If you want to get away from it all, make plans to head to Sanibel or Captiva. You likely won’t find crowds of spring breakers in this part of Florida, but you will find an ideal, more natural spot to enjoy the beauty of the region.
While Florida is known for its oversized theme parks and countless beaches, this part of the state is more appropriately called the anti-Florida. It’s may also be home to beautiful beaches, but you’ll also find large nature preserves, in a more relaxed setting.
That’s not to say that Sanibel doesn’t attract its own share of visitors. An estimated three-million vehicles travel to the island every year. The popular winter spot is only about 45-minutes from Fort Myers, but sometimes feels a world away.
You won’t find high-rise buildings or even traffic lights on Sanibel. You won’t even find many chain restaurants.
You will, however, find soft white sand at places like Blind Pass Beach or quiet Bowman’s Beach. Many people come to Sanibel for shelling. There’s even a museum on Sanibel that’s dedicated entirely to shells.
A majority of the island is set aside as a nature preserve. JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a superb place to do some hiking or birding on Sanibel Island.
While you can use your own boat to explore the region, you can also take a boat tour to one of the nearby islands. The undeveloped beach of Cayo Costa State Park, for example, is only accessible by boat.
Even more remote than Sanibel Island is Captiva Island. It’s also a good place for shelling and fishing, especially at Turner Beach.
Captiva Island is additionally a prime spot for offshore diving, kayaking and paddle boarding. Whether lounging on the sand or out on the water, there’s plenty to enjoy about both Captiva and Sanibel Island.