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What is shelling? It’s looking for buried treasure on the seashore. Shelling is a popular pastime on Sanibel Island, and it’s easy to see why: The island’s unique geography makes finding and collecting these buried treasures easy and especially fun.

It’s easy to understand what is shelling. In Sanibel Island and the rest of Southwest Florida, shelling is combing the seashore and beach, looking for the perfect seashells. The seashells are collected, cleaned, and returned home as a perfect souvenir of your time on the beach.


What is Shelling, and Where is the Best Place to Go Looking for Shells?

No two beaches are the same, and no two shells are identical. When they wash up on the beach, they will be gone the next. That’s part of the allure and attraction of looking for seashells.

So, what is shelling? Simply put, it’s part luck, science, and magic.

The geography of Sanibel Island makes it the perfect spot to find unique shells. Sanibel is shaped like a dolphin and curves perpendicular to the coastline. The southern currents help all kinds of shells wash up on the island. The east-west torque of Sanibel’s southern tip also acts like a shovel and scoops up beautiful seashells the Gulf of Mexico brings from all over the world and deposits on the islands’ shores.

Sanibel Island is an easy drive from Fort Myers and the Southwest Florida International Airport. Sanibel is connected to the mainland by a causeway over the water. The drive from Sanibel Island to Captiva Island, another paradise for seashells, takes about 20 minutes.

Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel is known for smaller shells, but the selection sometimes gets bigger as you work your way along the coast. If you’re after larger seashells, head to Captiva’s north end. Also, check Sanibel’s Blind Pass Beach or cross the bridge over the pass to Turner Beach on Captiva’s south end.

Looking for shells is so popular it even has a special name. If you see someone bent at the waist to pick up a seashell, that posture has been affectionately named the “Sanibel Stoop.” The stoop is a popular sight on the islands and a rite of passage.


Tips for Shelling

Shelling is serious business on the Gulf Coast. Locals live by it, and some vacation yearly to look for seashells.

Don’t be intimidated—anyone can go shelling. Try it out on the best Captiva Island beaches. Selling is a must on a vacation trip to Sanibel Island.

Here are Some Tips for Amateurs to Seasoned Professionals



You woman picking up shells

When is the Best Time to Go Shelling?

Shelling is best after a storm when the ones hidden in the water are tossed ashore. Low tide is also ideal, as it leaves more shells exposed. Tides are essential in shelling, so pay attention to full and new moons. That’s when tides are at their highest and lowest levels, and shelling should also be good.


What Time of Year is Best for Shelling in Southwest Florida?

While you can go shelling year-round in Southwest Florida, two times are generally considered the best:

  1. Fall (October & November): This is when tides tend to be lowest, exposing a more expansive stretch of beach. You’ll increase your chances of finding shells.
  2. After storms: Storms can churn up the ocean floor and deposit a fresh bounty of shells on the shore. So, if you’re flexible with timing, consider planning your shelling trip after a storm.

Additional Tips for Finding the Best Shells:

Go in the morning — Tides are typically lowest in the morning, and the usual overnight high tide washes new shells ashore.

Look around new or full moons — These moon phases create the most dramatic tides, potentially bringing in more shells.

Target specific areas — Different types of shells prefer different habitats on the beach. For instance, moon snails are often found near the waterline, while whelks favor deeper water.


How Do I Go Shelling?

To go shelling, you must bring a few things with you. You’ll need a bucket, a plastic or mesh bag, and a scoop. You’ll want to shuffle your feet to expose hidden shells, so wear beach-appropriate shoes.

Shells Come in Two Varieties

  1. Gastropods have a single shell. Species include lightning whelk shells, worm snail shells, olive shells, and conch shells.
  2. Bivalves have only one shell but contain two hinged parts connected by a ligament. Shells include clams, cockle shells, and scallops.

A mollusk, the animal that used to call the shell home, made an empty shell. Gastropods grow shells at the aperture (the opening), and bivalves grow along the margins (the edges).

Special glands create color pigments. It creates the intricate patterns and color combinations we all know and love.

What do Mollusks Do?

Mollusks are beneficial to the environment. They keep the sand in place and restock it as waves and other forces crush them. They also become food for fish and birds, or homes for other small marine life. Additionally, as certain kinds of mollusks scavenge and filter, they help clean the water.


Hands holding many shells

History of Shelling

For many people around the world, shells are woven into cultures and religions, or they make up a place’s foundation.

Sanibel Island and Captiva Island are made from seashells. The Calusa, or “Shell Indians,” who lived in the area thousands of years ago, used shells as jewelry and tools. They even made shell mounds, forming today’s highest elevations on some Florida islands. Sanibel Island has a shell festival each year to honor these precious treasures.


What types of Shells are in Southwest Florida?

Southwest Florida is a haven for shell collectors. Thanks to its warm waters and various habitats, it offers a diverse range of shells. Here are some of the most common types you might find on your shelling adventures:

Conch Shells

Undoubtedly the most recognizable, Conch shells come in various shapes and sizes. The Florida Horse Conch, the state shell, is a prized find with its large spiral shell. Fighting Conchs are also abundant and have a thicker, more colorful shell.

Cockle Shells

These heart-shaped beauties are some of the most common shells in Southwest Florida. They come in various colors, such as white, brown, red, and yellow, and they are typically found with both halves still together.

Sunray Venus Clam

These vibrant clams are often found whole and have a distinctive pink and white striped pattern. They live in shallow waters and estuaries buried in the sand.

Cerith Shells

Ceriths, known as “horned shells” because of their pointed tips, are abundant in Southwest Florida. They come in various sizes and have different ornamental features.


These cap-shaped shells cling to rocks and jetties. While less visually striking than other shells, they add variety to your collection and come in interesting textures and colors.

This selection is just a small sampling of the many shells in Southwest Florida. With a keen eye and some exploring, you can discover a treasure trove of beautiful shells to take home as souvenirs of your trip.


Prized junonia shell on Captiva Island beach

What are the Rarest Shells in Southwest Florida?

Southwest Florida’s beaches aren’t just havens for sunbathing and swimming. They’re the best beaches in Florida for shell collectors. From common beauties to highly coveted rarities, the warm waters and diverse habitats create a shelling paradise.


This exquisite shell is the holy grail for many shell collectors. It has an off-white, oblong shape adorned with brown spots that resemble watercolor paintings. Junonia shells are rarely found whole, making a complete specimen even more treasured.

Lace Murex

This spiny murex shell has a slender, elongated body with a flared lip. Its intricate network of spines and projections gives it a lace-like appearance, hence its name. The Lace Murex lives in deep waters and is rarely washed ashore, especially with well-defined spines.

Scotch Bonnet

This helmet shell gets its name from resembling a Scottish tam o’ shanter hat. The Scotch Bonnet has a wrinkled, reddish-brown surface with a distinctive white band around its middle.  Like the Junonia, finding a whole Scotch Bonnet shell is uncommon.

Alphabet Cone

This colorful cone shell has a unique pattern of raised spiral lines that some find resemble lettering, hence the name. Alphabet cones are not usually found on the Gulf Coast but can sometimes be found after storms. Be cautious when handling live ones, as some cone shells can deliver a nasty sting.


These fascinating snail shells are also known as “staircase shells” or “ladder shells” because of their spiraling whorls resembling a winding staircase. Wentletraps are typically white or cream-colored and have a glossy, porcelain-like finish. They are deep-water dwellers and are rarely found on beaches.

Finding any of these rare shells on your Southwest Florida shelling trip would be a lucky and memorable experience!


What Should I Do with My Shells?

After you’ve spent hours searching for the perfect seashells, why not do something to display them? You can gently place them in jars and bowls and place them around your home or use them as crafts to make:


Shoreline covered in shells

Royal Shell Rentals near the Best Shelling Beaches

If you want to answer the question, ‘What is Shelling?’ for yourself, Royal Shell has rentals throughout Sanibel and Captiva Islands, including beachfront.

Browse our rental homes on our website or call our Vacation Planning Advisors at (866) 341-7799. Helping you plan your dream vacation is what we love doing the most! And let us know what unique shell treasures you find by posting a picture on our Facebook page!

