach by default. Great for shell lovers and collectors because the occasional storm and the waterway’s strong currents keep the shell supply going. These strong currents, however, make the beach dangerous for swimmers. There is shark infiltration also but it’s ideal for long walks or contemplation.

10. Take the wildlife tours of Tarpon Bay Explorers

Tarpon Bay Explorers tours are all about kayaking adventures for the entire family. Enjoy its fun tours that take you through some stunning landscapes and expose you to some unusual wildlife as well. You can opt for its mangrove kayak tour through the mangrove forests and watch nesting birds and alligators in their natural habitat. Bird lovers would enjoy its Sunset Rookery Paddle which shows them herons, cormorants and ibises. Kids also get to enjoy interactive sessions with sea creatures at the Explorers Touch Tank at Tarpon Bay.

11. Pick up some painting tips at the Sissi Janku Art Studio

One of Sanibel’s most well-known artists,  Sissi Janku runs a studio and gallery to teach painting at Sanibel’s Community House. Even though Sissi is a German, she has made Hawaii her home after falling in love with its natural beauty. Her paintings are vibrant and focus on tropical patterns. Attend her weekly art classes to learn painting in a relaxed environment and also develop your own creative techniques. Has enormous therapeutic value also.

12. Get adventurous at the Great Calusa Blueway

The Great Calusa Blueway is a 190-mile long, canoeing and kayaking trail that takes you through the coastal waters of Lee Country and the tributaries leading inland. The trail’s safe for everyone and is a must for those who love rushing down the waters. Sure thrill guaranteed. The trail covers Estero Bay, Matlacha Pass and Pine Island, ending at the Caloosahatchee and its multiple tributaries. A most unforgettable experience indeed!

13. Walk up the Sanibel Island Lighthouse

It’s a 98-foot tall tower made from iron and has been around since 1884. Walk up its spiral staircase and get a grand view of the San Carlos Bay. The Sanibel Island lighthouse is located in a protected wildlife zone on Sanibel’s eastern end. It has a pretty beach close to it and makes the ideal backdrop for some great snapshots.

14. Learn about natural conservation at Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation protects and conserves Sanibel and Captiva islands’ aquatic and coastal habitat as also the plants and animals that are dependent on them for their survival. It has around 1300 acres of land under its purview and visitors enjoy its Nature Center with its nature trails, observation tower, butterfly house, touch tank and souvenir shop. You can also buy some native plants from its Native Plants Nursery.

15. Sip, bite and gorge at Bleu Rendezvous

Sanibel’s greatest offering to foodies, the Bleu Rendevous is indeed a most charming French-style bistro serving authentic French cuisine. Located on Periwinkle Way, its country house like ambience and French décor takes you to rural France right away. Chef Vivet’s menu includes veal kidneys served with a cognac-based creamy sauce, garlicky escargot, Boeuf Bourguignon with potatoes, ratatouille and assorted vegetables, which have earned him national fame. A must eat is the cassoulet au confit de canard. Offers some mind blowing desserts, too. So next time you’re at Sanibel, make sure to have at least one meal at Blue Rendezvous.

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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Sanibel, Florida

Must see places in Sanibel ranked on popularity. Here is the complete list of best attractions in Sanibel and point of interests to visit.

  1. J.n. Darling National Wildlife Refuge

    #1 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    J.n. Darling National Wildlife Refuge

    Tags: Outdoors, Wildlife Sanctuary , Wildlife Park

    Address: 1 Wildlife Dr., Off Sanibel–Captiva Rd. at MM 2, Sanibel, Florida, 33957, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Jay Norwood Darling was a popular cartoonist with a passion for the environment. The double Pulitzer Prize winner was appointed head of the U.S Biological Survey and the National Wildlife Federation b...Read more

  2. Bowman's Beach

    #2 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Bowman's Beach

    Tags: Outdoors, Beach, Entertainment, Tourist Center

    Address: 1700 Bowmans Beach Road, Sanibel, FL 33957, United States

    Timings: 07:00 am - 07:00 pm Details

    Warm white sand, warmer beach breezes and delicious smells wafting off barbecue grills will mellow you down at Bowman’s Beach. This pretty beach in Sanibel Island is a favourite amongst visitors...Read more

  3. The Bailey-matthews National Shell Museum

    #3 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    The Bailey-matthews National Shell Museum

    Tags: Museum, Exhibition , Specialty Museum

    Address: 3075 Sanibel Captiva Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Have you ever wondered how clams, oysters and sea slugs create their precious shells? A visit to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum will tell you how. Visitors, especially children, marvel at t...Read more

  4. Sanibel And Captiva Chamber Of Commerce And Visitors Center

    #4 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Sanibel And Captiva Chamber Of Commerce And Visitors Center

