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Old 12-29-2012, 10:25 AM
 
Location: Sarasota-Manatee, Florida
407 posts, read 696,885 times
Reputation: 181

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Hello everyone, I am going to Sanibel Island one weekend in January. I just moved down to southwest Florida, still new to the area. I had a few questions regarding Sanibel.
1.) Is a Sunshine pass needed for the causeway/bride to the island?
2.) What beaches are accessible to the public? Do they have a cost?
3.) Are there any nature trails that I can walk?
4.) What shopping areas and restaurants recommended? I have never been to Sanibel before so would like to do a little sight seeing.

Thank you for your help
-JazzmanLI
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Old 12-29-2012, 10:46 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
374 posts, read 694,819 times
Reputation: 365
Quote:
Originally Posted by JazzmanLI View Post
Hello everyone, I am going to Sanibel Island one weekend in January. I just moved down to southwest Florida, still new to the area. I had a few questions regarding Sanibel.
1.) Is a Sunshine pass needed for the causeway/bride to the island?
2.) What beaches are accessible to the public? Do they have a cost?
3.) Are there any nature trails that I can walk?
4.) What shopping areas and restaurants recommended? I have never been to Sanibel before so would like to do a little sight seeing.

Thank you for your help
-JazzmanLI
You need not a Sunshine Pass. Cash is accepted to cross the bridge.

Bowman's is my 2nd favorite. It has public access and a parking area...BUT you better get there early as it fills up quick. Also there is a machine where you buy you parking slip (based on time). It usually costs me $7.00 to park there for the afternoon.

My favorite beach is at the very end of Captiva, in front of a restaurant called the Mucky Duck. You have to park (again) at the public access/parking area, located a few blocks further down (then walk) but it is awesome. Be warned, do not even try and park at the Mucky Duck unless you are eating there.

Not sure about nature trails

Shopping is all over the Island but with most of the shops scattered on Periwinkle (the main drag)

January is HIGH season... Good luck with all the traffic
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:25 PM
 
Location: Cape Coral, Florida
693 posts, read 1,766,382 times
Reputation: 365
Quote:
Originally Posted by JazzmanLI View Post
Hello everyone, I am going to Sanibel Island one weekend in January. I just moved down to southwest Florida, still new to the area. I had a few questions regarding Sanibel.
1.) Is a Sunshine pass needed for the causeway/bride to the island?
2.) What beaches are accessible to the public? Do they have a cost?
3.) Are there any nature trails that I can walk?
4.) What shopping areas and restaurants recommended? I have never been to Sanibel before so would like to do a little sight seeing.

Thank you for your help
-JazzmanLI
1. $6 cash and you only pay on the way out there.
2. All the beaches are accessible to the public for the most part, parking is the issue. All the island beaches are $2 an hour. Bowmans Beach has a huge lot, I have been there hundreds of times and never seen it full. The beach FP is talking about has NO public parking, it all business parking down there, so I have no idea where they are parking, but it isn't public. The only public beach parking on Captiva is at the end of Captiva Dr and at Turner Beach which is at Blind Pass, both are very small parking lots and if you aren't there at 6 am you will be out of luck in Jan.
3. For nature trail type stuff, look into Ding Darling it's about as nature trail as you are going to get out there.
4. Shopping is spread all over the island. Some of the better places I have eaten are The Island Cow, Docs, The Pink Flamingo, Island Pizza is surprisingly good. In all honesty most places on the island are very good, you will be hard pressed to find inadequate food.

I will tell you one thing. You are planning a trip in perhaps the busiest month of the year and on a weekend to boot. Since you live in the area, my recommendation is to wait until March or April, traffic will be less, prices will drop a bit, and you will be more apt to find specials. I was out there yesterday and it's already a zoo. Good luck if you choose to go next month!
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Old 12-29-2012, 09:24 PM
 
Location: Sitting beside Walden Pond
4,612 posts, read 4,251,589 times
Reputation: 1406
We just came back from a vacation at Fort Myers Beach and we spent a couple days at Sanibel.

We enjoyed the boat cruise at Tarpon Bay and I think we would have enjoyed renting a kayak. The water was very calm.

