5 Local Birds You’ll Spot on the Beaches of Sanibel

Sanibel Island is known for its beautiful migratory bird population. In fact, there are over 250 birds recognized for being in Sanibel at all different times of the year. Some species are fairly common, while others are very rare. Every bird is special in its own way, but we are excited to tell you about our favorite birds that you can spot around Sanibel!

1. The Great Egret

source: https://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com

Great Egrets are among Southwest Florida’s most iconic feathered residents. This bird also known as the common egret, large egret or (in the Old World) great white heron, is a large, widely-distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world. It builds tree nests in colonies close to water.

2. Roseate Spoonbill

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The roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) (sometimes placed in its own genus Ajaja) is a gregarious wading bird of the ibis and spoonbill family, Threskiornithidae. It is a resident breeder in South America mostly east of the Andes, and in coastal regions of the Caribbean,Central America, Mexico, the Gulf Coast of the United States and on central Florida’s Atlantic coast Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge adjoined with NASA Kennedy Space Center.

3. American White Pelican

source: https://photos.smugmug.com

Among the world’s heaviest flying birds, the American White Pelican migrates to Florida’s balmy shores, seeking reprieve from harsh northern winters. These massive water birds are easily distinguishable from their cousins—the brown pelicans—due to their snow-white complexion, striking yellow-orange beak and black flight-feathers, which are only visible when their wings expand.

4. American Peregrine Falcon

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Few species cover ground – or air for that matter – quite like the American Peregrine Falcon. Incredibly powerful and fast, these predatory birds soar astonishing distances to hunt and breed. During Florida summers, you’re likely to see them perched on high branches, waiting patiently to swoop in and strike upon unsuspecting shorebirds.

5. Anhinga

source: https://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com

The Anhinga is named for an ancient Brazilian word meaning “snakebird.” These birds hunt for prey by cruising just below the surface of shallow waters, leaving only their head and slender neck exposed. At first glance, this behavior makes them look very similar to a slithering snake.


Top 3 Vacation Rentals On Sanibel Island

If you are in Sanibel Island, vacation rental on the coastline is a must, the sound of the ocean will be the only thing you hear instead of noisy neighbors if you choose to stay in a vacation rental. Your family will have all the room they need to spread out, and it will be easier to plan quality time when you have a living room and kitchen to utilize. Watching the sunset from your private balcony, you will be glad you chose to stay in a Sanibel Island vacation rental. Here is the list of top 3 vacation rental on Sanibel Island;

1. Island Inn

Island Inn was established in 1895. This Inn was a great place to stay for a nice quiet get away with or without kids. Located right on the beachfront and surrounded by the unspoiled beauty of Sanibel Island, Island Inn is truly a place where you can relax and enjoy the company of those around you. The rooms are updated and comfortable. Lots to do while there kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming and shelling. The pool is heated for the cooler days and the restaurant was great for dinner.

3111 W Gulf Dr, Sanibel Island, FL 33957-5697

2. Sanibel Mooring

Sanibel Moorings has an amazing vacation waiting for you, from a romantic getaway for two to a fun-filled escape for the whole family, their island playground is the perfect setting for making each moment unforgettable. With a wide variety of activities and Sanibel world famous shelling beach just steps from your door. Sanibel Moorings offers the conveniences of a resort location with all the advantages of a private home. Their fully furnished 1, 2 and 3 bedroom vacation rental condo suites all feature a living room, dining area, full kitchen and a large, private screened lanai.

845 E Gulf Dr, Sanibel Island, FL 33957-7096

3. Waterside Inn on The Beach

Waterside Inn Beach Resort Sanibel Island offers accommodations to meet your vacation rental needs. Theiy have beachfront cottages and condominiums so you can plan a romantic holiday for two or a large family gathering. Their Sanibel Island vacation condos and waterfront cottages are just steps away from the sugar white sandy beach renowned for shelling. With many features like swimming pool, BBQ grills, and shuffleboard courts and Island activities include fishing, swimming. shelling and surfing.

3033 W Gulf Dr, Sanibel Island, FL 33957-5609

Map of Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island & Captiva Island are located off the coast of southwest Florida, just west of Fort Myers, Florida. Fort Myers is situated between Naples, FL and Tampa, Fl. The Fort Myers Airport, Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW airport code), is located approximately 20 miles away from Sanibel Island.

