Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sanibel Island, Florida - a shelling vacation

Sanibel and Captiva islands are located just off the coast of Ft Meyers, Florida and a great place to enjoy the beach - especially if you like to find seashells.   There are many places to stay on the islands (hotels, condos, private homes) and public beaches available if you want to come over for the day.  In order to enjoy the island you must take the Sanibel Causeway bridge and pay a $6.00 toll.  Once on the island be prepared to pay for parking ($2/hr) and during peak times - the lots can be full.  Stop by the visitor center when you arrive and they will be glad to give you maps, information about places to stay, restaurants, shops, things to do, shelling and more!

Lighthouse beach on a weekend in October

Most people come to Sanibel for a relaxing vacation - walking on the beach, bird watching, reading, shelling, fishing, swimming and biking.  There is a 'laid back' type of attitude here with a small town feel.  Regulations prohibit new construction over 2 stories so no mega malls or huge resorts are here.  What IS here are 15 miles of beaches, 22 miles of bike paths, 230 kinds of birds and 250 types of shells and NO stoplights!  Public access to the beaches have paid parking, restrooms and some have showers and picnic areas.  There are a few rules to using the beaches: pets must be leashed and cleaned up after (no pets on Captiva beaches allowed), alcoholic beverages prohibited Nov-May, no open fires and no collecting of live shells.  Bring your own food, drinks, sunscreen, umbrellas, toys etc.  There are no vendors on the beach but many stores close by in case you forgot something.

One of the public fishing piers - lots of birds looking for an easy meal

Shelling is the main reason people come to Sanibel.  Tide charts are available so you can get out when the tides are the lowest and the shelling in the best.  Bring your bucket or bag and get ready to do the 'Sanibel Stoop' (walking bent over looking at the shells).  The island has some of the best shelling in the world because of it's unique east-west orientation as a barrier island.  One of our favorite places to shell was the lighthouse beach.  The Point Ybel Lighthouse was built in 1884 and an easy landmark to orient yourself to the layout of the island.  We rented a condo just a mile from the lighthouse and biked there most mornings.

Sanibel is a great place to enjoy a relaxing vacation or visit for the day to find some shells.  The USA Today lists Sanibel and Captiva as one of the 10 great places for families to escape the snow!  More information about the areas can be found on and they also have live online chat to help you with information about the area.

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