Finding the best beach in Sanibel, Florida is an easy task. This island in southwest Florida is surrounded by the sea and long sandy beaches. Some beaches are great for water sports, and others are perfect for swimming. There is something for everyone in your party, making this an ideal vacation spot.
1. Sanibel Lighthouse Beach Park
Best beach in Sanibel, Sanibel Lighthouse Beach Park, is the closest to the mainland. For first-time visitors, this beach is probably one of the best places to park and enjoy day swimming and sunbathing. You can stay the entire day on the beach, and when it becomes too hot, just hide in the shade of large trees that are bordering the white sand beach.
This place is perfect for families, with a lot of shelling opportunities, which is an extra exciting activity for the little ones. You can enjoy a picnic, windsurfing, fishing from the pier, swimming, and so much more. Strolling on the beach can be a very romantic activity for you and your other half.
The beach has parking, which is $5 per hour, showers, pier, beach chairs, restrooms, picnic area, and it is open 24 hours every day. It is also pet-friendly, and your furry family members can have fun with the rest of the squad.
Make sure to visit the historical Sanibel Lighthouse, built in the 19th century. The water is shallow and you can walk far into the sea and let your little ones play without stressing about deep water.
2. Bowman’s Beach
The best beach in Sanibel for those who are looking for unspoiled beauty is Bowman’s beach. It is more remote and wild than any other beach on the island. There are no shops and restaurants nearby, but barbeque is available for use.
As great as it is for shelling, you have to be careful when you walk, because shells can get quite sharp. Wear appropriate footwear while walking on the beach, so that you and your kids don’t hurt your feet.
The beach is very quiet and relaxing, with a lot of places where you can be by yourself, enjoying private moments with your family. This pristine beach is an amazing swimming location, but you can also enjoy sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling, and so much more.
Although very isolated compared to the rest of the island, this beach still has facilities like bathrooms, parking, bike rack, shaded playground, picnic tables, and outdoor showers. Like in most beaches on the island, the parking costs $5 an hour.
3. Turner Beach at Blind Pass
The best beach for shelling in Sanibel island is Turner Beach at Blind Pass. It is not crowded, and the variety of shells washed out on the beach is astonishing. Here you can find even the rarest shell in Florida, the Scaphella Junonia.
The parking is not very big, so the best is if you come here early in the morning, so you grab a place to park. The price per hour is $5. You can walk along the beach, look for shells, sit in the shade and watch dolphins swim near the shore.
If you like fishing, here you can fish from the beach, but you will need to obtain a Saltwater Fishing License. The license is issued for free for Florida residents. You can also fish from the rocks piled up on part of the beach.
Swimming is allowed on the beach but stay away from the bridge area. Also, water becomes deep very close to the shore, so this is not the best place for swimming for beginners or smaller kids. The currents can be strong, and you will need a good open-water swimming experience to beat the wind.
4. Blind Pass Beach
Another one that can be considered the best shelling beach in Sanibel is Blind Pass Beach. It is close to Turner beach but sometimes here you will find more shells piled up, and you won’t have to dig in the sand for shells.
Although the beach is open all night, facilities are open from 6 am to 10 pm, and parking works only until midnight. The beach gives you a sense of wilderness, and you will see vegetation and birds on the beach.
It is a great place for many activities, including bird watching, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, and swimming. The beach has a playground, restrooms, picnic area, an unpaved trail, and a pavilion.
Blind Pass Beach is also called the Middle Beach. It is almost 3,000 feet long and is located across the road on the bayside. Enjoy a beautiful trail through the mangrove forest, and a fishing dock.
5. Gulfside City Park
Gulfside City Park has a large green area and large parking, ideal for those coming to the island on a day trip or visiting for the first time. The parking is $5 per hour, and you can buy a ticket on a kiosk in the parking lot.
The beach is open 24/7 and it is located off Casa Ybel Road on Sanibel Island. Locals call this beach Algiers Beach, after a steamboat by the same name that once pulled ashore. This is a beautiful place to spend a day with your family picnicking, swimming, and playing in the sand.
The picnic tables are in the shade, and there are also grills available if you want to prepare a barbeque. The beach has a boardwalk, restrooms, and beach wheelchairs upon request. All you have to do to secure a beach wheelchair is to notify the City of Sanibel Police Department Dispatch (239-472-3111) 24 hours prior to your visit.
6. Causeway Islands’ Park Beach
The most popular area for water sports, and overall a lot of fun for families. You can go swimming, sunbathing, fishing, kiteboarding, windsurfing, and so much more. The beach is a nice shelling area as well, and the nature surrounding the beach makes a great view from the water. Take a kayak or a canoe and explore the shore.
