Sanibel Island or the Keys?

Jul 2nd, 2004, 08:01 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Sanibel Island or the Keys?

We're thinking of a Florida vacation in late Oct. or November. Am torn between Sanibel Island or the Keys - we've never been to either. I guess we'd fly into Miami if we go to the Keys. Also, any recommendations on where to stay in each location would be appreciated. We were thinking mid-way in the keys so that we could explore either direction. Thanks for your input!
beth48 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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We have gone to Sanibel Island for fourteen years. It is wonderful and never changes. We go to Casa Ybel, a time share unit and have enjoyed the place and the area. We flew into Ft. Meyers Airport and it was a short twenty minute ride to the Island. Once we went to the keys and stayed half way in Marathon. Can't say we enjoyed it. If you stay halfway your will spend a lot of time in traffic. If you decide to go to Sanibel and have any question you can email me and I would be happy to answer them.
monthend is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 11:45 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 328
It would be helpful if you would tell us a little more about what type of vacation your looking for.

I've never been to the Keys but have gone to Sanibel twice. Sanibel is beautiful, quiet, clean and safe. Its one of my favorite places.
DeborahB is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 12:03 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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These are two distinct locations with very different things to do. If you like action and clubs, definitely do Key West. If you are into relaxing, then do Sanibel. The old saying, "they roll up the sidewalks at night..." was what we found at Sanibel, which is what we love. We have been to the Keys four times and to Sanibel only once, but Sanibel is one of my favorite vacations ever. I just found it so magical. We watched dolphins frolicing literally a few feet from the shore. At low tide you can walk way out into the Gulf, and I cannot even describe the shells. There is a wonderful wildlife preserve on the island. We saw many exotic species. However, my heart belongs to the Keys. The color of the water there just "cleanses my soul." We usually stay in Key West at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort, which is on the quiet side of the island. They have a gorgeous pool area and there is a water view from the room if you get up high enough, but the last time we were there they were building another building in front of it and the view may be gone by now. The last time we went to the Keys we stayed at Marathon at a little Mom & Pop hotel (can't remember the name.) There is a nice public beach area in Marathon. Be sure to make the sunset celebration at Mallory Square while in Key West. It is a spectacle in and of itself. Hope this helps!
Dmitch is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 02:36 PM
Join Date: May 2003
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My vote is Islamorada in the Fl. Keys and I have been to both. The 2 locations you mentioned are much different in terms of what to do. The Florida Keys offers diving, great fishing and late evening not night life. Sanibel is much quieter and the gulf water is different. Islamorada is centrally located and exploring the keys is alot of fun. If you go to keywest, try to the ferry to Fort Jefferson. It's an awesome sight. I spend alot of time in Islamorada and it's paradise. Places to stay : Cheeca Lodge, The Moorings, Islander, also there's a nice Hampton Inn.Let me know if you need more info.
freespirit61 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 03:54 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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I agree that it's hard to make a suggestion if we don't know what you are looking for. But, here's a second for Islamorada. If you want an "old Florida" experience try the White Gate Court Inn. Once you turn off the highway, you enter grassy grounds with just a few rental units, a small sand beach and wonderful swimming in the bay. Manatees were visiting last time we were there. I love the location of Islamorada. Lots to do around there and easy to take a day trip to Key West if you want. A great relaxing vacation. If you want partying, don't go.
gracieb is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2004, 02:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Key West is my favorite vacation destination in the continental US. We're from the midwest and love the tropical ambiance. I read somewhere that Key West is the only Caribbean Island that you can drive to. Not geographically correct, but it definitely has a Caribbean feel. We aren't big party people, in bed by 10pm, so we definitely don't go for the night life. We do like to do some bar hopping, but more at happy hour times. The nice thing about Key West is that there is musical entertainment starting early afternoon and lasting until the wee hours. Sort of something for everyone.

The downside of Key West is lack of good beaches. So, if that is important to you, I'd look to go elsewhere.

I'd also recommend staying at one of the small hotels. Not everyone likes B&B's, and I understand it. But there are places that have 20-30 rooms, so big enough that you don't feel like you're in someone's house.

JeanH is offline  
Jul 5th, 2004, 12:08 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 35
We live in Florida and have been to both of these places many times. Just know that you are comparing two very different vacations. Key West can be a lot of fun, but be aware that if you stay on Duval Street which is the "strip" it will very noisy into the wee hours of the morning. Scooters are the prefered method of transportation here).When we have a group going down we stay on Duval (towards the end where it is quieter) at the Cuban Club. Hightly recommend it since it is on the 2nd floor and has a big porch with rockers, thoroughly modern and spacious. A charming inn is the Weather Station in the gated Truman complex that is right by Duval St. and in the nicest part of Key West (historic home area w/gated entrance and exit-very tropical) This puts you right next to all the action in Key West. I would suggest if you are going for a vacation that you stay in Key West at least a day or two (you really can do everything here in a couple of days) and then go to Islamorada. If you stay outside of these areas you will find that there is really nothing going on and you will miss the true key west experience. As for Sanibel, there is a huge resort that takes up most of the island of Captiva called the South Seas Plantation. I recommend that you look into it also, because they have all kinds of accomodations such as condo's, villa's, regular hotel rooms, etc. on site is a restaurant where you can feed manatees. Big beaches here (people still get large shells from the beaches each morning) But this is a little older property and is not super luxury(they may have remodeled though) but definitely nice. In Sanibel/Captiva you will be able to go on dinner cruises/sightseeing cruises, walk beautiful beaches, and find great places to eat, so it really depends on your cup of tea! Good luck. One more thing: October is still huricane season so with a trip to Key West (more so than Sanibel) you will want to keep and eye on the forecast.
samber is offline  
Jul 5th, 2004, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 744
There's a thread on this very same topic -- Sanibel vs. Key West -- and it is quite current, make sure you look for it. I already posted my thoughts there so won't repeat them here.

What I will say here is that if you choose Sanibel, you should consider staying directly on the Gulf. There are lots of places right on the Gulf, and it's so wonderful to be able to walk just a minute and be on a gorgeous beach. West Gulf Drive is my favorite spot - there are many resorts and it's quieter. The problem with South Seas Resort, recommended by someone else and which is on Captiva, is that the places are owned by individuals, so if you happen to get a unit owned by a cheapskate, you may not enjoy it as much.
birder is offline  
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