WANDER… to Sanibel Island with us!
Let’s go to the beach, shell we? (Sea what I did there? I know. So corny. I can’t help it.)
We recently got back from a relaxing trip to Sanibel Island with our toddler. Sanibel is located off the coast of Fort Myers, Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. This serene and beautiful island is covered in tons of shells and gorgeous wildlife.
My husband and I first came here last November to celebrate our anniversary and milestone birthdays. We immediately fell in love with this island.
I’ve never done a vlog or travel video but we went back to Sanibel with our daughter this spring I thought I’d take you guys with us. Show you a little bit about why we love this lush, shell covered island so much. It’s really something special.
Watch this week’s video for an overview of what I mean:
Something in the air on Sanibel makes you want to kick back and relax. Or go exploring and look for seashells.
There are no traffic lights on the island. No high-rise hotels. No influx of big chains. Just sandy beaches covered in shells, loads of lush nature everywhere… and a relaxed, chill vibe.
I mean… it’s not every day you see parrots at the grocery store?
For a review of some of the locations you saw in the video and places we enjoyed in November and in April, below is a quick recap of where we went:
Note: Many accommodations on the island are condo-style rooms that can be rented weekly or monthly. Some places, like the one we stayed at, do rent daily. For tips on where to stay for your needs, I highly recommend checking out the TripAdvisor Sanibel Island forum.
Sanibel Inn: Besides the island, this also was our second stay at our hotel, Sanibel Inn. Sanibel Inn is a quiet, quaint and relaxing hotel on a beautiful beach. It’s an older resort… as I understand it, most hotels and condo complexes on the island were built in the 1980s. The Inn has gorgeous grounds, a nice small pool, a outdoor beach bar, a restaurant on site, some lawn games and a wide stretch of beach with chair and umbrella service. And while the resort does feel older, we’ve noticed changes and improvements on the grounds since our last stay, like a fire pit. We loved the layout and size of the rooms and we’d love to see the resort continue to update the room decor. We were happy with the resort’s layout, location and service, especially with the staff down by the pool and beach. And you can’t beat the beach!
RESTAURANTS ON SANIBEL ISLAND:
Gramma Dots: If you go, I suggest getting the grouper sandwich or key lime pie (or both!) with your views of the marina. We biked here to justify getting the pie. (Who am I kidding, even if we drove, I’d still get the pie!)
The Lighthouse: My hubby and I stopped here in November and enjoyed a really great breakfast.
Over Easy Café: Busy place! We went here in November and enjoyed fun vibes and good breakfast. I loved their coffee mugs so much, I bought one as a souvenir.
Lazy Flamingo: Fun vibes and good, basic bar-type food.
The Sandbar: We celebrated our anniversary here in November… great food and location for a special meal. (not the most kid-friendly but perfect for a date night.)
Island Cow: Boy this place gets busy fast! Colorful, eclectic and quirky décor and very kid friendly. Big portions! We enjoyed their tacos.
Doc Fords: Get the Yucatan shrimp. Enjoy a drink and good food. You won’t regret it.
Blue Giraffe: We ate outdoors on the patio of this restaurant located in a small shopping area (Periwinkle Place). Food was good, location was great.
Thistle Lodge: The inside restaurant at Casa Ybel resort looked very upscale and formal but we stopped here for lunch on the patio overlooking the pool with our daughter. It was a great location for lunch and we enjoyed very good food.
SHOPPING ON THE ISLAND:
Periwinkle Place: This center is a quaint, outdoor shopping area with boutique shops…. But the best part is that there is a playground on site! I was able to duck into a few shops while my husband played with our daughter. I particularly loved Sea Glass Lane for elegant and natural beach décor and clothes.
Jerry’s Shopping Center: Convenient shopping that includes a grocery store with a few other small shops. The highlight of coming here is the parrots!
Bailey’s General Store: Another local option for groceries.
ACTIVITIES TO DO ON SANIBEL:
Honestly? We did not do too many activities. We are laid-back when it comes to vacations and were quite happy going from the beach to the pool and back again every day. But we did venture out a little…
Tarpon Bay Explorers: We took a morning cruise through a wildlife refuge on a covered pontoon boat. We saw tons of birds and enjoyed coffee and breakfast. Our three-year-old loved the donuts but lost interest on the tour (she was hoping to see more animals and was a little cold). But she perked right up after the tour was over when we went to their touch tank activity to look at sea life and animals up close.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge: More than half of the island is designated a wildlife refuge and this is the biggest one. We drove through parts of it and saw a lot of it on the boat tour. We’d love to go back and check out the education center.
Biking: This island is covered in lots of paved bike trails! Our hotel provided bikes complimentary, but we saw lots of rental companies, too. Biking was a fun way to see Sanibel and its lush landscape. And to go get lunch!
The beach: This is probably my favorite activity on the island. Sanibel is a shell seeker’s paradise. Look up the tide charts and head out at low tide and hunt for shells. Or, do like we do, and just walk the beach! At three years old, our daughter was not looking for certain shells, she had plenty of fun throwing them into her bucket or into the sea!
Sanibel does not have perfectly groomed, white sandy beaches. The beach is beautiful in a natural way. There is soft sand but near the water’s edge beach you’ll find dense, packed sections of shells (you can see in my video what I mean). Water shoes are recommended, especially for little ones. And a bucket or bag to collect your free craft supplies, I mean shells!
While there are not tons of busy activities or attractions on the island, there is SO much in terms of natural surroundings. We found plenty to do and see on the beach and at the pool… including loads of wildlife.
Sanibel Island is a great place for families, but it also would be a fun trip for couples, too! It’s the kind of place to kick back, relax and chill. The kind of place you can come as you are… and exhale.
We love Sanibel so much and hope to return soon!
* None of the content in this post is sponsored. I have no financial interests, perceived or real, pertaining to any of the content presented. It is my opinion of this beautiful island and the lovely places we visited.