We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

Buffalo, New York
Level Contributor
7 posts
106 reviews
Save Topic
Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

We went with another couple from Saturday 12/28 to Saturday 1/4. It’s about a 45 minute drive from Ft. Myers airport. $6 toll every time you want to go onto the island. Main road on the island are Periwinkle Way and Sanibel/Captiva Road (one basically turns into the other). Most commercial establishments (restaurants, shopping, liquor stores, souvenirs) are on these 2 roads, while most of the lodging (condos, beach houses, many motels/cottages) are on the water. Meaning you have to drive or walk or ride a bike/scooter etc to get to these. A major pain, especially in traffic. But there are bike paths everywhere, so if you like walking/biking, you are in the right place. And the traffic……HORRIBLE at this time of year!!! People come from the mainland to go to the beaches, and it creates gridlock. And the volume of people at that time of year is intense. Mostly families. Many residents noted it was the busiest they have ever seen the island. Tons of people and kids on bikes riding through the parking lots and crossing the roads…..accidents waiting to happen. Dinnertime is especially horrible, as everyone is going at the same time. If you want to avoid these hassles, eat at your unit, or get to your dinner destination by 5PM. Otherwise be prepared for traffic and an hour to more wait for a table, as most places DO NOT take reservations. Restaurants were nothing special, nothing memorable. The Island Cow was fun and had a great menu, but the drinks and the service were spotty. Island Pizza was cool.....check them out for sure. They roll up the sidewalks on Sanibel at about 9PM, even on weekends. Couldn’t get a pizza delivered at 9PM on a Friday night. Couldn’t even find an open place to pick one up, and there are 4 pizza places on the island. Prices for most establishments of any kind were 10% to 25% more than the mainland. No chains out here, except for CVS. Use them for HBA and kitchen items and you will save a bit over the supermarkets. Beaches were nice, shelling nice, especially at low tide. But no nicer than Jupiter/Juno beaches. Beaches were not manicured or cleaned at all, as they do in Cape Cod, Pompano, Deerfield, and other places I have been, but that was not a turn-off. Overall, if you like crowds, and paying more than you need to, and driving everywhere to need to go, Sanibel is the place for you. We were told it is quieter in January and the fall….but it doesn’t matter, as we won’t be going back. Too many other places to explore……I invite comments from residents and others who were there at the same time……

Hell, Michigan
Level Contributor
5,984 posts
21 reviews
Save Reply
31. Re: Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

Buzzy, there is no need to bust your gut being rude to bean. Doesn't make your point, does it?

Your remarks are becoming increasingly irrational, did you expect to write a trip report with such negative comments, without rebuttal?

I don't really care if you love or hate the island, makes no difference to me. You.get to post your opinion, just as the others have. But please stop being.so rude,.it does nothing for you.

Ps..... I'm on the island now, traffic is incredibly heavy, I have never seen it like this in a non prime week. I think the super harsh winter has sent all the northerns down.

Saint Paul...
Level Contributor
1,526 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
32. Re: Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

Just wanted to comment that I counted 36 restaurants on Sanibel and Captiva that DO take reservations (some are call-ahead). We are always on Sanibel during spring break and have been there between Christmas and New Year's so know how crowded the island can be. We avoid some of the frustration of crowds by making all of our dining reservations well in advance and/or we eat at "home."

I also agree that popular vacation destinations can be very crowded over the holidays and that provides a very different experience. We just returned from a New Year's Eve cruise (we have cruised with this line may times before) and the crowds made me want to walk the plank! But I knew that going in so I adjusted my expectations - had a couple more cocktails - and made the most of it.

Buffalo, New York
Level Contributor
7 posts
106 reviews
Save Reply
33. Re: Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

@SunnyVaca....Tru Dat!!!! (I've gotten a lot more street since I've been to Sanibel).....1 cheap, antisocial, bike-hating, hate-driving-everywhere-when-I'm-on-vacation, knowledgeless, opinionated former Sanibel tourist signing off for good!!!!!

Boston...
Level Contributor
46 posts
135 reviews
Save Reply
34. Re: Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

I was there during this same week and already wrote my trip review just after my return. To each their own. I posted a challenging traffic situation when we were on our way to Island Pizza, but you know what - it's all in the attitude. If you're with the right person (people), enjoying the scenery, singing along to tunage on the radio, and just going with the flow (aka island lifestyle), not much can bother you.

I can't wait to go back to Sanibel. And as one who lives close to Cape Cod, there's absolutely NO comparison. I love the Cape, but to me it's no Sanibel.