The beautiful white sand and calm waves of Southwest Florida make the area a perfect setting to say “I do” on your special day. Demand for wedding beach house rentals in Florida is high as couples search for the best spots.

Whether you select the marvelous Sanibel Island or the intimate charm of Captiva Island to exchange vows, planning a stunning beach house wedding in Southwest Florida is simple when nature provides the backdrop. As with any wedding, planning a beachfront wedding has many things to consider.


Newly married couple kissing at ceremony on beach

Timing Your Beach House Wedding

Do you have your heart set on a beach house wedding but have yet to decide on a specific date? Visit Florida notes that October to May is a popular wedding month in Florida. If you plan your beach destination wedding during those months, it is peak season in Southwest Florida.

The region is a top destination for visitors seeking upscale lodging with excellent access to the beach. A beach wedding in January or February appeals to couples escaping the winter snow back home. Couples should start planning early to ensure the right beach house is available.


What is the Best Month to Have a Beach Wedding in Florida?

When planning the perfect Florida beach house wedding, timing is everything. Southwest Florida offers stunning beachfront settings year-round. But choosing the right month can make your special day even more magical.

The optimal months for a beach wedding in Florida are typically from October to May. You can expect comfortable temperatures and lower humidity levels during this period — perfect for an outdoor celebration. High temperatures range from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (24°C to 30°C). Lows are pleasantly mild, ranging from the mid-50s to mid-60s Fahrenheit (12°C to 20°C).

These months offer the ideal balance of weather conditions. Your guests will usually be comfortable throughout the ceremony and wedding reception. The slightly cooler temperatures mean you won’t have to worry about the scorching Florida sun.

So, if you envision a beach house wedding in Southwest Florida, consider planning your special day during these months. Make the most of the region’s beautiful weather and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.


Couple on beach dressed in wedding attire

What is Considered Off-Season for Weddings in Florida?

Florida’s peak wedding season from October to May is popular for its perfect weather and romantic ambiance. But don’t discount the charm of an off-season wedding between June and September. Choosing to tie the knot during these months can bring a host of benefits and unique experiences to your beach house wedding:

More Lodging Availability

One significant advantage of an off-season wedding is the increased lodging availability for your guests. Your loved ones will find it easier to secure lodgings, ensuring everyone can join in on your special day.

Cost Savings

Cost savings are another compelling reason to opt for an off-season wedding. Many venues and vendors offer discounts during these months. Stretch your budget further while still achieving the wedding of your dreams.

More Intimate

Beaches and venues are less crowded. You may have a quieter, more intimate experience — a smaller, serene backdrop for your ceremony and photos.

Added Adventure

If you’re an adventurous couple, an off-season wedding can be a delightful departure from the norm. Embrace the wild side of nature and create a unique wedding story.


What it Takes to Wed on the Beach

Saying your vows on a Southwest Florida beach includes a few additional details. Florida residents have a three-day waiting period for a marriage license. However, couples from outside the state are exempt from this rule.

A wedding planner will guide you through the details, such as whether a special beach permit is required for the ceremony or reception.

For example, items such as aisle runners are not allowed on Sanibel Island beaches. Couples should also be mindful of beach rules during the annual sea turtle nesting season from May 1 to October 31. There may be more things couples must change in the ceremony to avoid disturbing a new generation of sea turtles.


Beautiful wedding arch on beach

How Do You Plan a Florida Beach Wedding?

Florida is a popular destination for weddings, with its stunning beaches, mild climate, and abundant resorts and venues. Planning a Florida beach wedding can be a dream come true. Start early and prepare for the unique challenges of a coastal wedding.

Set a Budget

The first step in planning your Florida beach wedding is setting a budget. Determine how much you will spend on the venue, decor, catering, and other essentials. A clear budget will help you move forward with your plans.

Choose a Beachfront Destination

Florida offers a multitude of stunning beachfront destinations. Decide whether you want the tranquility of Sanibel Island or the intimate charm of Captiva Island. The right destination sets the tone for your entire wedding experience.

Choose a Date

Picking the perfect date is crucial. If you’re aiming for pleasant weather, consider the October to May window, which boasts comfortable temperatures and lower humidity. Ensure your chosen date aligns with your vision and fits your guests’ schedules.

Pick Your Wedding Party

Selecting your wedding party is a joyful task. Choose friends and family members who will support and celebrate your special day with you. These people will stand by your side as you exchange vows on the beach.

Make a Guest List

Compile a guest list that reflects your style of celebration. Beach wedding ceremonies may have capacity limitations. So be mindful of the number of guests you plan to invite.

Start a Registry

Create a wedding registry to help your guests choose meaningful gifts for your new life together. Consider items that align with your beachfront lifestyle, such as outdoor gear or beach-themed decor.

Book Wedding Vendors

Secure essential wedding vendors, including a photographer, caterer, florist, and entertainment. Beach weddings often have unique logistics, so choose professionals with experience in outdoor settings.

Send Save-the-Dates

Once you have a date and venue locked in, send save-the-dates to give your guests plenty of notice. Your loved ones will have time to plan their attendance and lodgings.

Say Yes to the Dress

When selecting your wedding attire, consider the beach environment. Lightweight, flowy fabrics and casual styles often work well for beach weddings. Remember comfortable footwear for sandy shores.

Get a Marriage License

Florida requires a marriage license, even for beach weddings. Obtain your license in advance at any county Clerk of Court.

Enjoy the Special Day

Most importantly, embrace the magic of your Florida beach wedding day. Relax and enjoy the beautiful beach, the love of your partner, and the joy of sharing this special moment with your loved ones. You’ll cherish this day forever.


Boardwalk to beach with wedding arch and seating in background

Shelling it Out for the Beach

When planning your beach wedding, there is still a budget to consider. Add in the costs associated with non-traditional wedding items like beach permits. You must include other equipment rentals, like chairs, to seat your guests during the ceremony.

While a beach house wedding and reception venue can range from $5,000 to $10,000, the price depends on how long you use the property. Homeowners may have other fees for using the property for weddings and events. Most venues require a deposit to save your date.

When reserving the beach house, make sure to ask up front how many people are allowed to attend a wedding at the home. Homeowners, HOAs, cities, and counties may have different guidelines.

Many wedding supply vendors are in the region. Such vendors assist couples in adding creative and elegant touches to their dream beach wedding. Wedding planners can recommend photographers, caterers, and florists who know the region and beach guidelines best.


Stunning Beach House Location

As the saying goes, it’s all about location, location, location. When selecting the perfect beach house as your wedding venue, you should consider several things. Do you desire private access to the beach? Or is it OK to be a short distance from the beach?

Determine if the beach house needs enough sleeping space to accommodate everyone included in the wedding party. Or if the property is spacious enough to host a reception following the ceremony. Consider the parking, sleeping, catering prep, space to dance, and other wedding elements.

Couples should also consider whether a private beach house rental includes concierge services while in use. And ask how maintenance issues will be addressed.

Couples get an intimate wedding venue with breathtaking views by selecting a beach house. It’s the perfect way to capture the day’s special moments. Plan the perfect vacation trip to Sanibel Island today to scout your beach wedding.


Couple walking along shoreline in wedding attire

Can You Get Married on Fort Myers Beach?

Absolutely! Fort Myers Beach, located in Lee County, Florida, offers a picturesque setting for your beachfront wedding. You don’t typically need a permit to marry on Lee County beaches. Some beautiful Lee County park beaches where you can say “I do” include Bowditch Point Regional Park, Lovers Key State Park, and more.

For detailed information on planning your beach wedding on Fort Myers Beach, visit the Lee County Clerk of Court Office website.


What Beaches in Florida Can You Get Married On?

Florida’s stunning beaches offer a perfect backdrop for a dream wedding, but navigating the regulations can take time and effort. Weddings are usually allowed on most public beaches in Florida. Restrictions may vary depending on the county or city managing the beach. And a marriage license is always a must.

