My wife and I just got back from Sanibel and was our best vacation in many many years! I am an extreme "penny-pincher" and felt the vacation was worth every one of them. SW flight to Ft Lauderdale ($399) and Std car from Sat to Sat ($192, very impressed with Ford Fusion - 32 mpg avg for stay)... it's MUCH cheaper to fly into Ft Lauderdale than Ft Myers and it's only a 2.5 hour easy drive.
Blind Pass Condo's. These are very secluded, well stocked, quiet, 10-15 minute drive to Lighthouse or Mucky Duck, close beach (5 minute walk), very nice grounds, very nice clean/large salt water pool, free kayak or canoe check out (very available). Beach chairs, shelling nets, beach cart, umbrella, all included. 6 gas grills to use. Cost under $1000 for the week including taxes.
Things we did: Watched beautiful sunset each night (priceless); Tarpon Bay Wildlife cruise ($46/2, much wildlife-birds, 3-4 Dolphins, nice slow pace); Kayaked Blind Pass inlet (free, had 5-6 manatee within touching distance, Osprey feeding on fish, Tri-colored Heron, great fun - 1st timers); Lighthouse (nothing special); gawked at million dollar mansions on Captiva (not priceless); Ding Darling road (let-down); CROW rehabilitation ($5/2 with coupon, very interesting place); Bailey's Tract (free, walked the 1 mile path - saw an alligator any many birds); Public Library (very nice shell collection); Shelling - never saw so many shells in one place! And got wet a few times (even though there was no rain all week!)
Restaurants: We found that eating a big lunch and eating light at dinner worked well. We bought a few things on the way in at Publix, but it wasn't necessary. Jerry's is a fantastic place to shop (and eat) - we got their salad bar to take home for dinner at least 4 nights, a bargain at less than $10 to fed 2, their restaurant was also very good - I found Jerry's MUCH nicer than Baileys (better atmosphere and lower prices). Any place we ate lunch was excellent, in order of favorite first: Green Flash, Rosie's Cafe, Jerry's, Mucky Duck, Over Easy Cafe, Island Cow), and of course Pinocchio's (yum). Our highest bill with tax and tip was $28 for 2 at Island Cow and food was a little disappointing there. All others were under $25 for 2 (excellent and very filling, and yes we mostly drank water with lemon).
I'll be back....