What is Sanibel Island Known For?

Sanibel Island is one of the up-and-coming vacation destinations of the Sunshine State, but why do people love it so much? Between the breathtaking white sand beaches, the incredible cuisine featuring fresh local seafood, and the welcoming locals who can show you to the best attractions, there’s really no question why vacationers flock to Sanibel Island. When you visit our shores, it helps to know a little bit about the area’s history, as well as what makes the island so famous in the first place and what you can do once you arrive. Here’s everything you need to know before you check into one of our Sanibel Island rentals.


Sanibel Island’s history dates back about 6,000 years, as historians believe that Sanibel and the neighboring Captiva Island formed as one landmass around this time. About 2,500 years ago, the Calusa Indians were the first known residents of Sanibel Island, known for transforming the waterways into riches of tools and food. It is believed that Juan Ponce de Leon came up on Sanibel Island in 1513 while he was searching for the Fountain of Youth and fought with the Calusas for years until being killed in 1523.

While the Spanish did not establish a permanent settlement in the 1500, their arrival did introduce slavery and European disease to the island, and by the late 1700s, the Calusa population was virtually extinct. Jose Gaspar came to the region in the early 1800s, where it was rumored that he buried stolen treasure. The island saw Indian raids and increased military activity even into the Civil War, and by 1870, the U.S. government declared that the island would become a lighthouse reservation.

sanibel island waves
Photo from Shutterstock

Famous Destination

How has Sanibel Island remained a world-renowned vacation destination?  One of the biggest appeals of the island is its quaint atmosphere. While much of Florida has become incredibly overdeveloped, Sanibel Island has remained a relaxing paradise where you can truly escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You don’t have to worry about navigating through high-rises and tons of traffic. Instead, you can take your time strolling on the shoreline, looking out for native bird species, or getting to know the locals in town.

The other big draw to Sanibel Island is the seashells. Sanibel Island is known to have some of the best shelling in the entire world thanks to the unique position on the coast. Most islands run north and south, parallel to the coast, but much of Sanibel Island sits perpendicular to the coast in an east-to-west situation before the land curves and takes on a boomerang shape. This unique feature cuts the current, which forces shells along the ocean floor where they become trapped and wash up on the sand of Sanibel Island.

Things to Do

If you’re looking for things to do on Sanibel Island, you won’t have to search very far! There’s a little something for everyone, no matter what you’re interested in. If you’re interested in the shelling, don’t miss out on the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, or try your hand at gathering some yourself at Bowman’s Beach or along any other shoreline. Nature lovers will want to visit the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, and history buffs will be interested in sites like the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village and the Sanibel Lighthouse.

Once you get hungry, indulge in Caribbean eats at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille or sample classic American favorites at The Island Cow. The Mad Hatter Restaurant is perfect for date night, while The Sandbar specializes in the best seafood around. Finish off your meal with a cool treat from Joey’s Custard or a refreshing cocktail at Traditions on the Beach.

Places to Stay

Once you’ve explored the Sanibel Island beaches, gotten your fill of food, learned about the area, and grabbed a souvenir, you’ll be ready to relax! Our Sanibel Island beachfront rentals provide the perfect place for you to rest your head at night. You’ll be right in the center of the action while still maintaining your privacy, giving you an oasis in the middle of Sanibel Island. Our staff is always available to assist you at any time during booking or during your stay. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today to start planning!



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