Planning your dream Southwest Florida wedding? Here’s all the essential information you need to know:

By following these guidelines, you can ensure a legal, hassle-free, and beautiful beach wedding in Florida.


How Can a Non-Resident Get Married in Florida?

Florida’s beautiful beaches and picturesque landscapes make it a popular choice for destination weddings, attracting brides and grooms worldwide. Getting married is straightforward for non-Florida residents. First, get a Florida marriage license, which can be obtained at any county Clerk of Court. Locally, get licenses at the Official Records Services of the Lee County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller or online via the Lee County Clerk of Courts website.

Marriage licenses are valid for 60 days. Obtain and use it in any county in the state. The state waives the three-day waiting period if both parties are non-residents.

qualified officiant must perform your ceremony, which two people must witness. So it’s essential to have this arranged before your visit.


Gorgeous view from a Royal Shell beachfront Captiva vacation rental

Find Wedding Beach House Rentals Florida with Royal Shell

Many private beach houses in the Southwest Florida region can accommodate weddings. From private homes to multi-unit estates to accommodate family and friends on a single property. Royal Shell offers additional wedding services to make your ceremony a memorable occasion. So, if a beach wedding is your top choice, it’s time to begin planning for the big day.

Connect with Royal Shell today to find your perfect beach house wedding location. See our Naples rentals, Sanibel Island vacation rentals, and Captiva Island vacation rentals.

Sanibel Island has some pretty picture-perfect beaches and if you’ve visited this beautiful island, then you already know that. But for our friends who are just discovering Sanibel beaches, you are in for a real treat. If you’re already well-versed in Sanibel beach parks, a little refresher won’t hurt. You may discover a new favorite beach! Grab a delicious beverage and curl up in a cozy spot and read about our favorite beaches. Imagine yourself breathing in the fresh air and listening to the sounds of the Gulf of Mexico without a care in the world. It’s the perfect way to relax.

Sanibel beaches are some of the most popular and desired beaches in Southwest Florida. When people think about visiting the Sunshine State and taking a beach vacation with their loved ones, Sanibel beaches are often the first to come to mind.

Does Sanibel Island Have Public Beaches

Does Sanibel Island Have Public Beaches?

Yes, Sanibel Island does have public beaches! And there are many stunning options. However, they take a little work to find. You can’t just drive over the causeway and expect to stumble onto a beach. Many of the island’s beach parks and accesses are tucked out of sight. You have plenty of choices. Many of our beach vacation homes and condos have easy access to Sanibel’s white sand beaches, too.

Our guide to Sanibel’s public beach parks includes information about:

Are Sanibel Beaches Dog-Friendly?

Pets are allowed on Sanibel beaches, but they must follow the rules and be leashed, and owners must clean up after them. Please note that Captiva beaches do not allow pets.

Leashing your dog on Sanibel beaches in Florida also helps protect the area’s wildlife. A leashed dog prevents the chances of Fido accidentally digging up a sea turtle’s nest, disturbing a colony of shorebirds and disturbing sensitive beach vegetation. It’s also good doggie etiquette! And it’s part of section 10-62 of the Sanibel code, which states that dogs must be leashed on beaches, public property or on any public right-of-way.

More Sanibel Island beach rules:

Where Are Sanibel Beaches

Where Are Sanibel Beaches?

Sanibel Island has miles of beaches. You’re even surrounded by some of them as you drive over the causeway into paradise. Sanibel beaches are some of the most unique beaches in the world, too. Sanibel and Captiva Islands are barrier islands with an east-west orientation. Most islands are north-south. This is one of the reasons why Sanibel is known as one of the best shelling destinations in the world. If you love collecting seashells, Sanibel Island is calling your name!

Causeway Islands Park Beaches

These beaches are your first impression of Sanibel Island and it’s not a bad one, if we do say so ourselves. The view from the causeway is amazing in its own right, but the Causeway Beaches are always teeming with happy beachgoers, parasailers, kiteboarders and boaters. It’s impossible not to feel relaxed as you drive by. It puts you in the right frame of mind and you’ll be on Island Time in no time.

The beaches are on man-made islands that were built to help support the causeway, which connects Sanibel to the mainland in Fort Myers. The beaches are narrow and not the best for collecting seashells, but they’re perfect for lounging on the beach and soaking up the sun with a good book. It’s also a popular place to catch the sunset. Public restrooms are available and parking is free, too.

Lighthouse Beach Park

Lighthouse Beach is just off the causeway, to your left at the first intersection. In addition to a gorgeous white sand beach, there is a historic lighthouse, fishing pier and boardwalk nature trail. There are bike racks if you choose to cycle around the island. There is a parking fee along with bathrooms and outdoor showers. For a tasty breakfast or lunch, visit Lighthouse Cafe nearby. It’s a local favorite!

Gulfside City Beach Park

This beach is toward the middle of the island along Algiers Lane off Casa Ybel Road. It’s not normally as busy as other island beaches. Walking this Sanibel beach is a treat. There are nature trails to enjoy if you’d like a change of scenery. Loggerhead sea turtles have often been known to visit this beach. If you see one of their nests, please make sure not to disturb it.

Tarpon Bay Road Beach Park

This is a smaller beach and you’ll find it at the end of Tarpon Bay Road. Expect to take a small hike from the parking lot to the beach. You’ll be relatively secluded, though—if that’s what you’re looking for.

Bowman’s Beach Park

This is probably the most remote beach on Sanibel Island. You won’t find many hotels near it, either. It’s one the largest beaches and one of our favorites! You’ll find it on the west end of Sanibel, nearly on the way to Captiva. This beach has a good-sized parking lot, but you will have to walk a bit to get to the beach. This is also the only Sanibel beach with barbeque grills, so keep this in mind if you’re planning to grill out.

Blind Pass Beach Park

This is the beach at the farthest west end of Sanibel Island, just before the bridge to Captiva Island. Blind Pass Beach is on the Sanibel side and Turner Beach is on the Captiva side. Keep in mind that both beaches have limited parking, and you cannot use your Sanibel beach parking receipt on Captiva beaches. Blind Pass Beach is popular with shellers as well as fishermen and fisherwomen.

Best Sanibel Beaches for Shelling

Best Sanibel Beaches for Shelling

All of our Sanibel beaches are great for shelling. You won’t be disappointed with any of them. The island’s unique formation and east-west stretch is ideal for finding special shell treasures. Low tide is best to venture out and find seashells. If you can go after a storm the shelling choices will be even better. Don’t forget a bag, sunscreen and water.

Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel is the place to go if you’re hunting for smaller shells. The larger shells tend to wash ashore more frequently as you work your way along the coast toward the west end. For that reason, we recommend checking out Sanibel’s Blind Pass Beach.

Sanibel Beach House Rentals

Does a beach vacation in paradise sound like it’s something you need in your life? Pick a Sanibel beach to visit and call home for a while—or try them all! Let us know which one is your favorite or if you have any other questions about Sanibel beaches or Sanibel Island vacation rentals.

Give us a call today so we can help you start planning the perfect Sanibel beach vacation. We have vacation rentals in all shapes and sizes whether you’re planning a romantic couples getaway or a large family reunion. Wake up and walk out onto a gorgeous white sand beach and look out at the glorious Gulf of Mexico as the sun shines on its emerald-turquoise waves. Stay in the heart of Sanibel near all of the shops and restaurants and bike to different beaches each day. There are so many options to help make your next beach vacation one of your best trips yet!

Now that Memorial Day and Independence Day are over, there’s only one summer holiday left to enjoy. With a variety of things to do in Florida for Labor Day Weekend, you should have no problem planning a fun-filled and memorable vacation. The kiddos may be back in school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a long weekend romantic getaway or unforgettable time with friends and loved ones. 

