Nestling the southwest coast of Florida about 25 miles from Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Sanibel Island lures tourists from across the country looking for a relaxing stay and endless activities. Whether you’re looking to see some wildlife during the winter or want to hit the beach in the summer, Sanibel Island has activities for all ages and interests.
Image via Flickr by Travelmath
White sand beaches are one of the most alluring topographic features of Sanibel Island, yet with all the coastline, Bowman’s Beach is the most popular — not only for its seemingly secluded nature but also for its endless amount of shells. As soon as you walk within a few feet of the water’s edge, you’re ankle deep in shells of all different shapes, sizes, and colors. If you manage to find a cockle or conch shell that’s fully intact, you’ve hit the jackpot.
However, the good shells don’t last long on Bowman’s Beach, and getting to the beach early is essential. Check out a few hotels right on Sanibel Island so you can find the best haul.
Designed by acclaimed course designer Arthur Hills, the Sanctuary Golf Course is one of the most beautiful and challenging courses in southwest Florida. Bordering the J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge, this 6,657-yard course has breathtaking views of mangrove forests, the ocean, birds, and other wildlife. During peak times, schedule a tee time well in advance. Though difficult, this 18-hole course is approachable for beginners, although intermediate and advanced golfers might have a better time.
Hiking the J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Established in 1976, the J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a 5,200-acre reserve that was formed to protect the area’s unique mangroves and migratory bird populations. While driving the park is the quickest and easiest way to see some of the wildlife, hiking is a surefire way to get the most of your visit. The Wulfert Keys Trail and the Shell Mound Trail are both quarter-mile trails that are perfect for kids and the elderly. These two trails provide awesome views of Pine Island Sound, as well as the native vegetation.
The four-mile Indigo Trail loop is the most traveled of the refuge, and even at four miles, you won’t get tuckered out. Along the way, many travelers see flamingos, night herons, white ibis, and alligators, which provide excellent photo ops.
Paddle the Great Calusa Blueway
Meandering over 190 miles through the tributaries and coastal waterways of Lee County, the Great Calusa Blueway is the epitome of the scenic route. With crystal-clear waters that flow through some of the state’s most beautiful ecosystems, you’ll find over 80 points of interest along the way. The views are nothing short of amazing, and you’ll also have the opportunity to see marine animals, shorebirds, and other animals. Kayaks and canoes are the most popular types of transportation, but if you can tie yourself to someone on a tube, you can enjoy all the scenery with little effort.
When you want entertainment and activities with a stunning backdrop, Sanibel Island is your ideal destination. From the links to the beach, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you.