A Weekender’s Guide to Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Lighthouse at Sanibel at night

Here it is, another weekend thinking of all the places you could be – instead of sitting at home.

 If you’re daydreaming about seaside sunning, casual cruises and eye-opening wildlife preserves, Sanibel and Captiva Islands are just your spot.


Utopias for swimming and sunning, these islands are lined with world-class beaches. So consider Friday your “free day” on the beach. Dip your toes into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the morning. In the afternoon, lie back on the sand with a book in hand or your favorite song in the air. Let the southern sun heat up every limb to a state of relaxation like no other. 

Three beach chairs

Finish the day by taking a break from being a landlubber. Take the show to the sea with Captiva Cruises. The tour company offers The Sunset Serenade – featuring an hour of live entertainment and the last light of the evening.


Start your day off the coast aboard a fishing charter, where newbies and seasoned line-casters alike catch native fish — like snook, tarpon and red fish. See the Gulf unhindered and feel the splash of salty drops on your skin. Catch sight of dolphins leaping and playing or the endangered manatee gliding slowly beneath the water’s surface. Or become a sea creature in your own right, strapping on a snorkel and diving face first into another world.

Group of fishers posing with their native caught fish

Then in the afternoon, it’s time to get hands-on in the sand. Sanibel Island is world-renowned for its shells, and the locals have coined a move called “The Sanibel Stoop.” This funny phrase refers to the way beachgoers bend over to pull shells from the sand. Since the island sits east to west, it snags shells that normally stay in the ocean. The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel even boasts a museum dedicated to the science of shells and is the home of National Seashell Day!


Fuel up for an active Sunday at Lighthouse Café. Located on Sanibel Island, Lighthouse Café is the home of the “World’s Best Breakfast” including eggs any way you want ‘em, hot cakes, and omelets.

After breakfast, let your inner explorer take flight at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This preserve is home to abundant wildlife, mostly species of birds that flock to the location from December through March. Join in on events throughout the year that celebrate the natural beauty of the islands and Florida itself. Take a break from the crowds to enjoy the visitor center, or explore winding trails and tour the waterways in the well of a kayak or canoe.

Kayak moving through a swamp

However you choose to spend your weekend on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, have confidence that it will be time well spent!

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