About Sanibel, Getting There and Shelling

We want anyone who visits to make the most of their time on Sanibel. We can help you understand the best things to do and can explain how we organise our flights and car hire (South West Florida International Airport is just over half an hour from the apartment). Send us a mail here and we'll call you back and help you plan the perfect holiday.

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Getting around Sanibel

The island is 10 miles long and about 1 mile across.  Most of the amenities are within a 5 mile stretch along the main road, Periwinkle Way. The best way to move around is by bike as it's so flat and it's a part of getting to know Sanibel, though there is ample parking at all the locations you may visit if you prefer to drive. Most of the amenities are within a 3 mile stretch along the main road, Periwinkle Way. There are separate bike paths on all the main routes around the island, 26 miles in total.  We use Finnimores for cycle hire http://finnimores.com/ because it’s cheaper but Billies Bikes is larger http://billysrentals.com/ and he also offers Segway tours.  Both will deliver to and collect from our apartment. Every restaurant, bar, shop has bike racks outside.

A little history on Sanibel

Sanibel has an interesting history having probably been populated initially by the Calusa Indians then visited by the Spanish as they expanded their empire – the favourite explanation for the name is that it is a contraction of San Isabel.  The seas around these barrier islands were full of pirates a couple of hundred years ago and some of the boat tours take you to the old hideaways.  Fishing has always been an important industry – again there are boat tours that guide you to the remnants of the old fishing houses on stilts in the middle of the bay.

Sanibel had always been a somewhat inaccessible jewel in the gulf until the construction of a causeway spanning the 3 miles to the mainland gave Florida’s developers the opportunity to create the Miami Beach of the West Coast and plans were drawn up for huge development in the early 1970s.  Horrified, the locals mobilised and after a referendum in 1974, Sanibel was incorporated as a City, which in the US means your own council is in charge of issues such as planning.  Immediately they threw out the plans and in addition instituted a number of restrictions that are responsible for the culture and feel of Sanibel today.  No traffic lights, no building taller than a palm tree, no new retail chains allowed.  And the protection and preservation of the wildlife and habitat became a priority. 

That’s why Sanibel is the real, natural Florida very different from the theme parks of Orlando or the cosmopolitan metropolis of Miami.  But both those places are only a day trip away if you fancy.

Sanibel is a barrier island and unlike most islands it runs east to west rather than north to south.  This means the daily tides bring ashore millions of shells from tiny Periwinkles to huge Conches.  It is acknowledged as one of the finest shelling beaches in the world.
More than half of the island is protected nature reserve, the largest tract of which is the Ding Darling Wildlife Reserve - an oasis for bird and aquatic life including dolphins and manatees and of course alligators! 


Want to know more?

If you have any questions or want to talk to us about Sanibel to help decide whether it's for you.