White Sands #13
2311 West Gulf Drive,
Sanibel Island, Florida
* Activities and Things To Do on Sanibel and Captiva Islands *
Here's activities for you to try while staying on Sanibel Island where our Gulf front
condo is in the White Sands
building on West Gulf Drive. Our condo is available for rent by the week.
Overview of Things to Do:
Sanibel and Captiva are known for their
incredible beaches and preservation of nature. The mid 1900's movement by conservationist
and Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Jay "Ding" Darling
to preserve part of the island as a migratory bird sanctuary was the foundation of the conservation and preservation
that has guided the Islands to develop in graceful harmony with nature, rather than as wall to wall high rises as on other parts of Florida's coasts.
Many of the nature related activities on Sanibel are unique to Sanibel, and you should not miss the opportunity to experience them.
The following subjects are covered in this guide:
- Walk the beach - Our White Sands Condominium is between beach
mileposts 4 and 4.5, and the mileposts start at the
lighthouse. There is a total of 15.5 miles of wide and unobstructed beach running the length of the island. When
you go on your first walk, make sure to take a good look at our condo and the ones nearby. After you
walk for awhile you'll realize that the building setbacks and vegetation don't allow you to see more than
the couple of condos you are directly infront of and it is easy to lose track of where you are. The mileposts are good references to
use, and are located every half mile at the edge of the vegetation. They are typical green highway mileposts, so
they blend in with the vegetation and you have to look for them.
- Collect shells - Sanibel is world renowned for shelling! The best shelling is when the tide is low (usually twice a day), and after storms.
Just go out ot the beach, preferably at low tide, and take a slow walk along the water, or in the shallow water. You'll be amazed at what you find!
Just don't save any that are alive - it is illegal because they are endangered. Though the whole island is excellent for shelling, Bowman's Beach near the west
end of the island and Turner Beach at Blind Pass between Sanibel and Captiva Islands are known for exceptional shelling. Also great
shelling is on Cayo Costa, an island to the north only reachable by boat.
Try this link for more shelling info.
- Experience the changing beach - The beach varies greatly between high and low tides, before and after a storm, in the
morning verses the evening, etc. Experience them all. The tide tables are published in the local paper as well as on this
tide table website
, look at "Point Ybel" as that is at the lighthouse.
- Get a suntan - but please use some UV protection because the sun is reflected off the sand and
water and can burn you quickly, even on an overcast day.
- Build a sandcastle - Some people use buckets as molds, others will build a big sandpile and carve out of it, and others will put sand
and water together in a bucket and dribble the sand to build castles.
- Watch for dolphins - They will often be just a couple of hundred feet off the beach. Look for their triangular fin
as it arches out of the water for a second or two. Follow with your eyes the direction it was going and the relative speed,
and you may see it surface again in 30 seconds or so. They usually travel in small groups, so you will probably see two to five
if you see one. In a week you may see them a couple of times if you are looking.
- Visit other Sanibel Beaches - The beach along the length of
Sanibel is very consistant, so there's not much reason to go to other beach
areas, though there are three other beach areas worth noting: 1) the
Lighthouse Beach at the east end of the island wraps around the historic
lighthouse on the tip of the island and also has a fishing pier, 2) Blind Pass
Beach at the west end of Sanibel at the bridge to Captiva, and 3) Bowman's Beach on
the west end of the island. Parking is available at these beaches for
about $1/hour. Most other small beach access parking areas you may see are only
for residents with permits. Tarpon Beach and Gulfside Park beach are both
within walking distance of White Sands, so you will go past those areas while
walking the beach.
- J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge - 5,000-acre sanctuary offers hiking,
biking and canoe trails. See 200 species of birds, alligators,
turtles, river otters, armadillos. Take a canoe trip right past the gators! The best way to see it is
to start with the two-hour tram tour. The tour is very informative and will help you understand what is really out there.
Once you've done that, then choose between bicyle, car tour at different time of day, or canoe tour of the sanctuary. If you go back on your own, consider
seeing it early in the morning when the park opens, or during a storm as these events bring out the wildlife.
For more information also see the Ding Darling Wildlife Society website.
The official canoe and tram tours are offered by Tarpon Bay Explorers .
Admission to the five mile long wildlife drive is $5 for cars, $1 for bikers and hikers,
but I suggest taking the tram tour first so you know what you are seeing.
One Wildlife Drive (off San-Cap Road). Open daily 9am to sunset, closed Fridays to give the wildlife time without people intruding on them.
- Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation - A not-for-profit organization dedicated to conserving the island's
natural resources. Walking trails, exhibits, marine touch tank, native plant nursery, nature store.Their main center is located at mile marker 1, San-Cap Road.
Hours: 8:30am-3pm Mon-Fri during the summer, 8:30am-4pm Mon-Sat during winter
months. Nominal admission fee.
- Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum - One of a kind museum with exhibits devoted to shells in
art and history, shell habitats, rare specimens, fossil shells. 3075 San-Cap Road.
- Sanibel Sea School - They offer half day to week long education programs for kids, and now even offer
similar programs for adults. Their programs vibrantly teach children and adults about marine ecosystems using the many natural resources of Sanibel as their classroom.
414 Lagoon Drive, Sanibel. (239) 472-8585
- C.R.O.W. - Care and Rehabilitation of Wildlife - Veterinary hospital for
rehabilitation of ill, injured and orphaned native wildlife. Tours 11am Mon-Fri, 1pm Sunday, no tours Saturday. $3. 3883 San-Cap Road.
- Dark Skies - Enjoy
the briliance of the stars that can be seen from Sanibel thanks to the Island following a "Dark Skies" ordinance that
dictates all lights on the Island must be shieled downward. Experience a
beach walk with only the moonlight to guide you and see the stars!
- Sanibel Lighthouse - The Sanibel lighthouse was first lit in August 1884 and has
been in operation ever since. It is the most noteable image of the island. .
Though you can walk around the lighthouse, the interior is not open to the public. There is a small charge to park a car there, but it is also a
really nice 5 mile bike ride from the condo on the bike trails. Just turn right coming out of the condo, and bear right at any intersections in the bike trail
you come to. To get there by car, follow Periwinkle to the east and it will dead end at the lighthouse.
- Sanibel Historical Village & Museum - This is a wonderfully
executed preserved village of nine buildings from the early days on Sanibel. All are original to the island, and were moved
to this site for preservation and display. Knowledgable docents are eager to answer your questions about early life on the islands.
- Historic Markers - found along the bike paths will tell you about old buildings
and graves along the path.
Big Arts (Barrier Island Group for the Arts) and Herb Strauss Theater - This large cultural organization has a wide variety of offerings:
Music, Art, Dance, Live Theatre, Lectures. The main theatre is 180 seats. 2200 Periwinkle Way (239) 472-6862
- Island Cinema - A modern movie theater at Bailey's Plaza. It has small screens, but there is easy
parking and no lines. 535 Tarpon Bay Rd, Sanibel (239) 472-1701
- Sanibel Music Festival - A classical music festival
with worldwide artists held throughout March. Check their website for details.
- Sanibel Library - 60,000 books in a 30,000 square foot library.
- Boat Rentals - The waters between the islands and the mainland are calm and there's lots to explore. A trip up to Cabbage Key for a famous
"Cheeseburge in Paradise" is a fun trip. These marinas offer different sizes and price ranges of boats, and availabilty varies daily.
Keep in mind that it is about 14 miles from Sanibel Marina to the Captiva marinas, so if you are going in a particular direction you may
want to pick a marina that is already in that direction. The Sanibel Marina is closest to our condo.
- Tarpon Bay Explorers - This is less than two miles from the condo. They rent kayaks and paddleboards to use in Tarpon Bay, as well as
have an excursion pontoon boat.
- The Sanibel Marina - 634 N. Yachtsman Drive, just a couple of streets past the
causeway. (239) 472-2531
- Jensen's Marina - 15107 Captiva Drive, Captiva (239) 472-5800
- Captiva Boat Rentals - Located at 'Tween Waters Inn Marina - 15951 Captiva Dr., Captiva (239) 472-6336
- Colgate's Off Shore Sailing School - Learn to sail instruction
that goes from a 2 hour short course on small boats to week long courses on 43' sailboats. 1-888-454-7015
- Boat Charters & Excursions -
- Island Time Cruises - Take a private charter with Captain Jessica DeGraw on her 26' boat. She offers dolphin tours, sunset cruises, shelling excursions, eco, historical
tours, and out island lunch trips, and she will tailor the trip to your needs. Cruises vary from 2 hours to 8 hours. (239) 898-6155
- Captiva Cruises - They have a variety of wildlife cruises and visit the out islands north of Sanibel and in the bay.
- Sanibel Thriller - This high speed jet boat will take you on a circumnavigation of Sanibel/Captiva. You can
see it going by in the Gulf in front of our condo a couple of times most days. (239) 472-2328
- Go Bicyling - Sanibel has 22.6 miles of shared use paths for walking,
running and biking, one being directly infront of our condo,
White Sands #13. This is a great way to see the island, go out for ice cream, or go shopping. These
paths are off the roads, paved and wide, and the island is flat, so this is great biking experience for anyone. There are usually three bikes in our storage closet
on the ground floor, or you can rent them from either of the bike rental shops on the island,
Bike paths can be found on the island map on the bottom of this
- Paddle Boarding - Dalia and Mark rent paddleboards, give lessons, and
offer paddleboard tours through the backwaters between Sanibel and Captiva.
