Known as the “shelling capital of the world,” Sanibel Island is a delight for beach lovers, sunset gazers, and seashell collectors. Take a look at our favorite beachfront properties on the beautiful island on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The Gulf of Mexico laps at the beach side of Sanibel Moorings Resort. The mid-range, six-acre resort is blanketed in tropical botanical gardens and has 122 individually owned (and decorated) condo-style suites. Some units overlook the gulf, others are quieter with canal or garden views, but all have kitchens and porches. The resort is serene and inviting, with a mix of relaxing and active things to do for vacationers -- from a book and movie library to a tennis court. The other big draw here is the beach, a stretch of white sand overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, and home to some of the world's best shelling.
Shalimar Cottages and Motel is a family-friendly budget property on a popular shelling beach. There’s a lovely outdoor pool surrounded by lounge chairs and shaded tables, and a pathway leads to the shell-filled 300-foot stretch of beach, where barbecue grills, picnic tables, and colorful Adirondack chairs are set up on a grassy mound. The property also has shuffleboard and a basketball court, plus it offers bike and kayak rentals, a computer corner, and laundry machines. The property's 33 motel rooms, apartments, and one- and two-bedroom cottages have kitchens and screened patios, some with beautiful beach views. In fact, Shalimar offers the closest accommodations to the beach in the area.
The 56-room Sanibel Siesta on the Beach is a friendly mid-range condo property with a wonderful garden area and a path leading directly to a white-sand beach. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom condos offer full kitchens, screened-in porches with seating, and attached private garages. Some offer dazzling ocean views and have stainless steel appliances and rainfall showerheads. A delightful outdoor pool in addition to sport courts are available, and there is a barbecue area plus free Wi-Fi throughout. There is a mandatory booking fee, however, in addition to a fee for housekeeping, and no on-site restaurant or business center are offered.
A few hundred feet from the beach in the middle of Sanibel, Beachview Cottages' big draw is its location. The decades-old property offers 22 simple bungalows with dated interiors and, in some, beach views. A tiki hut on beach serves as a socializing spot for guests, and the hotel provides a beach chair and bicycle rentals.
Set back from West Gulf Drive among palms and other vegetation, this property combines of retro charm of a long-established Sanibel property with renovated rooms (some of which directly overlook the beach). A heated outdoor pool, tiki bar, tennis and shuffleboard courts, and bike rentals are all available, but West Wind's private beach is its top feature.
Minutes from area beaches and the Sanibel Lighthouse, Seahorse Cottages is in the heart of Old Town Sanibel, a quaint village in the east end of the island. Lighthouse Beach is just 200 feet from the cottages, which all have full kitchens, living rooms, and patios, and there are studios, and one- and two-bedroom options available. The property's best feature is its proximity to the beach, but the quiet, tropical grounds and landscaped pool don't hurt, either. Bicycles, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, and wagons are all available to use for free.
Like many Sanibel hotels, the 30-room Song of the Sea is situated along Gulf Drive towards the eastern end of the island, a bit more than a mile south of the causeway bridge. Sanibel Lighthouse is about a 40-minute walk northeast by foot, or a few minutes by car.
The hotel maintains a section of private beach with paddleboards, kayaks, chairs, and umbrellas available to borrow for free. Loaner bikes and continental breakfasts are also included in the room price.
Set in a quiet neighborhood with little traffic or crowds, the 27-room Waterside Inn on the Beach offers simple rooms, cottages, and condos -- most with kitchens. There's a heated pool at the center of the grounds, which are full of tall palm trees and leafy shrubs. The property is small enough that guests are always within a couple of minutes' walk from the quiet beach, an excellent seashell-hunting strip.
This hotel’s beachfront location is unmitigated -- there’s little between its 32 rooms and the sand besides the small outdoor pool and a few tufts of grassy dune. The property is set slightly back from East Gulf Drive and enjoys a peaceful setting isolated from neighboring properties by palms and bushes. The lighthouse is a significant walk across the eastern tip of the island (25 minutes), and the shops and restaurants of Periwinkle way are about a 20-minute walk to the north.
In contrast to Sanibel's many casual motels and cottage properties, Casa Ybel is an upscale and historic property with elegant manor grounds and an Old Florida atmosphere. (The resort claims to be the first one on Sanibel Island.) The 114 rooms are a step up from most accommodations on the island; they're not particularly fancy, but all have screened lanais, separate living room areas with sleeper sofas, and kitchens with tea and coffee.
Consisting of simple, stand-alone cottages, this rustic property is set on a working marina, just off the road linking Sanibel and Captiva islands. Cottages are located on both the bay and gulf sides of the resort; all have kitchens and flat-screen TVs, but note that some past guests have reported small issues like sagging couches and intermittent Wi-Fi connectivity. At the marina, guests can rent beach chairs, kayaks, canoes, and bikes for a daily fee. Tackle is available for purchase, but not for rent (the nearest place to do so is a 10-minute drive away). The marina can accommodate boats up to 21 feet long.