Sanibel Highlights

  1. The Lazy Flamingo
    The one by Captiva, not by the causeway. Get a key west, order anything and sit at the bar. Play the ring game and buy 25 cent mustaches from the machines by the bathrooms. Wear them immediately. Go after 9pm. Bike there. Bring a flashlight, and try to evade the snails and geckos on the bike path. Afterward, hit the beach and if you're lucky you'll see bioluminescent plankton lighting up the ocean
  2. Noah's Ark
    Sanibel's answer to Goodwill. It's incredible. Buy a paperback mystery to read at the beach. Invariably I find a gold or glittery thing that some lovely older woman rocked in the 80s. Buy the most ostentatious thing that vaguely fits and wear it to sunset drinks. Sanibel is about comfort, and those clothes you forgot you loved that can handle salt water and sand.
  3. Play Scrabble with Dev's dad, @fats
    @fats is not too shabby -- used to be a Scrabble champion and he and his lady wrote the original Scrabble dictionary. Be wary of his post win gloating! And make sure he makes you a boborita, his signature drink. This activity is best to do during the daily afternoon rainstorms.
  4. Hit the beach
    Go to the one that divides Sanibel and Captiva. Walk a mile to your left and you'll hit a collection of old, nude men. The hundreds of birds there have little to no fear of humans, and will only casually avoid you. Go swimming, but be wary of the strong current and make sure to shuffle your feet to ward off stingrays. Go shelling, bc it's obligatory. Watch the sunset, try spot the green flash
  5. The Mucky Duck
    You don't go here for the food, you go for the views of the beach and the tourist watching. There's a lovely bar outside. Bike, don't drive, parking is awful.
  6. North Captiva
    Find a friend with a boat and head up to this barren island. There are no cars and only a few houses. Park your boat along the empty, central stretch and swim or fish. Explore. Then boat over to Barnacle's for lunch. They started the "walls covered in dollar bills" thing. Get there before the tourists are hauled in by the boatload. Watch dolphins, don't feed the otters. Bring loads of sunscreen.
  7. Trader's
    Hit the happy hour when you feel like dressing for dinner.
  8. Jensen's Marina
    Manatees hang out here, are fed fresh water from boaters' hoses. Occasionally local bands perform and if you go, as the water laps against the docks, you'll feel like you're in some secret back bayou in Louisiana.
  9. The Legion
    Weekly, they do specialty dinners and events that all the true locals turn out for. There's a great screened in bar out back. This place is America to the max. The bartender's name is Gator.
  10. Go on the water
    Rent a boat, a kayak, a paddle board. Go fishing, swim. (But not and sunset or sunrise. Sharks. For real though.)
  11. Ride a bike
    Rent one, borrow one. There are bike paths that stretch along the whole island. A huge part of the island is preserve, and doing it by bike is the best way to see it. It's flat, warm and there are many a pretty bench and gazebo from which you can spy gators.
  12. Doc Ford's
    When you're looking for reliable fried food. Go to the Captiva one and you'll definitely get a seat when the rest of the island is packed to the gills.
  13. South Seas Plantation
    The nicest place to stay on both islands. Very exclusive. I wouldn't condone illegal-ish activity such as sneaking in, but if you found yourself already inside their grounds you should go all the way to the end, past the golf courses, to the tip of the island. You can watch the gulf's chop and see North Cap.
  14. Most critically, do nothing.
    Drink in the afternoon, read a trashy book, ride in a convertible, watch DVDs of nostalgic movies till too late, get sick of french fries, get too much sun, enjoy the vivid flora, sit and stare at the water. The stars are electric when the sky is clear.