Sanibel Island and Captiva Island are a short drive from Cape Coral and Ft. Myers on the Southwest coast of Florida. You can naturally go there by boat too. As the weather was not the best, we decided to go on a quick road trip to visit these islands. It’s a good idea to do both at once, as access by car to Captiva is only via Sanibel Island. There’s also a toll on Sanibel causeway, so you do not want to be paying that twice.
You may find that there can actually be a traffic jam on Sanibel, so do not go when you are rushed. In fact, it may be a better idea to rent a bike to go around. There are no hills to speak of, so it won’t be too straining either.
As it was still holiday season, gas stations, homes and stores were still adorned with Christmas decorations.
Our first and only stop on Sanibel was at the Eastern point to see the lighthouse and beach. Do not forget to pay for your parking as you will be fined severely if you do not do so and get caught.
The lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in Florida. It is not open to visitors as it is still in use.
The pier is great for birdwatching.
And by the looks of it, fishing too.
I think these fish below are Sheepsheads – correct me if I’m wrong. There is a restriction on how many fish one person can fish in one day. Of these, one can take home 15 in any one day – so whoever fished these can still fish plenty!
The pelicans were waiting to see if they’d get a piece of the fishermen’s catch.
As it was a windy day, there were many windsurfers around.
Many people had just come to stroll on the beach and enjoy the nature.
The lighthouse beach is a great spot to do shelling. In fact all the beaches on the island are great for this and the island is known for it’s seashells. Remember that you are not allowed to pick live shells.
If you are really into seashells and cannot find the one you are hunting for, there is even a shop on Sanibel where you can find any seashell you desire called She Sells Sea Shells.
After some beachcombing we drove the Sanibel Captiva Road to Captiva. The two islands are joined by a bridge. Even though close together, you can see a difference as you drive into Captiva. Captiva has a more exclusive island feel than Sanibel.
The gorgeous houses (more like palaces to me) on Captiva have quirky names which are displayed by the roadside. My son and I had fun shouting out the names to each other. You will find houses called “Zurich on the beach”, “The Boathouse”, “The Fish House” or “Skitterdoo” among others.
On both these islands you have to be very attentive of pedestrians and cyclists as there are many of them!
Even though it was not a hot day, some people had come to enjoy the beach.
We suddenly got very hungry and stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant called Cantina Captiva.
Our server was absolutely lovely and we found out that her best friend lives in Helsinki and she’d even spent a month in Finland herself one summer. Small world, huh?
The funny thing about this restaurant are the dollar bills plastered everywhere. We were told that apparently patrons left dollars on restaurant walls in the old days so that it would not go bankrupt. Do you have a better explanation for this phenomenon?
In typical Florida fashion, cocktails were called for.
Some nachos and salsa to begin with.
Meat tacos with rice and beans. I don’t really desire any rice or beans with my tacos but these were served everywhere in Florida.
Shrimp tacos. We also had a burrito. Unfortunately the food was not very good, so I suggest you go to some other restaurant on the island. If you do go, do sit outside, have the salsa, order a burrito and enjoy the great margaritas.
My son and I stapling the dollar onto the wall.
You can guess which one is ours..
Inside there were even more dollars.
Next, we made a stop at the Chapel by the Sea. The chapel was originally built as a schoolhouse. It really is charming.
I can just imagine these lights lighting up in the evening – sweet.
It’s even cute inside.
Adjacent to the chapel you will find Captiva’s Historic Cemetery – it’s almost on the beach.
It’s interesting to see what people have put on these graves. You won’t find flags or seashells in cemeteries in Finland.
Some of these graves belong to the early settlers of Captiva Island. You can read about them here.
After this we enjoyed a leisurely drive back to Cape Coral gawping at the gorgeous houses on both islands.
Have you been to either of these islands? What did you get up to?