Island Beaches and Parking.
Okay. Let's get the beaches out of
the way. There are 14 distinct beach areas along the Sanibel shore (and
more on neighboring Captiva). Yes, parking can be a problem. To help
out, the City of Sanibel offers three different kinds of parking permits.
- The A permit is available only
to Sanibel residents.
- The B permit is sold at the Sanibel
police station. It will set you back $80 if you don't own property
on Sanibel ($10, if you do). The B permit allows you park in public
lots without - for the most part - paying any additional parking fees.
It's a good deal if you are going to be on the island for an extended
stay. Pay-as-you-park parking fees can add up.
- There also is an $80 C permit
that allows parking without fees on certain beaches and at the boat
ramp. Of course all this is subject to change. A good place to find
out the latest is at the City
of Sanibel Web site (This is a pdf page you can download and print
to bring with you when you visit Sanibel.).
Another good site for Sanibel Island
beach information is here.
One of Sanibel's greatest beach parking bargains, however, isn't even
on Sanibel island. It's on the Sanibel causeway. The beach areas between
the toll plaza and the Sanibel Island landfall are now a Lee County
park. They are not within the the jurisdiction of the City of Sanibel.
It's free to park there (at least for now) and you can
actually pull your vehicle, even an RV, up on the sand and park at the
You can't park overnight. But you're
there for the Florida sun anyway, right?.
Caution: The Sanibel sun is
relentless. It can burn you before you know it. Even on overcast days,
when the rays bounce upoff the water and sand. Always put on sunscreen
before going to the beach. (Some medical experts say any spf higher
than 30, is unneccessary.) Don't sit out there too long. We think your
vacation should be "well done", but not you.
Here's another beach parking tip.
Don't drive. Sanibel Taxi can
pick you up, take you to the beach and pick you to go back home when
you have had your fill of sun. IT will save you cruising for an spot
to open, it will save you the parking fee and it will save youthe City
fine when you inevitably stay longer than you paid for. It really is
one of the great undiscovered beach tricks.
Also, we hate to have to say so,
but periodically, all islands along the Florida Gulf Coast experience
sea conditions that can be troubling for people with breathing problems.
If you are even the least bit concerned, be sure to call the people
you are staying with before you leave for Sanibel and ask them for any
reports on red tide. This is an occasional condition that festers in
the depth of the Gulf but can get in the air when waves carrying the
organism break on the beach. Most of the time, and especially if you
don't have trouble breathing, you won't even know it is there.
Biking and Hiking
bicycles on Sanibel is one our most popular pastimes. It's an excellent
way to tour the island, and can keep you out of the traffic that sometimes
builds up on the island's main roads. There are 27 miles of bicycle
paths (purists call them 'multi-use' paths, because you can walk on
them too). They run from one end the island to the other, with spurs
to access points of interest. Renting bikes and mopeds (mopeds must
stay on the street, not the bike paths) is easy. One of our favorite
island places to rent bikes and stuff is Billy's
Bikes on Periwinkle Way. Billy also runs tours on Seqways, those
two-wheel stand-up personal transporters. Unfortunately, the city fathers
don't think you are qualified to to take a Segway out on your own. Other
bike rental firms include Finnimore's.
The Sanibel bike paths run alongside
the road in most places but have been diverted into adjacent property
at other places, providing a safety buffer from vehicular traffic, and
shade from overhanging trees.. Shade is critical on a long ride when
the sun can dehydrate a rider. If you decide to make the long trek to
Captiva Island, be sure to bring extra water and wear a top and hat.
Be very careful if you continue to Captiva, where bikes share the roadway
with cars. Safety can be an issue when there are no separate paths.
(FYI: Captiva Island is not part of Sanibel. It is a separate community
inside unincorporated Lee County and operates by diferent rules and
regs. For more about Captiva,
If you want to cross
the roadway with your bike, or even on foot, Sanibel drivers are very
accommodating for the most part. Just dismount and stand
by your bike, preferably at a crosswalk, and before you know it drivers
will stop and signal you to cross. Always, check, however, to be certain
drivers in both directions see you and are prepared to yield.
For more information
on Sanibel Island biking, visit this reprint
of an article written on the subject a few years ago.
Golf and Tennis
Opportunities to play golf on Sanibel
are limited, with only two golf courses available to the public. Golfers
should reserve tee times at the Beachview
Golf & Tennis Club or at the Dunes.
Check with the pro by phone to be sure.
There are a 'zillion' private, semi-private and public golf courses
on the mainland, however. For a slightly dated but largely accurate
discussion of golf courses in Lee County check out this
Tennis courts? I have lost count. Most resorts
and condo complexes have them. Public courts are available at the Sanibel
School Recreation Area.
Speaking of the Rec Center, it is
phenomenal and open to visitors. There is a large community swimming
pooll with life guards. Tennis courts. Basketball courts, And an impressive
fitness facility. As of this writing, visitors can sign up for $12/day
single or $20/day family, $50/week single & $105/week family. Calln
the Sanibel Recreation Center, 239-472-0345, for the latest informations.