Sanibel Island Vacation Rentals at the Beach Road Villas - a Florida Villa Rental
Welcome to the Shelling Capital of the Western Hemisphere. Shelling is such a part of the serene experience of our beaches that many of the streets on the island are names for sea shells Periwinkle Way, Donax Street, Clam Bayou. Because of the east/west orientation of the island and absence of offshore reefs, you'll find shoals of washed up shells along the shore each day. From cockle shells as small as a baby's fingernail to whelks the size of footballs, in reds, yellows, gray, pink and white, the variety is amazing and fascinating. Spend just a little time on the beach and you will be irresistibly drawn to the edge of the water to join others doing the Sanibel Stoop.
The best times to go shelling are at low tide or after a storm. Or, you can charter a shelling guide to show you some untrammeled shelling areas, like Cayo Costa. Live shelling is prohibited on Sanibel, so if you find a creature inside, or see moving spines on the bottom of a sand dollar, put the shell back in the water.
Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
3075 Sanibel-Captiva Rd.
Admission: $3 children 8-17, $5 17 and over.
To be truly amazed at the variety of shells in the world, visit the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel. This museum is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Two million shells are artistically displayed to show the role of shells in ecology, history, art, economics, medicine, religion. -Top-
Some say Sanibel Island is one of the three best sites in Florida for observing water birds. Sanibel's geography as well as the extensive wildlife preserve provide a stopover and destination for all kinds of migrating birds. Several kinds of habitat on one island attract a large number of species. Hovering over the beaches you'll see brown pelicans and ospreys diving for fish, and on the beach shorebirds like sanderling, sand pipers and plovers work the water's edge for food. Snowy Egrets, great herons, ibis, and the spectacular roseate spoonbill can all be found here.
The premier areas for birding is the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the Bailey tract where 247 species of birds have been sighted on a regular basis. -Top-
Sanibel and Captiva Islands offer a large variety of fishing,from sea trout during the winter to huge tarpon in the summer. From the fishing pier on the east end of Sanibel you can catch snook, trout redfish, Spanish mackerel and sheepshead. Fishing from the bay beaches and causeway islands yield trout, snook, shark, flounder and blue crabs.From gulf beaches you can catch pompano, whiting, shark and trout, and snook in the warmer weather.
Ding Darling National Wildlife Sanctuary offers backwater fishing in the mangroves and you can also fish from the road.In the bay, deep holes, channels and grass flats provide habitats for tarpon, cobia, shark, tripletail, trout and ladyfish. Mangrove fringes yield snook and redfish. Only a few miles out from the beaches of Captiva Island you can find snapper and grouper and barracuda.
The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission should be able to provide further information. All non-residents over the age of 16 must have a saltwater fishing license. Florida residents ages 16 to 65 need a saltwater license when fishing from a boat. While collecting of anything in the Refuge is not allowed, you can crab or fish with the appropriate licenses. And remember: Don't feed the wildlife! -Top-
-Click Here For a Map of Island Bike Paths
Bicycling on Sanibel and Captiva is one of the best ways to get around and one of the most popular. Over 22 miles of bike paths on Sanibel provide a great way to get from one place to another, from beaches to shopping, resorts to restaurants. Cyclists on Captiva must share the road with cars, since there are no designated bike paths. Some of the paths are more isolated and lead through wetlands and woods. You can travel at your own pace in the natural beauty of the islands, in shade and sun, accompanied by the sounds of birds and scent of flowers. Because the islands are relatively flat, bicycling is relaxing and manageable for all ages. You can bike Wildlife Drive in the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge for just $1.00 admission.
Kayaking and Canoeing
Tarpon Bay has been called one of the top 10 paddling places in the U.S. by Canoe & Kayak magazine. Several Sanibel and Captiva businesses rent canoes and kayaks, as do some of the resorts. Try this peaceful, non-intrusive way of getting close to the wildlife here. Paddle around the bay, among the keys and islets and observe birds, fish, tree snails and crabs among the mangroves and catch a glimpse of Indian shell mounds. Or venture out to the Gulf for a different perspective of the islands.
