3 Oct 2017
Considered an exceptional biking destination, Sanibel attracts bicyclists of all ages.
And certainly one can travel from furthest east to furthest west points on the Island by bike.
Bike trails , safe and lightly used, traverse the entire island creating a 25 mile path.
If you can’t bring your own bike to Sanibel, our main drag, Periwinkle Way, has several businesses that rent bikes or have them delivered right to your condo complex, including tandems, four-wheel buggy types and trailer-style carriers to pull the kids. Also, many vacation rentals have bicycles for guest use.
You’ll see lots of people of all ages and types on bikes on Sanibel. The trails are separated from the roadways, making them safe for families with children.
Sanibel’s bike trails are wide, smooth and well-marked. There are several water fountains along the trails and there are bike racks everywhere.
You do see performance bikers here too. Those interested in speed and distance seem to rise early and use the roads rather than the special bike trails for early-morning workouts.
Here are a few suggestions on where to go by bike on Sanibel:
The eastern (lighthouse) end of the island is fun to explore on bike because it’s shady and you don’t have to worry about parking in what can be a congested area. Lock your bike and visit the picturesque lighthouse (120 years old; not open for tours) and fishing pier.
In this old part of town, several roads remain unpaved. These hard-packed sand lanes end in lovely waterfront sites where cars can’t park.
The Middle Gulf Cemetery bike trail. East of Casa Ybel Road, the Middle Gulf Drive bike path leaves the roadside. This route goes to Sanibel’s pioneer cemetery, over the river and to the beach at Gulfside Park.
Wildlife Drive through J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful way to see birds and alligators. It’s a four-mile loop within the refuge that ends three miles from where you started. The drive, formerly gravel, has been paved for good bicycling. Cyclists pay $1 per person.
The longest stretch of bicycle trail is on the western end of the island, Sanibel-Captive Road. You pass Ding Darling refuge and can continue almost to Blind Pass (the division between Sanibel and Captiva.) Along the way, you can stop at the Shell Museum or Bowman’s Beach. Bowman’s Beach, one of Sanibel’s more remote beaches, is known for great shelling. From the parking lot, you walk a quarter mile and cross a wooden bridge over a freshwater lagoon. It’s a fabulous walk west along an unspoiled beach filled with wading birds and shells. You can walk all the way to Blind Pass.
The Sanibel Causeway is open — and free — to bikes. The causeway is three bridges connected by manmade islands that are developed as popular parks. One of the thrills of a Sanibel getaway is traveling over Pine Island Sound with gorgeous views of water and islands. Let us warn you, though: It looks like a mighty high bridge to pedal.