footprints in the sand with sunset

Sanibel Island, FL: Shells, Cycling, Sea Animals & Sunsets

During the summer of 2019 I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Sanibel Island, Florida with my mom, dad, and sister during the week of July 4th. While there are hundreds of beaches to travel to in Florida during the summer months, something that makes Sanibel special is the opportunity to witness the stunning nature on and surrounding the beach. Other beaches, like the nearby beach at Fort Myers, are built up with street after street of gift shops, high rise condos, and restaurants with the sand so packed full of people you can barely see it. While, of course, Sanibel does have restaurants, places to stay, and a couple of gift shops, it has also preserved the natural surroundings of the beautiful island and is not so crowded that you are prohibited from seeing the thousands of shells washed ashore. With that being said, my four favorite ways that I enjoyed nature on Sanibel Island were shell hunting, cycling, spotting sea animals, and watching the sunsets on the beach.


Shells - The beach at Sanibel Island is most well-known for the thousands of shells that wash ashore each day. When I first heard about the shells, I didn’t believe there could be so many, but when I walked onto the beach, I couldn’t take a step without a shell being under my feet. Each day I enjoyed scouring the sand for beautiful shells that were not only numerous, but many were completely intact and unique. At most other beaches it’s almost impossible to find any shells that are whole or that are not small clam shells. However, at Sanibel I found so many intact shells that I couldn’t keep them all. I found dozens of whole spiral crab shells and even found both halves to the same clam shell while swimming in the ocean! It sounds unbelievable, but it really makes you appreciate how much beauty and abundance Mother Nature has to offer.


Cycling -  On Sanibel, biking is so popular that the island built a separate bike path alongside the road to accommodate for cyclists. Several times throughout the trip, my family and I rented out bikes and traveled around the island in the sunny weather on the cycling trails. The best part about the trails is that they take you inside the beautiful trees, bushes, and plants that make up the island. It was so beautiful to get in the shade (even though it was still SO HOT) and soak up the greenery and fresh air. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip because it allowed me to be active and also enjoy the nature unique to Florida.

bike hawaii girl happy biking fun peace Tessa Pesicka / Her Campus

Sea Animals - While we didn’t get to see too many sea animals, one of my favorite parts of the trip was spotting dolphins swimming in the bay one evening. We also got to see an alligator swamp along the bike trails, and my sister’s favorite animals were the small white birds called white ibis who are everywhere on the island.


Sunsets - The beach at Sanibel was absolutely gorgeous day and night (and so was the pool boy David, heyyyyy), but my favorite time to be out on the sand was at sunset. The sunsets I get to see in my Ohio backyard are pretty spectacular but I’ve never seen a sunset as gorgeous as the one I captured in the cover photo for this article. Seeing Mother Nature paint the sky is one of the most stunning things in the world, and seeing it over the Florida waves and palm trees makes it that much better.

The nature at Sanibel was stunning and I’m so glad I got to experience it firsthand and share it with you all. To protect beaches like Sanibel this Earth Day, you can donate to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation using this link:


Happy Earth Day and stay green!