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Sanibel Island measures roughly 12 miles long and three miles across at its widest. This island has two main roads that parallel each other.  Periwinkle Way, located at the four-way stop immediately past the Visitor Center, is the main thoroughfare.  West of the causeway, it leads to the island’s shopping and dining district.  Follow it east and you’ll pass a quieter commercial section, ending up at the Sanibel Lighthouse and its beach.  Gulf Drive, the other main route, roves past resorts, beaches, and homes at the water’s edge.  It is segmented into East, Middle, and West Gulf Drive.

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Periwinkle Way links, via Palm Ridge Road or Tarpon Bay Road, to Sanibel-Captiva Road, which continues on to Captiva Island.  Known locally as “San-Cap,” the road passes by most of Sanibel’s natural attractions, including the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Center (SCCF), the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, and the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (C.R.O.W.) facility. Captiva Island is connected to Sanibel by San-Cap Road.  Once you cross the short bridge at scenic Blind Pass, the road becomes Captiva Drive.  Follow it north and you’ll find two public beach accesses, plus restaurants, shops and resorts.

Sanibel Island FAQ

Q: Weather conditions in sanibel island?

A: Sanibel Island’s weather is very typical for Florida. In summers are hot and humid, afternoon thunder showers are common in the summer, and Sanibel are in a high lightning strike area. In the winters are mild with cool nights and warm days. For further information about weather in Sanibel Island visit our post.

Q: What should I pack ?

A: In Sanibel you can wear casual attire. Shorts and sandals are accepted Island attire. The restaurants are also casual, none require a jacket or tie. Other items you will be sure to want to include are Sunblock, Bug spray, a hat, and large beach towels. For further information about what should you pack visit our post.

Q: Are there grocery stores on the island?

A: Yes, Sanibel has 2 full-service grocery stores, Bailey’s and Jerry’s, and several convenience stores.

Q: May I bring my pet?

A: There are 4 dog friendly beaches in Sanibel, Gulfside beach (Algiers), Bowman’s beach, Causeway beach, and Fort Myers beach. Dogs are allowed on a leash, and owner’s must clean up after their pets.

Q: Where can I ride my bicycle?

A: Sanibel Island has 26 miles of bicycle paths stretching from one end of the island to the other. Florida law requires all riders 16 and under to wear a bicycle helmet.

Q: I’ve heard the bugs are bad in Florida, is this true?

A: Unfortunately, Mosquitoes love it here as much as you. They can become a problem as the sun goes down.

Q: I’m staying at a resort with no beach access. How can I get to the beach ?

A: There are several public access points on the island. They Are: Causeway Beaches, Lighthouse Beach and Fishing Pier, Tarpon Bay Beach, Bowman’s Beach, Blind Pass Beach, and Gulfside City Park (Algiers)

Q: parking rates on sanibel island?


Causeway Beaches Free Parking
Lighthouse Beach 153 parking spaces, $4.00/hour parking fee
Algier’s Beach 47 parking spaces, $4.00/hour parking fee
Tarpon Bay Beach 75 parking spaces, $4.00/hour parking fee
Bowman’s Beach 218 parking spaces, $4.00/hour parking fee
Turner Beach (Blind Pass) 28 parking spaces, $4.00/hour parking fee
Captiva Beach Free


Q: How do I choose what kind of accommodations are right for me?

A: Sanibel Island isn’t your typical beach-island resort. There are few name-brand hotel complexes so many visitors stay at a condo complex, inn or cottage. If you have a month you could rent a house.

Q: Do I need to rent a car?

A: Yes, Sanibel consists largely of a nature preserve, there are no street lights and it becomes very dark at night. Lodging options are mostly on the beach, while activites are elsewhere.

Q: What are some “kid-friendly” activities to do?

A: Sanibel is very family oriented, and there are numerous activities for children to enjoy. Collecting sea-shells, riding bikes on the bike trails, pool time, are just a few ideas.

Q: Best place to see dolphins?

A: You can see dolphins around the Sanibel Island, as long as you get up early, we always encourage guests to experience sunrise on the beach. The early morning hours are also when you are most likely to see groups of dolphins feeding just offshore, cruising up and down the beach. Sightings, although common are less prevalent later in the day.


What to Pack

Sanibel Island is the more northerly sister island to Captiva Island in Southwest Florida. It is located approximately 45 minutes from the Fort Meyers airport. Sanibel island is perfect to be your holiday destination. But first, you need to pack all your stuff so you are prepared for perfect holiday experience.

