Oceanside pool and cabanas at Sanibel Island resort

8 Best Places to Stay in Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island and Captiva Island are two of the most popular vacation destinations in Southwest Florida. Visitors love this area for world-renowned shelling, year-round sunshine, local charm, and beautiful beaches. These tropical islands are a beach lover’s dream! We’re here today to provide an overview of the best places to stay on Sanibel Island and Captiva Island.

Sanibel Island is located on the west side of Florida, an approximately 13 mile drive from Fort Myers Beach. In late September 2022, Hurricane Ian devastated much of the island. The Category 4 hurricane sustained winds of more than 160 mph, caused tornadoes as far north as Boca Raton, and resulted in $113 billion in damage.

It was the costliest weather disaster in the state’s recorded history. But, with extraordinary effort and hard work from the city, crews, and private organizations, many great places have reopened.

I’m happy to say that all public beaches on Sanibel Island have reopened!

The hotels on Sanibel Island and Captiva Island offer a relaxing getaway surrounded by ocean breezes. You can sense the feeling of a local community when visiting this area. It’s part island life and part hope and support for bringing this area back to its full strength.

It’s time to visit! Let’s support the community while enjoying the natural beauty that Sanibel Island and Captiva Island have to offer.

Sanibel vs Captiva: What is the Difference?

This is a common question. First, let me state that there are more things in common between these two islands than to distinguish them apart. It’s believed that Sanibel and Captiva were a single landmass formed more than 6,000 years ago.

A hurricane in the early 1920s and rising waters have separated the two by a narrow water channel.

They are now connected by a single bridge of about 100 feet in length. Considered sister islands, the locals refer to the small geographic area between the two islands as “Santiva”.

Don’t Swim in the Channel

Do not attempt to swim between the two islands. While I suspect many of our readers are strong swimmers and could handle the short distances, the water current running from the Gulf to the bay is powerful. It’s too dangerous to swim.

Wait until you reach one of the beautiful beaches for a dip in the ocean. Both islands offer beautiful Southwest Florida beaches, fun tropical bars, great restaurants serving fresh tasty seafood, and gorgeous sunsets.

If you want a succinct answer, I would say Sanibel offers more shopping, restaurants, and other amenities and services. As a result, Sanibel attracts a higher tourist crowd. By contrast, Captiva is more secluded and has grown through the development of privately-owned properties.

Experience a slow travel day to enjoy the fresh food, local hospitality, and serenity of beachside sunsets. Book one of the Island’s reopened hotels and start planning a memorable vacation!

Sanibel Island lighthouse
Sanibel Island Lighthouse

Related Reading: Top-Rated RV Parks in the Florida Keys

Top Places to Stay on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

When it comes to finding the best place to stay on the islands, you have several great options. From cozy beach cottages to vacation rentals, to family resorts, today we share with you our select list of the best places to stay on Sanibel Island.

Moreover, construction and restoration continue to progress at a rapid pace, so I expect the number of hotels, resorts, and condominiums to increase in the coming years.

Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa

  • Location: 17260 Harbour Pointe Dr., Fort Myers, Florida 33908

Technically, the Marriott is located in Fort Myers Beach. But, it’s right next to the causeway so it’s within proximity to Sanibel Island and with myriad list of amenities, we think it’s worth including on our list.

Depending on your travel interests, you may agree that one downside of this hotel is the lack of the small island vibe that the other inns and resorts on our list provide. However, it’s still a great place to catch stunning views of southwest Florida sunsets while relaxing by the nice outdoor pool.


Marriott Sanibel offers 278 hotel rooms and 69 suites. The rooms feature a TV, desk, and luxurious bed linens.

Reserve one of the air-conditioned rooms on a top floor and the ocean view will wash away any of life’s minor worries. If you have extra time on your visit, take a short drive over the causeway to Sanibel Island.

Services & Amenities

  • 6 onsite food options, including the award winning Courtside Steakhouse
  • Spa features treatments, steam room, saunas, and therapy baths
  • Complimentary golf cart property shuttle
  • Fitness center
  • Indoor and outdoor pools and hot tub
  • Free WiFi
  • Bicycle rental
  • Tennis courts
  • Room service
  • Onsite parking available for a fee

Related Reading: Top-Rated RV Parks in the Florida Keys

Farmer’s Market on Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island Beach Resort

  • Location: 1231 Middle Gulf Dr., Sanibel, Florida 33957

Sanibel Island Beach Resort, an Ocean Breeze Inn property, might just be the largest beach hotel on the island. The property offers 98 standard guest rooms and suites. Accessible rooms are also available. Each unit includes complimentary highspeed wireless internet, coffee maker, and a microwave.

