Things to do on Sanibel and
South West Florida

People come to Sanibel for a mix of reasons, there are many things to do both around Sanibel as well as nearby South West Florida:

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Things to do on Sanibel


Relaxation – the beaches are beautiful and quiet and the Gulf is wonderful for swimming - the average water temperature is mid 20s Celsius and hardly ever drops below 20 degrees
Wildlife – visiting the host of nature reserves and centres, and following amazing animal, marine and plant life can fill weeks
Water based activities – kayaking in the mangroves or the gulf, fishing, boating, jet and water skiing, scuba diving
Golf - And of course people come to Florida generally for golf – Sanibel has three courses and many more are just over the bridge starting 5 minutes away

Here are some useful comments and links to the main activities:

Thriller - Circumnavigating the Sanibel and Captiva, the best way to see the islands and worth the money.  We take all our visiting friends.  Usually full so you have to book

J N Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge – main reserve on the island with an exhibition and visitor centre; only $1 to cycle round! (or $5 to drive around the 4 mile trail)

Tarpon Bay Explorers – outdoor and aquatic centre where you can hire kayaks, a pontoon boat and sail the bay, or join one of their group nature tours. We like the evening boat trip watching all the birds return to nest for the night

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum – the only dedicated shell museum in the USA.  Very interesting and well worth a visit for a couple of hours; includes a live tank and demonstration.

CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) -  a teaching hospital and visitor education centre dedicated to saving wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education and conservation medicine.

SCCF (Sanibel and Captiva Conservation Foundation) – offers guided tours around the wetlands taking in turtles, snakes, and all sorts of fauna

Cruises, boat hire and guided fishing trips at Sanibel Marina Captiva Cruises to many local islands or Jensens Marina

Sanibel Museum and Historical Village - Explore and discover the rich history of Sanibel up close and personal at the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village

Cinema & Theatre -Sanibel also has it’s own small cinema with two screens and a performance theatre, Big Arts

Golf - Two golf clubs welcome visitors: The Dunes and Sanibel Island GC  with tee time deals apart from peak season between Christmas and mid April. The third course is the best but you will need excellent connections to get on The Sanctuary

Things to do on Sanibel and in South West Florida

edison ford florida

Edison Ford Winter Estates

Close to Sanibel, about 20 minutes off the island on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River are the original summer homes, side by side, of Henry Ford and Thomas Alva Edison both now preserved as museums to these two great friends and Americans.


The Everglades

South Florida means The Everglades.  About 90 minutes drive gets you to iconic airboat tours, swamp buggy excursions and alligator sanctuaries.  When we first visited Sanibel we were recommended to go to Wootton’s and enjoyed it


Miccosukee Indian Reservation

A little further and you can visit the Microsukee Indian Reservation and because of the legacy gambling laws relating to the Indian nation you can drop in the 24 hour casino and meet the crowd from Miami who had to head West


Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum

Another interesting trip is to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum of the Seminole Indians at their Big Cypress Reservation

naples florida


Naples is a classy winter resort town about 35 miles down the coast with luxury shopping, strong arts community, private golf courses and beach clubs.  Worth a visit if you fancy a day back in somewhere a little more built up.

revs institute

Revs Institute, Naples

A must for all motor enthusiasts.  The Revs Institute in Naples, is a not-for-profit organization. Revs presents the Collier Collection of over one hundred significant automobiles built between 1896 and 1995 including more than 30 historic Porsche models. The automobiles on display at Revs are some of the rarest and most important cars ever built at anytime, anywhere. They are the ones that variously blazed technical pathways, redefined aesthetic standards, made history, and changed the world.