Photography on Sanibel Island

Naturally, our island paradise on Sanibel attracts visitors for sun and sand but also entices photographers from around the world who wish to capture the island’s beauty in a picture-perfect snapshot. Whether you are a novice photographer with a smartphone as your only photography equipment, or an advanced photographer producing National Geographic-style photo content, Sanibel Island is chockfull of beautiful locations to take your next photo.

A few of our favorites include:

The Sanibel Causeway Beaches

The three-mile causeway, known as the bridge to paradise, stretches from the mainland of  Fort Myers to our island haven on Sanibel. Panoramic views of Southwest Florida plus 360-degree views of every sunrise and sunset make the Sanibel Causeway Beaches a wonderful spot to take photos.

Lighthouse Beach Park

Capture the spirit and history of Sanibel in photos taken at Lighthouse Beach Park, located on the eastern end of Sanibel Island. The lighthouse, built in 1884, juts into the sky gracefully as the waves lap at the shell-lined shoreline as colors dance during sunrise and sunset. Can you think of anything more picture perfect than that?

Blind Pass Beach

Natural beauty awaits at blind pass beach, a beach park and popular waterway for sunbathers and onshore fisherman. Visitors and photographers can expect to snap great photos of shorebirds like seagulls and pelicans as well as beautiful beach panorama and spectacular sunset photos.

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve

If you’re looking for wildlife, J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve is the ultimate destination for wildlife photography. Get great photos of manatees, egrets, alligators, bobcats, and more inside this federally protected preserve.

Looking to shoot something specific? Let us know! Our staff is always available to provide recommendations in regards to local sites and attractions (and the best spots for snapping a memorable shot!) Give us a ring any time at 239.472.1626.

New Attractions on Sanibel Island

Credit: CROW Clinic

Early this month, the island-based Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife unveiled their latest attraction—all-new enclosures for their animal ambassadors. On April 2, CROW held a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new exhibit, and ultimately, homes for some of Sanibel’s most beloved creatures.

Work on the new enclosures began in September 2017 but was delayed by Hurricane Irma which limited supplies, increased costs and limited the number of volunteers needed to construct the screen enclosures.

The animals who now call the enclosures home are known as CROW ambassadors. These animals have sustained injuries that prevent them from living in the wild safely. Instead, they remain on-site at CROW Clinic to educate visitors and provide an up-close look at our local wildlife.

Some of the current ambassadors include Mina, a great horned owl; Talon, a red-tailed hawk; Lola, an American kestrel; Billy, a nine-banded armadillo; and Bashful, a Virginia opossum. All of the animals have adjusted to their new homes and are happily enjoying the fresh island air at the clinic located just off Sanibel-Captiva Road. The enclosures also house plenty of shelter from the elements and enrichment items to keep the animals comfortable.

Because the ambassadors are now separate from the animals under the care of the professional veterinary staff, more room is available for new animals in need.

If you are interested in exploring CROW Clinic’s AWC Visitor Education Center, the site of the new enclosures, visitors may partake in the “Wildlife Walk” guided hospital tour. Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 11 a.m., with a second tour on Wednesday through Friday at 2 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

CROW Clinic is located at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957

April Events on Sanibel: Beer in the Bushes

Credit: SCCF

If you enjoy cracking open a cold one or consider yourself a craft beer connoisseur, The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s (SCCF) annual “Beer in the Bushes” is the ultimate springtime event for you.

The fundraising event and beer garden will host 10 local micro-breweries at the event on April 20th from 6 to 10 p.m. Participating breweries include Naples Beach Brewing, Momentum Brewhouse, Fort Myers Brewing Co., Bury Me Brewing, Millennial Brewing, Palm City Brewing South Cypress Brewing Coastal Dayz and Big Blue Brewing.

In addition to beer, local food trucks will be onsite to keep guests satisfied as they sip. Live music by Langhorn Slim and the Law as well as Tameca Jones will also be on-site.

All-white attire is requested for a night celebrating positivity, community, and music.

Tickets are available at All proceeds generated by the event will support SCCF’s mission of conserving coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed. All tickets include $10 in TruxBux redeemable for dinner choices from any of the trucks.

The smoke-free rain-or-shine event is open to ages 21 and older. SCCF requests that attendees dress in all white attire to celebrate a night of positivity, community, and music.

The event takes place at the SCCF Nature Center, located at 3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road on Sanibel. Parking is limited – please carpool to the event if possible.

About the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation:

Founded in 1967, SCCF (The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed. From the earliest days, SCCF has been known as a land trust with an impressive acquisition record. The story of SCCF’s land conservation efforts spans almost five decades on the islands on Sanibel, Captiva, Buck Key, Albright, York, Coconut and the Long Cut preserve on Pine Island.

