Relaxing on a beach was top of our Must Do’s for our Sanibel- Captiva – Ft Myers Florida road trip. It was all about getting away and chilling out!
One of the things we found was that many of the beaches on Sanibel-Captiva tend to have private access from homes or resorts. And, a good portion of the inland facing side of the island is the J.N ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Refuge.
So, surprisingly beach options were more limited than we expected.
One of the first things you might notice is that many people opt for the beaches along the Sanibel Causeway. These long narrow beaches offer parking right off the roadway with places to lounge between the water and your vehicle.
The obvious PROS are that parking is free, and you can leave things like coolers and other items right in your car, pulling them out as needed. The CONS can be the traffic and relatively narrow beaches with people right next to you.
Turner Beach Park
17200 Captiva Drive
Captiva, FL 33924
Across the island, as you cross over onto Captiva, you’ll find Turner Beach. The beach is highly rated for its shelling. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have many parking spots. On this visit, there were construction fences and vehicles around the parking lot.
Lighthouse Beach Park
One Periwinkle Way
Sanibel Island, FL 33957
At the far southern end of the island is the Sanibel Lighthouse and Lighthouse Beach Park. We wandered into the park on the last day of our trip, looking for the lighthouse. The park offers lots of parking, restroom, and picnicking facilities. Beyond the beaches, this park has a pier and can be an excellent place for sailing or windsurfing.
Bowman’s Beach Park
1700 Bowmans Beach Road
Sanibel, FL 33957
We headed to Bowman’s Beach Park for our beach day, and we’re happy we did! This beach and park checked all of the boxes!
Located near the middle of Sanibel and Captiva, this beach is a short drive off of Sanibel – Captiva Road and relatively well marked.
The park has ample parking with payment at centrally located kiosks. As with all of the parks, the fee is a little steep at $5.00 per hour! However, parking is free with handicapped plates, and there were a good number of spaces designated.
The park has several major trails leading through the woods to the beach. They are well marked and have maps and signage. A good portion of the pathways has boardwalks, making them highly accessible and easy to navigate.
Facilities and Amenities
Along the way, you’ll find playgrounds, picnic areas with built-in grills, bathrooms with changing areas, and outdoor showers. We were pleased to see tons of recycling and trash receptacles.
Beach and Water
We were there late morning and found the beaches reasonably quiet, and people were quite spread out. We also know that late August was off-season and the beaches during tourist season surely fill up.
Sanibel Island is known for its shells, and we found the water’s edge was quite shelly. We highly recommend water shoes for those with tender feet. We also found that the shore seems to drop off a little steeply about four feet into the water, so watch your step.
Beyond that, the water was beautiful, not rough at all. We walked a good bit of the beach and saw people fishing, walking with dogs, and strolling. But it was quiet, and people kept their distance.
While we’re sure that all of the Sanibel – Captiva beaches are beautiful, we’re thrilled we chose to spend our beach day at Bowman’s beach.