Schedule a Trip to Sanibel and Captiva islands
It’s time to plan your 2022 vacations and a perfect trip to start the new year is a warm, sunny getaway to Florida’s Sanibel and Captiva Islands. These delightful locations boast beautiful beaches, amazing shell collecting opportunities, miles of bike trails, and plenty of opportunities to relax while enjoying the ideal weather available from December through April.
The two islands (often referred to as San-Cap) are perfect if you’re looking for a calmer, family-friendly destination. Located about 40 miles from Fort Myers, the 12-miles long Sanibel and the 5-miles long Captiva are accessible via the 3-miles long Sanibel Causeway toll bridge. But watch your speed! Cars and bikes share the island roads with golf carts and everyone gets to their destinations at a leisurely 35 mph or slower.
A big attraction of Sanibel Island is the exceptional shell collecting. Beachcombers walk with the “Sanibel stoop” to find fighting conch and lightning whelk shells. The sand is soft, but the broken shells aren’t, so wear Crocs or water shoes to protect your feet. And check those beautiful shells to see if they’re occupied. It’s against the law to collect live shells. When you’ve collected your fill, check out the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum where you can identify what you’ve found, learn about the mollusks that created those lovely shells, watch them in action in an aquarium and attend a class from the lecture series.
The state of Florida owns about half of each island, protecting those areas as state parks or wildlife refuges. One of the largest is Sanibel Island’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which offers tram, driving or bike explorations well worth the entry fee. Part of the island’s more than 20 miles of bike trails also winds through the refuge. And if you’re visiting during January, February or March, you’ll be able to appreciate the exceptional birding—especially viewing migratory birds.
If water adventures float your boat, there are great diving and snorkeling opportunities off the islands where you can explore sunken shipwrecks and artificial reefs. Look for goliath groupers, dolphins, sea turtles, whale sharks, manatees and myriad other varieties of sea life. If seeing all those fish makes you want to catch some, get your Florida fishing license and head to the Sanibel Fishing Pier or charter a boat to hook some speckled trout, mackerel, mangrove snapper and plenty of other fish.
Or, just find your happy place while lounging in a comfy beach chair at Bowman’s Beach, watching the waves lazily roll in more beautiful seashells. However you like to relax, a visit to these charming islands is a great way to start the new year.