Today, SCCF is the largest private landowner on Sanibel Island. The group manages more than 1,200 acres on Sanibel plus more than 600 additional acres on Captiva and other islands. SCCF also facilitated the acquisition and fundraising for an additional 470 acres currently managed by the State of Florida or the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This environmental success story has been made possible by the generous support of conservationist donors and public sector partners, particularly the City of Sanibel and the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.


Over the last 50 years, SCCF program areas have grown to include Wildlife & Habitat Management, Sea Turtle Research, and Monitoring, Environmental Education, Natural Resource Policy, a Marine Research Laboratory, and a Native Landscapes & Garden Center.

Sanibel featured on MSN’s list of “The best beaches in the U.S.”


Last month, Sanibel Island was recognized by MSN on their “The best beaches in the U.S.” list.

Here’s what MSN had to say about our beautiful island:

“Collecting shells along the beach is a popular pastime in Sanibel, located in the Gulf of Mexico along Florida’s southwest coast. Sanibel sits right alongside Captiva Island, and together they share more than 15 miles of some of the best beaches in the U.S.”

Other beaches on the list include Poipu Beach in Hawaii and Venice Beach in California.

If you are unfamiliar with our beautiful barrier island, Sanibel is known for our shell filled beaches, historic 19th-century lighthouse and fishing pier, the sunny causeway islands, miles upon miles of bike paths and the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge that covers approximately half of the island.

Located 22-miles from Southwest Florida International Airport, Sanibel is an isolated, nature-lovers’ paradise sitting on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. Only 12 miles long and three miles at the widest, exploring every inch of the island is easy and fun.

Currently the only buildings on the island taller than two stories date before 1974, and there are no fast food or chain restaurants allowed on the island except a Dairy Queen and a Subway, which were on the island before the laws were enacted.

It is our pleasure to welcome all visitors to our special island. Our historic gulf front cottages are the perfect destination for those seeking the ever elusive “Old Florida” experience. Gulf Breeze Cottages, forget the stresses of everyday life and soak up the sun, live on the sand, and relish the feeling of the warm gulf breeze on your skin.

We would love to speak with you about your next getaway. Please give us a call at 1.800.388.2842 or 239.472.1626 to discuss your upcoming Sanibel Island vacation.

Sanibel Shell Festival – Events on Sanibel

Credit: Sanibel Shell Club

The Sanibel Shell Festival turns 82 when the annual event opens on Thursday, March 9th. Located at the Sanibel Community house at 2173 Periwinkle Way, this event is one of Sanibel Islands biggest attractions and attracts thousands of visitors and guests each spring.

The three-day festival, also known as one of the longest running shell shows in the world will be open all weekend (March 7-9) and feature judged artistic and scientific displays, local vendors and organizations and more!

According to the Sanibel Shell Club:

The first Community Fair was held in 1928 on the porch of the Old Island Inn and was a miniature county fair with baked goods, “fancy work,” and homemade gifts offered for sale by the ladies of Sanibel to help the community. It was considered quite a success. As a matter of adding interest the ladies brought boxes of their pretty Sanibel shells to show the visitors. This had so much appeal that the next year when the Fair was held on the porch of Casa Ybel Hotel, more shell displays were added and people began to come across on the ferry from Fort Myers to see them. They also came to take home some of the toothsome fresh coconut pies and cakes that the island ladies baked for the sale. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were among the more distinguished visitors at this Fair. Pictures taken of them on the porch of Casa Ybel viewing the shells are still in existence.

By the next year, the Fair had grown in size and popularity to such proportions that the men of the community got together and decided to build the existing Community House to take care of this, by now, annual event. Francis Bailey remembers that at one of the early fairs they had produce and poultry shows because he recalls getting a ribbon for his Bantam chickens, although he isn’t sure whether it was first or second place award.

The judges for the 82nd Annual Sanibel Shell Show 2019 are as follows:

Scientific Division: David Green, Houston, Texas; Duane Kauffman, Sarasota, Florida & Goshen, Indiana.

Artistic Division: Marci Chamberlin, Palm Beach, Florida and Andover, Massachusetts Linda Koestel Green, Houston Texas. 

Parking is free and a $5 donation includes admission to the exhibit halls plus one free admission to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.

Spring Events on Sanibel – Ding Darling Film Series

Excited to explore J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge during your stay? There is so much to experience if you will be visiting the park in March or April of 2019.

The sixth annual “Ding” Darling Wednesday Film Series kicks off its bi-weekly showings this winter with a schedule of seven films that explore facets from pollinators and coral to wild Florida and the war on coal.

