How to Get to Sanibel Island: Your Ultimate Guide
So picture this!
You are planning a romantic getaway to Sanibel Island with your lover. You get everything in order, make all the plans, ask someone to watch the kids and the dog, and you are good to go.
You embark on your journey, and everything is going fantastic! You are so excited about your remote tropical getaway on Sanibel Island.
All of a sudden, you realize you’re lost! You don’t know where you are going, and your GPS starts glitching out. You start to panic!
But then you get strategic. You google “How to get to Sanibel Island,” and this article pops up!
All jokes aside, knowing how to get to your destination plays a big role in the overall enjoyment of the experience.
Why worry about how to get there when all you should really be thinking about are the white sand beaches, turquoise waters, swaying palm trees, and all the incredible memories you will make on your trip?
Let’s dive into this ultimate guide!
1. Where is Sanibel Island?
Located in sunny Southwest Florida, Sanibel Island is voted one of the best beach getaways in Florida! Sanibel Island is a gorgeous barrier island between Fort Myers Beach (Estero Island) and Captiva Island. It’s just a short drive from Fort Myers and makes the perfect vacay destination!
Each year, millions of people flock from all over the globe to visit the Sunshine State, and Sanibel Island, as well as Captiva Island, are some of Florida’s claims to fame when it comes to gorgeous Gulf of Mexico destinations.
Considering how beautiful the area is, it’s really no wonder that it’s such a popular destination – not just for tourists, but for locals too!
2. How to get to Sanibel Island
Before you plan your trip, consider the time of year, how many people are in your party, and your mode of transportation.
The reason why it is important to take into account the time of year is that hurricane season is between June and November. In 2022, Hurricane Ian hit the Fort Myers, Lee County area and caused devastating destruction.
During the high season, it will be a more crowded and more expensive trip overall. The high season is from January through April. Expect longer waits, higher prices, and crowds! If you prefer to go at a time when there are fewer crowds, go in the second half of the year for the best, most tranquil beach moments.
Sanibel Island was in the direct line of fire after Hurricane Ian’s devastation. However, it is already opened back up to the public so your trip should be unaffected!
2.1 Getting to Sanibel Island by car
If you are traveling by car from Fort Myers, I recommend the following:
- Take Interstate 75
- Take exit 131 or Daniels Parkway
- Then head West (make a right), which will put you on Summerlin Road
- Once you are on Summerlin Road, take a left
- If you followed these directions, you should be at the Sanibel Island Causeway and the Toll Bridge Plaza
NOTE: There is a US$6 toll to cross the Sanibel Causeway. Also, bear in mind that the Sanibel Causeway is currently under construction following the damage from Hurricane Ian, so depending on when you go, there may be some traffic!
2.2 Flying to Sanibel Island
If you’re flying in from out of state, the best way to get to Sanibel Island is to fly into the largest airport in the area, Florida Regional South West (RSW). This international and national airport services flights from all over the country and plenty of international cities.
Alternatively, a bit further away is the Punta Gorda Airport (PGD). Located in Charlotte County, it’s a bit out of the way and can add an additional 30-40 minutes to your commute to Sanibel Island. However, it is not too far out of the way if you don’t mind driving a bit! It’s sometimes cheaper to fly into Punta Gorda Airport and drive the difference.
2.3 Using public transportation
The best way to explore Sanibel Island is with a car – your trip will be SO much easier and you’ll have all the freedom in the world to go where you want when you want! If you don’t have a car, the best thing to do is to rent one!
If you don’t have a car or don’t feel like renting a car, no worries! There are plenty of ways to get to Sanibel Island by taking advantage of public transport/taxis/Uber/Lyft.
Getting to Sanibel Island by taxi
There are plenty of local taxi services that can pick you up from the airport and drive you to your rental. Sanibel Island also has plenty of taxi companies on the island that can easily bring you from point A to point B.
For taxi service on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, check out:
Uber and Lyft are solid options for getting from the airport to your rental if you don’t want to rent a car on your trip.
Some Airbnb, VRBO, or other house rental hosts will offer transportation as an add-on. This is something to discuss with your host.
3. Getting around Sanibel Island
Getting around Sanibel Island is pretty straightforward. In fact, the best way to get around is by bike or on foot since parking is limited on the island. As a local who has visited many times, I highly recommend renting bikes or bringing your own on your trip for easy and hassle-free transportation.
