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Destination Guide: Sanibel and Captiva

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The Pets on the Go™ Guide to Sanibel and Captiva

With spring just around the corner, our Pets on the Go™ editors were searching for the perfect mini-reprieve from the bitter winter blast that has affected much of the country. Their goal was to find a pet-friendly, warm weather destination well removed from the concrete, high-rise buildings and tourist glitz that often prevail in these tropical climes.

They found the perfect “low-key” destination on Florida’s beautiful barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva in Florida. Situated just a 45-minute drive from the Ft. Myers airport, and separated from the mainland by three-mile causeway bridge, the urban sprawl is quickly left behind and replaced by gnarled oaks, lush tropical foliage, and picturesque stretches of sandy, seashell-strewn beaches.

Thankfully, the locals had the foresight to ban all neon signs, stop lights and four-lane roads in the 1970s, but the true conservation efforts really began with the islands’ forefathers who set aside roughly half of the open space as wildlife refuge areas. Building design and height restrictions also were put into place, so that nothing rose much higher than the native palm trees.

The effect is that of a true tropical oasis where leashed dogs are free to explore with their favorite people. The island has over 25 miles of paved bicycle paths for walking, rollerblading and biking. For those who prefer more sandy terrain, the 16 miles of beaches provide more than enough space to practice the famous “Sanibel Stoop” – otherwise known as the perpetual state of bending over to collect the beautiful seashells that wash up on these shores.

Shelling will keep you busy during the early-morning hours; however, in the early evening join the locals on the western beaches (bring a blanket or fold-up chair) to watch the setting sun and enjoy a favorite libation. Time it right and you just might catch the green flash that sometimes accompanies the setting sun.

For additional details on pet friendly beaches in Sanibel, please log into the members' site and click on our "destination reviews" or "recreational fun" database.



Sanibel and Captiva have 13 pet-friendly properties. We review one on our featured hotels page, and additional properties on our members' site.


The beaches on Sanibel provide all of the activities that you need. We list a few of these below. For more information, please check out the recreational fun database.

Gulfside City Park
(Algiers Beach)
Algiers Ln.
An old steamboat, called the Algiers, used to reside on this beach - hence the name - Algiers Beach. This is actually the Gulfside City Park, which is best known as a great picnic area because of the picnic area under the shade trees.

The Rules: You may walk your pet on the beach as long as you have your pet leashed and you pick up after them.

Robert and Dawn Habgood are the authors of Pets on the Go, The Definitive Pet Accommodation and Vacation Guides and the founders of Pets on the

The national print and electronic media regularly interview the Habgoods for stories and statistics on pet travel and its trends. They provide much of the content for Pets on the – the top rated website by U.S. News for pet accommodation and travel information. They can be contacted through Pets on the Go at (781) 934-7202 or via email at

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