Sanibel Island - a barrier island just across from the popular Fort Myers, Florida area - is a natural haven and popular tourist destination. Sanibel Island is home to around 7,000 people, who mostly reside on the eastern end of the island. Apart from its great weather and relaxing atmosphere, Sanibel is well known for its abundant shelling opportunities and wildlife refugees.
Sanibel Island History
Sanibel Island, like Captiva Island, was once populated by the powerful Calusa Indian nation. The story behind the naming of Sanibel remains a debate, and it is rumored that Jose Gaspar or his rival Black Caesar once inhabited the island (and possibly buried treasure while there). The first succesfull modern settlement on Sanibel was established in 1862, with the Sanibel Island Lighthouse being completed in 1884. The settlement remained relatively small until a causeway was opened in 1963, which linked Sanibel and Captiva to the mainland. This prompted a growth spurt which transformed Sanibel into the popular wildlife refuge and tourist destination that it is today.
What to do on Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island is a shellers paradise. Visitors can expect to find large quantities of colorful seashells and sand dollars on shore, and expert shellers may come across a Junonia, which is a rare find.
More than half of Sanibel Island is made up of wildlife refuges, making this an excellent destination for nature-lovers. Visitors will enjoy stopping by the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Center and more.
Where to Stay on Sanibel Island
VIP Vacation Rentals offers a great selection of vacation rentals on Sanibel Island. These homes and condos offer a true Sanibel experience in excellent locations. Find the perfect vacation rental on Sanibel and start planning your trip with our area guide.