Sanibel Island Overview
Sanibel Island enjoys a warm subtropical climate characterized by hot summers and mild winters. Peak travel season occurs between the months of January and April, when temperatures remain around 75 degrees and humidity levels are at their lowest point during the year. Most of the annual precipitation falls during the late spring and summer months, when afternoon showers are almost a daily occurrence. Travelers should pack light for the most part, but remember to bring a light sweater or jacket in the event of a twilight chill overtaking the area.
Sanibel Island has maintained a wealth of natural wonders preserved by the island's environmentally conscious population. The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation was established in 1967 with a mission to protect the wildlife habitats and resources on and around the Sanibel and Captiva islands. Travelers should make a point to visit some of the breathtaking natural features found in abundance across this pristine barrier island.
Sanibel Island attracts a number of tourists interested in collecting a few of the seashells that accumulate in large quantities along the Gulf-side beaches each year. Due to its geographic location along an underwater plateau that extends out into the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel Island acts as a coastal shelf where an abundance of seashells and sand dollars wash up onto the shore. "Shelling," or the act of collecting seashells, is so popular on the island that locals began referring to the act of picking up ocean treasures on the beach as the "Sanibel Stoop." Tourists who are lucky enough to find the extremely rare brown-spotted shell of a Junonia are often asked to have their picture taken for local newspapers.
The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Nature enthusiasts should plan a trip to the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge for a chance to gaze upon one of the country's largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystems. The refuge encompasses 6,300 acres and is home to more than 200 native avian species as well as numerous migratory species that travel to the island throughout the year. A 4.25-mile road loops through the preserve and features a wide selection of gravel trails that shoot off into the wilderness, which provides bikers, hikers and other adventurers with the opportunity to enjoy the natural splendor of the area's exquisite landscape.
Museums and Cultural Activities
This coastal Floridian island is home to a number of museums and galleries that provide a feast for the eyes for all travelers interested in taking in the cultural attractions of Sanibel. Plan an excursion to one of these excellent locations for a day filled with educational exhibits and vibrant displays that the whole family is sure to enjoy.
The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
If a day of beach combing for shells has left you empty-handed, make your way to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. This impressive facility houses more than 30 exhibits that present a variety of shells and mollusks from all over the world, and gives patrons the opportunity to learn about these interesting oceanic treasures. Visitors will be able to view displays devoted to shells in art and history, shell habitats, rare specimens, fossil shells, common southwest Florida shells and so much more. Stop by the museum gift shop after perusing the exhibits to pick up a few shells that are sure to surpass any specimens found along the communities' beaches.
Sanibel Historical Museum and Village
If you're interested in learning more about the island's extensive history, make a stop at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village located just south of the Tarpon Bay. This facility is dedicated to preserving the history of island that ranges from the beginning of the Calusa Native American era to Spanish colonization efforts to the early pioneer settlements of the 1800s. Visitors are invited to gaze through a window in time and meander through historic structures that include a selection of turn-of-the-century buildings that were constructed more than 100 years ago.
Sanibel Island is home to an array of excellent eateries and fine dining establishments that deliver an abundance of excellent cuisine to satisfy your every craving. Whether you're searching for the best in seafood delectables or some traditional American favorites, Sanibel's numerous restaurants are sure to provide something for everyone. Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grill boasts an impressive menu filled with a number of seafood delicacies, while the Mad Hatter offers the best in modern American cuisine.