Winter and early spring are the most beautiful and popular times to visit Florida, and Sanibel Island is no exception. High season officially runs from December through April, when idyllic, mostly dry beach weather boasts temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees. In early December, Sanibel and Captiva celebrate the annual Luminary Festival with candles all along the main streets, festive shopping and entertainment, and Santa riding through town on a fire truck. Shelling fans come in March for the ever-popular annual Sanibel Shell Fair, a top event for more than 74 years.
For better room rates, fewer crowds, and nice weather, visit Sanibel in May or from October through November. Those who come in late fall miss the rainiest months and experience spectacular weather, with average highs of 81 to 87 degrees. Though the Gulf of Mexico is a bit chillier, lower tides bring some of the best shelling of the year to Sanibel and Captiva. May is an excellent time to visit—the weather is warm, and you’re just beating out the start of hurricane season. In October, have fun in nature with free, family-friendly events at the weeklong Ding Darling Days eco-festival. In November, celebrate local flavor at the park with the annual Taste of the Islands competition.
Low season in Sanibel spans the hot and humid summer months of June through September—the rainiest and warmest months of the year, with an average high of 92 degrees. Still, it’s a popular time for families and travelers hunting for the cheapest rates of the season, and daily breaks from the heat follow brief afternoon showers and striking sunsets. Keep in mind that while hurricane season is in effect from June through November, peak hurricane season comes August through November; avoid the worst of it by planning for an early summer vacation in May or June.