    Tags: Outdoors, Beach, Restaurant, Entertainment

    Address: 1159 Causeway Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    When people visit Florida, two of the most popular get-aways are the beautiful little islands of Sanibel and Captiva. Both, with their own alluring charms, are filled with restaurants, shopping center...Read more

  5. Sanibel Causeway

    #5 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Sanibel Causeway

    Tags: View Point, Bridge, Tourist Center, Architecture

    Address: Sanibel Causeway Fort Myers, FL 33908, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Biking, fishing and gliding over the sea is possible thanks to the Sanibel Causeway. It spans over the San Carlos Bay and connects Sanibel Island with the Florida mainland in Punta Rassa. This is 3 ki...Read more

  6. Periwinkle Way

    #6 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Periwinkle Way

    Tags: Trail, Park, Landmark, Walking Area

    Address: Sanibel, FL 33957 USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Imagine a long stretch of road, with delicious odours of expertly cooked food wafting past you. Boutique stores filled with Floridian fashion and quirky treasures, some of the best hotels on the Islan...Read more

  7. Blind Pass Beach

    #7 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Blind Pass Beach

    Tags: Outdoors, Beach, Entertainment, Water Sport

    Address: Blind Pass Bridge, Sanibel, FL 33957, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    This beach is one of Southwest Florida’s best kept secrets, though not for long perhaps. Tucked away at the end of Sanibel, right before the bridge to Captiva starts, is where you’ll find ...Read more

  8. Clinic For The Rehabilitation Of Wildlife Crow

    #8 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Clinic For The Rehabilitation Of Wildlife Crow

    Tags: Wildlife Sanctuary , Wildlife Park, Educational Site, Bird Watching

    Address: 3883 Sanibel Captiva Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 04:00 pm Details

    CROW is home to one of the country’s most prominent wildlife rehabilitation centers, with state-of-the-art facilities, a qualified veterinarian and dedicated volunteers. In 1968, Island resident...Read more

  9. Sanibel Moorings Botanical Gardens

    #9 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Sanibel Moorings Botanical Gardens

    Tags: Outdoors, Botanical Garden, Nature

    Address: 845 East Gulf Drive Sanibel Island, FL 33957, USA

    Timings: 08:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Blue African Iris, yellow and orange Reed Orchids, red Weeping Hibiscus and an astounding variety of flowering plants, herbs and tropical trees create a stunning rainbow of petals and leaves in the Mo...Read more

  10. Gulfside City Park

    #10 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Gulfside City Park

    Tags: Outdoors, Beach, Park, Entertainment

    Address: Algiers Lane and Casa Ybel Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957, USA

    Timings: 07:00 am - 07:00 pm Details

    The Gulfside City Park Beach, also known as Algiers Beach, is a long stretch of shell filled sand along the Gulf of Mexico. There is a park as well as the beach, and their numerous features give you t...Read more

  11. Sanibel Community Playground

    #11 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Sanibel Community Playground

    Tags: Park, Play Ground, Entertainment, Play

    Address: 2231 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island, FL 33957, USA

    Museums, historical architecture and learning centers are all child friendly, but your little one is bound to have the biggest blast at the playground situated within Sanibel Community Park. With soft...Read more

  12. Three Crafty Ladies

    #12 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Three Crafty Ladies

    Tags: Outdoors, Entertainment, Shopping Center, Arts And Crafts

    Address: 1628 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Sometimes, all one wants to do is spend a day inside, even when they’re on vacation. If knitting or making things with your hands are your favourite indoor activities, then Three Crafty Ladies s...Read more

  13. Seahorse Cottages On Sanibel

    #13 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Seahorse Cottages On Sanibel

    Tags: Leisure

    Address: 1223 Buttonwood Ln, Sanibel, FL 33957, USA

    Located on the shore of the San Carlos Bay, the Seahorse Cottages On Sanibel are nestled amid the verdant tropical vegetation and palm groves. In the heart of the Old Town of Sanibel, the cottages off...Read more

  14. Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge

    #14 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge

    Tags: Wildlife Park

    Address: Sanibel, FL 33957, USA

    Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge in U.S. is a small island. Located near to Charlotte Harbour, this island is built in order to preserve the breeding of native birds. This wildlife refuge was ge...Read more

  15. Lighthouse Cafe

    #15 of 103 Things To Do in Sanibel
    Lighthouse Cafe

    Tags: Food And Drinks, Cafe

    Address: 362 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957, USA

    Timings: 07:00 am - 03:00 pm Details

    Start your day, with some delicious breakfast at Sanibel, U.S. The café is famous for its freshly prepared dishes, which are very sumptuous. The café offers a variety of items to choose ...Read more

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Find more places to see in Sanibel

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