Sanibel Causeway: Free Parking and lots of Things to do

The Sanibel Island Causeway

For many tourists, the Sanibel Causeway is no more than a scenic route to their island destination. But to many locals, the Causeway is the destination, and justifiably so.

What’s There

Update 8/30/2018: The Causeway is being affected by both polluted water and the red tide it contributes to. It’s probably not safe to go in the water. Also snook and redfish are now only catch and release since so many have been killed. You can check on the red tide status by going to Florida Fish and Wildlife.

The Sanibel Causeway is made up of three bridges and two man made islands. It’s three miles long and connects Sanibel Island to the mainland. There’s a six dollar toll at the entrance.

There are nice free, shady places to park your car on the Sanibel Causeway.

The Causeway isn’t the beach. You lose the sand and the waves, but you park close to calm, protected salt water, often in the shade of tall Australian pines. There are picnic tables, and on one of the Islands, restrooms.

Parking is free on the Causeway, and there’s plenty of it. All the beaches on Sanibel charge four dollars an hour. That’s if you can find a parking place. In peak season it can be a challenge. You may find yourself spending way too much time cruising the parking lot trying to spot someone pulling out. When and if that happens, you still have to get in a sometimes long, slow moving line to buy the required ticket for your dashboard. The ticket kiosks are far from intuitive and tourists usually struggle trying to figure them out.

By stopping on a Causeway Island you avoid it all. You save time, gas, and hard cash. You also spare yourself the hassle of running back to the lot to buy more hours. It happens more often than you’d think. This area is mesmerizing, so many people end up staying longer than they’d planned.

Things to do

Because you can park so close to the water, it’s an excellent place to launch paddle craft (motorized craft are prohibited). The calmer water is also safer. The two different islands and the two sides to each island, offer different experiences. The wind direction and speed may affect you choice. When the wind is up, windsurfing and kite surfing are popular. Chose the Gulf side if you want to watch a sunset.

There are more productive places to fish from shore nearby, such as the Sanibel Pier. However none are more relaxing. On the causeway you can sit by your vehicle in the shade without worrying about sunburn or how much time is left on your parking tag before you have to buy more.

Launch a kayak and there’s excellent fishing. Trout are the staple catch, but this is the ocean, anything can happen. Snapper, mackerel, and shark are common targets.

Shelling is also better on Sanibel and Captiva, but odd little treasures do show up on the Causeway. You may come across something here you wouldn’t find on a beach. For the avid sheller, it makes a nice change.

The Causeway is more than a road to Sanibel. Put on a bathing suit, pack a cooler, and spend a relaxing, inexpensive day in paradise.

Sanibel Causeway