We've gone out with Dalia a few times and always had a great time! Their launch area is very protected so perfect for beginers that are learning. (239) 249-4701
- Sanibel Recreation Center - The City has an excellent
recreation center with a number of amenities, including strength building and cardio equipment, as well as a couple of outdoor pools. They have daily
family visitor passes for $50 and
weekly family visitor passes for $105, and that includes all admissions to
yoga and spinning. 3880 Sanibel-Captiva Rd. (239) 472-0345
- Sanibel Health Club - A private gym that has workout facilities and classes, and welcomes visitors. 975 Rabbit
Rd. at the intersection of San-Cap Rd, next to Doc Ford's. (239) 395-2639
- Running, jogging or walking - 15 miles of beach and 26 miles of bikepath are both available starting right
at our condo!
- Golfing - There are three golf courses on Sanibel and one on Capitiva:
- There are few chain stores on the island, but countless small boutique stores.
Most are on Periwinkle
between the Casa Ybel Road and Tarpon Bay Road (Bailey's shopping center) i
either small strip centers or stand alone buidlings. There's a few stores elsewhere, but
this section of Periwinkle is the main shopping district.
Two of the big shopping centers are Periwinkle Place and
Tahitian Gardens. Shops are typically open from 10am until about 6pm-8pm.
- Groceries are available at two large grocery stores on the Island that
have everything you need. They even offer a shopping service
so you can contact them before you arrive, and they will stock the condo with your requested food before you arrive.
Prices are a bit higher than on the mainland, but it saves you time and the $6 bridge toll to go to the mainland.
Either is an easy bike ride from our condo, White Sands #13.
- Bailey's General Store - This has been the Island's General store since 1899. Groceries, deli,
bakery (pick up a key lime pie!), hardware, liquor. Turn left out of our condo's parking lot, turn right on Tarpon Bay Rd, and Bailey's General Store
is at the intersection of Tarpon Bay Rd. and Periwinkle. (239) 472-1516
- Jerry's - A full service grocery and casual restaurant. Don't miss talking with the tropical
talking birds in the courtyard as you enter the store. Turn right out of the condo parking lot, following West Gulf Drive as it turns
into Casa Ybel Rd., and follow it until it dead ensds at Periwinkle. Jerry's is at that intersection across Periwinkle.
- Lily & Co. Jewelers - This award winning jewelery, gift and fine art store has lots of locally made specialties.
You'll be greeted by their spokesdog Lily (and her canine friends Gracie & Angel) when you enter the store! 520 Tarpon Bay Rd, in the old school house across
from Bailey's. (239) 472-2888
- Tower Gallery - This award winning art gallery features 23 local artists in a 1926 beach house (not on beach now)
at 751 Tarpon Bay Rd. (239) 472-4557
- Hirdie-Girdie Art Gallery - This
gallery displays work from about 15 artists. 2490 Library Way (next to Tower Gallery) (239) 395-0027
- 2 Islands Gallery Fine Art - This
award winning gallery displays work from about over 23 local artists. 5400 Plantation Rd, Captiva Island (at the north end, a long drive!) (239) 472-7633
- Chico's - Sanibel was where Chico's was founded
25 years ago.
Located at 2075 Periwinkle #4. (239) 472-0202
- Tanger Outlet Mall - This
is the standard outlet mall (though a bit smaller) with the typical name brand stores and is conveniently within
a mile of the Sanibel causeway's mainland end.
See their website for coupons and sales.
- If your shopping needs are larger than what is available on the island, you can go back onto the mainland. US Hwy 19, the Tamiami Trail,
is about 25 minutes from the condo. At the intersection closest to Sanibel you'll find a Wal*Mart,
and then going north on US 19 you will find all the
common big box stores, and a few miles further north is the Edison Shopping Mall.
Please see our Sanibel/Captiva Islands Restaurant Guide
for a listing and reviews of restaurants.
These restaurants are
noteworthy for more than just their food:
- Doc Ford's - Restaurant is based on the popular novels of the same name,
written by island author Randy
Wayne White who frequently stops in to mingle and sign his books. A small souvenier area has shirts, mugs, books, etc. based on his novels.
975 Rabbit Rd. (239) 472-8311
- Crab Races at the Crow's Nest at 'Tween Waters Inn - Monday and Thursday nights they have crab race
dinner shows - a hilarious show
that's fun for the whole family, and it rasies money for charity. Call ahead for a dinner reservation as that is how seats at the race table are assigned.
The dinner buffet isn't special, consider ordering off the menu. The 6pm dinner/race seating is for the whole family, the later 9pm seating is adults only. (239) 472-5161
- The Sanibel Grill -
this sports bar is loaded with pictures of sports favorites and celebrities
taken with the owner. He also owns The Timbers next door and Matzaluna just
down the road, and they're all known for fresh seafood.
