traveling to sanibel and need help finding the perfect accomodation.
January 3, 2006 5:55 AM   Subscribe

I want to travel to Sanibel or Captiva Islands - I am looking for accommodation, but I find it very hard to make a decision based exclusively on online research. I would welcome any advice on where to stay. I am not very fond of big chain hotels like Holiday Inn's etc.... I much prefer small motels or self-catered cabins, but I am afraid to book a shabby place because online everything looks pristine..... so, ideally I would love to find a small motel or cabin by the sea, in a quiet part of town. Another thing to consider is that I am traveling with my parents and our baby, therefore I am looking for places that have a apt-like layout, with ideally the choice of one or two bedrooms and a kitchenette. Any advice on this and other must-see, must-eat, must-do attractions would be greatly appreciated.
posted by libelula to Travel & Transportation around Sanibel, FL (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard very good things about the 'Tween Waters Inn. I have never stayed there but I've visited friends there who have. It's definitely a bit more rustic than the pictures show but it has a great location and I think it has the type of accomodation you're looking for.
posted by contessa at 6:08 AM on January 3, 2006

For ten years we stayed at the Surfrider. It's all condos with kitchens, dining rooms, and little living rooms. They also have screen-in porches. I know there are one-bedrooms, not sure about two-bedrooms, but they have pullout couches in the living room. There's a great pool with lots of chairs, a hot tub, grills, bikes, and of course a beach. We loved it and found it to be the cleanest around. Jackie in the office is really sweet and will do whatever she can to accomodate. Ask for a unit close to the beach if possible, instead of parallel to the road. I just liked those better.

If you'd prefer a hotel, we stayed at the Holiday Inn on Donax street one year. Not too bad, decent pool, hammocks, nice beach with cabanas. (Oops, I just read that you don't like the hotel route. Maybe they could recommend something to you...? Actually, I'd ask Jackie at Surfrider.)

If money is no issue try South Seas resort at the end of Captiva. It's a full-function resort, and actually a fun place to visit. We went parasailing there one year.

Things to do on Sanibel: breakfast at the Lighthouse Cafe (they have call-ahead seating-- I'd recommend that), shrimp at McT's, lunch or dinner at The Hungry Heron, dessert at The Mermaid Kitchen. If you go to Captiva eat at The Mucky Duck. Everyone talks about the Bubble Room but I didn't think it was anything spectacular, but that was 8 years ago also.

Besides eating, if you like nature at all do a nature tour at Ding Darling nature preserve. That can be pretty cool. Also walk along the beach to the lighthouse in the morning and you'll see dolphins, practically guaranteed. There are fun shops along Periwinkle (the main drag) for rainy days. Jerry's supermarket has large birds in the foyer-- parrots, etc., which always draw an ooo, ahh.

If you like the party scene, during Feb and March Fort Myers Beach is party central.

Most of the time we read magazines all morning, napped by the pool all afternoon, and then either grilled out or went out to dinner, watched March Madness or played card games. There isn't a ton to do on the islands, but that's the whole point of a vacation, right?
posted by orangemiles at 6:29 AM on January 3, 2006

My family has always vacationed at the West Wind Inn and loved the place. Its definitely not fancy: my parents believe in shunning any motel where they'd feel uncomfortable walking into the lobby with a cooler.

As I recall, they do have some apartment-like rooms facing out onto the gulf and they're located towards the quieter end of Sanibel. I'd give 'em a call at least and check them out.
posted by idigress at 6:33 AM on January 3, 2006

We stayed at the Song of the Sea not more than a few days ago. I highly recommend the place--try for one of the one-bedroom suites that looks out to the ocean. They have a deluxe grill you can use for free, a free breakfast buffet, bikes available for your use (and you'll want to use them--the islands have a fantastic network of designated bike paths). A nice pool, good hot tub, great staff, WIFI.

For other recreation, orangemiles gets it right. We also took a sunset cruise to go see some dolphins--worth the price, we thought.
posted by Kibbutz at 6:41 AM on January 3, 2006

The South Seas was closed this summer due to hurricane damage - a lot of places were. You should be able to find some good deals as places are re-opening.
posted by TeamBilly at 7:04 AM on January 3, 2006

We have a newly rennovated an apartment in Sundial on Sanibel (beachfront + hurricane andrew...). Gulf front, two bedrooms, full kitchen, washer/dryer. We rent it through Royal Shell where they offer many other properties as well. Everywhere on the island is pretty quiet. Hope this helps!
posted by chefscotticus at 8:30 AM on January 3, 2006

I'll second the West Wind End. I stayed there this summer with my family and while it wasn't terribly fancy, it was comfortable and (if I remember correctly) not too expensive. It's right on the beach (naturally) and has a lovely pool. Our room had a kitchenette with a full sided refrigerator and stove/oven. It's a very lovely, clean resort.

As for "must see" things, my mother is a Florida native and insisted that we have dinner at the Rainbow Room [I cant find a website]. It's very kitschy, somewhat expensive, but the food is pretty good. Obviously, any seafood on the island is going to be very fresh and most things (alcohol, clothing, food from grocer) will be over priced, as everything has to be shipped onto the island. (I'd recommend buying food in Ft. Myers rather than waiting until getting to the islands).
posted by Flamingo at 9:52 AM on January 3, 2006

I think you meant Bubble Room, not Rainbow Room. That's on Captiva.

Other good places- Timbers/Sanibel Grille, Twilight Cafe, Island Cow for breakfast.
posted by elisabeth r at 1:04 PM on January 3, 2006

(Elisabeth is right. Sorry.)
posted by Flamingo at 2:45 PM on January 3, 2006

We stayed at the Captiva Island Inn in the Orchid cottage, which was lovely and had everything we needed, and if I recall correctly was also less expensive than other places we looked at. There is an attached restaurant/bar that was also handy. It was not beachside, but was a very short walk.

Good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 3:58 PM on January 3, 2006

There is a grocery store less than 2 blocks away from the inn, btw, and the inn also offers 2 bedroom cottages. It really was a lovely, cheerful little place!
posted by onlyconnect at 4:00 PM on January 3, 2006

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