The home of shell beaches, wildlife refuges, and former pirate's dens, Sanibel Island off the Gulf Coast of Florida is easily accessible by a causeway from the city of Ft. Myers.
In the town of Sanibel, on the eastern end of the island, around 6,000 persons reside year round, but the population swells dramatically with visitors on weekends and especially during the winter months.
There is no shortage of sights and activities available on the island, and there are some that are especially appropriate for families with children in tow. Hare's a rundown on some of the best:
- Sanibel Sea School
Half day, full day, and week long programs are available for kids interested in the sea and all it contains. Basically, it's a place where "every day is a field trip." Your children can swim with dolphins, explore coral reefs, and much more. Each day, two different programs are held and there is an amazing choice of topics and experiences available.
- Sanibel Thriller
Aboard a custom built, 53-foot long catamaran, you'll have an opportunity to tour the island waters and nearby areas, seeing wildlife like dolphins, exotic birds, and the historic Sanibel lighthouse. The hour and a half tour is available year round and leaves from the Sanibel Marina, next to Grandma Dot's Restaurant.
- Go Fish!
Captain Noah can take you and your family on a fishing trip your kids will remember their entire lifetime. All fishing tackle, bait, equipment and licenses are furnished on board as you angle for championship snapper, grouper, redfish and even shark! Fishing in the Gulf is available year round.
- Tour by Trolley
Hop on the old-timey Sanibel Trolley and tour the area in style; see the old lighthouse, the historical Sanibel village and learn about Indian lore from the early days of Sanibel. The tour is available every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Enjoy what Sanibel is famous for, and best of all, it's free! Wake up early, grab a breakfast before dawn and head for the beaches after the tides go out and before the other beach-goers arrive for the day. Have your children hunt for the elusive Junonia shell, and if they find one, they'll get their picture in the newspaper! Sanibel and Capitva each have different types of shells, so hit both islands for the widest selection.
There is no shortage of wholesome family fun on Sanibel Island, and with a little planning you can have a very memorable family vacation.