Public Beaches on Sanibel Island

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Visiting Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Public Beaches on Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel and Captiva Islands offer several excellent public beaches, despite the fact that most beaches on the island offer only private access to residents and to guests staying on the beach. Beginning the southern part of Sanibel, here is a list of the public beach access points:

Sanibel Causeway - These beaches are on the manmade islands that support the roads and bridges across Pine Island Sound to Sanibel Island. They are typical bay beaches: calm, shallow water with a slightly muddy bottom. Free parking and restrooms.

Lighthouse Beach Park - One of the busiest beaches on the island. Faces southeast over San Carlos Bay. The buildings of Fort Myers Beach can be seen on the horizon. Very calm shallow water. Restrooms and outdoor showers. Fishing pier and lighthouse. Pay for parking.

Gulfside City Park - Also known as Algiers Beach. Pay for parking. Has restrooms and a small nature trail. Faces southeast towards Fort Myers Beach. Calm shallow waters.

Tarpon Bay Road Access - Pay for parking in a remote lot and walk a hundred yards to the beach access off Tarpon Bay Road. Quiet beach in an area between private condominiums and beach resorts.

Bowman's Beach - The most "remote" beach on Sanibel, but has really gotten popular in the last decade. Can get very crowded on nice weekends and holidays, especially in the high season. Pay and park in a sand lot, then walk foot trails 200 yards to the beach. Restrooms, showers, long nature trail above the beach. Great place to explore.

Turner Beach - On both the north and south side of Blind Pass at the north end of Sanibel. Great for sunsets. Pay and park, but has a very limited number of spaces on either end of the bridge over Blind Pass. Restrooms are on the Captiva side, but you may find a port-a-potty on the Sanibel side. There is a rock fishing jetty on the Captiva side. Don't swim too close to the pass, which was recently dredged (2009) and has swift tidal currents.

Captiva Beach - On Captiva just past the entrance to South Seas Resort. Pay and park. Very limited number of spaces. Great beach--you can walk all the way north to Redfish Pass and look across at the south end of North Captiva. No facilities, but you may find a port-a-potty in the parking area.

None of the beaches on Sanibel or Captiva has lifeguards. None. Be careful and watch your kids. Beaches on Sanibel are generally kid-friendly, especially on the southern part of the island.


Sanibel's wide flat beaches are great for taking a long walk.

The southeast facing beaches of southern Sanibel provide a view of the distant high-rises on Fort Myers Beach. The buildings appear falsely large in this photo because of the telephoto lens effect.

The beach at Lighthouse Park.

The fishing pier at Lighthouse Park.

Shell parking area at Lighthouse Park.

Gulfside City Park (Algiers Beach) during an early morning low tide.

Typical Sanibel beach access.

View from the boardwalk access, Gulfside City Park.

Picnic area at Gulfside City Park. Not a lot of shade.

At most Sanibel beach parking lots you're faced with a bewildering array of signs.

Restroom facilities at Gulfside City Park.


Turner Beach at Blind Pass right after sunset, looking south on Sanibel.


To find out all the important details about all the beaches on the lower Gulf Coast of Florida, consider purchasing my book: Florida Beaches - Finding Your Paradise on the Lower Gulf Coast. It covers all the beaches from Dunedin to Marco Island, more than 96 named beaches. It has 176 pages, 25 maps, and 48 black and white photographs. 

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