I’ve been visiting Sanibel Island since I was born. My mom grew up going there and once my mom and dad got together he joined her family and then once they had my brother and I, they started their own annual tradition. So to say my family is experts on the island is an understatement, making these Sanibel Island Recommendations crème de la crème
We visit Sanibel Island each year for a week, spending all day at the beach just about everyday except for our shopping day where we hit up all of the Island’s shopping spots. We’ll also grab fresh pastries in the morning a few times, I share below where to do that. And almost every night we venture out to one of the Island’s delicious restaurants. At this point we have go-to dishes at most of the places and we look forward to eating them all year!
My Sanibel Island Recommendations
Where to eat:
- Doc Ford’s, the Macadamia Crusted Grouper is AMAZING.
- The Island Cow, I go for the hushpuppies alone. (as of August 2022, it’s temporarily closed due to a fire a few weeks ago )
- George and Wendy’s, live music often. The Piña Colada Snapper is my brother’s favorite.
- Cip’s Place, cool boat bar inside
- Lazy Flamingo
- Blue Giraffe, good for lunch while shopping that shopping mall.
- The Clam Shack, great clam chowder and lobster rolls.
- Lighthouse Cafe, good for breakfast.
- Tipsy Turtle
- Sanibel Cafe, good for breakfast before/after exploring the shopping mall’s shops. Their French Toast trio is yummy.
- Over Easy Cafe, good for breakfast.
- 400 Rabbits, delicious Mexican fare with good list of margaritas.
- Spoondrift Island Bowls, awesome build-it-yourself poke bowls.
- Bubble Room, go for the quirky atmosphere and yummy desserts alone
- Shima Japanese Steakhouse
- Jerry’s Cafe
Coffee and Tea:
- Sanibel Bean, delicious coffee, but my small iced latte cost $8-so very pricey.
- Coffee Bar at Bailey’s General Store, my favorite place for coffee on the Island
- Coquina at Jerry’s, Starbucks feels
- Spatini, a tea bar with bubble tea too
Where to shop:
- Periwinkle Place, probably my favorite shopping center
- Tahitian Gardens
- Shops at Jerry’s, don’t forget to say hi to all of the exotic birds they have hanging around
- She Sells Seashells, the coolest sea shell store ever-brace yourself for the fishy smell!
Where to do groceries:
Both of these have bakeries for fresh goodies.
Bailey’s General Store, I love their coffee bar
- Their chicken salad is AMAZING. Perfect beach snack with some crackers.
Jerry’s, bigger than Bailey’s.
- Pick up some old Florida tortilla chips and salsa here, so good
Where to stay:
You can use rental realtors (a few are V.I.P., Royal Shell, King Fisher) or VRBO for these. Remember these buildings have been around for decades, so each unit’s level of update varies. Make sure to look at photos and ask questions on any preferences you may have. Below are the places I’m familiar with, but there are plenty more. Some offer more of a pool experience for those who enjoy that. We’re more beach people and don’t go in the pool at all.
- The Sundial, resort feel
- Loggerhead Cay if you have pets
- Sandy Bend, there is a cottage set back a little (it’s so cute) and then a small building that’s practically on the beach with 8 units and a shared rooftop patio
- Casa Ybel, resort feel
What to beside the beach:
- Bike around the island, rent from Billy’s Rentals
- Go shelling during low tide, Sanibel Island is the world’s Shell Capital!
- Go golfing, you do need to be a guest at some of the hotel’s in order to use their course
- Go trail-walking, there’s quite a few on the Island
Sanibel Island Tips for First Timers:
- BRING BUG SPRAY WITH YOU. If you plan on being out and about after 5pm and there is no wind, the no see ums are relentless and will chew you up.
- If you’re only used to shell-less sand, prepare to wear sandals/water shoes on the beach. Not really necessary for once in the water, but the beach is full of shells in certain areas.
- Keep an eye out for red tide warnings in the news. This can happen in the Gulf of Mexico waters, which is what Sanibel is. You may not know far enough in advance to plan your trip around it, but you will know if you need to cancel it. Some people are ok with it, but if you have allergies it’s really rough on the eyes, skin and respiratory system. Also, you might get dead fish showing up on shore.
- If you go during high season, make reservations for dinner. Otherwise, you’ll be fine without.
- If you decide to take some sea shells home with you from the beach, be sure to check there is nothing living in them. If there is and it dies in there, it will STINK within a few days.
too chic and cute post. xoxo.
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