Here are 8 things to do in Florida for Labor Day Weekend:

  1. Have a shell scavenger hunt 
  2. Rent a boat
  3. Visit Sun Splash Family Waterpark
  4. Go to the beach and just relax
  5. Take advantage of the Labor Day sales and go shopping
  6. Visit the Naples Botanical Garden
  7. Check out the Edison & Ford Winter Estates
  8. Stay for a while and enjoy the September Hopper Songwriter Fest. This isn’t a Labor Day event, but if you plan on taking an extended vacation, you won’t want to miss this free 10-day festival. A few special performances require a ticket. Musicians perform in different locations around Fort Myers. There will also be performances on Fort Myers Beach and Captiva Island. It’s a lot of fun!  

What to Do on Labor Day Weekend in Southwest Florida

What to Do on Labor Day Weekend in Southwest Florida

There are a variety of events throughout Southwest Florida, so whether you’re staying in Naples to the South or Fort Myers to the North, you should have no problem finding a variety of things to do for Labor Day Weekend.

Spend the day shopping at the Promenade at Bonita Bay, located at 26795 South Bay Drive in Bonita Springs. 

Get to know your history at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. The homes are open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and children 12 and younger get in free for the self-guided audio tour. This is how it works: One child gets free admission per each paid adult ticket. The Edison & Ford Winter Estates are located at 3583 McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers.

Visit the Bass Pro Shops Labor Day Festival at Gulf Coast Town Center. On Sept. 1 from noon to 5 p.m. and on Sept. 2, noon to 4 p.m., the retail store hosts a Labor Day celebration. The event features face painting, family activities, an archery challenge, bait toss, duck pond, free hot dogs from noon to 2 p.m. both days, free samples of funnel cake and cotton candy from 1-4 p.m. both days, crafts and workshops for the adults. 

What to Do on Labor Day Weekend in Florida

Luckily, Southwest Florida is so diverse; there are a variety of fun things to do on Labor Day no matter where you end up staying. For a truly Florida-style Labor Day Weekend, embrace the Sunshine State and all that it has to offer.

Look for Seashells Down by the Sea Shore

Is it really a Florida vacation if you don’t go shelling? The types of shells you’ll find depend on the beach’s location, the tide and whether or not there was a storm the night before. You may not be able to find the same shells on the same day at the same beach, but that’s part of the magic and allure of collecting seashells. Sanibel and Captiva Island are some of the best shelling destinations in the world. This is because Sanibel and Captiva’s southern currents help a variety of shells wash up on the shore. Sanibel’s east-west torque of its eastern end also works as a spoon to scoop up shells from deeper Gulf of Mexico waters. The gentle surf then deposits them on Sanibel’s coastline for shellers to find.

Rent a Boat and Enjoy a Gorgeous Sunset

Florida is known for its picturesque sunsets and they are even better when they’re experienced on the water in the company of your loved ones. Any of our Vacation Planning Advisors can tell you where to find Southwest Florida boat rentals. Go on the water for a day and end it with a sunset, explore the islands around you and take in the area’s natural surroundings and breathe a sigh of relief—because you’re on vacation! If you prefer to let someone else take the wheel, you may choose from a variety of cruises leaving the docks of area marinas. Relax while you take in the views and learn about dolphins, manatees, alligators and other denizens of the deep.

Visit a Water Park to Cool Off

If you have younger children and teenagers with you, they’d love a day at the local waterpark. Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral, FL is a great family-friendly option if you’re looking for things to do in Florida for Labor Day Weekend. There is a gift shop, a few options for food, a lazy river, 14 acres of waterslides and a kids’ play area. 

Go to the Beach. Try Lovers Key State Park

Lovers Key State Park is more than just a beach. There is a picnic area, canoe and kayak rentals, and restroom facilities. There are also three barrier islands to explore, whether you embark on a tour with a park ranger or you decide to rent a watercraft yourself. Or you can enjoy five miles of trails on your own by bicycle or on foot.  

Have a Great Labor Day Weekend in a Royal Shell Rental Home

Have a Great Labor Day Weekend in a Royal Shell Rental Home

For many people, Labor Day Weekend is the last hurrah before fall begins. There are so many things to do in Florida for Labor Day weekend to keep you occupied. Book a last minute holiday getaway today with Royal Shell today. Call us today.

Visit Southwest Florida and stay in any of our breathtaking vacation rental homes. There are a variety of things to do in Florida for Labor Day Weekend, and now that you have this guide, we hope you’ll take advantage of as many Labor Day activities as you can. Our Vacation Planning Advisors can help you plan the ultimate vacation so you have the perfect time! Grab a craft beer or a glass of wine and relax. Don’t forget to enjoy the sunset, too.

One of the things that make Sanibel Island so unique is about one-third of it is a federally protected wildlife refuge. Since 1945, the over 7,000-acre J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge has been a valued and protected home for wildlife.

The J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most celebrated birding locales in the country and you’ll find an impressive variety of species of birds here on Sanibel Island. If your goal is to see endangered and threatened critters, Ding Darling is your best bet. It’s home to animals like Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles, West Indian manatees, American alligators, and even the occasional American crocodile.

If you told Jay Norwood Darling he’d have a hand in opening one of the most well-known wildlife refuges for endangered and threatened species in Southwest Florida, the former newspaper cartoonist may not have believed you.

The 1924 and 1943 Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for editorial cartooning penned some conservation cartoons and in 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him to a blue ribbon committee on wildlife restoration. President Roosevelt also chose Darling to be the head of the U.S. Biological Survey, a precursor to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1936, Darling played a major role in funding the National Wildlife Federation. More information about the refuge is available at the free Visitor and Education Center.

Walk, Bike or Drive the 4-Mile Wildlife Drive

Walk, Bike or Drive the 4-Mile Wildlife Drive

One unique thing about Ding Darling is you can explore the park and take in the sights by car or utilize Sanibel Island bike trails. This is a great option for guests with limited mobility. The entrance fee is minimal and the park’s hours vary by the month, but it is always closed on Fridays.

Whether you are exploring the park by car, on foot or on your bike, make sure you bring your phone or tablet and keep an eye out for panels with QR codes that lead to ranger-narrated videos about the different types of plants and animals you’ll encounter along the way.

There are three main trails off Wildlife Drive:

Don’t miss the observation deck along Wildlife Drive for excellent views and photo opportunities.

Also make sure to:

Ding Darling Trails

Indigo Trail

This four-mile round trip trail leads to the Wildlife Education Boardwalk and a mangrove forest.

Wildlife Education Boardwalk

On this trail, you’ll see educational signs where you can learn about scat, also known as “poop panels.” Studying scat helps refuge staff track wildlife such as marsh rabbits, otters, raccoons and bobcats.

Wulfert Keys Trail

This mangrove-lined canal will take you to the edge of Hardworking Bay. You may even see an American crocodile.

Calusa Shell Mound Trail

This trail takes you around an ancient shell mound. It’s a great way to get to know the Calusa Indians who built them.

Cross Dike Trail

This trail connects Wildlife Drive and the Indigo Trail. It’s a laidback paved walk, perfect for hikers who want to take it a little easier.

Red Mangrove Outlook

This is the shortest walk in the refuge, and it provides guests great birding opportunities and a chance to see mangrove crabs up close. Also, look out for a panoramic view of a salt marsh.

Bailey Tract trails

The Bailey Tract is a separate 100-acre parcel off Tarpon Bay Road. It has its own set of biking and hiking trails and it offers even more potential glimpses of wildlife. You’ll pass by interior freshwater wetlands that are great places to spot the majestic birds and other animals Sanibel Island is known to attract.

Ding Darling Birds and Wildlife

This 7,600-acre refuge is the proud home to 51 types of amphibians and reptiles; 32 mammals and more than 230 types of birds.

If you’re here to see different species of birds, the best times to visit are from January through April. This is when migratory bird populations are spending their winters in the sunny and warm refuge. For people who don’t live in the Sunshine State, American alligators, dolphins and manatees are huge draws. These critters are more likely to be spotted in the summer.

To get the most out of your visit to Ding Darling, download the free Discover Ding phone app. It lets you see real-time wildlife sightings, play a wildlife trivia game and post pictures.