When you are in sanibel island, most likely you are staying in a cottage, resort or condo roomates will be larger than a regular hotel room. Usually, most of these units have a small kitchen area for use. So, you are encouraged to bring  food and drinks with you. You can bring breakfast items such as Bagel Bites and Rice Krispie Treats,  also bring small wrapped snacks with you during the week. For examples like cookies, peanuts, potato chips, etc. Wrapped food will be easier for you, also you don’t have to make a visit to grocery store anymore. You can put your snacks in zip-lock bag, it will prevent food loss and ant invasion, South Florida is well known for having small black ants that like your food. Besides bringing food, you can also bring a large quantity of water, diet drinks and juices. Place the drinks in the refrigator as soon as you arrive and then you are set for the week.

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Now, you need to think of what you need for the beach, items to remember are chair, umbrella, straw mats, lounger and sand digger. Most of cottage, resort or condo provide a chair for you, but some do not provide, so you better check it first for further information. Also remember bring your beach bag full with all the essentials, such as sunglasses, sunblock, cap or visor, beach towels, water spray bottle, cover-up and a magazine or a book. In sanibel, there are many activities you can do at the beach, like shelling, bird or dolphin watching and many more. So, you can bring additional tools to like a pair of binoculars for bird or dolphin watching, and tupperware container for shelling.

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We move on to what you need to pack to wear for a week on Sanibel Island. The time when you go to Sanibel Island very influential to what clothes should you bring. The best thing to remember is that the temperature will be comfortable most of the year, so heavy clothing is not needed. If you go in the summer it can be hot, pack cotton is the best option, like shorts, short sleeve shirts or swimming suits. If you plan to boat, especially in summer, pack a long-sleeve cotton shirt to block sunrays. For fall or autumn visits, bring a windbreaker or light sweater. During the summer, sometimes rains fall, you can bring light jacket and umbrella for it. In winter, slacks and a light wrap will complete your vacation wardrobe. Also, you can bring 1-2 casual skirt or dresses for dinner out, lounging, and shopping.

Flip flops and sandals are the most common for the day. You can bring athletics shoes too for outdoor activity like bicycling and jogging. If you get caught in the rain, having a dry pair of shoes bact at your resort will be a good thing. Most importantly don’t forget the camera, iPad, phone, chargers and adapters . You want to be able to catch all those great memories for your scrapbook.

History of Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island’s history is very interesting to read, historians believe that Sanibel and Captiva formed as one Island about 6.000 years ago. The Island began as one from sediment that rose from the sea after being shaped by centuries of storm activity.

credit: TripAdvisor

The first know human in the area were the native Calusa Indians, who arrived about 2.500 years ago. The Calusa were a great Indian tribe who came to dominate a large part of Southwest Florida through trade and an elaborate system of canals and waterways. With Calusa transformed the waterways on the Island into abundant riches of food. They used sea resources for living, seafood such as clams, conchs, whelks, oyster were used for food, and their empty shells were crafted into tools. Sanibel remained an important Calusa settlement until the arrival of the Europeans.

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Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon is believed to discovered Sanibel Island. In 1513, he named it the Island “Santa Isybella”,  for his, Queen Isabella I of Castile. But, the The Spanish were unsuccessful in establishing any kind of permanent settlement, they retreated to British and Cuba in 1763 and died. Thus ended some 250 years of Spanish rule.

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However, Spanish infiltration introduced European disease and slavery to Sanibel, and overcome by yellow fever, tuberculosis, and measles, the Calusa population all but became extinct by the late 1700s.Legend has it that the barrier islands soon became a haven for infamous pirates. “The Buccaneer Coast” attracted the notorious Jose Gaspar to the region in the early 1800s, where it was rumored
that he buried his stolen treasure on Sanibel, and then built a prison on “Isle de los Captivas,” or Captiva Island, where he kept his female prisoners “captive” for ransom. Gaspar himself was captured in 1821 by the U.S. Navy, but wrapped himself in chains and jumped overboard off his ship, rather then face imprisonment.

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The first modern settlement on Sanibel was established by the Florida Peninsular Land Company in 1832. The colony never took off, and was abandoned by 1849.  It was this first group that initially petitioned for a lighthouse on the island. The Homestead Act of 1862 encourage the repopulation of the island. One of the reason, the lighthouse which was completed in 1884, increased traffic in and out of Punta Rassa Harbor. The lighthouse was first lit on August 20, 1885.

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In 1895, the first Island Inn was built by Matthewes family, for over 117 years it has served visitors to enjoy magnificent beaches, virgin dune, and silky sand.  Repopulation makes Sanibel has many arrivals. Pioneer settlement on Sanibel located around Point Ybel, which is now known as “Old Town Sanibel”. This area is the center of Island activity. In 1889, there were 40 families and 21 houses
families living on Sanibel. They began planting sugar cane, pineapple, tomatoes, pumpkins, melons, sisal and hemp. Tomatoes became a huge export from Sanibel.

