Sanibel is a lush tropical island between the Gulf of Mexico and Pine Island Sound. As you cross the causeway from the mainland, you will be entering a truly unique paradise. It is ten miles long and the road continues on to Captiva Island.

40% of the Sanibel is the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The entire refuge covers over 5,000 acres of preserved natural vegetation giving a home to an amazing range of wildlife. The Refuge can be explored by bike, car or on foot by following the Wildlife Drive. The refuge is well worth visiting whether this is your first view of Florida as it used to be, or if you are a regular nature watcher or photographer. You will also appreciate the variety of wildlife its presence brings to the rest of the island.

Ibis, egrets, ospreys, herons, cormorants and pelicans are just some of the birds you will see during your visit to Sanibel. Watch the ocean to see dolphins playing off shore. Also look out for turtles and crabs. Then watch the beach for shells… Sanibel is famous as one of the worlds best shelling locations. The coastal currents along the edge of the Gulf deposit an impressive quantities of new and varied shells with every tide.

The tropical character has been preserved on the rest of the island because of the careful planning by the town. Strict zoning requirements were established before the rapid growth that affected much of the Gulf coast reached Sanibel. There are no tower blocks or excessively commercialized property. Instead, Sanibel has numerous quaint shops and restaurants, several golf courses and miles of sandy beaches. Whether you are looking for an elegant meal or a quick casual snack, you will find that the range of restaurants make it difficult to decide where to eat. You will also find unique treasures in the interesting stores along Periwinkle Way. Everything you need is available without leaving paradise!

A great way to explore paradise is by bike or in-line skate using the bike paths cross the island from one end to the other. Complementary bicycles are available to all Seahorse Cottages guests.

Make the most of the Gulf while you are on Sanibel. Boats can be chartered for fishing, exploring other islands or taking a nature tour. A water-taxi trip to North Captiva will take you to an island on the other side of Captiva than can only be accessed by boat or small plane. Reserve a golf cart, the only motorized transportation available, and spend a day in touring another unspoiled location. There are many other ways to be on the water but one we particularly enjoyable on is the sunset cruise from Adventures in Paradise. Take a canoe trip starting from the north end of Tarpon Bay Road into the nature reserve and get a close-up view of the tropical mangroves and wildlife.

The entrance to Sanibel is a spectacular causeway that hops across small islands. This video takes you from the mainland to Seahorse Cottages.

Explore more of Sanibel by reading about Old Town Sanibel and the ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Refuge or visiting our Sanibel Maps page.

While in the area, there are also many off-island attractions to visit.