As a popular beach, here you have available parking, showers, restrooms, and drinking fountains. The barbeque grills and picnic tables are available and arrive early to secure a spot. Pets are welcome but it is recommended you keep them on the leash.
Nearby you will find studios and hotels for rent if you are thinking of staying for a few days. You can also visit nearby beaches, while staying here, including Lighthouse Beach, Newton Park Beach, Fort Myers Beach, Bowman’s Beach, and Captiva Beach.
This is also a great place to watch dolphins, sunsets, and to take long romantic walks on the beach. The beach has concessionaires with food and drinks, which is very convenient and very different from other beaches in the area.
7. Tarpon Bay Beach
Tarpon Bay Beach is a place where you want to go if you have an RV. The beach is not very busy, and here you can spend a lot of time relaxing, reading, watching sunsets, and observing nature in a laid-back and stress-free manner, away from the city crowds.
It is located on Tarpon Bay Road on Sanibel Island. This beautiful long sandy beach features high sands, good shelling, restrooms, and showers. You can go swimming, windsurfing, make sandcastles, watch dolphins, and enjoy other water activities.
Keep an eye on an ice cream truck that swings by often. The parking is $5 per hour, and beach wheelchairs are available upon request. There are no food and drink concessionaires so make sure to bring everything you need for a day on the beach.
Sometimes on weekends, this beach gets busier, with several condos and hotels nearby, so if you want to avoid tourists come here on a weekday. The boardwalk is about 25 miles long altogether and walking here is a real gem. Surfing is another activity available here that you can try.
8. Allison Hagerup Beach Park
This is the place where you will get to see some of the best sunsets in Florida. The beach is open from sunrise to sunset, with parking available for a fee of $40 for the entire day, or $25 for two hours. The beach is located at the end of San-Cap Road, directly behind South Seas Plantation.
The wide pristine beach is the most romantic spot on the island, amazing for couples and families. Just a short walk from the beach you can get ice cream, drinks, or a lunch. Some hotels are nearby if you wish to stay for a weekend or longer, and wake up to the first rays of the sun.
The beach doesn’t allow pets and open fires. Also, in the winter months, alcohol is not allowed on the beach, from November till May. If you want to go fishing here, you will need a Saltwater Fishing License, which is free for residents of Florida state.
If you are into watersports you can rent bikes, boats, golf carts, paddleboards, kayaks, wave runners, and more on the beach. There are also beach chairs, beach umbrellas, scooters, surfboards, and wagons available at local vendors.
9. Silver Key Beach
At Silver Key Beach you will enjoy the impressive natural beauty and have the opportunity to see the local wildlife. This 64-acres hidden gem is home to shorebirds, tortoises, snowy plovers, snakes, and lizards.
This stunning beach is surrounded by coastal scrub habitat, which is perfect for hiking, bird watching, and observing wildlife. Other activities for visitors here are diving, snorkeling, picnicking, paddleboarding, skimboarding, shelling, and photography.
Silver Key is a preserve that was bought in 1994 by the city of Sanibel. It is part of Florida’s Communities Trust Preservation 2000 Program. Not only animals but also their habitat and the beach are protected in this preserve.
This beach doesn’t have any facilities, so you have to come prepared with food and drinks and everything else you need, like sunscreen, umbrellas, chairs, etc. You can walk along the beach, collect seashells, swim, and enjoy nature with your loved ones. A very important piece of information is that you can get to this beach only by walking or bicycling, and there is no parking nearby.
10. Captiva Beach
Another place on the island that offers spectacular sunsets, good shelling, and exceptional dining with great views. You will find a lot of accommodation and excursion options here, and it is one of the most popular locations for longer vacations in this part of Florida.
Captiva is a sister island to Sanibel, and they are connected by the bridge. They both have incredible shorelines, amazing beaches, and a lot of places with breathtaking views. To be honest, there is almost no difference between the two, and when visiting one, you should visit the other one as well.
Like In Sanibel, parking is $5 per hour, and you can get to Captiva Beach by driving up Sanibel Captiva Road and crossing the Blind Pass Bridge. Once on the beach, you can enjoy biking, sailing, birding, and various water activities.
Souvenir shops and boutiques on the beach usually work until 6 pm, make sure to check if you want to go shopping. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, jet skis, and paddleboards. Like many other beaches in the area, this one is also good for windsurfing, swimming, and snorkeling.
If you chose Sanibel island for your holiday with kids, rent the place near the best beach in Sanibel, so you can enjoy every single moment of your vacation. This is an amazing time for your family to bond, have fun together, and enjoy the sun and the beach. And the best souvenirs you can get anywhere are gorgeous seashells unique to this beautiful island.