Join the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society for free film showings in the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center with sponsorship from Sanibel-Captiva Beach Resorts. Seating is limited and on a first-come basis.

The following films will be shown throughout the event:

March 6- JANE

This film tells the story of Jane Goodall, using never-before-seen footage.

March 20- Invasion of the Giant Pythons

Pythons, originally from southeast Asia, escape from pet shops due to hurricanes or they are released into the wild of Florida by irresponsible keepers. The documentary shows how Florida’s native wildlife deals with this problem. Additionally, host Nigel Marven meets a group of scientists studying and catching Burmese pythons in Florida.

April 3- Saving Atlantis

Produced by a team of award-winning filmmakers and researchers, Saving Atlantis follows those who are fighting to uncover the causes of coral decline and find solutions before it’s too late. Combining the ecological impacts and human toll of hundreds of millions of people worldwide who depend on coral reefs for their very survival, Saving Atlantis charts an emotional exploration of some of our planet’s greatest natural wonders at a tipping point in their ecological history.

In addition to the Film Series, “Ding” Darling also plays host to the 2019 Lecture Series.

Join locals and visitors for free lectures and book signings at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center Auditorium.

Seating is limited and available on a first-come basis. Early arrivals can save their seat and one extra. Saved seats must be filled 15 minutes before lecture time or they will be assigned to the next people waiting in line. All lectures are approximately one hour.

For more information, call the Society at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 or visit Speakers marked with an asterisk will have book signings following their lectures.

*March 1- Warner Shedd “Owls Aren’t Wise and Bats Aren’t Blind: A Naturalist Debunks Our Favorite Fallacies about Wildlife”

March 8- Yve Morrell- “The Big Year: A First for Women”

March 15- Jeremy Conrad, “Sea Level Rise: Globally & Locally”

March 22- Dusty “Wildman” Crum, Robbie & Geoff Roepstorff, Mike Kirkland, “Pythons: The Hunters, the Science”

March 29 – Lauren Blickley, “Drastic Plastic – Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution”

April 5- Dr. Jerry Lorenz, “Flamingos & Spoonbills: Pink Canaries in a Coal Mine”

*April 12- Denege Patterson, “Five Islands Never Flooded: A Tour of the Islands of Pine Island Sound”

August Activities on Sanibel: Sanibel Library

Great news for August visitors on Sanibel! The Sanibel Public Library has reopened after extensive renovations and improvements.

The island hub for indoor learning and fun reopened on August 1st and is officially open to visitors and residents. The library closed temporarily to complete phase two of the “Your Library Reimagined” project. Phase one kicked off in May 2017 and was completed in January.

New to the library is the introduction of more natural lighting and updated, modern décor, an improved open concept, and shelving to improve the flow of traffic inside the library.

The kids area is tucked away in a corner and is jam packed with puzzles, games and youth storybooks for the little ones to enjoy. Adjacent to the kids area is a brand new sitting area with new furniture, reading material and computer stations.

Other improved features are not as visible and include electrical improvements to enhance online experiences and a suped-up A/C system that will keep patrons cool during the dog days of summer.

The project is not one-hundred percent complete, as the old circulation area is still under wraps. The work is expected to completely done by mid-September 2018.

Still, all of your local favorites and classics are available to read. Get lost in the Doc Ford series, based right here on Sanibel Island. Delve deep into the action-adventure series penned by local author Randy Wayne White, the author of nearly two dozen thrillers starring Doc Ford. Don’t forget to stop by the famous Doc Ford’s Restaurant located on Tarpon Bay Road to sample local favorites like Yucatan Shrimp and the delicious Doc Ford mojito!

Explore our surrounding areas in Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s classic believed to have been inspired and written directly from our sands.

For more information, call 239-472-2483 or visit

The Sanibel Public Library is located at 770 Dunlop Road.

Live Music on Sanibel

Beat the heat this summer and kick up your feet at one of many of the island’s hotspots for live music. Experience the best local sounds from several of Sanibel Island’s most popular restaurants. From classically trained pianists to rocking acoustic guitar performances, there is always something fun to listen to on Sanibel Island.

Kick the night off with the soothing sounds of Scott McDonald every day (except Mondays) at Il Cielo. Scott is a professionally trained musician and former Keyboardist for The Andy Williams Orchestra. Additionally, the skilled pianist is also the Director of Music for St. Isabel Catholic Church on Sanibel Island and has received Open Table’s “Diner’s Choice Award” for Best Ambiance in Southwest Florida.

