Things to Do

Attractions

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

If you care to get up close and personal with shells away from the beach, visit the one and only Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. 

Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife is a teaching hospital and visitor education center dedicated to saving wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education, and conservation medicine.

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Sanctuary

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is your best chance to experience Florida in its most native state. The refuge is composed of many different water refuges that comprise a total of over 8000 acres.

Sanibel Historical Museum and Village

Locals and visitors alike are welcomed to take a break from our gorgeous beaches (I know, how can you?) to walk into another world for a while. 

Sanibel Island Farmers Market

Held from October to the end of April every Sunday from 8am to 1pm, the Sanibel Island Farmers Market is home to 30+ vendors offering live plants, baked goods, fresh fish, meats, produce, organic vegetables, honey, snacks of every kind and hundreds of other wonderful things that bring you back to Sanibel’s roots as a farming community. 

Beaches

The award-winning beaches of Sanibel Island are some of the most spectacular in the world. They provide endless hours of shelling, fishing, birdwatching, swimming, and relaxing. Feel the gentle gulf breeze under Florida’s famed sunshine at several beaches across the island.

Our Beach

Shells, sea turtle nests, and shorebirds dot the coastline as palms sway in the breeze. Accessible from any of our accommodations in less than 30 seconds, there is no better beach to enjoy a day or a spectacular sunset.

Blind Pass Beach

Located off Sanibel-Captiva road directly next to Captiva Island, this stunning stretch of sand is home to some of the best on-shore fishing and sunset views available on the island.

Lighthouse Beach

On the Eastern end of Sanibel Island, Lighthouse Beach is the home of Sanibel’s historic Lighthouse and pier. Constructed in 1884, this beach is perfect for history buffs, photographers, and of course those seeking shells and sun.

Shelling

Sanibel Island is known all over the globe as a world-class shelling destination and our guests get exclusive access to the beach, located just steps away from our cottages.

On the island, collecting shells has become a favorite pastime of visitors and residents. The activity is so prevalent that the bent-at-the-waist stance a Sheller makes when bending over to retrieve a seashell is nicknamed the “Sanibel Stoop.”

Due to Sanibel’s East-West orientation, the island distinguishes itself from most other barrier islands that are positioned North-South. This placement allows shells to be deposited by the millions to our shores at every tide. Currents from the Caribbean also bring shells into our the and the warm Gulf waters allow for these delicate-shelled creatures to thrive and procreate.

People come from all over the world to collect Horse Conchs, Calico Scallops, Banded Tulips, Starfish, Corkscrew Augers, Sand Dollars, the rare Lion's Paw and the rarer Junonia are all shells that can be found on the island’s sandy beaches.

The most lucrative time to shell is at low tide when the water is out in the Gulf of Mexico off the shoreline. Another perfect time to shell is after a rainstorm. Storms will churn up the gulf and she usually deposits a hefty load of fresh shells after the rain and wind clear.

Don’t forget to bring a shelling bag. Sometimes, you’ll discover more shells than you can hold—bring a bag to make sure you can bring them all home! Remember to leave live shells alone. It is against the law to remove live shells.

Please leave our environment as you found it. Remember, leave only footprints.

Shopping

Nothing beats picking up an unforgettable souvenir while shopping on Sanibel, island style. Sanibel Island and her surrounding areas offer a wide variety of unique shops, boutiques, and galleries filled with items that will keep Sanibel with you wherever you may be. Whether you need a break from the sun, or it happens to be a rare rainy island day, discover our island’s shopping plazas and independently owned establishments filled with art, fine jewelry, clothing, keepsakes and more. 

Historic

Sanibel Historical Museum and Village

Locals and visitors alike are welcomed to take a break from our gorgeous beaches (I know, how can you?) to walk into another world for a while. Journey to the past by walking through the quiet collection of homes and businesses that make up the village, listen to the interesting stories and lore. Learn how the Calusa Indians lived on the island on up to the Spanish Conquistadors to the American Settlers to today’s locals and tourists. Tour all 7 buildings from a schoolhouse, Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room, the original Bailey grocery store, a vegetable packing house, private residences (one prefabricated home from Sears and Roebuck, shipped here in 30,000 pieces) and a post office. Join the volunteer docents for a fascinating journey back in time with storytelling, facts, and lore about the life back before air conditioning and automobiles.

Sanibel Island Lighthouse

The light of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse has illuminated the waters surrounding the island since August 20, 1884. The lighthouse tower is made of steel and maintains a unique and rare freestanding skeletal structure. In total, the lighthouse is 98 feet tall and is the oldest surviving structure on the island. The Sanibel Lighthouse is also the only lighthouse located between the Key West lighthouse and the Boca Grande Lighthouse to the north. Because the lighthouse still functions as a beacon for ships and is classified as “active”, the public is not admitted to enter the lighthouse, but the charming park, beaches and fishing pier surrounding the lighthouse is accessible and great for a picnic. 

Dining

Eat well on Sanibel Island with the perfect meal for every palate. From fine dining to casual Island fair, discover the best places to eat on Sanibel. The island has award-winning cuisine from local seafood fused with tropical flavors, to healthy eateries and hometown favorites; they are some of the best restaurants Southwest Florida has to offer.

Points of Interest

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

If you care to get up close and personal with shells away from the beach, visit the one and only

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is the only museum in the United States that is solely devoted to shells and mollusks that make them. In addition to over 30 shell-exhibits and a touch tank, the museums hosts daily beach walks led by experienced staff. Bonus tip: This a great rainy day activity!

Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife is a teaching hospital and visitor education center

dedicated to saving wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education, and conservation medicine. The doctors and volunteers at CROW save wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education, and conservation medicine. The non-profit organization is funded by individuals, visitors, businesses, and foundations. The animals who now call CROW 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.

Sanibel Island Farmers Market

Held from October to the end of April every Sunday from 8am to 1pm, the Sanibel Island Farmers Market is home to 30+ vendors offering live plants, baked fresh fish, meats, produce, organic vegetables, honey, snacks of every kind and hundreds of other wonderful things that bring you back to Sanibel’s roots as a farming community. Food and drink vendors range from smoothies, tea and coffee, and sweets, to roasted nuts, grass-fed beef, and wild boar, poke bowls, homemade granola, mini-donuts and more. Those shopping to stock up on groceries will find organic produce, exotic fruits, cheeses, breads and bagels, fresh eggs, guacamole and salsa, jams, local honey, pickles and more, along with seafood. There are also vendors for handmade soaps and essential oils, plus flowers and plants.

Nature

 J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Sanctuary

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is your best chance to experience Florida in its most native state. The refuge is composed of many different water refuges that comprise a total of over 8000 acres. 245 types of birds such as the beautiful roseate spoonbill, mammals such as manatees, raccoons, otters, and other small critters, reptiles such as snakes, turtles and of course alligators, call the refuge home. Explore the various habitats where you may encounter many types of wildlife, birds, and beautiful tropical flora and fauna on a 5-mile trail accessible by foot, bike or car. The refuge is also located within an estuary, the tidal mouth of a body of water where the tide meets the stream, which provides a rich environment for all kinds of life. All areas both wet and dry can be investigated and toured leisurely or with guides.