Naples Day Trips Part 10: Sanibel Island

  • Posted on

If you're staying in Naples, Florida, and are looking for a perfect day trip destination, Sanibel Island offers a blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and a relaxed atmosphere just a short drive away. Sanibel was hit hard by Hurricane Ian in 2022 but businesses are open once again and we tell our luxury Naples Florida rental guests that summer is a great time to visit and travel to Sanibel when the crowds are at a minimum. Here’s a guide to making the most of your day trip to this enchanting island.

Getting There

Sanibel Island is about a 45-minute drive from Naples. Take US-41 N to Summerlin Road, then cross the Sanibel Causeway, which offers stunning views of the surrounding waters.


Morning: Beachcombing and Shelling

Bowman’s Beach

Sanibel is a well-known shelling destination. Start your day early at Bowman’s Beach, known for its serene environment and excellent shelling opportunities. Sanibel Island is renowned as one of the best shelling spots in the world due to its unique east-west orientation. Bring a bucket or mesh bag and prepare to discover an array of colorful and intricate shells washed ashore.


Midday: Wildlife and Nature

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Around midday, make your way to the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Drive or bike through Wildlife Drive, where you can spot alligators, manatees, and a variety of bird species. The refuge offers walking trails, an education center, and opportunities for kayaking.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille

For lunch, stop at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, a local favorite offering delicious seafood and Caribbean-inspired dishes. Enjoy a meal with a view of the marina, and don’t miss trying the Yucatan shrimp or a refreshing tropical cocktail.


Afternoon: Exploring and Relaxing

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum & Aquarium

After lunch, visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. This unique museum showcases an extensive collection of shells from around the world and offers educational exhibits about marine life and conservation.

Periwinkle Way

Spend your afternoon exploring Periwinkle Way, the main thoroughfare of Sanibel Island. Here you’ll find charming shops, art galleries, and cafes. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs or enjoy a scoop of homemade ice cream at Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream.


Late Afternoon: More Beach Time or Biking

Tarpon Bay Beach

For more beach time, head to Tarpon Bay Beach, a quieter spot ideal for swimming and relaxing. Alternatively, rent a bike and explore Sanibel’s extensive network of bike paths. Biking is a popular way to see the island’s scenic beauty at a leisurely pace.

Blind Pass Beach

Cap off your day by watching the sunset at Blind Pass Beach. This spot, located at the northern end of the island near Captiva, offers breathtaking sunset views and another excellent opportunity for shelling.


Evening: Dining and Returning to Naples

MudBugs Cajun Kitchen

Before heading back to Naples, enjoy dinner at MudBugs Cajun Kitchen This whimsical, family-friendly restaurant offers excellent Cajun dishes and locals and tourists alike know it’s worth the drive. From chargrilled oysters to shrimp and local catch platters, MudBugs offers a unique dining experience.

After a delightful dinner, take the scenic drive back to Naples, reminiscing about your adventures and planning your next visit to this charming island.

Tips for a Great Day Trip

  • Start Early: To make the most of your day, leave Naples early in the morning.
  • Pack Essentials: Bring sunscreen, water, snacks, and beach gear. Don’t forget a shelling bag!
  • Check the Tide: For the best shelling, plan your visit around low tide.
  • Respect Nature: Sanibel is a protected environment. Follow local guidelines to preserve its beauty.


Sanibel Island offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, making it an ideal day trip from Naples, Florida. Enjoy your visit! To learn more about Naples Day Trips visit our blog, and, as always, if you’re a guest in one of our luxury Naples rentals we’ll be happy to help you with personalized suggestions on dining and entertainment.