Things to Know While Visiting Sanibel Island & Captiva Island
What You Need to Know About Our Beautiful Beaches and Water
Sanibel is one of the unique barrier islands of the world, having an east-west orientation when most islands are north-south. Hence, the island is gifted with great sandy beaches and an abundance of shells, winning awards for being the best shelling beach and one of the best beaches in Florida. We take the quality of our beaches and water very serious. Our web site is full of information about our great beaches and shelling.
We have also compiled information about the waters surrounding our islands. Click here to review information from a number of respected organizations that monitor our water quality.
Turtle Season on Sanibel Island & Captiva Island
Sea turtle nesting season runs from May 1st to October 31st
Sanibel Island & Captiva Island’s beaches provide the perfect subtropical nesting area for sea turtles, but please be sure to follow the guidelines of Sanibel Island and Captiva Island and turn off all lights that could draw attention away from the Gulf of Mexico to the land. By removing the light from the land and obstacles from the beach, baby sea turtles can find their way back to the water, where they need to be.
What to Pack
Our easy-going, outdoor lifestyle translates to casual, informal attire, both day and night. Shorts and sandals are the norm. Restaurants range from simple outdoor cafes to elegant candlelit dining rooms; none requires jackets or ties. Retail establishments generally request shirts and shoes.
Plan for sunshine. Our winters are mild (average daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s) and dry (it rains just enough to keep our islands lush). Summer temperatures, ranging from the high 80s to low 90s, are tempered by cooling sea breezes and brief afternoon showers, followed by more sunshine and glorious sunsets.
Pack hats to shade your face and head, shorts, swimsuits, sunglasses, cover-ups, a sundress or two, polo shirts and t-shirts. In winter, slacks and a light wrap will complete your vacation wardrobe.
Occasionally you will run into “no-see-ums” (midges). These infamous small flying creatures are no health hazard but their bite can be very itchy and cause welts. They are most active near water at sunrise and sunset. You would be well advised to pick up some ‘No No-See-Um Repellent’ sold locally by one of our Chamber members.
If there is something you end up missing you can find things while shopping on the islands.
Libraries on Sanibel Island & Captiva Island
The Sanibel Public Library features author talks, book discussions, children’s programs and art exhibits. The library is owned and supported by island residents, and houses more than 50,000 books and 5,000 videotapes/ audiotapes/CDs, all accessible through an online card catalog. Membership is offered to both residents and visitors. High-speed Internet access available. Located at 770 Dunlop Road. Hours vary by season. For more information, call 239-472-2483 or visit Sanibel Public Library.
The Captiva Memorial Library is part of the Lee County Public Library System, and offers residents and visitors access to the collection of the entire library system. Captiva’s collections include an emphasis on local information, and the library itself is housed in a historical building dating back to 1928. Membership is open to both residents (with I.D.) and visitors (with fee). Internet access available. Located at 11580 Chapin Lane. Hours vary by season. For more information, call 239-472-2133 or visit Captiva Memorial Library.
WiFi Internet Access
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Where are the best beaches on Sanibel and Captiva? Are they open to the public?
A. Sanibel and Captiva have lovely public beaches. There are 5 accesses on Sanibel: The Lighthouse, Gulfside City Park, Tarpon Bay, Bowmans, and Blind pass. On Captiva there are 2 accesses, Blind Pass and Captiva Beach, located at the end of Captiva Dr. The fee for parking is $5.00 an hour on Captiva and $5.00 an hour on Sanibel. See pictures and more information here: Sanibel Island and Captiva Island Beaches.
Q. What is there for children to do?
A. Beach, biking, canoeing, kayaking, and tennis. The Ding Darling wildlife sanctuary, the Conservation Foundation’s walking trail, butterfly house and touch tank. A first run movie theatre and Zoomers Amusement Park, just off island. Visit our Where To Play section.
Q. Can we get info on accommodations from the chamber?
Q. Where are the bike paths?
A. Sanibel has 25 miles of paved bike paths starting at the Chamber of Commerce. They run parallel to most of the main roads and veer off to back roads and island landmarks. There are no bike paths on Captiva. Stop in the Chamber for a bike path map. Click here to learn about bike rentals.
Q. Where can we park?
A. There is parking for the beach at the public beach accesses. The cost is $5.00 an hour on Captiva and $5.00 an hour on Sanibel. Shopping, restaurants, and local attractions have their own free parking.
Q. What is Old Town?
A. Old Town is a charming historical area on Sanibel Island found at the eastern end. The Sanibel Historical Society has produced a walking and biking tour that is approximately 2.5 miles long with over 19 sites to see. You can pick up a map at the Chamber or at the Historical Society.
Q. Can you recommend a good seafood restaurant?
A. Sanibel and Captiva Islands have over 50 restaurants, most serving fresh seafood. Stop at the Chamber Visitor Center for a sampling of restaurant menus, or visit Where To Dine on our Chamber website.
Q. What is the best time to shell?
Q. Where is the shopping, and what times are they open?
A. Sanibel and Captiva have great shopping locations, Most open at 10:00am and close at 8:00pm. The shopping is located on most of the main roads and at some resorts.
Q. What is there to do in the evening?
A. Sanibel and Captiva have exciting nightlife. Live theatre year round, live music, sports bars, local pubs, a first run movie theater, and of course the sunset. Check our website in the calendar section for an up-to-date events schedule. You can also visit our Where To Play ‘Nightlife’ section.
Q. Which accommodations on the islands accept pets?
There are a number of accommodations that accept pets on Sanibel & Captiva. In order to help you find an appropriate match, feel free to browse our Pet Friendly accommodations .
You may walk your pet on the beach on Sanibel Island as long as you have your pet leashed and you pick up after them. Captiva Island does not allow pets on the beach. For more information, please review the Leash Laws of Sanibel and Captiva Islands .
Q. Which restaurants allow pets?
Several restaurants on Sanibel & Captiva allow pets on their outside dining patios. For more information, please view our complete list of Pet Friendly restaurants on the islands .
Healthcare, Emergency & Non-Emergency Contacts
Emergency Numbers: Police / Fire / Medical Emergencies: Dial 911.
For non-emergencies, the Sanibel Police Department can be reached at 472-3111, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department on Captiva can be reached at 477-1200.
Medical Facilities & Pharmacies
San-Cap Medical Center, on Sanibel, offers family medicine and physical therapy. In private practice, island-based physicians and caregivers specialize in dentistry, podiatry, internal medicine, ophthalmology, and other areas. HealthPark Medical Center, a full-service hospital, lies less than 15 minutes from Sanibel on the mainland. Its emergency room stays open 24 hours.
Post Office Supply & Shipping Locations
Main Sanibel Island Post Office:
650 Tarpon Bay Road
Captiva Post Office:
Captiva Drive S.W.
Monday-Friday: 9:00am-12:00pm and 2:00pm-4:00pm.
1700 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel
Here are a few links about the Zika virus, safety information and prevention.
- The Florida Department of Health confirms that there are no cases of locally-acquired Zika in Lee County, Florida. (Sanibel Island and Captiva Island are both part of Lee County.)
- The Florida Department of Health has identified a one-half-square-mile area of Miami and a 1.5-square-mile section in Miami Beach where non-travel related cases of Zika are occurring.
- The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) does recommend that pregnant women not travel to the identified areas.