We have stayed at Sanibel Island Florida many times. Bette’s folks stayed there for years. So after typing up several emails with my recos, here is the info:
We usually stayed at West Wind Inn Nice, clean, low key, pool with bar, cabana / umbrella rentals on beach. Good restaurant on site.
We like the kitchenette models, ocean view if you can get it.
Also Casa Ybel, a little fancier. Ours had a kitchenette there too.
Bette’s parents have stayed at Tween Waters Inn many years ago. Old school accommodations at Island Inn. Folks we know rent condos on the lighthouse side, not sure where. See Chamber website for rental agents.
Super fancy is South Seas Resort way at the end of Captiva – we never stayed there, but others have and like it. Rebuilt after hurricane took it out completely.
Buy groceries off island on way in, is cheaper, Once on island we never leave. We like Baileys, but other store Jerry’s is bigger and farther away from WWI – but closer to Casa Ybel.
Either way, reserve ahead of time if you travel at peak. They can run out and you are stuck with daily rentals.
DO NOT DRIVE AT 7-9AM or 4-6PM – TRAFFIC!!!!! Bikes work great!
While there, visit Ding Darling Wildlife refuge, lighthouse park. Take a canoe or kayak out into the brackish waters from Tarpon Bay Explorers near Tarpon Bay and Sanibel/Captiva Road. They offer bus tours to different places.
If up for it, shelling tours are good. We did deep sea fishing once, staff can recommend charters.
Trip to exclusive Useppa island is fun. http://www.captivacruises.com/sched_cruises.html#Useppa Cabbage Key might be fun too.
Food: Way too many restaurants.
Over Easy Cafe for breakfast good.
Captiva has Mucky Duck, fun for lunch get there EARLY or wait 1.5 hours. Also bubble room, fun to go once but I would never go back. Would be nice with kids, but not for us.
Sanibel Steakhouse, good steaks.
Twilight Restaurant and Wine Bar. We went there as Twilight Cafe, they closed, reopened, and website indicates is reopened by now. Now they moved again down Periwinkle. Ask for their marinated grilled veggie recipe, was on the back of the business cards…
Gramma Dot’s at the marina is good lunch
Lighthouse Cafe (Sanibel) is good for breakfast – lunch – good while riding to the lighthouse. This is a must see area.
Green Flash is nice, esp at sunset. The green flash is the phonomenon sometimes experienced immediately after the sun is setting.
Doc Fords is near WWI, good bar, good rum drinks. easy bike ride. If you like trashy beach novels, go to the Macintosh independent bookstore and buy Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford novels. Good stuff, esp if you like John D McDonald.
Look thru the coupon books you get at checkin or at any food store. Lotsa junk, some good info. maps, especially for riding around.
Our nieces caught shells on a charter trip shelling between Sanibel and Captiva. We like to walk the beach at night to see crabs.
Dont forget to rent an umbrella for the day. We recommend buying Whiskey and sour mix and using the room pitcher to make Whiskey sours – excellent beach day punch. (recipe)
At sunset, WWI has great viewing. Bring a glass of wine. Look for the green flash.
In the spring, it is said that eagles can be seen by the Dairy Queen.
We rode bikes to the Sanibel Museum. Very interesting. I highly recommend this one. We were very interested in the history of the island.
Try La Vigna. May be a bit pricey.
Some of our pictures for 2004 and 2009