The Number 1 destination in the World!
Arthur Frommer’s list is out and for the first time in a long time a US destination is number one on it’s ten favorite places to visit ………..IN THE WORLD!!
Not that it matters but Bali and Paris were number 2 and 3 on the list. But number one above all other destinations is Sanibel Island! We are very lucky to have such a great destination here in the US. I feel extremely lucky to have this destination only about 30 minutes from my house. Because of that I would like to give you some insight about Sanibel Island and the surrounding area that Frommers may not include in their review. Kind of an insiders in’s and out’s to Sanibel Island.
First let us mention that Sanibel really is not just Sanibel. It’s kind of a two for one deal with Captiva Island also being part of the Island chain. Also keep in mind Sanibel and Captiva are part of a larger area known as Southwest Florida. This is important for two reasons. The airport to get there is known as Regional Soutwest Airport and for the budget conscious who maybe want some less expensive accommodations than what are offered on the island, the surrounding area offers a number of nice beaches and affordable hotels.You will want to check hotel listings for Fort Myers (rated No. 3 by Trip Advisor over Miami and other Florida destinations), Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Estero and Naples Florida.
On Sanibel Island there are a number of public beaches that can be accessed by car, bike, and boat. Sanibel Lighthouse Beach is a well know beach in the area and is run by the island. Parking at the beach is $2 per hour if you are brining your rental car or live locally.You will buy a ticket from one of the machines at the parking sites and display it on your dashboard. A word of caution here, that $2 and hour spot is cheap for $16 for an 8 hour day. But that can quickly change if you go even 1 minute over the amount of time you purchased on your ticket. They will give you a parking ticket and that spot quickly becomes a $35 + whatever you paid hourly parking spot 9voice of experience here). So always pay for more than you plan to stay. Also be prepared to pay a $6 toll to get to the Island if you are not staying on the Island.
Further up the Island are a number of public beaches that also have parking and access. These will be easy to see and often have signs leading you to them. We like to head to Captiva to a favorite spot we refer to as shell beach because of all of the shells lining it.
This brings us to another point or two. If you go to Sanibel you may want to consider bringing a couple of items. They include a bucket or tupperware to bring your shells home in (make sure it is big enough to hold plenty of shells) and thick flip flops or water shoes as the shells are everywhere and can cut the soles of your feet.
One other area of interest is the JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. It is a great place to see some of Florida’s natural wildlife. You will often see birds fishing in the nearby waters and other wildlife throughout the park. Bike rentals are available in the park and all over the island.
For dining there are a number of places to go, but one that stands out as being fun for the whole family is The Bubble Room on Captiva Island. It is as much a restaurant as it is a museum of old toys and portraits of famous people who have visited the island or at one time called it home. Some like Barbara Striesand and Brian Johnson of AC/DC still have vacation homes on the Island.
On Sanibel the Island Cow is also a very popular place to go to grab a bite to eat and offers a wide variety of items to choose from. Most of the hotels also have their own restaurants attached to the property along with many dinner cruises to choose from locally.
We will have more updates on Sanibel / Captive Island coming up and will be adding a list of area hotels and resorts that are good bargains as well as luxury spots to stay at and start your tropical vacation.