Ding Darling Refuge Tram Tour

Ding Darling Refuge Tram Tour

Taking the Tarpon Bay Explorer’s Ding Darling tram tour is a great way to explore the park and spot wildlife most visitors wouldn’t normally get the chance to see. Experienced naturalists can help you search for roseate spoonbills, ibis, egrets, herons and much more. They’ll also share some insight into Ding Darling’s ecology and history.

The Ding Darling tram tour helps wildlife as it reduces the number of cars on the road and protects animals from exhaust fumes. The tram is also less noisy and by allowing someone else to drive, it gives you more time to watch for wildlife and take pictures. Reservations are required. Please call 239.472.8900.

Plan your Visit to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Where: 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel, Florida

Hours: Visitor and Education Center, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Sunday; Closed, Friday.

Information: 239.472.1100

Things to bring: Sunscreen, binoculars, bug spray, a camera and a fun attitude

Royal Shell Rentals near Ding Darling

Take advantage of the beautiful weather all year long, stroll through the serene park and catch glimpses of unique Florida flora and fauna. Ding Darling has been a favorite local and tourist destination for years, and many visit Sanibel Island for Ding Darling’s bird watching alone. Book a Sanibel vacation rental and contact Royal Shell today to plan the perfect vacation trip to Sanibel Island.

Not only does Sanibel Island have some of the best views, beaches and shelling in the world, it’s also known for its food. It’s one thing to vacation in paradise, but when the breakfast and lunch options on the island are so good, you just have to explore them all! This is your guide to some of the best breakfast and lunch restaurants on Sanibel Island. Enjoy!

In no particular order, the best breakfast and lunch restaurants on Sanibel Island are:

  1. The Island Cow
  2. Sea Breeze Café at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa
  3. Over Easy Café
  4. Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon
  5. Lighthouse Café
  6. Blue Giraffe Restaurant
  7. Cheeburger Cheeburger
  8. The Clam Shack
  9. Lazy Flamingo
  10. Schnapper’s Hots
  11. Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream

Best Breakfast Restaurants on Sanibel

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and many people’s favorite. If you’re staying on the island, treat yourself to one of the best breakfast restaurants on Sanibel. After you’ve tried them all, let us know your favorite in the comment section!

The Island Cow

The Island Cow has been on the island for more than 15 years, and it’s practically a way of life. Kids will love its fun cow-themed décor, and The Island Cow’s breakfast is some of the best on Sanibel. Some people visit for the homemade muffins alone. When the weather is nice (and it is most of the year!), you can sit outside and take in the island’s sights and sounds.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit The Island Cow at 2163 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Sea Breeze Café

If you want a breakfast with a view, we recommend Sea Breeze Caféat the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa. It has the best view on the island and food is served buffet-style.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Sea Breeze Café at 1451 Middle Gulf Drive Sanibel, Florida, 33957. It’s located in the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa.

Over Easy Café

When you think about breakfast on Sanibel, this is one of the places that should instantly come to mind. Locals love it. Tourists love it, too. The food is always good and there’s usually a smile on everyone’s face. When you find a good, consistent breakfast place, it’s a keeper.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit the Over Easy Café at 630 Tarpon Bay Road, No. 1, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Lighthouse Cafe

The sign in front says “World’s Best Breakfast,” and many people on Sanibel Island would agree. The inside is simple and charming decorated with artwork of lighthouses from around the world, and the food is delicious. You can even purchase the Lighthouse Café’s world-famous strawberry preserves and blueberry sauce. There is also a collection of Sanibel Lighthouse photos to look at to inspire you to take a trip to the Lighthouse yourself!

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Lighthouse Café at 362 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Blue Giraffe Restaurant

The restaurant was recently purchased, but the name stayed the same. The new owners have a penchant for serving delectable breakfast, and they want the whole island to know it. The interior has also been redone, so everything inside is brand spanking new.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit the Blue Giraffe Restaurant at 2075 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Best Lunch Restaurants on Sanibel Island

It’s not a secret some of the best breakfast restaurants are on Sanibel, but one could argue that some of the best lunch restaurants are on Sanibel, too. If you love fresh seafood with a view, you can’t resist some of these places. Others are island staples you just have to try!

Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon

This gem is located in the Sanibel Marina near the Lighthouse. It’s always packed, and with good reason. We highly recommend calling ahead for reservations, or getting there early. You can also pull up here on your boat and enjoy a homemade meal like the kind your grandparents would make. Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon is nostalgia at its best.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon at 634 North Yachtsman Drive, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Cheeburger Cheeburger

This fun burger restaurant chain began on Sanibel Island, and you can still visit and dine at the location where it all began. The 1950s theme and décor is playful and packed full of attitude. In addition to burgers and fries, Cheeburger Cheeburger also serves up some mean shakes. You can even leave with cool shirts from the gift shop for the kiddos.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Cheeburger Cheeburger at 1975 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

The Clam Shack

This family-owned restaurant serves up fresh seafood in a New England style. Think clam cakes, lobster rolls and wicked good food. The décor gives off a Cape Cod and nautical vibe. Locals from New England, as well as visitors vacationing from the area, will feel at home here.

Why Plan a Visit:

This is a great place for lunch or dinner if you love a place with a great atmosphere, you’re from New England and/or you love seafood. It’s also an excellent locale to unwind with friends and family, whether you want to sit outside on the patio and have some drinks, or celebrate a special occasion with some delicious seafood dishes. It’s a nice change from some of the other more high-end restaurants on the island.

What to Order:

A reviewer from The Fort Myers News-Press praised the shrimp and the clam cakes. Yelp reviewers also raved about the lobster roll. After all, this is a New England establishment.

Visit The Clam Shack on Sanibel at 2407 Periwinkle Way, No. 5, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Lazy Flamingo

This casual dining locale offers seafood and mouthwatering wings. It’s also become somewhat of a Sanibel Island tradition. It’s not fancy, but it does have its own style. The seven large TVs make the Lazy Flamingo a great place to watch a big sports game.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit the Lazy Flamingo at 1036 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Schnapper’s Hots

Schnapper’s is where you go when you’re craving a good hotdog. But, they’re not just any hotdog. They are old-fashioned butcher hotdogs with a natural casing. Tradition and the way they prepare their food sets Schnapper’s apart. After you try it, you’ll know what we mean!

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Schnapper’s Hots at 1528 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

A Special Treat after Lunch

This isn’t one of the best breakfast restaurants on Sanibel, or one of the best lunch restaurants on Sanibel. However, it is one of the best ice cream places in Southwest Florida. Enjoy any one of Pinocchio’s delicious flavors after breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream

This is one of the best places to go for ice cream on the island. Many would argue that nothing else compares to Pinocchio’s. Besides, who doesn’t love homemade ice cream? Some of the flavors are inspired by the beaches and Southwest Florida. Each treat also comes with a cute animal cracker. If it doesn’t have the animal on top, it’s not from Pinocchio’s.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream at 362 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Royal Shell Vacation Rentals near the Best Breakfast and Lunch Restaurants on Sanibel

The great thing about Sanibel is that it’s a smaller island, which means you’re just a quick car ride or short bike ride away from some of the best breakfast and lunch eateries and other Sanibel Island restaurants. We also have the best restaurants on Captiva Island for you to enjoy.

Create lasting memories with friends and families and top it off with some delicious meals from our local island favorites. Check out Royal Shell’s Sanibel vacation rentals and let any of our agents know if you see a home or condo you’re interested in learning more about. And let us know what you think of some of the best breakfast and lunch restaurants on Sanibel in the comments!

There’s something special about Sanibel Island. You feel it as soon as you cross the Causeway. It’s a magical place for people who want to slow down and experience a truly tropical vacation.

One of our favorite things about Sanibel Island is the food. Sanibel Island restaurants here have a remarkable amount of character and a refreshing atmosphere—not to mention the mouthwatering fare. Here is your guide to the best dinner restaurants on Sanibel Island. Grab your favorite dinner partners and let’s get started!

