Welcome to the Sanibel-Captiva Islands

Clear, turquoise waters. Fine, white sand beaches. Palm trees swaying in the warm gulf breeze... All of these things can be found on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, and visitors come from all over the world to bask in this paradise. So, it’s no surprise that the beaches found here have won countless awards for being some of the best in the United States and are even usually ranked among the best in the world.

To access the pristine barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva, take the scenic drive over the Sanibel Causeway. Once there, immerse yourself in a tropical setting and stunning natural surroundings. Sanibel, the southernmost island, is the first you’ll encounter and Captiva is just over its northernmost bridge. These islands maintain their small-town feel by limiting construction and preserving nature. Locals strive to keep the land and water clean and implore visitors to do the same. After all, the beauty of the area is what attracts vacationers to the islands.

While staying in this region, visitors will find a plethora of activities they can try that will bring them close to nature. Venture into the warm waters for a dip where the aquatic life flourishes around you. Perhaps dolphins or manatees will make a guest appearance to the delight of onlookers. Or, stroll the beach searching for shells. The barrier islands amass many spectacular specimens to bring home (provided it isn’t a “living” shell). Other water activities are readily available and with the stellar scenery, Sanibel-Captiva is a great place to enjoy them. Take a kayak or paddleboard tour to explore mangroves and find wildlife along the coastline or rent a boat and be your own captain—maybe bring along a fishing pole!

Nature lovers will enjoy the options for fun available on land. Opportunities to see the many exotic animals that call the islands their home are widely available, but great care is taken to ensure the safety of both wildlife and visitors to Sanibel-Captiva. The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful place to see local birds and animals in their natural environment. You may also find it enjoyable to rent a bicycle and explore all that borders (or crosses) the bike paths.

Restaurants offering delectable seafood, perfectly cooked steaks, fine wines and rich desserts, and shops selling eclectic items dot the landscape in this region of Florida. Come in off of the beach and feast upon fresh seafood, often prepared with citrus flavors from the state's orchards. And don’t leave empty-handed! Many handcrafted treasures can be found within the unique shops and stores. Whether you’re searching for art that reflects your vacation, stunning jewelry or a distinctive clothing item, you’re sure to find it here. As the sun sets over the water, igniting the sky in an array of colors, the nightlife begins to come alive. Follow the festive sounds into a local establishment for live music, dancing and a refreshing mojito.

East of Sanibel-Captiva lie Estero and San Carlos islands with the town of Fort Myers Beach. Separate from the city of Fort Myers, this little community offers an abundance of watersports, restaurants, and shops. Fort Myers Beach even has its own Times Square—well, a southern low-key area where locals like to congregate. It’s a great place to grab a drink, window-shop and people-watch! Plus, the beaches here are wonderful and offer many opportunities to play in the water. Those who like to vacation with their fur-babies may want to visit Dog Beach for a day of fun for the whole family.

While on your trip, perhaps you would like to venture inland to discover the charming city of Fort Myers. This coastal city is filled with welcoming people and cultural activities that will engage your senses. Delve into local history at museums and at the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Gerald Ford. Catch an off-Broadway performance at the Florida Repertory Theatre and immerse yourself in art at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. Or, just sit back and relax either on a nature cruise or on one of Fort Myers’ beaches. These are just a few of the many attractions that are unique to the city.

We hope you enjoy your time in the Fort Myers Beach and on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. With such a wide variety of experiences to try, everyone in the family is certain to have a wonderful time on South Florida’s western coast. Be prepared, once you’ve seen this region, you may not want to leave!