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Shelling, Biking & Beaches: Camping On Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island (and nearby Captiva Island) are located across San Carlos Bay in Lee County, Florida. The closest cities to the island are Fort Myers and Cape Coral. There are only about 6,741 full-time residents of the island, but this number swells during the winter and spring when snowbirds make their way into the area. The island is easily accessed via the Sanibel Causeway with a $6 toll fee.

Sanibel has Florida’s quintessential white sand beaches and swaying palm trees.

Henrik Jagels
Henrik Jagels

However, the beaches are littered with over 300 varieties of mollusk shells. Because of their location and east-west orientation, Sanibel’s beaches capture these shells in massive piles. You can easily find enough shells to decorate your camper.

The only place to RV camp on Sanibel Island is Periwinkle Park Campground.

Sanibel Island
Periwinkle Park & Campground

If you are lucky to snag a spot in this convenient RV park, you will be just feet away from the shops and restaurants that dot the island. This friendly park also has complete hookups, restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, and LP gas fill stations.

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Periwinkle also has a small pond where southwest Florida birds like to congregate.

Sanibel Island
Christina Nellemann

In addition, the park has several cages with native parrots, toucans, and macaws.

Sanibel Island’s beaches are famous for their shells.

Sanibel Island
Christina Nellemann

During the high season, the RV park’s daily rate is $55 and $1,400 per month. If you decide to go during the warmer months or hurricane season, the daily rate is only $40 and $950 per month. You can reserve a spot for your RV on their website.

The best way to get around the island is by bike.

Sanibel Island

If you come to the island, be sure to bring your bikes. Vehicle parking and traffic on Sanibel Island can be a pain. All beaches have parking fees (with convenient kiosks) and there is no roadside or beachfront parking allowed unless you have a resident sticker.

Therefore, the best way to get around the island is by bike. As a result, Sanibel has some excellent biking paths and trails separate from the roads.

Turner Beach on nearby Captiva Island has mountains of shells.

Sanibel Island
Christina Nellemann

If you decide to use a bike as your main transportation, you can park at the beaches for free. You can also get discounts off various locations like the Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum.

Most noteworthy, you can ride your bike right into the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge for only one dollar. The refuge, named after cartoonist Norwood “Ding” Darling, is home to over 245 species of birds including the bright pink Roseate Spoonbill.

Look for shells at low tide during a golden sunset.

Sanibel Island
Christina Nellemann

Of course, no trip to Sanibel is complete without enjoying a sunset on one of the 15 miles of beaches that ring the island. Turner Beach is located on both Sanibel and Captiva Island and has a great view of the Gulf as well as piles of shells.

Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel has miles of white sand, oversize parking, showers, and bathrooms. For views of Fort Myers and some excellent sunsets and sunrises, visit Lighthouse Beach & Fishing Pier near the historic lighthouse.

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