In early 1900’s Sanibel was on its way to became a prime destination for vacationers, which is rich families from the North East. Troughout the 1950s and 1960s, Sanibel reputation as prime destination for vacationers attracted more visitors. Besides the beaches, the islands have many a fascinating tale to tell, from native Indians, to Spanish explorers, and brave pioneers.

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In 1963, The Sanibel Causeway was opened, and soon threatened to change the face of the island. Eleven years later, Sanibel formed its own city government, allowing residents to control their own destiny to promote the island. The resident and city government also controlling development of wildlife and natural resources of the
Island. The original Sanibel Causeway was replaced in 2007, with flyover features, allow sailboats to pass under it. Today, Sanibel Island retains the charm and natural beauty that has always characterized the island. They provide easy acces to tourist sites, and shows many attractions to visitors.

Top 10 Reasons to visit Sanibel

1. Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

This is the only one museum in the United States that holds beautiful collection of shells from around the world. The greatest asset of Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is an innate of curiosity and wonder about shells. You can do a lot of fun at this museum, theres science exhibits too about malacologist and biologist shells. This museum also cover many cultural, historical and culinary facets of shells.

credit: TripAdvisor

2. Sanibel Island’s Lighthouse

This Lighthouse is the one of the places that you should visit while on the Sanibel Island. Located on the east of the Island, Sanibel Island’s Lighthouse encompasses the entire Island. This tourist attraction also has many facilities, such as large parking lot for beach goers, great shelling, restroom facilities, fishing pier and many more. This Lighthouse is a historical heritage of 1833.

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3. J.N. Ding Darling national Wildlife Refuge

This national wild refuge is the part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. President Harry S. Truman ordering to creating this refuge in 1945. J.N. Ding Darling national Wildlife Refuge provides important habitat to over 245 species of birds. So, while on the Sanibel Island, you’re not only get the beautiful beaches, but also can see different species of birds in the J.N. Ding Darling national Wildlife Refuge

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4. Sanibel Island Farmer’s Market

This is the favorite outdoor activity for islanders and visitors, you can visit this market from October until May. Sanibel Island Farmer’s Market located in front of Sanibel City Hall, you can find fresh produce such as seafood, local fruits and vegetables, honey, flowers, cheese and many more. It’s enjoyable Sunday outing for everyone, including well behaved dogs.

5. The Beaches

Sanibel famous for its natural beauty beaches. Located at Florida, parallel with the main land, Sanibel Island, also Captiva too have a predominately East-West orientation along Gulf of Mexico, with this special geography, Sanibel Island have fabulous beaches.  Sanibel Island has six public beaches that can be visited.

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6. Sanibel Thriller LLC

Sanibel Thriller is a 43-passenger high-speed boat, you will get great experience boat tour around Sanibel and Captiva Islands, spotting dolphin and other wildlife along the way, the tour guide also shares information about history of Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, and other information such as wildlife around Island.

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7. Periwinkle Place

This is Sanibel’s main destination for shopping features 26 shops, Located on Sanibel’s busiest thoroughfare and was voted the top shopping center on Sanibel by the Lee County Convention Bureau. You also can enjoy butterfly garden, two fountains, and children’s play area while you shopping. At Periwinkle Place, you can buy men’s and women’s clothing, sunglasses, original island art and many more.

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8. Shelling

As  one of the top three shelling destinations in the world, Senibel Island provides various types of shell. You can find shell anywhere on the island, but the best spot for finding shell is at Blind Pass, between Sanibel and Captiva Island.

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9. Dolphin and Manatee sightings

Dolphin and Manatee is plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico and is easy for us to observe since it swims near the surface. You can rent kayak to see them up close, they are not shy, especially dolphin, they love to show off by jumping and flipping in the wake of a passing boat.

10. Outdoors Fun

Theres a lot outdoor activity on Senibel Island, you can explore the island with bike or segway, rent kayak, take a boat out on Tarpon Bay, shelling, playing with family at the beach,

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Sanibel Island Beaches

Sanibel famous for its natural beauty beaches and for its reputation protecting animal life and plant from many species. Located at Florida, parallel with the main land, Sanibel Island, also Captiva too have a predominately East-West orientation along Gulf of Mexico, with this special geography, Sanibel Island have fabulous beaches.  Sanibel Island itself has six public beaches that can be visited, we encourage you to explore the beaches. You’ll find different character of each beach as you travel from the East to West end of the island. Check out the beaches below.

1. Causeway Beaches

This is a great place for picnicking, enjoying sunset, swimming, windsurfing, fishing and watching dolphins. Pull right up to the beach and park for free. The Causeway Islands are open from 7 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week.

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19931 Sanibel Causeway RD. , Sanibel Island, FL 33957

2. Lighthouse Beach and Fishing Pier

Located at the East end of the island. Lighthouse beach open everyday and has many facilities such like fishing pier, bike racks, barbeque grills, outside showers and restrooms. You can also visit histocial heritage, the Sanibel Island Lighthouse.

credit: sanibel-captiva.org

112 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island, FL 33957

3. Tarpon Bay Beach

This beach features good shelling, high sands, and restrooms. It’s a nice place for swimming or windsurfing. Located on Tarpon Bay Road on Sanibel Island, Tarpon Bay Beach has Ice Cream truck occasionally swings by. Tarpon Bay Beach open daily from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.

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111 Tarpon Bay Road , Sanibel Island, FL 33957

4. Bowman’s Beach

Bowman’s Beach is pristine and quiet, you won’t find any hotels here. Located off Sanibel-Captiva Rd,  this beach has outdoor facilities like canoe and rent, picnic areas with barbecue grills, trails, outdoor showers and many more. This beach open daily  from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.

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1700 Bowman’s Beach RD. , Sanibel Island, FL 33957

5. Blind Pass Beach

Located far West on the Island, Blind Pass Beach is known for great shelling and fishing through the pass. This beach also has Blind Pass Condominium that offers spacious two- and three-bedroom and townhouse vacation rentals. Perfect choice for anyone seeking a secluded, peaceful vacation on Sanibel Island.

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San-Cap Road, Sanibel Island, FL 34223

6. Gulfside City Park (Algiers)

Located just off of Casa Ybel Road, Algiers Lane runs to Gulfside City Park Beach. this beach is known as Algiers Beach to the locals, It is a wonderful spot for picnics; there are tables in the shaded expanse. This beach open 24 hours a day

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2001 Algiers Ln, Sanibel, FL 33957





Weather on Sanibel

If you are planning to go on vacation to Sanibel Island, you need to know in advance the weather in Sanibel Island first, so you can be ready for your journey to paradise.

Even though the weather in Sanibel vary each month, Sanibel can be enjoyed throughout the year. If you love the outdoors, Sanibel is a great place to visit. You can do many things here like enjoying the beach, biking, bird watching, relaxing or just sitting reading a book.

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For the weather, the first in January and February is the coldest month in Sanibel Island, where high and low temperatures between 74°F (23°C) and 53°F (12°C). In March, which means spring in Sanibel Island, quite warm with average temperatures between 80°F (27°C) and 58°F (14°C).

April is the driest month of the year on Sanibel Island with average temperatures between 85°F (29°C) and 62°F (17°C). May, the temperature increase of 4-6 degrees with average temperatures between 89°F (32°C) and 68°F (20°C).

June, the start of summer season and this is the peak tourist season sinces holiday season, this is the best time to play on the beach with average temperatures ranging between 91°F (33°C) and 73°F (23°C). In July, high temperature is kept stable at 91°F (33°C) and low temperature rise of two degrees of 75 ° F (24 ° C). in August, Sanibel Island receives 254mm of rain but the temperature is still the same as the previous month, 91°F (33°C) and 75°F (24°C).

September is the autumn season, with an average temperature drops one degree of 90°F (32°C) and 74°F (23°C). in October, the average temperature ranges between 86°F (30°C) and 69°F (21°C). Same with November, the temperature continues to drop into 80°F (27°C) and 61°F (16°C). December comes with winter season, the temperature range between 55°F (13°C) and 76°F (24°C).

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As a reminder, in the summer can be hot, you can use shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Shorts and tops are good for any restaurant. Restaurants all relaxed (but no cut off, flip-flops or a tee-shirt to a better place). Leave your jacket, tie and shirt at home. You may be wearing a bathing suit all day.

Do not forget to bring a light jacket when it rains. This will help you stay dry as you run into the vehicle. During the summer, be prepared for the rainy season when the afternoon and early evening hours. Storms usually do not last long, but it could come at an inconvenient time, so do not forget the umbrella.

Finally, the best thing to remember is that the temperature will be comfortable most of the year, so you can go to Sanibel Island throughout the year. But, the best month to visit Sanibel Island is from December until April, the island got the best weather of the year, plus, many events are held through these months.