In no particular order, we narrowed the list down to 12 of the best dinner restaurants on Sanibel Island:

  1. Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille
  2. Shima Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar and Sea Breeze Cafe at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa
  3. Sweet Melissa’s Café
  4. Cip’s Place
  5. The Mad Hatter
  6. Sunset Grill
  7. Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant
  8. Il Cielo
  9. Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market
  10. Traders Restaurant on Sanibel
  11. The Sandbar
  12. George and Wendy’s Sanibel Seafood Grille

We also have a guide to the best breakfast and lunch restaurants on Sanibel so you can enjoy all three meals of the day.

Best Dinner Restaurants on Sanibel

Best Dinner Restaurants on Sanibel

Dining on Sanibel Island is a true delight. Let’s look at a few of our favorite places to sit, relax, and enjoy delicious eats when you’re on the island.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille is known for Caribbean fare and it’s a staple on Sanibel. When you go here you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t try the Yucatan shrimp. Their rum selection is also outstanding. There are two dining rooms and an outdoor patio, which is perfect for those breezy, not-very-humid days.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille at 2500 Island Inn Road, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Sea Breeze Cafe

If you’re craving a meal on the water, you’ll love Sea Breeze Cafe on Sanibel Island. Located at the island’s Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, Sea Breeze Cafe is a refreshing stop for dinner. Just a few feet from the water’s edge, Sea Breeze serves up a diverse menu featuring wild-caught seafood, fresh salads and great sandwiches. Happy hour is from 4-6 p.m. and offers great specials on drinks and appetizers, while Margarita Monday promises sweet fun, frozen or on the rocks. Enjoy the lavish indoor dining room or choose to dine al fresco just feet from the Gulf of Mexico.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Sea Breeze Cafe at 1451 Middle Gulf Drive Sanibel, Florida, 33957. It’s located in the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa.

Shima Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

If you’re staying on the island and you’re craving sushi or hibachi, you absolutely have to stop by Shima Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar at the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa. Yelp reviewers praised the staff and chefs for friendly service and delicious food. Meals are artfully prepared right in front of you with fresh ingredients and lots of love. There is Japanese art and décor throughout and the fare here is always fresh and delicious.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Shima Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar at 1451 Middle Gulf Drive, Sanibel, Florida, 33957. It’s located in the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa.

Shima Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

Sweet Melissa’s Café

Sweet Melissa’s Café is one of the best dinner restaurants on Sanibel Island. The food is artfully-prepared and ingredients come from local sources, which include Captain Jerry’s Seafood on Sanibel, Happy Foods in Fort Myers, Blue Star Seafood Co. in Fort Myers, Oakes Farms in Naples and Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm in North Fort Myers. If you like seemingly odd flavor combinations that turn out delicious do yourself a favor and stop by Sweet Melissa’s Café. You can either dine inside in the inviting open floor plan, which allows a glimpse into the kitchen. Or you can dine al fresco on the screened patio.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Sweet Melissa’s Café at 1625 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Cip’s Place

This is a true family-friendly restaurant and many will say one of the best dinner restaurants on Sanibel. The atmosphere is cozy, inviting and the food offered is the icing on the cake. Cip’s Place is named after the building’s owner, Jimmy Cipriani. The longtime islander always made time for good conversation, great food and good company. Cip’s Place is the type of place he would be proud of and where he would want to get a bite to eat. Cip’s Place also contains a piece of Sanibel Island history as the bar is modeled after one of the island’s original ferries, Islander.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Cip’s Place at 2055 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

The Mad Hatter

The Mad Hatter restaurant on Sanibel is a favorite among Sanibel and Captiva Island residents. It was recently voted one of the best dinner restaurants on Sanibel Island by The News-Press. Its eclectic menu evolves with the season and meals are always freshly prepared from scratch. This is a great spot for a romantic date night or special dinner with friends and family as it’s one of the few Sanibel Island restaurants on the water. The Alice in Wonderland theme also gives Mad Hatter a refreshing and different aesthetic. Mad Hatter quotes adorn the walls and trinkets and paintings from the book can be seen all over the establishment.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit The Mad Hatter at 6467 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Sunset Grill

Sunset Grill

This is a prime location for sunset watching, hence the name. The menu is limited, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bad review of the food. Reviewers also praised the Sunset Grill’s customer service. This restaurant gets a 10 out of 10.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Sunset Grill at 6536 Pine Avenue, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit the Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant at 2255 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Il Cielo

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Il Cielo at 1244 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Il Cielo

Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market

Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market was named for its beautiful ceiling and wooden beams. It’s known for its fun atmosphere and fresh seafood. There’s also a retail fish market in the lobby. If you like oysters, Timbers has one of the largest oyster selections around.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market at 703 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Traders on Sanibel

Traders restaurant has a unique rustic atmosphere that blends well with Sanibel’s island style. Traders is a great place to go for a date night or just to hang out with friends and family. They specialize in seafood but have other options, too.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Traders restaurant on Sanibel at 1551 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

The Sandbar

A six-year-staple on the island, The Sandbar is known for its mouthwatering steaks and fresh seafood. The Sandbar on Sanibel is a favorite among locals and island visitors alike. During season, a reservation is a must but you won’t be disappointed. It’s seafood done right without any frills. For example, scallops are pan seared with garlic butter and they’re not done any other way. If you’re a seafood lover, this is the place for you.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit The Sandbar at 2761 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

George and Wendy’s Seafood Grille

A longtime island favorite, George and Wendy’s has live music almost every night and for the night owls, there’s a late night menu. You can enjoy your meal in the main dining room, sports bar/lounge, dine al fresco on the garden patio, or dine in the back room. The patio is pet-friendly if you want to bring Fido. There are weekly specials Monday through Friday, too.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit George and Wendy’s Seafood Grille at 2499 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida, 33957.

Royal Shell Vacation Rentals near the Best Dinner Restaurants on Sanibel

Royal Shell Vacation Rentals near the Best Dinner Restaurants on Sanibel

Since Sanibel is a smaller island, you’re a quick car ride or short bike ride away from all of these island favorites. Sanibel is known as a foodie destination and now you know all the best dinner restaurants on Sanibel Island, so you can make lasting memories and eat like a king or queen. Check out our vacation rentals on Sanibel Island and let us know if you see something you’re interested in. We can’t wait to welcome you to the shelling capital of the world and see what you think of our award-winning restaurants!

When you’re planning a trip to Southwest Florida, picking the perfect beach spot can be one of the most important parts of your vacation. While we have you covered there, it’s also important to have everything you need to look like you’re a beach bum pro.

Southwest Florida beaches are the best beaches in the country. We also offer the best beach accessories to make sure your Florida vacation and your beach time are enjoyable and as effortless as possible. Here are some of the best beach accessory ideas we can offer to make sure you get the most out of your Southwest Florida beach experience.

Beach Cup Holders

Beach Cup Holders

No one likes a cold drink that’s covered in sticky, white sand. Make sure you take a long beach cup holder that anchors into the sand and allows you to pick up your beach drink without receiving a hand full of wet sand. Make sure the beach you are visiting allows beverages before you break out the beach drinks!

It’s also a good idea to bring along plenty of beach koozies to keep your drinks cold. Juice boxes for the kids and plenty of waters and beverages for the adults are important, too.

Beach Folding Tables are the Real Deal

Do you have little ones that make messes? Add the beach and watch that mess multiply by mixing in wet and dry sand to the equation! The only thing worse than beach messes is kids trying to eat lunches on the beach with a towel. Avoid the mess and the loss of another beach towel by bringing a folding beach table that’s perfect for juice boxes, snacks and lunches!

If you have a table that’s sturdy enough, you can even play a game of beach poker under the tent to cool off and get a break from the sun’s rays.

Beach Carts

Beach carts are a necessity for families heading to the beach. No one wants to be that mom or dad lugging everything from umbrellas to towels and kids over their shoulders. Find yourself a nice, collapsible beach cart that you can pull through the sand with ease. Beach carts ensure you only have to make one hands-free trip from the car to your beach spot.

Beach Tents

A beach tent for adults and kids is a must-have beach item. Whether you are on the beach all day, or for a few hours, a beach tent provides much-needed relief from the sun during a snack, nap or even just for a breather while you reapply your suntan lotion. Make sure it’s an easy-to-pack-and-fold item that isn’t too bulky for your beach cart or vehicle.