Salisbury, Maryland
Level Contributor
83 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
35. Re: Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

I was on Sanibel the weekend of December 28-30 for the first time. I understand some of the frustration with the traffic, but I went into the trip knowing that we would be there during what was probably the busiest week of the year. It's just like July here close to Ocean City, MD. Being in Florida during the winter -- which I've wanted to do for several years but didn't have the opportunity until this year -- was worth it no matter how busy it was. We stayed on East Gulf Drive, which I thought was a perfect quieter location. If it hadn't been a short trip, I would have planned for meals at the hotel so we wouldn't have to venture out during busy peak roadway and restaurant times. The first day, we stayed within walking distance of the lighthouse and enjoyed the stroll down the beach. Shelling wasn't good the first day/ the next morning, but I thought it was great our second morning in front of our hotel -- the Song of the Sea -- and at the lighthouse. We also enjoyed photographing birds at the Jn Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. I'd like to come back again someday and do some more exploring!

Massachusetts
Level Contributor
1,248 posts
105 reviews
Save Reply
36. Re: Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

I have traveled to Sanibel for the past 4 years in June so clearly I have not been during the busiest week of the year. But traveling Christmas week anywhere you know it's going to be crazy. I fell in love with Sanibel the first time I went. This year I am taking my children with us during Easter week so I am preparing myself for a different experience than when I traveled at an quieter time of year.

I agree with Amy- You talk about Cape Cod. I vacation at the Cape frequently and I can say that there is no comparison. I love the Cape but it's no Sanibel. I can tell you that the beaches aren't all manicured.. seaweed is on the beach.. but that is how some beaches on the Cape are. .Eating out on the Cape can be just as expensive, if not higher than Sanbiel... How about Disney? Atlantis?...

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
2,063 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
37. Re: Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

Oh well.... I can see now that cuzzinbuzzy was in a group of vacation folks. Appears as if someone else in the group made the trip plans.

To me the importance of TA when I plan a trip is imperative. None of the challenges that I read in the OP's post were news to me and I have only stayed on Sanibel one night so far. If you want to enjoy your time it really does benefit you to read all reviews (past and present) in order to understand if this holiday location is for you. (sorry I think I already said this a few pages back).

Anyhow - it is sad when posts go awry - everyone in this forum has one goal and that is to be honest and helpful and also inspiring - sure works for me :)

Enjoy!

Buffalo, New York
Level Contributor
201 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
38. Re: Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

Buzzy, I too live in Buffalo. No offense to Grand Island...,but it's hardly a tourist, or vacation destination in the same vein as a Florida beach town, hence the lower prices for groceries etc. I think that's kind if the norm don't you? I mean a restaurant in Boca will typically be more pricey than a restaurant in say, Tonawanda. We realize that when we go anywhere really that's not solely residential, and except that ahead of time.

However, you are certainly entitled to your opinion and preferences. I think some of the frustration here is that it appears as though you passed judgment without benefit of prior research. I understand you did not select and organize the trip. Myself, I hate the pressure of being the one to have that responsibility. We all have a different concept of what our vacation time should be like, it's hard to hit everyone's sweet spot when there is a large group.

It's a shame the trip was not up to your expectations, no one likes to feel a vacation was wasted.

Personally, we love Sanibel...a lot. And there are many parts of Florida we dislike...a lot. But I understand there will always be someone who feels as passionate about their choice as we are about ours. I think just respecting that difference goes a long way when disagreeing.

Buffalo, New York
Level Contributor
201 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
39. Re: Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

Buzzy, I too live in Buffalo. No offense to Grand Island...,but it's hardly a tourist, or vacation destination in the same vein as a Florida beach town, hence the lower prices for groceries etc. I think that's kind if the norm don't you? I mean a restaurant in Boca will typically be more pricey than a restaurant in say, Tonawanda. We realize that when we go anywhere really, that's not solely residential, and except that ahead of time.

However, you are certainly entitled to your opinion and preferences. I think some of the frustration here is that it appears as though you passed judgment without benefit of prior research. I understand you did not select and organize the trip. Myself, I hate the pressure of being the one to have that responsibility. We all have a different concept of what our vacation time should be like, it's hard to hit everyone's sweet spot when there is a large group.

It's a shame the trip was not up to your expectations, no one likes to feel a vacation was wasted.

Personally, we love Sanibel...a lot. And there are many parts of Florida we dislike...a lot. But I understand there will always be someone who feels as passionate about their choice as we are about ours. I think just respecting that difference goes a long way when disagreeing.

Captiva Island...
Level Contributor
5,259 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
40. Re: Review of Sanibel Island 12/28-13 to 1/4/14

I've been around TA for a long time, long enough to know a pot stirrer when I see one. My original response was not rude or harsh. I was genuine when I wrote that I hoped he had enjoyed some good moments on the Island. His first response back was to call another long time poster a troll. Not cool.

I normally would not engage in a back and forth like this, but there is misinformation in the OP's post. While they may seem minor, they are still things that are simply not so. Reservations, streets rolling up early in season, etc...

This will be my last response on this thread, but did the OP travel with another couple as he said in his original post or was it a group?