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Sanibel Island Fall Travel 2021

Fall is a great time of the year to visit Sanibel Island. During this time of the year, there are smaller crowds and warm weather that is ideal for relaxing and enjoying the pristine barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

Located along the southwest coast of Florida, Sanibel and Captiva islands feature abundant wildlife and outdoor recreation that are perfect for quiet days. Temperatures in the fall begin to drop from the 90s to the 80s, and being outdoors becomes much more comfortable. This time of the year is great for exploring the nature preserves and wide-open beaches. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Sanibel and Captiva during the fall.


sanibel island shelling beach

During the fall, the tides are typically low which makes for great shelling conditions. Sanibel is a world-class shelling destination and you can find up to 250 shell species along the shores here. Morning low tides tend to offer the best opportunity for shelling. You may also have some extra luck just following a big storm that stirs up shells along the ocean floor or during a full or new moon when gravitational forces can create shifts in the water.

A few of our favorite spots to go shelling include the Lighthouse Beach and Turner/Blind Pass Beach. If you want to make your shelling experience even more special, book a nature and shelling trip with Captain Brian on the Water

Turtle Nesting Season

sea turtle getting to water

Turtle nesting season begins in May and goes until the end of October. Sea turtles come to the shores of Sanibel and Captiva Islands to nest each year. Sea turtles are protected and you must be sure to follow local regulations to keep the beaches sea turtle-friendly. A few things to keep in mind if you see sea turtles on the beaches:

  • Always keep your distance from hatchlings and nesting turtles
  • Don't shine flashlights or any bright light near nests
  • Fill in large holes on the beach so turtles have a clear path to the water
  • Remove all furniture from the beach and pick up litter
  • Dispose of fishing line properly

You can learn more about sea turtles at the Sanibel Nature Center.

Bird Watching

egret bird in the water

Fall is a great time of the year for birding in Southwest Florida. Visit the J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge, which is a 6,400-acre refuge home to 245 different species of birds. This refuge welcomes even more species during migration seasons. You can find pelican, cuckoo, egret, spoonbill, heron, and more.

The Sanibel Lighthouse is another great bird-watching spot. Here you can see migrating hawks, warblers, orioles, buntings, and thrushes. If you're looking for a way to cover more ground, biking in Sanibel is easy and a fun way to explore. 


fishing at dusk

Fishing in the fall presents a great opportunity to catch redfish, snook, and Kingfish in the waters along the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast. You might hear locals refer to "Red October" when redfish gather in big schools of hundreds of fish. During this time of the year, the weather is perfect for getting out on the water and our locals know exactly where the best fishing spots are located. 

Go on a fishing excursion with one of the many fishing charter companies in the area, such as My Captiva Fishing Guide Charters, Sea N Red Charters, or Tarpon Bay Explorers

Plan Your Fall Vacation to Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is the perfect place to escape to this fall. If you're looking for a tropical getaway with plenty to do outdoors, the Southwest Coast of Florida is calling your name. Enjoy the quiet and uncrowded beaches of Sanibel and Captiva islands from the comfort of one of our Sanibel Island vacation rentals. Contact our team for more information about booking a stay with us, or browse through all of our accommodations in Sanibel and Captiva, including homes with pool access, Gulf front rentals, and pet-friendly rentals

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