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Sanibel Island Vacation Tips

Review these essential vacation and safety tips
and we’ll have you living like an “islander” in no time!

Packing the Essentials

Sanibel has an easy-going, outdoor lifestyle that makes packing a breeze. Keep it simple and plan for sunshine!

Pack lightweight, breathable clothing. For gentlemen, shorts and sandals are the norm during the day and a “resort casual” look works great at night; no restaurant on the island requires a jacket or tie. Ladies, your light summery wardrobe pieces should easily transition from day to night, although you might want to bring along a light sweater for air-conditioned restaurants. Tropical climates are tough in synthetic fabrics, so focus on lightweight knits, linens and cottons.

Bring along swimsuits (of course), cover-ups, sundresses, shorts and tops, flip flops and a nice pair of sandals for evenings out. If you plan on boating, it can get chilly, so pack multi-functional layering pieces, as well. Lightweight pants and a long-sleeved cotton shirt can also help prevent sunburn and bug bites.

Interested in a couple of true islander tips? Bring a pair of binoculars, as you don’t want to miss out on any of our remarkable wildlife, including our resident osprey family at Ocean’s Reach. And finally, invest in a pair of inexpensive polarized sunglasses. They do a great job of cutting down on glare and will allow you to see into water more clearly – very helpful with shelling, fishing and sightseeing!

Important Sun Care

Slather on the sunscreen! Generously apply a 30 SPF (sunscreen-protection factor) or higher for children and fair skin. Re-apply sunscreen regularly throughout the day, especially after swimming.

Remember that the sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and that being in and around water increases the burning potential of the sun’s rays. Many guests are surprised to find that they can get sunburned on an overcast day; note that clouds intensify rather than diminish the sun’s effect. Aloe vera products can help cool and soothe minor sunburns, but for severe sunburns, please see a doctor.

Staying Hydrated

Dehydration can quickly turn into a serious medical condition, so it’s crucial to stay hydrated in a sub-tropical climate like Sanibel’s. Limit alcohol as much as possible, as it is dehydrating. Juice and sports drinks are fine, but good ‘ole H2O is best, so drink to your health!

Stormy Skies

Brief afternoon thunderstorms are common summer occurrences in Florida. They typically don’t last long at all, but they can strike suddenly and present explicit danger.

Follow the 30/30 rule: if the time between seeing a flash of lightning and hearing a rumble of thunder is less than 30 seconds, you are in a lightning strike zone and should seek shelter immediately.

NEVER stay in the water during a thunderstorm. Leave the pool or get off the beach right away. Take shelter indoors or in a hard-topped vehicle. Never use a tree as a shelter and avoid standing near tall objects and metal objects.

Extreme Weather

Although Sanibel Island has only experienced one major hurricane in the past 50 years, we continually monitor weather conditions to ensure that our guests and staff stay safe. The good thing about tropical storms and hurricanes is that they come with enough advance notice to allow us to prepare and take necessary action.

We have a comprehensive hurricane plan in place that we can set in motion whenever needed, a part of which entails keeping guests up-to-date with the latest information and helping them make alternate travel arrangements if necessary.

It’s a Bug’s Life

Mosquitos and no-see-ums are at their worst in the summer on Sanibel Island, but can be annoying throughout the year. Particularly pesky to some people are “no-see-ums” – ubiquitous so-teeny-tiny-that-you-can’t-really-see-them biting bugs, found all over Florida and the Caribbean.

The good news/bad news scenario is that some people are susceptible to them while others aren’t, apparently due to a host of factors, mostly genetic. If you’re one of those people loved by no-see-ums, you’ll soon know it by the small red and itchy welts that form from the allergic reaction.

Our local sundry stores offer an assortment of anti-itch lotions and antihistamines, but the best thing to do is to try to avoid getting bitten altogether. Carry bug repellent with you – preferably a product that is all-natural, DEET, PABA and paraben-free (the skin-safe “No No-See-Um,” created by a pair of Sanibel residents, is a great choice and is available all over the islands). You can also opt for lightweight long-sleeved clothing for added protection.

Note that no-see-ums are not out all day, but rather tend to be active just around dawn and dusk, so just plan accordingly.

Oh Baby Baby!

There’s no need to bring everything with you when bringing baby along. Check out the long list of baby care items available through Island Rental Services. Our guests rave about the quality and cleanliness of their rental items, plus the fact that they’ll set up your equipment before your arrival and come take it all away after you depart. They’re just right up the road from Ocean’s Reach and can be reached at 866-553-9789.

Cha-Ching It!

The toll for driving over the Sanibel Causeway to reach the island is $6.00. There is no toll for the return back to Fort Myers. If you’re planning to stay for an extended period of time, it might be worth purchasing a LeeWay transponder that will save you money on each crossing, and will also cha-ching your payments on other Florida toll roads.

There’s An App for That

It’s always wise to avoid traveling on and off island at peak travel times, especially during our “high season” winter months. To help steer clear of heavy traffic, you can observe real-time Sanibel traffic conditions right at your fingertips with the free Sanibel Street Cam app. Six high-quality cameras have been placed throughout the island to “live stream” Sanibel road conditions. For more information, or to install the app, visit mysanibel.com.

Two-Wheel Safety

Biking is a great way to get around the island! With an average elevation of four feet, biking is practically effortless among Sanibel’s 26 miles of bike paths. Safety is still important, however, so remember to always stay alert to vehicular traffic, particularly at road and driveway crossings.

Always yield to pedestrians. Pedal at a moderate and safe pace on the right side of the path, and alert others when you plan to pass. Lights must be used at night, and all bicyclists under 16 must wear helmets by law.

Capturing Memories

With so much natural beauty and gorgeous imagery, we can’t think of a more beautiful backdrop for family photographs than on Sanibel Island. Many of our guests have had portraits taken on the beach while they’re visiting here to preserve precious family memories.

There’s a collection of gifted photographers available here on the island that we’d be happy to recommend. Between understanding the particulars of dealing with the Florida sun to knowing just the right spot on the island that will prove to be the perfect setting for your family, one of our talented island photographers can help capture memories that will last a lifetime!

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