Island Nature Trails
-Click Here For a Map of Island Nature Trails
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation maintains four miles of trails through natural habitat along the Sanibel River. This well-marked system of trails in the mid-island 247-acre preserve take the hiker through the Sanibel River slough and along the ridges in the woodlands. They provide an excellent introduction to Sanibel's vegetation and wildlife. There is an observation tower where you can get a bird's eye view of the trails and preserve. -Top-
J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
This 5,030-acre wildlife refuge, named for 1920's Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and pioneer environmentalist Jay Norwood Darling, is home to numerous exotic birds, raccoons, otter, alligators and other wildlife. The refuge features delightful footpaths, winding canoe trails and a five-mile scenic drive, all of which are lush with seagrape, wax and salt myrtles, red mangrove, cabbage or Sabal palms and other native plant varieties.
The Refuge lands also include the Tarpon Bay Recreation Area, where you can rent canoes and bicycles.The Visitor Center is open 9-5 from November through April and 9-4 in the summer months, and is closed on Fridays.
Wildlife Drive is the five mile, one-way scenic road which runs along the bay side of Sanibel. You can drive your car or bike this road, stopping to explore the side of the road or the walking trails. During the winter months you can see alligators basking in the sun in an area just beyond the parking area. The gate on Wildlife Drive opens a half hour after sunrise and closes a half hour before sunset.
Admission is $5.00 per car. -Top-
Golf on Sanibel
Two courses open to the public, The Dunes and Beachview grace Sanibel.
As a bonus, you'll get quite an eyeful of Sanibel's wildlife.
Sanibel and Captiva are a boater's paradise. From the Gulf of Mexico, to the Caloosahatchee River, to San Carlos Bay and Tarpon Bay, the waters here provide for every type of boating. Whether you enjoy power cruising, or like to sail; crave the rough and tumble of waverunners or windsurfers or prefer easy-on-the-environment kayaking or canoeing you will find it here. Island hopping is a favorite pastime , where you can combine a day at sea with fishing and shelling. Sanibel Causeway is a favorite spot for windsurfing, where on a windy weekend dozens of colorful sails can be seen.
Boat rental services abound. You can rent a boat for a day on your own, take a sightseeing cruise on a comfortable yacht, or go along for an adventurous guided tour in a waverunner or canoe.
Sanibel is a lush green island, covered in plants, many with tropical origins. After the Calusas left, Sanibel supported citrus and tomato farms, a coconut plantation and castor bean (for castor oil) farms. But after the devastating hurricane of 1926, much of the soil for planting was gone, so farming ceased to be profitable. Yet, flowers and plants are so plentiful here that you might be reminded of a tropical jungle. Red, yellow and pink hibiscus flowers are common, as are red, white and pink oleander. Bright pink bougainvillea highlight gardens. Sabal and cabbage palms, and Norfolk Island pines are abundant. Banana, rubber trees and others that northerners recognize as houseplants here grow in the woods among other trees.
On the beaches, in addition to the mangrove fringes you will see graceful grasses like sea oats, and the beach morning glory vines which not only provide colorful blossoms, but help to keep the beach from eroding. -Top-
Sanibel Historical Village & Museum
The "Village" setting includes "uncle" Clarence Rutland's home along with the Post Office (built in 1926 of hurricane supplied lumber) and other reminders of the lives of early settlers. -Top-
Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of natural resources and wildlife habitat on and around Sanibel and Captiva.
Energized by hundreds of volunteers, the SCCF operates a native plant nursery, nature shop and bookstore and a network of nature trails.(see map) It has a highly successful land acquisition program and is busy in maintaining turtle conservation and other wildlife habitat ventures. -Top-
Member of the
Sanibel & Captiva Island Chamber of Commerce