It is wonderful! It's about 2 1/2-3 hours south of Tampa. (depends on traffic)
My daughter (FL native) lives in Pittsburgh and stays there at least once a year.
It is a tranquil place with a greanature preserve called Ding Darling Nature Preserve.
If you're looking for "action" Sanibel is not the place.
The main difference between Sanibel and other areas of Florida is the wildlife and the relately undeveloped nature of the island; that is its draw. As said before there is a National Wildlife Refuge, J. N. "Ding" Darling NWR. Sanibel's unique positioning off the coast makes it a good spot for shelling.
If you think you want to visit just because someone else raved about it, then do some google searches and see if it is worth it to you. I normally would not recommend someone go to Sanibel when vacationing in St. Pete/Tampa area.
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