Next, head on over to the legendary island eatery, The Island Cow, for live entertainment by Dan Confrey on Friday and Sunday evenings Peter Redpath performs every Saturday night. Dan Confrey has toured both nationally and internationally. He is a Multi-instrumentalist playing Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Tenor Sax, and Steel Pans. Peter Redpath has been playing music since the late 1960’s, up and down the East Coast, in bands, duos and solo acts. His influences include country, folk and rock with strong focus on melody and storytelling.

The Sea Breeze Café hosts live music that changes weekly on Mondays from 5:30 p.m. through 8:30 p.m. Home to Margarita Mondays, enjoy the music and $5 margaritas from 4 p.m.- 10 p.m.

A local favorite, Traders Gulf Coast Grill and Gifts has live entertainment on Tuesday and Thursday with the Danny Morgan Band. Chris Workman plays on Wednesday nights. The Danny Morgan band has received the Best of Islands award for “Best Local Entertainment” over 15 years in a row. Chris Workman is a highly talented singer songwriter delivering original music with a refreshing blend of Pop/Americana with influences spanning several decades of popular music.

Last, hit the sand at Traditions on the Beach for live music and stunning ocean views! Woody Brubaker and Maravilla Marzan perform on Friday, Dean Winkelmann performs on Wednesday. Woody Brubaker has spent an astounding and productive fifty-eight years in the music business. An accomplished musician on saxophone, clarinet, flute, piano and vocals, Woody was also a composer for U.S. Air Force Bands. Maravilla Marzan is a singer songwriter and is one of the most sought out acts in Southwest Florida. Dean Winklemann performs an astounding variety of classic jazz, pop, and rock music—all in a lighthearted and fun atmosphere!

Get out there and tap your toes to the tunes of Sanibel’s most skilled artists and musicians!

Join us on Sanibel In June for World Oceans Day

As we slip into a slower summertime routine here on Sanibel Island, events and activities across the island lessen and leave extra time for simply enjoying the natural gifts this sanctuary island offers to all who visit.  

If you are planning to visit Sanibel Island in June, make a date with the sand and sun, kick back, relax, and enjoy this island paradise.

In addition to total gulf side relaxation, plan to celebrate beach life and everything the ocean has to offer at World Oceans Day with J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

On World Oceans Day, people around our blue planet, including the Sanibel Island community celebrate and honor the ocean. Coordinated by The Ocean Project join people from around the world on June 8, 2018 to celebrate our natural world.

Locally, J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is hosting all of the exciting day-of celebrations. Highlights of the special event include earth-friendly, upcycled crafts to take home and a ranger-led beach walk and clean-up at the refuge’s Perry Tract, accessible from Gulfside City Park. An “anti-plastic film festival” features four free film showings starting at 11 a.m.

Below is the full schedule for ocean-friendly and free fun throughout the day:

9 a.m. – Free Beach Walk & Cleanup at Perry Tract (parking fees apply at Gulfside City Park)

11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Free Make-and-Take Upcycled Crafts in the Visitor & Education Center

11 a.m. – Free showing of the film STRAWS (32 minutes)

12 p.m. – Free showing of the film Addicted to Plastic (53 minutes)

1:15 p.m. – Free showing of the film Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (57 minutes)

2:30 p.m. – Free showing of the film Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? (45 minutes)

To attend the event, park at Gulfside City Park (parking fees apply) on Algiers Lane for the Beach Walk at Perry Tract. Other events at Visitor & Education Center at mile marker 2 on Sanibel-Captiva Road, just a few miles from our front door at Gulf Breeze Cottages!

See you in June!

Sanibel Island Named Top-Rated Vacation Destination

Our beautiful island sanctuary has been recognized by mega-travel site TripAdvisor as one of “20 best places to vacation in Florida!”

TripAdvisor’s Statement:

“On blissful Sanibel, you can spend your days at the beach watching the birds or combing through the thousands of pretty shells that wash up on the sands. There’s also an impressive collection of them at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. Don’t miss the wood storks and bright pink spoonbills at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, one of the area’s most popular attractions.”

Sanibel was listed ahead of the more metropolitan vacation destinations of Miami and Orlando. Our neighboring cities of Fort Myers and Cape Coral also made the list.

As we head into summer, the entire team at Gulf Breeze Cottages invites you and your family to soak up the sun and explore Sanibel Island during your summer vacation.

We are offering several specials that will allow you to take the vacation you deserve at prices you can afford.

Enjoy great discounts starting on May 1 through June 30th with rates starting at only $185 for a 3 night stay!

Can’t make it in June? Enjoy rates from $167 for your stay dates between July 20 and July 25 and enjoy more than the holiday, but sunny skies, miles of shell strewn beaches and our Olde Florida Cottages

If you really want to relax, celebrate “National Lazy Day” with us on August 10th. Take advantage of 10% off all of our available units all month long!

See you on the sand!