Located on Florida’s Sanibel Island, the resort has direct access to a mile-long stretch of white-sand beach strewn with swaying palms and colorful shells. Rent kayaks and catamarans right from the front desk.
The hotel just completed renovations in April. One-bedroom and two-bedroom suites have fully equipped kitchens and plenty of room for families. Some even have screened-in balconies or patios.
Guests at Sundial Beach Resort have access to the Sanibel Island Golf Club, an 18-hole course nestled in a tropical wildlife preserve.
Kids and adults alike can interact with marine life at the onsite coastal observatory, which boasts a 180-gallon aquarium, a 450-gallon touch tank, and a hermit-crab petting zoo,
You have a choice of al fresco dining options right on the resort grounds. On Saturday afternoons, the staff grills burgers, hot dogs, and mahi-mahi at an outdoor barbecue with live music (extra fee).
Sanibel, Florida: Shelling and Wildlife Watching on White Sand Beaches
Sanibel Island is a barrier island famous for its stretches of white sand beaches, swaying palms, and turquoise waters. To get to the island, you can either take a boat or drive across the causeway that separates it from Fort Myers on the mainland. Shelling—searching the beach for colorful shells during low tide—is a popular among visitors and locals, particularly along the island’s southern shore, where the Gulf of Mexico deposits unbroken shells and sand dollars. Travel + Leisure called the beaches here a “shellers’ mecca” in its list of the U.S.’s best shelling beaches.
To the north, large populations of migratory birds and other native wildlife live at the JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and its undeveloped wetlands. The refuge offers kid-centric tours and activities throughout the summer months, when you can explore a tidal zone inhabited by crabs and sea stars. Further north, on neighboring Captiva Island, visitors go on dolphin-watching tours to see the marine mammals frolic in the calm waters of Pine Island Sound.
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