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One perennial island spot for grub, Lazy Flamingo, is also BYOF (Bring Your Own Fish): Guests can pass their freshly-caught fish to the kitchen cooks, who will work their magic and pass the catch back fried, blackened, or grilled—and with a side of fries—for less than .
Southwest Florida International Airport is the easiest bet for flying in: Located in Fort Myers, it's just 20 miles away from Sanibel Island via Interstate 75.
It was founded by an editorial cartoonist from Iowa, and now hundreds of animals live in this area, including crocodiles, endangered giant manatees, and plenty of bird life.
Heading out on one of its serene, mangrove-lined kayaking trails is a peaceful way to pass an afternoon, but for those who are tight on time or traveling with small children, it's also possible to drive through four miles of the refuge, as well as hike and bike it.
There's also plenty to occupy little ones, with a pool, playground, and kids club just for them—perfect for when parents take advantage of the property's in-suite spa treatments.
Couples seeking a more romantic hotel should look to the Island Inn, which offers beachfront rooms or cottages along 550 feet of coastline.
Located about 25 miles south of Fort Myers, Florida's family-friendly Sanibel Island—along with its little sister, Captiva Island—draws vacationers looking for beautiful beaches and opportunities to explore the area's rich ecosystem.
The island's sandy beaches are the main attraction for most—and not just due to the long stretches of sand or crashing surf.
Another outdoors destination is the Great Calusa Blueway, a 190-mile-long canoe and kayak trail that offers waterways for beginners and advanced paddlers.
There are also bicycle, kayak, and paddleboard rentals, lawn games and sports and, of course, shell-cleaning stations.
The hotel's restaurant kitchen will also prep and cook guests' catches.
For a meal that's a bit more swanky, Il Cielo serves up American food that's been carefully sourced on its white tablecloths: think fresh-caught local fish, free-range chicken, and organic, local vegetables (it also has an excellent happy hour).
A little out of the main area is The Sandbar, a refreshingly modern seafood spot that also offers excellent steaks and cocktails.