Welcome to Southwest Florida Islands
For those searching for a peaceful paradise, Sanibel and Captiva are the discovery of a lifetime
There are few more relaxing or rewarding pursuits in life than time spent on one of the Florida Gulf Coast's celebrated barrier islands, home to a lush, tropical setting and a vibrant island buzz without the noise and bustle of mainland cities. Couple that with water on all sides and the food, views, and activities that come with settling amid an oasis, and few lifestyles can match it.
With a combined area of less than 35 square miles - much of which is water, sandy shoreline, and lush vegetation - and a population that hovers around 7,500 residents, the islands take on a decidedly village vibe. The islands are a water-locked resort community with all of your most basic and upscale needs covered for an extended stay. Incorporated in 1974, Sanibel is the larger of the two islands and features the twin islands primary commercial districts. Connected to Sanibel only by a single bridge, the unincorporated Captiva is the far more remote destination - a getaway from the getaway.
As one might expect, homes on both islands lean towards opulent vacation retreats. Sanibel features a more traditional, community-driven lifestyle and an abundance of condo options. Captiva is home to more sprawling estates, the most spectacular of which occupy lots that extend the width of the island.
What to Love
- A luxury tropical lifestyle unmatched along Florida's Gulf Coast
- Outstanding variety of homes, from beachy bungalows to luxe condos to grand Gulfside estates
- The extraordinary 5,200-acre JN Ding National Wildlife Preserve
The Wall Street Journal once collectively recognized Sanibel and Captiva as one of the nation's top destinations for second homes. It's not difficult to see why. A genuine tropical paradise that occupies the same rarified air as Key Biscayne and Key West, residents and visitors alike arrive to unwind and live their best island life - be it for a week or a lifetime.
Dining, Entertainment & Shopping
Island life, away from the mainland's everyday comforts, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice excellent dining and shopping. For those seeking a tropical retail experience, head to Periwinkle Place and its 26 shops, restaurants, and services.
For standout seafood dining, visit Gramma Dot's Restaurant at the Sanibel Marina. It's one of Lee County's best spots for lunch.
Venture further north along the twin barrier islands to experience two of Captiva's favorite haunts. The Bubble Room boasts an eclectic, kitschy decor - Christmas features heavily - and a fantastic menu with lots of cake. For an island interpretation of your favorite neighborhood watering hole, the Mucky Duck is a wonderful spot to dine, drink, and hang out in downtown Captiva.
Things to Do
Island life comes with a bevy of outdoor-based attractions and activities. The aforementioned JN Ding National Wildlife Preserve offers walking and bike trails, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, and wildlife observation zones. Adjacent to the preserve, you can visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. The island's beaches are a massive collection point for seashells and sand dollars washing in from the Gulf.
At the eastern tip of Sanibel is the island's namesake lighthouse and 32-acre Lighthouse Beach Park. Further up the island is the picturesque and popular Bowman's Beach, which offers plenty of room to stretch out undisturbed.
For a bit of resort action, Tween Waters on Captiva is a great landing spot to hang out for a day, whether it's to eat at one of the resort's six restaurants, spend time at the spa, paddleboard, kayak or sail, or lay out on the beach.
The Lee County Public Schools serve the Sanibel and Captiva communities. Outstanding educational institutions include: