Already well-known for its shelling, it seems Sanibel Island is getting even more recognition, this time as one of the nation’s top beach towns. Travel+Leisure just ranked Sanibel one of the top 17 beach towns in the United States.
The long-standing publication and website prominently points out Sanibel’s ideal location and its shelling opportunities. Found on Florida’s Gulf side, it calls the island paradise for nature lovers.
Due to its east-west orientation, Sanibel is a haven for shells, and popular Bowman’s Beach is considered to be a favorite location to discover them. The website also points out that much of the island is protected, and the wildlife refuge is an ideal spot for bird-watching, picnicking, fishing and kayaking.
You can explore the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge by bike, by foot or even by tram. In addition, the website points out a summertime farmers market on the island, plus the appeal of fresh seafood and custard shops on Sanibel Island.
If that sounds appealing, you’ll likely work up a bit of an appetite strolling through some of the island’s unique shops and stores. There are other things to do on the island, as well.
Sanibel is home to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. It’s the only museum of its kind in the US that’s dedicated exclusively to shells and mollusks.
You can also check out the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village to learn more about the history of the island or make a stop at the stunning Sanibel Moorings Botanical Gardens. Some people choose to do some shelling close to the Sanibel Island Lighthouse. You can’t go up in the actual lighthouse, but it’s still a scenic place to visit and set up a picnic nearby.
If you’re looking at exploring all that Sanibel has to offer, you may want to consider renting a bicycle. There are more than 20 miles of paved bike paths that wind throughout the island.