While it is now November, and I finally decorated for fall, I can’t help yearn for a little more summer. So I take a few moments to reminisce about Sanibel Florida, a place my family and I spent two summer vacations not too long ago.
Our goal was to plan a family vacation for all ages to enjoy, with no hustle and bustle and lots of beach time for my husband and myself. The first year we took our 9 year old daughter, our adult daughter, her boyfriend, and her 2 year old little girl. Anyone that has traveled with family knows that it is hard to plan a vacation everyone is happy with. We wanted to find a place where we could make our own meals, stay in one unit, and walk wherever we needed to go independent of each other. I think I initially found our condo through vacation rentals on trip advisor but Airbnb or VRBO work just as well. If you are new to Airbnb, click here for a first time discount.
Beach Condo in Sanibel Florida
We found a 3 bedroom unit facing the beach. My husband and I were able to enjoy our morning coffee on the balcony each morning while watching the sun rise in the east. Then in the evening, we would turn our heads the other direction to watch it set while enjoying a glass of wine. The master bedroom had its own bath and separate entrance to the balcony.
Our 9 year old daughter and our granddaughter shared the room next to us which had 2 full size beds. Our older daughter and her boyfriend shared the den which had a queen size bed off the kitchen. The unit was on the 2nd floor with the first floor being parking and storage. A walk down the spiral staircase on our balcony brought us to a first floor screened patio. This provided a great place to store our beach gear and hang those wet towels to dry.
Time to Hit the Beach
The beach was a short walk past a pond and over a boardwalk through a nature area. During our stay we spotted numerous brown rabbits, a black snake, and an armadillo. The area is also home to nesting turtles so patio lights are not permitted at night. Once on the beach we had miles of white sand to choose from. Sanibel is known for its seashells so we ended up with buckets full. The first year, it had stormed the night before we got there. Shells and things from the sea littered the beach. We spend hours studying sand dollars and scallop shells. We ended up buying a book to help us identify what we found.
Sanibel Florida is known as the Seashell capital. One morning we stumbled across the filming of Good Morning America during an early morning walk. It was national seashell day and they were filming extras looking for shells on the beach. We had seen them the day before being given instructions although at the time we didn’t know what it was about.
The kids spent hours building sand castles and playing in the water while we lounged in the sun. When they got bored our older daughter and her boyfriend would take the younger ones to the pool by the condo. My husband and I would use this opportunity to walk to the main building where there was a tiki bar and sip tropical drinks and grab a bite to eat.
Adventure Awaits in Sanibel Florida
We wanted to try some outdoor activities while here. Paddle Board Sanibel rents kayaks and paddleboards by the week. They will drop them off to you and give you a quick lesson on how to use them. I had kayaked before so that came naturally to me, but the paddle boarding was something new. I was terrified I would lose my balance, fall off the board, hit my head, and get knocked unconscious. However this fear disappeared towards the end of the trip when I spotted some dolphins. It was as if the dolphins were calling me. Everything else drained from my mind and I stood up and paddled towards those dolphins. It was one of the most serene experiences in my life. The second time we vacationed here, my son and his friend came. He tried paddle boarding and loved it.
Check out these sponsored links if you want to buy your own equipment:
Prior to seeing a dolphin while paddle boarding, we had booked a Dolphin Sighting Cruise. The trip lasted a couple of hours. My daughter got to steer the boat. Our captain taught us about the dolphins. Snacks were provided and there was a restroom on board. Check Trip Advisor for tour options.
If you want to take in some culture during your trip, head to nearby Fort Myers. While there explore the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. This facility sits on 20 acres. Learn about Edison’s inventions in his laboratory. Check out some old time cars in the Gallery. If you want to try your hand at inventing you can get hands on experience at the Spark Lab where activities incorporate science, technology, engineering, math, and art. The estate takes you on a journey through time as you explore their summer homes, grounds, and learn about their work.
Sanibel Sea School
Sanibel Sea School is a great way to incorporate hands on learning with a fun vacation for your kids. The school is located at the Sundial Resort but is available for anyone. The second year we stayed here, our daughter, then 10 decided she didn’t really like vacationing at the beach. However, at the time she was really into nature and animal habitats. We signed her up for several sessions at the sea school which she loved. Sessions are usually half a day either morning or afternoon. For a full day just send a lunch with your child.
The Sea School is open to those between the ages of 6 and 13. Groups usually have one leader per 10 children. Classes have fun titles such as Urchins, Dollars, and Stars or Sharks are Fish, Not Foe. Our daughter took classes on jellyfish, sharks, and sea turtles. They divide the class time between classroom learning, hands on outdoor activities, and sometimes an art project.
Having our daughter in Sea School allowed my husband and I time to relax on the beach without hearing I’m bored. The Sea School was located in the main building of Sundial Resort. We would usually pick her up from her class and then grab a drink and a bite to eat at the Tiki bar while she swam in the main pool.
What to Bring to Sanibel, Florida
I chose these sponsored links to make your beach vacation more enjoyable:
Check before you go, but most places provide their own beach chairs, umbrella, basic pails and shovels, and blow up floats. Sanibel is a two hour drive from our south Florida home so we brought our own beach gear since we were driving a minivan. We also brought a large cooler on wheels for easy transport out to the beach.
Nearby Fort Myers has a BJs warehouse store so we usually made a trip there to stock up on supplies. Easy foods make vacationing more enjoyable since you don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking. Sandwich supplies, fruits, raw veggies, cheese sticks, all are easy and healthy things to pack for a day at the beach or for a quick meal at the condo. We usually stock up on yogurt and protein bars for breakfast, and pb&j is always a good staple food that won’t go bad. Easy dinners are spaghetti or tacos. If you cook up a bunch of taco meat everyone can easily recycle it as an extra meal of nachos. Make sure to stock up on bottles water and Gatorades to stay hydrated in the heat.
Here are some additional items you may want to bring. I always bring clorox wipes to sanitize everything when I stay somewhere. Also, most places have utensils, plates, and cooking gear, but may not have storage for leftover food. I make sure to bring ziplock bags, foil, and plastic wrap.
Our teen age son and his friend enjoyed the freedom this resort allowed them. They could go to the pool or beach without us. When they got hungry they had the option of heating up food in the microwave or walking over to the pizza place at the main building.
This made for a great family vacation. It had something for everyone and was a great way to get the kids outdoors and away from the video games. In addition, my husband and I had some time to ourselves, and the we took the whole week at a relaxed pace. I long to return.