Beach Blankets Have Come a Long Way

Gone are the days when a regular terry cloth beach blanket on the sand would suffice. Beachgoers today can do better. In today’s beach world, you can find beach blankets that repel sand and are water-resistant. Many of them also have pockets to hold belongings like phones and keys you’ll want to keep clean from the elements. Microfiber beach blankets also work to create a plush environment for sunbathers and act as a quick-drying towel. Many of these fancy, new beach towels can also work as a yoga mat or exercise towel.

Favorite Tunes for the Beach

We realize the days of bringing a boombox to the beach are over. But that doesn’t mean the beach jams have to stop! Make a fresh beach playlist for summer or any other time of the year and make sure it’s available to play for friends on a portable Bluetooth speaker that’s charged up for your beach trip. Bring along a pair of headphones, too, for when it’s time to meditate in the sand and get lost in your own world.

Favorite Tunes for the Beach

Pick the Perfect Beach Bag

Beach bags are all the rage right now. Big, bulky mesh bags that you can toss everything in, from beach towels to buckets and shovels for the kids, are not hip anymore. The perfect beach bag for a day at the beach is waterproof, has containers to hold and protect valuables, and looks good doing it with cute designs, tassels and monogrammed options.

Use a Beach Umbrella that Works for You

A good beach umbrella that can handle and buffer a good Gulf of Mexico rain shower is very important. Beach umbrellas with aluminum poles that are adjustable are the best choice. Tilt adjustments are also a must because they allow you to angle the umbrella to protect yourself as the sun changes position.

Umbrellas should also have:

Picking the Best Beach Chair

Beach chairs have come a long way in the last 10 years. These days, it’s easy to select an affordable beach chair that offers the following perks:

Beach Toys for the Kiddos

If you have kids, you cannot forget to take a good variety of sand toys to the beach to keep them busy throughout the day.

Other kid-friendly toys to bring include:

Use Sunscreen

Whether you are sitting on the dock of the bay or on the beach, you need ultimate sun protection all day long! Make sure you select a sunscreen that you can use on both your face and your body. You should also look for a non-greasy formula and one that is water-resistant if you know you’ll be spending time in the water. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher for ultimate protection from harmful UVB rays and reapply often!

Hydrate Often with a Good Water Bottle

You have to drink plenty of water during a trip to the beach, especially on hot and humid days. Choose a reusable water bottle that can keep drinks cold for 24 hours and keep hot drinks warm, if you’re heading to see a Southwest Florida sunset on a cool and breezy winter night.

A Beach Cooler Can Be Your Friend

A Beach Cooler Can Be Your Friend

Whether you are packing a lunch, bringing drinks or need a place to keep things cool, a beach cooler is your friend. Soft coolers are all the rage right now, especially ones that have straps so you can walk onto the beach with the cooler on your back like a backpack. Coolers with wheels also get the job done for a family that needs a big cooler to hold everything for a long day at the beach.

Make Your Naples Beach Reservation Today!

You have everything you need now for the perfect beach experience in Southwest Florida. We also have the tips you need for shelling and vacation home rental tips for families.

The only thing left to do now is enjoy the beach and your Florida vacation. Are you looking to head to Naples, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach or Sanibel or Captiva islands? Why limit yourself? Book a longer Florida beach stay and explore all the beaches in the area because each one of them has something unique. The agents at Royal Shell can help you plan your perfect beach getaway vacation today.

There are more than white sandy beaches and breathtaking sunsets on Sanibel Island. There are also nearly 25 miles of paved Sanibel Island bike trails just waiting to be explored. These trails make the beautiful island a true destination for people with an active mindset. If you’re ready to take in scenery and island life by bicycle, get ready to pedal and make the most of your time in the sun.

Sanibel Island bike trails make for an enjoyable way to truly take in the sights of the island. Sanibel Island bike trails make exploring the island by bicycle part of your Southwest Florida vacation.

Biking on Sanibel Island

Biking on Sanibel Island

You’ll find more than seashells on Sanibel Island. The island’s nearly 25 miles of paved bike trails lets you travel back in time, check out island destinations, and more. The trails are smooth and well-marked, making them an easy ride for novice and experienced cyclers alike. Sanibel Island’s bike trails are also separated from the roadway, so you can cycle safely without worrying about traffic.

If you didn’t bring your bike with you on your Sanibel Island vacation, you can still experience the island on two wheels. You’ll find several places along Periwinkle Way to rent bicycles. Rent by the hour or by the week, whatever works best for your vacation. Choose from single-speed cruisers to recumbent bikes to tandem bicycles, with everything in between. Some vacation rentals on Sanibel Island come with bicycles, too.

Explore the Sanibel Island bike trails, and make way for new memories formed on two wheels.

7 Sanibel Island Bike Trails You Have to Experience

Plan your bike ride before you start pedaling. Here are 7 Sanibel Island bike trails and destinations to check out and enjoy.

1. J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Many people love Sanibel Island because it represents natural Florida. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place to get back to nature, especially if you’re seeing it on two wheels. The refuge is famous for its migratory bird populations, so you will likely see a variety of species on your ride. You might also spot alligators, marine life and other creatures. Cyclists can ride the refuge’s four-mile Wildlife Drive loop. Wildlife Drive is open every day except Friday. Admission to the loop is $1 per bicyclist. You’ll also find a free education center at the refuge. You can visit the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge at 1 Wildlife Drive. You can also call 239.472.1100 for additional information.

2. Sanibel Captiva Road

Nestled on the western part of the island, Sanibel Captiva Road is the perfect place to pedal if you’re a fan of seashells. You can cruise down Sanibel Captiva Road on your bike and make a stop at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. At the museum, you’ll learn about everything from the seashells of Sanibel and Captiva Islands to the mollusks who make them. The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is located at 3075 Sanibel Captiva Road. Call 239. 395.2233 for more information.

3. Sanibel Lighthouse

You’ll find that the eastern half of Sanibel Island is full of lush green shade and seemingly endless bicycle trails. This makes for a perfect destination to enjoy the ride. The beautiful views of the Sanibel Lighthouse can be taken in from the surrounding bike trails. Viewing the lighthouse from the bike trail lets you get up close and personal with this majestic structure without dealing with congested island traffic and full parking lots. The Sanibel Lighthouse is located at 112 Periwinkle Way.

Periwinkle Way

4. Periwinkle Way

Pedaling down Periwinkle Way is a charming way to take in the sights and sounds of the island. Far from the average tourist strip, Periwinkle Way is dotted with shops and restaurants with bike-friendly parking. The bike path down Periwinkle Way is separated from the street, so you won’t have to dodge traffic as you take in the sights on two wheels. You’ll find the most shops, boutiques and eateries to check out on the eastern portion of the island.

5. Middle Gulf Cemetery Bike Trail

Take a ride back in time by pedaling down the path toward the Middle Gulf Cemetery, Sanibel’s pioneer cemetery. This cemetery is a historical site, featuring the graves of some of Sanibel Island’s original settlers. You’ll find approximately 26 unique internments here. Middle Gulf Cemetery is only accessible by bike. To get there, take the bike path off Algiers Lane that heads into a wooded area. You’ll arrive shortly at the Middle Gulf Cemetery.

6. Sanibel Causeway

Coasting down the Sanibel Causeway is an easy way to take in fresh Gulf breezes and breathtaking sights. Riding across the causeway is free to cyclists, which lets you avoid the $6 fee for island-bound cars. The causeway is three miles, end to end, and connects Sanibel Island to mainland Florida in Punta Russa. The causeway is also connected to many popular island parks. Coast down the causeway and enjoy the sights. Fair warning: Only experienced cycles should tackle the causeway. The six-mile round-trip ride features many heart-pumping inclines. Consider walking to the top with your bike and easily coasting your way down.

