“All day – All night – Casual” is appropriate. Our easy-going, outdoor lifestyle translates to informal attire. Shorts and sandals are the accepted island uniform. Restaurants span from simple outdoor cafes to elegant candlelit dining rooms, none require jackets or ties. Retail establishments generally request shirts and shoes.
That said, what you bring is important. Packing the right things can make or break a trip. So, the first rule is to relax and keep it simple – be an islander and bring only the things that help you enjoy your island vacation – on the beach, golf course, kayaking, biking, or that special night out to dinner and the theatre. There are certain core things that you should bring no matter what you do – sun-screen, polarized sun-glasses, bug-spray, bathing suit with cover-up, your camera, and flip-flops. It’s also important to remember your medications, prescriptions, and toiletries. Beyond that what you bring depends on what you’ll be doing and where your comfort level is. And keep in mind there are laundry facilities where you’re staying and retail stores that carry whatever you might need.
There is little that you’ll need for the beach. David will find a place with beach chairs and towels for your use while you’re there. If you’re in a gulf-front unit you can just walk out to the beach. If not you may have to drive or bicycle to a beach. If you drive there could be a parking fee of about $2 per hour.
There are two public golf courses on the island – the Dunes Golf Club ( 239 472 2535 ) and The Sanibel Island Golf Club (239 472 2626). They have balls, tees and rent clubs if you don’t bring your own. You should pack your golf glove
and shoes and a nice pair of shorts and golf shirt.
The marina where you rent the kayak will provide what you need in the way of a vessel, paddles and flotation vests. Also ask for a bailing can or hand pump. Sanibel kayaking is mostly in the “Ding” Darling Refuge. Rentals are from Tarpon Bay Explorers (239 472 8900). Captiva kayaking is mostly on Roosevelt Channel and Buck Key. Rentals are from McCarthy’s Marina (239 472 5200) or Jensen’s Marina (239 472 5800). Kayaking is wet and hot work so you’ll probably bring your “I don’t care” clothes.
There might be bikes available for your use where you’re staying. If not, there are two places on the island that rent bikes – Billy’s Bike Shop (239 472 3620) or Finnimore’s Cycle Shop (239 472 5577). There are over 20 miles of biketrails so you’ll have plenty of room to roam. We would caution it’s safer to bike with footwear, not flip-flops. Bring your comfort clothes – whatever you’d wear biking at home. A moisture wicking shirt is a good idea.
That Special Night
What you bring will depend somewhat on the restaurants you visit. But the order of the day is to be casual but within your own comfort zone. The island is not anti-jacket, tie or wing-tip shoes. It just doesn’t need them and you rarely see them. For men, pants or shorts with a nice short sleeve shirt and loafers or boat shoes is common for dinner or the theatre. A simple dress or shorts outfit with a light sweater for the AC is good for the ladies. The key is not to be over casual. Bathing suits, T-shirts and flip-flops are for pools and the beach – not for that special night. Vacation-wear on Sanibel and Captiva is casual but nice.
So, bring whatever your good common-sense tells you is the right thing to bring and you’ll have a great vacation.