Hitting the beach in Southwest Florida? No doubt Sanibel and Captiva Islands offer you the best and most beautiful beaches in the entire area.
From world renowned shelling to incredible sunsets overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, our pristine islands have 15 miles of shoreline for you and your family to explore.
Whether you’re staying on SanCap or you’re visiting for a day trip, you will love the natural wonder of these Gulf Coast islands.
With so many beaches to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one.
In this blog, you will discover:
- The best beaches on Sanibel & Captiva Islands
- How to access public beaches on Sanibel-Captiva
- Info on SanCap beach parking and fees
- Where to go based on beach activity
Get ready to plan your beach adventure on Sanibel & Captiva Islands.
Keep reading to discover the Top 5 Best Beaches on Sanibel & Captiva according to the locals at McMurray & Members of Royal Shell Real Estate.
But first, let’s talk a little about logistics. Find out what you should know before you go to Southwest Florida’s best beaches.
Getting To Sanibel & Captiva Islands
We’ll start by saying you absolutely will not regret venturing onto Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Just the drive onto the islands is an adventure in itself!
If you’re visiting SanCap from Fort Myers, you will drive across the Sanibel Causeway, a four-mile scenic drive on multiple bridges that connect the Causeway Islands. There is a $6 toll to cross the Causeway, but we promise it’s worth it.
Along the way, you’ll find free beach parking on either side of the road. You can certainly stop here and have a picnic, cast a fishing line and look out for wildlife like dolphins, manatees, osprey and more.
While these beaches are nice in their own right, they’re not located on the Gulf of Mexico, so you won’t get those famous pristine shell beaches you may have heard about.
That’s why we suggest you continue onto the islands to truly experience all that Sanibel and Captiva Islands have to offer.
Of course, island life comes at a price. Now we’ll quickly cover how to access the public beaches of Sanibel & Captiva and what to expect in terms of parking fees.
Pro Tip: Avoid heavy traffic by leaving early in the morning.
Sanibel-Captiva Public Beach Access, Parking & Fees
Just remember: you’re on vacation. Once you get to the beach and dig your toes in the sand, you’ll forget all about parking on Sanibel & Captiva islands.
It’s really not bad, but we want to be transparent with you: you will need to pay for parking on the public beaches of Sanibel & Captiva Islands.
Fees for parking range from $5 per hour to $40 for the day, depending on which beach you’re visiting.
During peak season, our Southwest Florida islands can get a little crowded, so we recommend you start your adventure early to secure a parking spot. The good news is if one beach seems a bit crowded, the next beach is never very far away!
Now let’s get to the good stuff.
Below you’ll find the best beaches not only in Southwest Florida but also on Sanibel & Captiva Islands.
Trust us: these beaches are so perfect, you’ll be so glad you made the trip.
Pro Tip: Don’t want to drive? The village of Captiva has a free shuttle to take you around the island.
The 5 Best Beaches On Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Below you’ll find five of our favorite beaches, organized from the south end of Sanibel Island up to the north end of Captiva Island.
Map of Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Each of our Gulf beaches has something unique to offer. You can spend the day at one, or beach hop to all five. Read on to discover the best beaches on Sanibel & Captiva Islands now.
Lighthouse Beach Park – Sanibel Island
Best for: shelling, history buffs
Sitting on the south end of Sanibel Island, this beach is the easiest to access. Once you’re off the Sanibel Causeway, just turn left and follow directions to the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach.
With views of the bridge, Fort Myers Beach in the distance, and of course the lighthouse, this beach offers plenty of photo opportunities.
Plus, there’s a fishing pier for all of you anglers out there. Even if you’re not into fishing, you will appreciate the views from this iconic Southwest Florida spot.
Why locals love it: easy access from Southwest Florida mainland
Tarpon Bay Beach – Sanibel Island
Best for: shelling, families
Did you know there are 250+ seashell varieties found on Sanibel Island?
Do the “Sanibel stoop” at Tarpon Bay Beach, or relax in your beach chair and watch the Sanibel Island surf. Solo travelers, couples, families and even your pets (yes, pets are allowed at Tarpon Bay Beach!) will all enjoy a day trip to this popular Sanibel Island beach.
Keep your eyes and ears open for the island ice cream truck that stops by occasionally.
Why locals love it: iconic and conveniently located mid-island off Tarpon Bay Road near Bailey’s Grocery Store
Bowman’s Beach – Sanibel Island
Best for: shelling, swimming, long walks
Located in the middle of Sanibel Island, Bowman’s Beach has unmatched views of the Gulf of Mexico. With grills and playgrounds, this Sanibel beach is great for families.
Perhaps the best thing about Bowman’s Beach is that it offers you enough space for solitude. You can take a long walk on the beach or set up an umbrella and stay a while. Be sure to look down for stunning seashells of all kinds.
Why locals love it: lots of beach to go around
Blind Pass & Turner Beaches – Santiva
Best for: fishing, photography
Technically two different beaches, Blind Pass Beach and Turner Beach sit right next to each other on either side of a short bridge. These beaches are very unique because they’re situated right where Sanibel and Captiva Island meet, hence why the area is called “Santiva.”
One of the main features of these island beaches is the rock jetty that provides picturesque photo opportunities as well as great fishing.
Nearby you’ll find multiple dining options, and you’ll often see locals fishing off the small bridge that connects to the two islands. Because of its unique location, Blind Pass and Turner Beach usually have the most “surf” of any other Southwest Florida beach.
A little more remote than the Sanibel Island beaches, Blind Pass and Turner Beach parking is limited but certainly worth the stop.
Pro tip: if you choose to swim, keep in mind that there are strong currents with riptides at these beaches.
Why locals love it: lesser known beaches on Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Alison Hagerup Beach / Captiva Beach – Captiva Island
Best for: swimming, snorkeling, sunsets, sea turtles
Located all the way at the end of Captiva Island, this Captiva beach is definitely the farthest away from Southwest Florida mainland.
Sitting right next to South Seas Island Resort, Alison Hagerup Beach is located within walking distance to the village of Captiva, where you can always find live music and island eats.
The water is usually very clean and calm, offering a great opportunity to swim and even float in the Gulf of Mexico. Take a snorkel into the water with you, and you might even see a sea turtle, large tarpon, dolphins and more.
Why locals love it: so lush & tropical it feels like vacation even if you’re local
Why Just Visit When You Can Live On Sanibel & Captiva Islands?
Once you experience the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, you will find yourself saying, “I would love to live here.”
If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered. Even if you’re just toying with the idea of buying real estate on Sanibel-Captiva, we’d love to have a conversation with you.
As the top producing realtors for Sanibel & Captiva Islands, McMurray & Members knows how to find the most epic estates on the islands.
In fact, we are Royal Shell Real Estate’s top performing team with over $100,000,000 sold annually, which is why we are confident we will find the perfect piece of paradise for you.
Ready to explore your options?
Find Real Estate on Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Connect with McMurray & Members of Royal Shell Real Estate today!
Call us now: 239-850-7888
Visit our Sanibel & Captiva Island offices:
📍 959 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island
📍 15050 Captiva Drive on Captiva Island