The resort has good restaurants onsite, including a fabulous burger joint, a cafe market, and a pool bar. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a fresh seafood dinner while you watch the beautiful sunset.

Resort Services & Amenities

  • Outdoor waterfront swimming pool with lounge chairs and umbrellas
  • Free wifi
  • Parking
  • Beach lounge chairs
  • Bicycle rentals
  • Dogs (under 25 pounds) are allowed (daily rate applies)

Related Reading: Best Places to Swim with Dolphins in the Florida Keys

Seahorse Cottages

  • Location: 1223 Buttonwood Lane, Sanibel, Florida


This is an adults-only property. It’s an ideal spot for solo travelers or couples who love to be near the ocean.

Located on the east side of Sanibel Island, Seahorse Cottages are on Buttonwood Lane, just off Periwinkle Way. This adorable island inn is a single level ranch style building with four renovated rental units, including studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom size options.

Enjoy your morning coffee on your small outdoor patio or the adorable tiki hut in the back of the building. Seahorse Cottages is located within walking distance to a small beach shore area at the end of Buttonwood Lane where you can greet the morning with a beautiful sunrise.

Nice Property & Location for Couples

Since we have school-age kids Seahorse isn’t a good fit for us. But it may be one of the best hotels on the island for some of our readers. I think Seahorse Cottages is a great option for a single adult seeking budget-friendly solitude or for couples planning a romantic getaway.

Lighthouse Beach Park is less than a mile down the Periwinkle Way.

Services & Amenities

  • Units have clean kitchenette, including coffee maker, small stove, oven, microwave, and refrigerator
  • Small plunge pool and lounge chairs
  • Gas and charcoal grills are available
  • Bikes available

South Seas

  • Location: 5400 Plantation Rd, Captiva Island, Florida

This waterside retreat is located along the Gulf Coast and offers easy access to over two miles of beaches sparkling with white sand and sea. South Seas is located near the north end of Captiva Island along Captiva Drive and a few blocks away from Alison Hagerup Beach entrance.

Book a room in the Bayview Pool Complex for family-friendly activities right at your doorstep. The property offers three pools, luxurious poolside cabanas, and beautiful views of the bay. The resort offers multiple options for food service with plans to open more restaurants within the next year.

Private Beach

South Seas is renowned for its private beach and a favorite destination for travelers. More than 250 varieties of seashell have been found on this beach. Guests receive complimentary beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels. Enjoy!


The resort offers villas with one, two, or three bedrooms. Depending on the unit, you can choose from a Queen or King bed in the primary bedroom. Most villas also have a sofa bed in the living area.

Each unit is 850+ square feet and includes a small kitchen. The roomy interior, which makes this a perfect place for a family vacation.

Poolside Cabanas

Enjoy a cabana rental and relax at the pool all day in a private shady oasis. The rental includes complimentary snacks, bottled water, and soft drinks.

Resort Services and Amenities

  • Golf cart rentals available onsite
  • 12-hole golf course designed by Beau Welling (scheduled to open in 2024)
  • Multiple outdoor pools with complimentary lounge chairs
  • Poolside cabana rentals
  • Fishing and boating charters as well as eco-cruises and nature tours
  • Tennis courts
  • Onsite cafes, restaurants, and food trucks

Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

  • Location: 1501 Middle Gulf Dr., Sanibel, Florida 33957

Reopening Scheduled for August 2024

Sundial Beach Resort suffered major damanage from Hurrican Ian in 2022. We are happy to report that the rehabilitation and restoration efforts are nearly complete. The resort is accepting reservations for a grand reopening in August 2024! Expect some construction on the property as they complete final touches on the major renovations.

Located on the barrier islands off the Gulf Coast of Southwest Florida, the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa is a popular destination with a 1-mile white sand beach, glorious sunsets, and a full list of amenities.

This Sanibel Island resort is a popular choice for couples seeking to celebrate their wedding at a beautiful island destination. Contact the resort’s wedding planning team.


The resort offers studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom residence-style accommodations. Each of the low-rise condominiums offer a fully equipped kitchen and dining area, balcony, wireless internet, and easy acess to the beach.

Services & Amenities

This beachfront resort is recognized for its top-notch service, stunning views, and a great list of outdoor activities.

  • On-site ocean view dining
  • Beach chairs, umbrellas, towels
  • Resort pool
  • Spa and Fitness center
  • Kayak and paddleboard rentals
  • Bocce ball courts
  • Tennis and Pickleball
  • WiFi

Nearby Attractions

Related Reading: What to Know Before Moving to Boca Raton, Florida

Tarpon Tale Inn

  • Location: Located off Periwinkle Drive, across from the Parrot Nest Cottages.