703 Tarpon Bay Rd. (239) 472-HIKE
The Bubble Room - named after the old style bubbling Christmas lights that adorn the wildly decorated
restaurant. Even if you don't eat dinner there you can stop in before or after the dinner period and tour the restaurant (folks do it all the time) and buy
some desserts on your way out to take back to your own place. 15001
Captiva Drive (239) 472-5558
- The out islands of Cabbage Key, Useppa Island or North Captiva are only accessible by boat, so going to their various casual restaurants is
more about the adventure in getting there than about the food you'll find when you
arrive. See our Sanibel/Captiva Islands Restaurant Guide for more info on the
restaurants on these islands and options to get there.
There aren't any wild night spots on the island, in fact the locals sometimes refer to 9pm as "Sanibel Midnight". All
of these are very casual. If you're looking for a bar or night club open later in the evening
with live entertainment, dancing, etc, here are your options:
- The Jac Bar at the Jacaranda Restaurant - They have live entertainment most nights,
and a small dance floor. It is a fun low key environment as would be expected on the island. This is close to the condo. Located at 1223 Periwinkle 239-472-1771
- Sanibel Grill - this sports bar
shares a kitchen with the Timbers restaurant and has great food,
lots of interesting sports memorabilia, and many TV's showing sporting events. 1 mile from White Sands at 703 Tarpon Bay Rd. (239) 472-HIKE
- George and Wendy's Sanibel Seafood Grill - A nice large bar, they have karaoke and live music some nights. 2163 Periwinkle
at Tarpon Bay Rd. (239) 395-1263
- Lazy Flamingo - two Sanibel locations, one near the causeway on Periwinkle the other is near the bridge to Captiva.
No live entertianment, but the bar is open until midnight with lots of iced
- The Island Cow - Live music, but
don't really have a bar, instead sit outside at tables. 2163 Periwinkle
- Key Lime Bistro at the Captiva Island Inn
- Bar with live entertainment, open until 1am, but way up on Captiva, 11509 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva (239) 395-0882
- Need a
Babysitter? - Call Annette Pennacchia at (239) 887-0877. She is long established on the
Island, personally known by us, and will take great care of your kids!
- Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates - These two great industrialists from the
early 1900's built their winter homes side by side on the river in Ft. Myers. Thomas Edison also had a laboratory here that is also part
of the tour. This is well worth visiting.
- Everglades City - The gateway to the Everglades, you can take an airboat ride,
eat lunch and learn the history of this little city.
- Tanger Outlet Mall - This typical outlet mall with the name brand stores is within
a mile of the causeway on the mainland.
- Seminole Tribe - General website for the Seminole tribe and all they offer throughout the State of Florida.
- Seminole Tribe's Big Cypress Reservation - 1.5 hrs from
our condo, you can take airboat and swamp buggy rides, see native wildlife, see alligator and snake handler shows, and Seminole Indian craftsmen.
- Seminole Tribe Casino in Immokalee - Close to Sanibel.
These attractions are far enough north in the state that it does not make sense to visit them while staying on Sanibel. The better option is to visit
them on the way to or from Sanibel. If you are driving to Sanibel from the north you won't have to go far out of your way to get to any of these attractions
and could easily spend a day or two at any of them coming or going. If you are flying you could plan to fly in to Tampa or Orlando, stay a night or two
there to take in those parks, then drive to Sanibel, and fly home out of Ft. Myers.
- Legoland Florida - Winter Haven, Florida
(between Tampa and Orlando). This used to be Cypress Gardens, Florida's first theme park,
known for waterski shows and botanical gardens which have both been maintained.
- The sponge docks at Tarpon Springs - North of Tampa/St. Pete. This historic village was at one time known as the sponge fishing capital.
- Busch Gardens - Tampa, Florida. An excellent park for a combination of thrill rides, theme areas, and wildlife.
- Adventure Island Waterpark - Tampa, Florida. A good waterpark. Spend the day playing in the different theme
pools and on the slides. This is fun for all ages as there are plenty of levels of activity, including just sitting in the shade watching everyone else.
- Tampa Museum of Science and Industry - Tampa, Florida. A good hands-on science museum, one item of particular local interest
is the wind tunnel that you go in to experience hurricane force winds of around 100mph.
- Sea World - Orlando, Florida.
- Disney World - Orlando, Florida
Call us at (614) 792-2593 to rent our beautiful Gulf front
condo in the White Sands building on Sanibel Island.
Other Helpful Links:
To contact us -
Please call us at (614) 792-2593 or at (614) 792-2523.
You are most likely to reach us in the evenings or on the weekends.
If we do not answer, please leave a message.
Last Modified: March 5, 2014
copyright 2014 David Ulstad