7. Bowman’s Beach

You’ll find many beaches across Sanibel Island, but a local favorite is Bowman’s Beach. One of Sanibel’s more remote beaches, Bowman’s Beach is clean and pristine. Located mid-island, the beach is an easy place to pedal. Stretch out, swim, collect seashells and more. Amenities include grills, picnic pavilions and restrooms. Bowman’s Beach is located off Sanibel Captiva Road at 1700 Bowman’s Beach Road.

Make the most of your time on the island by taking it all in on two wheels. Explore Sanibel Island bike trails and Naples bike trails and experience island life in a whole new way. For more information about planning the perfect Sanibel Island getaway, check out Sanibel Island vacation rentals from Royal Shell.

Apple pie, family get-togethers and the American flag all make us think of the Fourth of July because they symbolize independence. Spending the holiday on the beach in Southwest Florida, or at least in warm, sunny temperatures, makes 4th of July Florida events even better for your holiday vacation getaway. 

Whether you’ve already been to Southwest Florida’s Sanibel Island or Captiva Island or the mainland, it doesn’t hurt to revisit special memories and make new ones. The best 4th of July Florida events are truly made on the beach. There’s nothing like fireworks on the beach to get you in a patriotic state of mind. 

Know your Fourth of July History

The Fourth of July has officially been a federal holiday since 1941, but the holiday has been celebrated since the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.

Patriotic fervor became even more prevalent after the War of 1812, in which the United States again squared off against Great Britain. In 1870, Congress made the Fourth of July a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was extended to grant all federal employees a paid holiday.

Florida Fourth of Julys Belong on the Beach

Celebrate America’s Independence Day in sunny Southwest Florida and relax on the beach before heading to one of the area’s hotspots to view one of the stunning fireworks shows.

Whether you’re looking for a Fourth of July parade or the largest fireworks display, this post will tell you all you need to know about 4th of July Florida events in Naples, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island.

Best 4th of July Vacations in Florida to Experience

Southwest Florida is a big area, so there’s a lot of ground to cover for America’s birthday bash. Regardless of where you’re staying or what you’re looking for, there are plenty of options for you to find something to do.

Florida Fireworks

Most people celebrate Independence Day by watching a firework display, and Southwest Florida has plenty of options to choose from. If you’re watching the firework spectacle from the beach, don’t forget to bring a towel, folding chairs, sunscreen, water and bug spray.

Naples Pier

Fireworks at The Naples Pier begin 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 4 from a barge 1,000 feet away from the pier

The Naples Police Department will strictly enforce parking and pay special attention to “No Parking” areas with a focus on the entire length of Gulf Shore Boulevard, fire hydrants and blocked intersections.

A good rule of thumb for viewing fireworks at the Naples Pier is to get there early so you can snag a parking space. Traffic is also always backed up after this event. Make sure you plan accordingly.

Star-Spangled Bonita

Located in the heart of downtown historic Bonita Springs, Riverside Park will feature kid-friendly events and July 4-themed activities. There will also be a firework and laser-light display at night for a star-spangled spectacular.

Downtown Fort Myers Freedom Fest

If you haven’t had an opportunity to visit downtown Fort Myers, now’s your chance. The WINK Freedom Fest starts in the afternoon and the downtown Fort Myers firework display begins at 9:30 p.m. It’s free and it boasts live entertainment and food trucks. If you’re staying in or near Fort Myers for the 4th of July, this is an ideal option.

Red, White and Boom in Cape Coral

Think red, white and blue but it’s really about the boom in Cape Coral. This is one of the best Fourth of July celebrations in Southwest Florida, and also one of the area’s most talked about. Singer-songwriter Chase Bryant will headline the annual Cape Coral fireworks Independence Day celebration at 8 p.m.

From 5 to 10 p.m., expect vendors, kids park with rides, kids activities and of course, a firework display at 9:30 p.m. Guests must purchase a wristband to enjoy the rides. Each session lasts one hour and 15 minutes, and there are a limited number of wristbands available.

Red, White and Boom is free and located at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge in downtown Cape Coral, just east of Del Prado Boulevard.

Parking for Red, White and Boom is also free and parking lot locations include Club Square, Iguana Mia, the Veterans Museum or Big John’s Pizza. There will also be free parking and trolley service. For more information, you can call 239-573-3128.

If you are staying on Cape Coral or don’t mind a bit of a drive, there is also a Freedom 5k at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge at 7:30 a.m. Registration for the Cape Coral Fourth of July 5K, begins at 6 a.m. and runners can register for the Cape Coral 4th of July 5k at the Fort Myers Track Club website,

If you’re staying in the area for a while, there is also the Cape Coral Mango Fest on June 14 and 15. The 22nd annual Cape Coral Mango Mania features everything mango with food and recipe contests, music, food and drinks, and tropical plants and trees for sale.

Sanibel Island Fireworks

A firework display starts at 9 p.m. from a barge off the end of Bailey Road. The best spot to view July fireworks is from the Sanibel Island Causeway.

4th of July Parades in Florida

It wouldn’t be a major holiday without a parade, and these options will help put you in the patriotic spirit.

Downtown Naples

The Fourth of July parade will take place on July 4 from 10 a.m. to noon. Grab a spot near the start of the event on Broad Avenue South or wait for the parade to finish on Third Street South. Don’t forget to bring water and folding chairs.

Bonita Springs

Head over to Riverside Park at 9 a.m. for a Fourth of July parade and stay all day for fun-filled activities the whole family can enjoy. It’s a family-friendly event everyone can enjoy.

Fort Myers Beach

The parade begins at 10 a.m. at the Bay Oaks Recreation Center and travels along Estero Boulevard to Times Square. Stick around Times Square near the clock until 2 p.m. for patriotic crafts, a watermelon-eating contest and a dunk tank. The event is free and parking is limited. However, free trolley service is available all day. Fireworks start at 8:45 p.m. at Times Square. Bringing your own beach chairs is encouraged. Also, keep in mind that the Matanzas Pass Bridge will be closed from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. to oncoming traffic

Sanibel Island

Start the Fourth of July festivities at 9:30 a.m. with a parade that travels along the main thoroughfare, Periwinkle Way, from Tarpon Bay Road to Casa Ybel Road. There will be an after-parade celebration at Jerry’s Shopping Center at 10:30 a.m. and the 39th-annual San-Cap Optimist’s Club Road Rally also starts at noon at Timbers Restaurant.

 Best Fourth of July Celebrations in Southwest Florida

Best Fourth of July Celebrations in Southwest Florida

Whether you decide to spend the Fourth of July holiday week in Naples, Bonita, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Sanibel or Captiva Island, there are plenty of things to do for members of the entire family.

It just depends on what type of Fourth of July vacation you’re looking for. Try a laid back vacation rental in Bonita Springs or a Cape Coral vacation rental. Perhaps you’d like to try a Naples vacation rental and enjoy its high-end eateries and fancy boutiques. Whatever kind of trip you’re planning, our Royal Shell vacation planners can help make it happen.

Come for July 4th celebration week and enjoy some of the best Fourth of July celebrations in Southwest Florida. You might like it so much; you’ll want to stay for a lifetime.

Find a Rental Home Near the Best Fourth of July Events in Florida

There are so many different Fourth of July Florida events. You can’t go wrong whether you spend the holiday in Naples, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Ocala, Sanibel Island, or Captiva Island. Each area has something unique to offer. Bonita Springs and Cape Coral are located in the middle of everything. Naples is known for its food and arts scenes. It’s also near the Everglades if you’re looking for an adventure. Sanibel and Captiva Islands have beautiful beaches and the destinations truly feel like you’re on vacation. Let us know what kind of trip you’re thinking about taking and our Royal Shell Vacation Planners will make it happen.

If you are thinking about becoming a Florida regular, any of our agents will be more than happy to take you around to see our beautiful Southwest Florida homes. We can also help you plan a last minute holiday getaway! If you’re considering selling your home and buying a place in the Sunshine State, our agents know Southwest Florida like the backs of our hands. We can answer all of your questions, point you to the best beaches and show you some of the area’s best hotspots. Helping people find their dream home or vacation rental is what we do best. Contact Royal Shell today!