Located on the east end of the island within walking distance to the beach and nearby the famous lighthouse, the Tarpon Tale Inn is a great option for travelers seeking a cozy, island atmosphere. There are currently eight renovated units ranging from bungalow studio rooms to more expansive cottages with full kitchens.

Private patio area at Tarpon Tale Inn

Services & Amenities

  • Complimentary adult bikes
  • Beach chairs, umbrellas, and a beach cart to easily haul your sunscreen, snacks, and other items to the beach
  • Select studios can be rented with an adjoining room
  • All units have a private patio with bistro table, chairs, and a gas grill
  • Direct entrance units
  • Shell washing station to rinse your collection of unique and amazing shells found on the nearby beaches

Nearby Attractions

  • The Sanibel Marina offers guided fishing excursions. It’s a fun destination for those of you who enjoy a nice bike ride or comfortable walk to the water.
  • Grandma Dot’s Seaside Saloon has reopened. Stop by this popular spot for tasty lunch sandwiches and a full dinner menu. It’s located at the Sanibel Marina, a few blocks west of Tarpon Tale.
  • The Magic Bus ice cream store is located across the street and serves a small menu of pastries and coffee in addition to cones, milkshakes and specialty ice cream dishes.
Large ice cream sundae with toppings

‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa

  • Location: 15951 Captiva Dr., Captiva Island, Florida 33924

Founded in 1931, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa is situated between the Gulf of Mexico and Pine Island Sound. With direct access to the beach, nearby dining, and a myriad of outdoor activities, you can fulfill all of your island bucket list adventures from this incredible Sanibel Island beach resort.


‘Tween Waters offers a variety of accommodations, including guest rooms, cottages, and vacation rental homes. Most units have a walk-in shower, essential bathroom items, a porch, and beautiful views. Cottages have a small kitchen area.


The resort is pet-friendly. However, there are certain dog breeds that are not permitted on the property. Call guest services to register your pet in advance. Note that guests who bring pets will incur an additional daily fee.

Resort Services and Amenities

  • Events calendar often includes a great night of live music at the pool
  • Fishing, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, and Wave runner rentals
  • Biking, Tennis, Pickleball
  • Outdoor pool and poolside cabana rentals
  • Beach chair and umbrella rentals at the private beach
  • Shelling cruise
  • Sailing lessons
  • Some of the best restaurants on the island, including Old Captiva House and The Shipyard

Many years ago, I traveled from Massachusetts to Captiva Island to attend a week long class at the Offshore Sailing School. It was an incredible experience and I recommend it for individuals and families with an interest in learning how to sail. There is something special about joining like-minded people who love the outdoors in beautiful Southwest Florida.

Day Passes

If you are visiting the island for only a day, you may want to purchase a day pass to enjoy the facilities at ‘Tween Waters. A pass is valid from dawn to dusk and includes parking for one vehicle.

Casa Ybel Resort

  • Location: 2255 West Gulf Dr., Sanibel Island, Florida 33957

Casa Ybel Resort has not yet reopened following the devastation caused by Hurrican Ian. However, they are diligently working hard to restore and rebuild. Within just a few short months, the team has installed new roofs, new HVAC, and other infrastructure such as doors and windows.

The resort is in process of installing new tennis courts and pickleball courts. They are rebuilding and repairing the restaurant and pool area. They also have plans in place to upgrade the landscaping and other outdoor refurbishment to the parking lot area.

Stay tuned. It won’t be long and we think it will be worth the wait.

Manatee in water

Top Tips for Your Visit to Sanibel

Here are a few key tips to help you make the most of your vacation travels to Sanibel Island in Southwest Florida.

  • Reservations. Room inventory is low compared with prior years. As a result, available units and rooms tend to book up quickly, especially during peak travel season. Book your reservation as early as possible.
  • Onsite dining at ‘Tween Waters is open to the public (you do not need to be a guest to dine at Old Captiva House, The Shipyard, or Crow’s Nest Steakhouse. That said, reservations are recommended.
  • Check out the Big Arts Sanibel Island program for local events such as jazz vocalists, ballet performances, musical benefits, and fine arts exhibits, among others.
  • The Sanibel Lighthouse is not open to visitors. However, you are able to tour the beach area and the fishing pier.
  • There is an 11% local room tax applied to room rates

Tour Sanibel Island by Golf Cart

Rent a golf cart for the day. This is an economical and fun way to discover local shopping, see the sights, and arrive to your sun-soaked activities. Stop by Mucky Duck or Gramma Dots for a bite to eat. Then pack your beach chairs in the back and head down to Tarpon Bay Beach to watch the sunset. Pick up and drop off is typically managed from The Sanibel Marina, a convenient location on Sanibel Island.

Large collection of shells
Sanibel Island is a world-renowned destination for shelling.

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