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Sand, Sea, Seashells... Sanibel -- My Travel Review of Sanibel, Florida !!!

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

I love Florida. I love the weather there. I love the shape of the state (it's a cool shape!) I love Disney World (been there 4 times, but for some Disney loyalists, 4 is child's play!) and I love the vibe.

Needless to say, Florida is one of my favorite vacation destinations: short plane ride from Connecticut, lots of attractions to visit, beaches, palm trees, tropical drinks... did I mention BEACHES?

Sure I live 20 minutes from a beach (but does a beach on the Long Island Sound really count? Yes it does!) but for some reason, Florida always calls my name.

Recently, I took a last-minute trip to Florida. I needed someplace (1) warm, (2) easy to get to (3) not too expensive (4) and that had a BEACH... and Sanibel Island in Florida checked all the boxes. I had never been to Sanibel Island (Orlando, St. Pete, & Siesta Keys have been in my vacation portfolio already) so a new place was a prerequisite as well.

Read on & join me for my 3 night/4 day weekend trip to Sanibel Island, Florida !!!

Day 1:

Being 30 minutes from a small airport is so convenient. We flew out of Westchester County Airport (HPN) and about 3 hours later, we touched down in Fort Myers Airport (RSW) in Florida. We grabbed a rental car (my advice: book the rental car before you go! We decided to "wing it" and ended up with a MINI-VAN... which was roomy and functional, but we were hoping for a smaller car).

Less than 45 minutes later, we arrived at the Marriot Harbour Resort & Spa which is technically in Fort Myers, but literally across the harbor from Sanibel Island.

OMG -- we were upgraded to the 9th floor and the VIEW was spectacular!!! We had a amazing view of the pool down below, a view of the bridge to get to Sanibel Island and a view of the island itself. It was perfect! The Marriot Harbour Resort & Spa couldn't have been nicer, the staff, the cleanliness, and there is a 2nd pool, a hot tub, a small "beach" area and a few restaurants and bars (and a Starbucks in the lobby too!)

First things first, drive to Sanibel Island and get LUNCH! We went to Coconuts Pool Bar at the resort Casa Ybel on Sanibel Island. I had a delicious red snapper sandwich (my favorite) and several tropical drinks to wash it all down. After lunch, we toured the property and walked along the beach to collect shells. (Did you know that Sanibel Island is well-known for the amount of shells that collects on the beach???) Casa Ybel is a definite bucket list place to stay overnight, the hotel is GORGEOUS -- so much so that we booked the indoor dining room for our last night of the vacay.

Next stop, drive around, sightsee the many beaches, stop at a local market to get snacks and beverages for the room and head back to the hotel pool. Which by the way was FABULOUS! Big enough to have your own space, small enough to be cozy, and great pool cocktails!!!

Dinner on Night 1: we were tired from the early morning flight and travel so we walked from the hotel about 5 minutes down the road to Bimini Bait Shack. I actually got this recommendation from a young woman on TikTok who had recently been here. From its tiki-shaped roof, to the FISH TANK AQUARIUM BAR (yes real live fish swimming around inside the bar counter!!!) to the tropical drinks and island vibe, I was HOOKED on this place, LOL, get it? Hooked? Bait Shack? Hooked? Lots of Instagram worthy photo ops here too!

Day 2

Coffee from Starbucks takeout on the balcony overlooking Sanibel Island. Yes please!!!!

Short drive across the bridge to The Tipsy Turtle for a quick breakfast before going to the beach (they serve lunch & dinner & cocktails too). Another quick drive and we arrived at Tarpon Beach, a very well-known beautiful beach on Sanibel Island.

People: this beach had the most amazing sand, water, and shells. We laid there for hours just relaxing and chatting and not thinking about anything else (except where to eat dinner that night). The sand here is pristine. I can't complement it enough.

For lunch, we stopped at a local market and picked up some take-out, nothing fancy, everything is so chill here! That afternoon: drinks by the pool, some swimming and a beautiful sunset rounded out the day.

Day 2 dinner was at Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grill (there are several locations, we chose the one on Fort Myer's Beach) and again, the staff, the food, the drinks, the people.. all were great! I had mahi mahi over jasmine rice & some fruity cocktails.

Back to the hotel for a nightcap in the hotel bar and off to bed...zzzzzzz.

Day 3

It was bike-riding day! Time to work off all those drinks! Back over the bridge, we stopped first for breakfast at The Island Cow and they had the most scrumptious complimentary pineapple-coconut muffins I have ever had! I ordered the egg white breakfast called: "The Neighbor Kim (Not Kardashian) Omelet" LOL... such a cool place: good vibe, interesting decor & excellent food!

Bikes are next! Headed over to Billy's Bike Shop to rent bikes and it was so reasonable to rent these bikes that I had to ask him TWICE if the total amount was correct. (I guess living in Connecticut for so long, I forgot how reasonable it is to live other places?!?)

Pedaling along the bike-friendly path, we headed out to explore the Sanibel Lighthouse and beaches. Wow, what a pretty ride, everyone waves hello and the houses are all beautiful (no high rises) and the wildlife is just incredible. It did start to rain so we went back to drop off the bikes and do a little window-shopping and souvenir-buying.

Our last night here and we wanted a special dinner to end the trip so back to Casa Ybel we went to their indoor dining restaurant, The Thistle Lodge. Tuna for appetizer, scallops with crab for dinner, and key lime pie (of course!) for dessert! What a great way to end a wonderful trip!

Day 4

Ok, so to scrape every last bit out of our trip, we booked the last flight out of Fort Myers to New York and enjoyed our final day at the Marriot Harbour Resort & Spa. For us, it was lunch & a few drinks by the 2nd pool and in their beach area, chatting and reminiscing about the last couple of days, and dreaming of a time to come back again.

I love Florida so much that I have been thinking of one day trading in the cold winters of Connecticut for the warm weather of the Sunshine State. Anyone else with me???

And lastly, I'd like to send a special THANK YOU shout-out to my family & friends who made this trip what it was (my brother Scott & his fiance Maria and my good friend, Christine) -- thank you, love you, and let's do it again soon!!!

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