There is plenty to do on Sanibel Island and it’s easy to get around. When you stay at one of Royal Shell’s Sanibel Island vacation rentals, there are a few ways you can navigate the island. If you decide to drive, most places are nearby and the island is just 12 miles long from one end to the other, so travel time will be minimal. If you prefer to walk or bike, bikes can be rented and delivered to your Sanibel Island vacation home rental before you even get there.
Enjoy a picnic lunch and then take a photo with the Sanibel Lighthouse in the background. Stroll along the 15 miles of pristine beaches or enjoy the 22-mile network of bike paths and see the sights of the island. Spend time exploring Sanibel’s fauna and flora at the renowned J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum and Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. The island’s past is on display at Sanibel Historical Museum & Village. And don’t forget about the countless fabulous restaurants on the island.
If you need to get a little shopping in, visit Tahitian Gardens, The Village Shops, Olde Sanibel Shoppes, and Town Center, the retail centers of our affiliate, Shops On Sanibel.
Many couples also consider getting married on Sanibel Island because of its untouched natural beauty and laid-back, romantic atmosphere. If you’re interested in tying the knot on Sanibel, let our Royal Shell Vacation Planners know and they will put you in touch with the right people.
Plan a trip and see what you’d like to do during your vacation – fishing, boating, shelling, shopping, dining or exploring. We think you’ll agree – there is no place like Sanibel Island. If you need recommendations of things to do, our Royal Shell Vacation Planners are happy to give you some ideas. We live and work here, too, so we know the area well. No one knows the island and Sanibel Island vacation rentals better than we do.
The wildlife sanctuary was established in 1982. It is home to a plethora of migratory birds, and it has won a handful of awards. According to the wildlife refuge’s website, these accolades include: The National Recreation and Parks Association’s National Voluntary Service Award, won in 1991; the National Wildlife Refuge Associations’ Friends Group of the Year award, received in 1999, and 2009]s Southeast Regional Directors Award for its help with distributing funds for refuge employees affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Nature lovers and bird watchers enjoy driving or biking on the one-way, four-mile loop around J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which stops three miles north of its starting point on Sanibel-Captiva Road. If you want to do some hiking, you can stop along the way and hike some of the refuge’s short trails. Also, don’t miss out on climbing the bird observation tower. The views of the refuge are soothing and relaxing.
When you visit the refuge, you could spot a brown pelican, alligator, great blue heron, snowy egret, white ibis or manatee.
If you are fascinated by shells and want to know more, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum features more than 30 permanent exhibits. The museum also has a handful of temporary exhibits. The Museum established the monthly October to April Evening Lecture Series in early 1996 in which lectures are given by leading specialists in malacology and natural history.
Learn About Shells
This is a good option if you’re looking for something to do on a rainy Florida afternoon. It’s also fun to learn about the shells you may find on the beach, especially if you’re staying in a Sanibel Island vacation rental on the Gulf. The Shell Museum offers Live Tank Talks – sessions where students can touch local native mollusks and learn about major parts of their anatomy. Students can also hold large shells, see shell art and explore mollusk habitats in the exhibit hall.
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
Sanibel Island is more than an idyllic small town paradise. The island is dedicated to conserving the environment and making sure it’s preserved for generations to come. In fact, SCCF’s conservation efforts span nearly 50 years.
Looking for Walking Trails?
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is home to four miles of trails. Go at your own pace and choose a short leisurely stroll or opt for a longer walk through the quiet heart of the island. Look for low-lying wetlands and the slough known as the Sanibel River.
Additionally, you can go inside and catch an interactive exhibit, maps, and videos describing the challenges of maintaining benchmarks in water quality. Or attend a program and learn about local wildlife, like alligators and sea turtles.
SCCF also has real life tips for gardeners and environmentally conscious visitors. Visit the Native Landscapes & Garden Center to learn how to:
- Contribute to better water quality in local bodies of water
- Encourage birds, butterflies and other wildlife to hang out in your backyard
- Conserve drinking water supplies
- Help combat the spread of invasive plants on our wild lands