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Sanibel & Captiva

By Staff | Nov 1, 2017

The islands are blessed with sandy beaches (many isolated), world-class shelling, excellent birding and wildlife/sea turtle-watching/exploring opportunities, excellent shopping and dining, boating, fishing, biking/hiking. PHOTO BY MEGHAN MCCOY

The Sanibel-Captiva and the barrier island regions, including Boca Grande and North Captiva Island, are among the world’s most beautiful and picturesque. The islands are blessed with sandy beaches (many isolated), world-class shelling, excellent birding and wildlife/sea turtle-watching/exploring opportunities, excellent shopping and dining, boating, fishing, biking/hiking, resort lifestyles, any number of activities for those seeking the pleasures of subtropical Southwest Florida and the Sunshine State, which year-round averages 72 degrees and offers warm Gulf waters.

North Captiva Island is an island just offshore of the Gulf of Mexico. It is separated from Captiva Island by a channel called Redfish Pass created in a 1920s hurricane. It lies just south of Cayo Costa Island.

Like Captiva and Sanibel, North Captiva is a barrier island to Pine Island and is very narrow. There is no auto access, the island can only be reached by boat.

Cruising/sailing/beaches

  • Take a day trip and canoe or kayak out in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Parasail, kite board, or hop on a waverunner. The warm Gulf of Mexico waters lend themselves perfectly to loads of water sports.
  • Captiva Cruises:

Captiva Cruises provides excursions to Cabbage Key, Useppa and Boca Grande for lunch or Cayo Costa State Park for shelling as well as Dolphin Adventures, Sunset Serenades, Sailing Cruises aboard a 24 passenger sailing catamaran, Night Sky Astronomy Cruises, Eco-Heritage Cruises to Pine Island and Private Cruise Expeditions. 239-472-5300 / captivacruises.com

  • Learn how to ”sail away” with Offshore Sailing School/South Seas Island Resort on Captiva. 239-454-1700 / offshoresailing.com
  • Jensen’s Twin Palm Marina, bait and tackle, rentals, Captiva. 239-472-5800 / gocaptiva.com/marina
  • Lee County and local beaches are among the very best. Parking fees and bridge tolls apply.

visit mysanibel or leeparks.org.

Shopping and dining

Periwinkle Way in Sanibel and Andy Rosse Lane in Captiva are the main districts, but there are shops and great food at nearly every corner in both island towns. Swimwear and beach goods, souvenirs and shells, collectibles, fine jewelry, fashion, household goods, personal care, spas, bookstores, artwork, a thousand other fun shops and activities are available. Dining choices are distinct and varied. sanibel-captiva.org

Bailey-Matthews National

Shell Museum/Sanibel

Visit the world’s premier shell museum; enjoy marine naturalist adventures, shell history and fun facts, go on a guided beach/low-tide excursion on Sanibel or Fort Myers, unleash your inner artist with shell crafting activities, explore the new exhibits that were added last August, watch a film or attend a tank talk lecture.

shellmuseum.org / 239-395-2233.

Clinic for the Rehabilitation

of Wildlife (CROW)

CROW has provided care to sick or injured animals for over 40 years. A small staff and hundreds of volunteers keeps the clinic going. At CROW, visitors can take a tour of the grounds to see what it takes to care for over 3,500 animals per year or attend a lecture in the Visitor Education Center to learn more about some of their animal ambassadors.

crowclinic.org / 239-472-3644

Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF)

On Sanibel Island and Captiva Island, there are a number of other places for bird watching. The interior wetlands are lovely places to walk, either early in the day or toward sunset. Center Tract at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, the Periwinkle Blue Skies Preserve Trail, the Bob Wigley Preserve and the Sanibel Gardens Preserve have great walking trails for bird watchers. The Shipley Trail on Periwinkle Way unveils the history of the Bailey Homestead Preserve.

sccf.org / 239-472-2329

The Sanibel Public Library

Rated as one of Florida’s best, the library offers the latest in books, movies, magazines, and music. The author series which begins in December, includes Amor Towles, Christina Baker Kline and Mary Alice Monroe. The library also boasts an artist exhibit featuring Sanibel’s very best work; a state-of-the-art computer lab, a warm and inviting children’s room and a customer-focused staff ready to help. Stop in. Everyone is welcome.

sanlib.org / (239) 472-2483

Boca Grande

Its Spanish name for “Big Mouth” comes from the mouth of the waterway, called Boca Grande Pass, at the southern tip of Gasparilla Island, which historically was a pirate shelter through the 19th century. It is today an attraction for tarpon fishing, also a quiet retreat with excellent beaches and a quaint downtown shopping/dining district. Boca Grande’s serene beauty also makes it a destination for high profile weddings and residences for the elite seeking privacy. Boca Grande is very popular with affluent seasonal residents.

bocagrandechamber.com / (941) 964-0568