If you decide to rent a bike, don’t fret – two grocery stores on the island will deliver to you! These grocery stores are Jerry’s Foods and Bailey’s General Store, both on Periwinkle Way!
Jerry’s Foods is a cool environment; they have a beautiful indoor garden and parrots in cages!
Plus, most of the beaches on Sanibel Island are on the trolley system, so you can easily go from beach to beach without the hassle of worrying about parking.
4. Public Beaches on Sanibel Island
There are six public beaches on Sanibel Island. I’ve been to four of them, and they all had amenities such as showers, restrooms, and parking.
Parking can cost US$5/hr, which can add up. Hence why I recommend ditching the car once you arrive on the island!
Bowman’s Beach is my favorite, and apparently, many people feel the same way since it was once voted one of the best beaches in the world by U.S. News Travel! Bowman’s Beach deserves the hype: crystal clear water, powdery white sand, incredible views and sunsets, and warm, calm waters.
There is also a small playground in the shade if you’re bringing along young children.
Sanibel Island is one of the best places to visit with family in Florida. The beaches and Island overall are super family-friendly! Bowman’s Beach is easily one of the best beaches on Sanibel Island.
PRO TIP: Turner Pass is one of the best places to view the sunset. It is located just past the bridge on Captiva Island.
Want to avoid paying for parking while at the beach? There are two beaches along the Sanibel Causeway just off the bridges on the way to the island!
I enjoyed a super romantic and memorable picnic with my partner at Causeway B. It was also an incredible place to watch the sunset!
Looking for romantic or special things to do on Sanibel Island? Check out this incredible Dolphin Cruise that goes around Sanibel Island!
Book Your Sanibel Island Dolphin Cruise
5. Sanibel Stoop → shelling on Sanibel Island
Many people ask, “What is the Sanibel Stoop?”
This is a phenomenon in Sanibel Island due to the fact that most visitors walk around the beaches with their heads down and their eyes scouring the beach for seashells!
This is because Sanibel and Captiva Islands are famous for being some of the best places for shelling in Florida!
My partner and I searched the shore for hours, admiring different shells. All the beaches on Sanibel Island are perfect for shelling. The best time to find shells, however, is during low tide.
If you find live shells (shells that are still alive and have a little being living inside of them), put them back! There is a US$500 fee!
Don’t miss out on visiting the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Their Visitor Center provides interactive displays that are engaging and stimulating for both children and adults. They also offer a driving tour for a US$5 fee, where you can spot an incredible wildlife native to Southwest Florida!
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a hidden gem on Sanibel Island!
Check out this creative, non-traditional Sanibel Island Scavenger Hunt that is one of the best things to do with kids on Sanibel Island!
Book Your Sanibel Island Scavenger Hunt
FAQs about getting to Sanibel Island
🚢 Is there a ferry from Fort Myers to Sanibel Island?
There is no ferry to Sanibel Island from Fort Myers, however, you can easily reach Sanibel Island via the Sanibel Causeway. There is a US$6 toll that will be billed to your license plate.
🚘 Can you drive to Sanibel Island?
Yes! Whether you are staying in Fort Myers or elsewhere, via the Sanibel Causeway, you can easily drive to Sanibel Island, and it is super easy to get to. However, keep in mind that the Sanibel Causeway is currently under construction due to Hurricane Ian.
🏝️ What are some things to do in Sanibel Island?
There is so much to do in Sanibel Island. Check out the nature preserves, go shelling, soak up some sun on the beach, go on a dolphin cruise, grab dinner, and more!
🌺What is Sanibel Island, Florida known for?
Sanibel Island is one of the most unique barrier islands in the entire world due to its orientation as East-West versus North-South. Aside from this incredible unique characteristic, Sanibel Island is best known for its incredible shelling, wildlife, and gorgeous beaches.
Visiting Sanibel Island should be high on every traveler’s bucket list. This gorgeous tropical island has the energy of an island paradise that just makes for a super unforgettable and special trip!
If you find yourself near Fort Myers, don’t miss out on checking out this gem of an island and seeing some of the most beautiful beaches you have ever seen in your life! Between the warm Gulf of Mexico waters, the white sand beaches, the incredible shelling opportunities, the dolphin sightings, the wildlife, stunning sunsets, and the gorgeous overall landscape, Sanibel Island are truly what dreams are made of!
I hope this guide helps you in getting to this stunning location with ease and you can avoid any stress-filled moments of feeling lost when you deserve to relax on this gorgeous Florida island!
With Love & Gratitude,
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