We rented bikes at Billy's Bikes and had a great time riding along the bike paths down to the lighthouse and along Gulf Drive.

We drove thru Ding Darling and it was nice. It looked like a terrible place to bike. Very long and the road was rough. The bikers we saw did not look happy.

The Sanibel Deli was a very good place for a sandwich and coffee and sitting outside reading the paper in the shade.

Bowmans Beach did not impress us. Fort Myers Beach was nicer, especially at the south end. Bunche Beach is very nice at low tide when you can walk 200 yards away from the shore along the sand bars.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:28 AM
 
86 posts, read 289,290 times
Reputation: 60
We snowbird in the Burnt Store area and have made many day trips to Sanibel. Wonderful place! We're not big beach people but have checked out some of the Sanibel beaches. The metered parking costs a few bucks and there is a short walk to the beach. Even on a busy day we never thought they were crowded as there are miles of beach area available.

You mentioned nature areas. Ding Darling is at the top of the list! The trail through the marshes is about 5 miles long but there are usually many birds to see along with beautiful scenery. You can walk, drive your own car, rent a bike or take the tram. I would recommend taking the narrated tram tour your first time through. You will get so much more out of the trip. You can always go back and walk as much as you want. In high season, even during the week, the tours can sell out hours in advance. You may want to stop earlu and get tickets for later in the day or for the next day.
I would recommend taking the time to drive out on Captiva island. Good place to check out the restaurants like the Mucky Duck.
As someone mentioned, traffic on Sanibel is a problem every day during the high season. There is only one road and one bridge on and off the island. Around 3PM you're not going to be leaving the island in a hurry, it's always bumper to bumper stop and go traffic. That's just the way it is. Better option is to leave later in the day when the traffic is less.
But it is a very beautiful place!
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:07 AM
 
Location: Sarasota-Manatee, Florida
407 posts, read 696,885 times
Reputation: 181
Thank you for all of your help and advice.
@PatSea: at Ding Darling, do you need tickets to walk the area/trail? or only for the guided tour?

Is Sun pass accepted at the causeway or is it only cash?
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:54 PM
 
86 posts, read 289,290 times
Reputation: 60
Jazzman, I know there is a nominal fee for the tram tour. Don't recall the amount. I'm sure it would be on the website. I don't believe there is a fee to walk. As I recall the walk is along the dusty road as there are no paved walkways or trails. The drive from the entrance to the end is an estimated 4 miles, so if you walk that far you still have to walk the same distance back to the parking lot.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:03 AM
 
199 posts, read 459,618 times
Reputation: 228
Quote:
Originally Posted by Billythepokerkid View Post
I will tell you one thing. You are planning a trip in perhaps the busiest month of the year and on a weekend to boot. Since you live in the area, my recommendation is to wait until March or April, traffic will be less, prices will drop a bit, and you will be more apt to find specials. I was out there yesterday and it's already a zoo. Good luck if you choose to go next month!
Have to agree with Billy. I've lived in SWFL for 8 months and have been out to Sanibel over a dozen times and it was always fantastic...........until last Friday. The traffic was horrendous. I likely will not be back over there until spring time - lesson learned. If you do visit in January, do yourself a favor and either bring a bike or rent one - it's the best way to see the island and will be faster than a car.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:49 AM
 
86 posts, read 289,290 times
Reputation: 60
From our experience in the high season, the traffic is OK before 10AM or after 4PM.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:50 PM
 
Location: Cape Coral, Florida
693 posts, read 1,766,382 times
Reputation: 365
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatSea View Post
From our experience in the high season, the traffic is OK before 10AM or after 4PM.
You can use your experience as much as you'd like. I have lived here year around for the better part of 30 years, and a bunch of them I have made daily trips to and from Sanibel, sometimes multiple times, trust me, the traffic is bad before 10 am and after 4 pm. I'd say 9 am is about the peak of getting out there and 4 pm is peak leaving, but there will be traffic for most of the day. 7 am is probably a good time to go out and 7 pm is a good time to start heading home. Spending an hour from the toll booth line to the beach isn't unreasonable.
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