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3 Hours to Paradise: Things to do on Sanibel Island Florida

You may have noticed that I’m writing a lot about Florida recently. What once was a place for childhood vacations with my family has turned into an entirely different holiday for me later in life. A paradise of white sand beaches, great food, lots to do and the best part, it is a short 3-hour flight away from Toronto. My new favourite Florida dream beach vacation is the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Islands and here is why.

White Sand Beaches Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

Things to do in Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island may seem like a luxury paradise for the super wealthy and celebrity crowd, but upon further investigation, this laid-back Island has a casual beach vibe which everyone will love. There is so much to do and see on the island, and it is just a short drive over the causeway from Fort Myers Beach.

See my post on things to do in Fort Myers Beach here: Sunny Dreams on the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Islands.

Captiva Cruises Boat Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

Morning Cruise to Captiva Island

Once on Sanibel Island, make your way to the South Seas Island Resort’s Yacht Harbour Marina, one of Captiva Cruises’ departure points to catch the half day cruise to Cabbage Key on Captiva Island.

Cocktails on the boat cruise to Captiva Island Florida

On the boat ride over to the island enjoy cocktails in the sun, and listen to the Captain’s stories about the route and life on Sanibel and Captiva islands.

Dolphins jump out of water next to boat during captiva island cruise

During the boat trip keep an eye out for dolphins who will follow alongside the ship during your journey. It was a lovely day in the sun that included lunch at Cabbage Key Restaurant on the Island.

Arriving at Cabbage key on Captiva island

You have to get to this Captiva Island restaurant by boat, but Cabbage Key Restaurant is known for two things: the first is Jimmy Buffett’s song “Cheeseburger to Paradise” and the second, all the money hanging on the walls. On a super hot day, it was nice to sit inside the air-conditioned restaurant and enjoy a nice lunch.

Cabbage Key Restaurant money on the walls

Ask your server for some tape and a marker and add your dollar bill anywhere you like. The money that falls down from the ceiling or wall are collected and given to charity.

Adding my 1 dollar bill at Cabbage Key Restaurant Captiva Island

After lunch, I had a lovely walk along the trails on Captiva Island before we had to board the boat for the ride back to Sanibel island.

Ding Darling National Park Bird in Water Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

I never knew how much fun bird watching could be. In a 90-minute tram tour through J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, I saw some fascinating birds and a park that I’d love to revisit again. This Sanibel island attraction is filled with things to do and see.

Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

Aside from bird and animal watching, the educational centre has numerous interactive displays about their mission to preserve the region’s animals and the environment. There you will get a sense of which birds to keep an eye out for during your tram tour.

The park is also a haven for hikers, bikers and fishers. There is more to do at this park than you will be able to do in just one day.

florida birds spread their wings at Ding Darling National Park

It's just a short 3 hour flight from Toronto to a Paradise. Sanibel Island features the most beautiful white sand beaches, a casual food scene and more shells than any sheller can possibly collect. In this article we share all the things to do and see on Sanibel Island Florida. | Beach Vacation | Sanibel Island | Florida | USA | Beach | Shells | Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Islands |

Hit a Sanibel Island Beach

I can’t image a visit to Sanibel Island that doesn’t include sitting and relaxing on at least one of its many white sand beaches. For shellers, this is a paradise unlike any other. Sanibel island shells are plentiful and there are more species of shells on this island than you will ever be able to collect.

Shell collection from walk on Sanibel Island

Shopping at Sanibel Island’s Village

Just steps from one of Sanibel’s many beaches is its little shopping village, filled with little boutique shops and a great place to stop to grab a bit to eat. Colourful buildings with an assortment of beach attire, souvenirs and art can be found within a short walking distance of one another.

Sunset Grill Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida Sunset Grill

Where to Eat on Sanibel Island

Breakfast or Lunch on Sanibel Island

I have two great spots to hit for breakfast or lunch on the island. The Sunset Grill is a favourite stop on the island serves up a huge menu of breakfast dishes.

orders up on counter at Sunset Grill Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

Sheller’s TIP: Across the street from the Sunset Grill is a long beach filled with Shells. Pack a shovel and bucket and be sure to cross the road carefully and grab some. Here is a photo I got before being dragged off the beach without any shells.

Beach across from Sunset Grill Sanibel Island Florida

For more shelling tips check out our post Dream of Shells? Best Shelling Beaches in Florida are on Sanibel Island.

Island Cow Restaurant Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

If you love themed restaurants with lots of character and great food, then you will love the Island Cow Restaurant. The cow inspired decorations are found inside and out, and this place will be hard to miss when driving by.

Breakfast at Island Cow Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

They have a pretty extensive menu, but I chose a simple breakfast as we were eating so much on this trip.

Key Lime Bistro Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

Dinner at Key Lime Bistro

Located in the historic village on Captiva Island the Key Lime Bistro is a casual spot with a delicious menu. We just walked off the beach and made our way to the open-air restaurant for dinner.

Dinner at Key Lime Bistro Sanibel Island Florida

From delicious seafood appetizers and entrees, their huge menu has something for everyone. I can’t image not indulging in fish during this trip as seafood does not get fresher than when visiting a region like Fort Myers and Sanibel Islands.

Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

Our table had a variety of dishes from fried fish to this seafood pasta above.

Bubble Room Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

Dessert at The Bubble Room

Cross the street from Key Lime Bistro and get into the lineup at The Bubble Room Restaurant. This restaurant also serves dinner but what it is famous for is its toy inspired decor and huge slices of cake.

Cakes at Bubble Room Things to Do on Sanibel Island Florida

Our scout leader came to our table to give us the 411 on all their cake offerings. Chocolate, Orange Crush, Red Velvet. Pick your favourite flavour and note the size of the slices above because what you see in the display is what you are going to get.

Bubble-Room-Sanibel-Island-48

Be sure to take some time and have a look around the restaurant. It was decorated with antique toys and unique displays.

The place was packed with people and hard to photograph, but it is one of those cool, chaotic places that you just have to experience once yourselves. If you have kids they will go crazy in here. I’m not sure if it is all the toys or just the sugar!

Sandpiper Gulf Resort Hotel Fort Myers Beach Florida

Where to Stay Hotels Near Sanibel Island

Both hotels I stayed at were actually on Fort Myers Beach and not on Sanibel Island. I recommend the Pink Shell Resort which was located closer to the causeway. See our review: A Fort Myers Beach Favourite the Pink Shell Beach Resort.

This made trips across to Sanibel Island very easy. The Sandpiper Gulf Resort is a quieter and more low key property a bit further down Fort Myers Beach. You can read my review of the Sandpiper Resort: Blissful Dream Beach View Suite at Sandpiper Gulf Resort.

I recommend these Fort Myers Beach hotels
Sandpiper Gulf Resort Fort Myers BeachPink Shell Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Florida
 Sandpiper Gulf ResortPink Shell Beach Resort
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It's just a short 3 hour flight from Toronto to a Paradise. Sanibel Island features the most beautiful white sand beaches, a casual food scene and more shells than any sheller can possibly collect. In this article we share all the things to do and see on Sanibel Island Florida. | Beach Vacation | Sanibel Island | Florida | USA | Beach | Shells | Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Islands |

Travel assistance provided by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel Visitor & Convention Bureau, however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I would love to get fossick amongst those shells. I love the style of Cabbage Tree restaurant building and the quirky ceiling! I find the whole island package very appealing.

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