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Sanibel Attractions: The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum


Did you know that Sanibel Island is home to the only official shell and mollusk museum in the country?

Established in 1995, The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum only museum in the United States that is solely devoted to shells and the mollusks that make them.

The natural history museum exhibits beautiful shells from around the globe. With world-renowned Malacologists (scientists who study Mollusca mollusks) and Marine Biologists at the helm, a visit to the museum offers a wealth of knowledge about shells, science and the cultural, historical, and culinary facets of shells.

There are several activities your family can participate in during your visit to the Sanibel shell museum. Daily live tank talks are fun and educational for all ages. Listen as an expert offers amazing insights about the creatures on display in live fish tanks. Talks are available at 12:30pm, 2:30pm, and 4pm daily and are included with museum admission. Family shell arts and crafts are also available for the kids

Experience more than 30 permanent exhibits, as well as a small variety of temporary exhibits during your visit. The museum becomes alive at the most popular exhibit, the touch tank. The kids will love getting up close and personal with live shells and mollusks all the while learning about the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum also offers guided beach walks throughout the entire year. Join a marine biologist and walk the beach looking for live shells and mollusks to learn more about! In the summertime, the museum also offers summer monthly guided excursions at nearby Bunche Beach with world-renowned Marine Biologist Dr. José H. Leal. Sanibel beach tours depart fromt 3111 W Gulf Drive Sanibel, FL 33957

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is open daily from 10am – 5pm. Adult admission is $15; Youth admission (12-17) is $9; Child admission (5-11) is $7; Active military and children under 5 are free.

Visit the museum located at 3075 Sanibel Captiva Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957. Contact the museum by calling (239)395-2233

Sanibel Luminary


Ho Ho Ho! The holiday season is on its way and the festivities Sanibel Island are just getting started.

If you’ve never spent time on Sanibel Island during Christmas Time, here’s what you can expect. Though palm trees replace pine trees, snow and cold weather are replaced warm gulf breezes, celebrating the holidays is on Sanibel is just as festive as anywhere else in the country during the month of December.

The season kicks off at the annual Luminary Holiday Stroll on December 7th, 2018. The Luminary Holiday Stroll, hosted by the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce is a community-wide holiday event that brings together residents, visitors, businesses and organizations, promoting goodwill and community spirit. Some of our visitors make early reservations especially for the event.

As you “stroll the trail”, you’ll visit numerous island-based businesses and stop to visit fun attractions– Santa visits, photos with Santa, a live nativity scene, music and activities for the entire family included!

On December 8th, BIG ARTS presents their annual Concert Band Holiday Performance. Get into the joyous mood of the holidays with an epic holiday concert! This is another BIG ARTS annual community event and a perennial, sell-out favorite.

Celebrate Christmas Eve as only as you can on Sanibel.  Join Adventures in Paradise for Santa’s Dolphin & Wildlife Cruise to Picnic Island. You may ask “Where is Santa on his last day before flying out?” On a deserted island in the waters surrounding Sanibel, of course!


Bring the family cruise out among the dolphins to visit with Santa where he’ll be waiting with gifts for all the kids. Photos of your little ones on Santa’s lap will be provided! Reservations Required. Limited Availability. To book your spots call 239-472-8443 or visit us on the web at

If you plan on joining us here at Signal Inn during the holiday season, do not hesitate to reach out and ask us about additional holiday events and island activities. See you on the sand!

The Best of Sanibel Island 2018


Many of our island visitors ask us about “the best” places to dine, relax, and explore on Sanibel Island. Guests scour the internet to locate the best reviews to locate the most popular hotspots on the island. Why trust the internet when you can ask the locals?

Each year, the Sanibel community has the opportunity to fill out ballots with dozens of categories to vote for “the best of the island” businesses and destinations.

On Sept. 25, the Island Reporter and Sanibel-Captiva Islander recognized the 2018 Best of the Islands winners. Several island businesses took home not one, but multiple awards this year.

The full list of winners for the 2018 Best of the Islands is as follows:


– Art Gallery: Tower Gallery

– Bicycle Rental: Billy’s Bikes & Rentals

– Book Store: Macintosh Books

– Boutique: B Unique Boutique

– Children’s Clothing: Nanny’s Children’s Shoppe

– Concierge Tour Service: Captain Bubby’s IsLAND Tours

– Craft Shop: Three Crafty Ladies

– Event Facility: Sanibel Community House

– Fishing Charter: Whitney’s Bait & Tackle

– Fishing Equipment: Whitney’s Bait & Tackle

– Fishing Guide: Whitney’s Bait & Tackle

– Gift Shop: Suncatcher’s Dream

– Golf Course: The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club

– Health Club: Sanibel Health Club

– Historic Site: Sanibel Historical Museum and Village

– Island Gear Rental: YOLO Watersports

– Jewelry: Lily & Company

– Manicure/Pedicure: Sanibel Skin Spa

– Marina: Sanibel Marina

– Museum: Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

– Pet Store: Island Paws

– Pickleball Courts: Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

– Place For Dancing: George & Wendy’s Seafood Grille

– Place For Entertainment: Traditions on the Beach

– Place For Family Fun: Billy’s Bikes & Rentals

– Place To Watch The Game: The Sanibel Grill

– Sailing School: Offshore Sailing School

– Salon: Sanibel Day Spa

– Shell Shop: She Sells Sea Shells

– Shopping: Periwinkle Place Shops

– Sightseeing Cruises: Captiva Cruises

– Spa: Sanibel Day Spa        

– Surf Shop: YOLO Watersports

– Taxi Limo Service: Island Taxi

– T-Shirt Shop: On Island

– Water Sports: YOLO Watersports

– Wedding Venue: Casa Ybel

– Women’s Clothing: Chico’s

Dining and Drinking

– Bakery: Totally Baked On Sanibel

– Bar: The Sanibel Grill

– Bartender: Joe Schulz, of The Sandbar

– Beach Food To-Go: Geppetto’s Beach Foodies

– Beer Selection: The Sandbar

– Breakfast: Over Easy Cafe

– Burgers: Cheeburger Cheeburger

– Chef: Melissa Talmage, of Sweet Melissa’s Cafe

– Chocolate Shop: Bailey’s General Store

– Coffee Bar: Bailey’s General Store

– Convenience Store: Huxter’s Market & Deli

– Croissant Bakery: Geppetto’s Beach Foodies

– Custard: Joey’s Custard

– Deli: Sanibel Deli

– Diner: Jerry’s Foods

– Family Dining: Island Cow

– Fine Dining: IL Cielo

– Fresh Doughnuts: Jerry’s Foods

– Frozen Yogurt: Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream

– Gelato: Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream

– General Store: Bailey’s General Store

– Grocery Store: Bailey’s General Store

– Gulf Front Dining: Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

– Happy Hour: The Sandbar

– Ice Cream: Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream

– Italian Dining: Matzaluna

– Lunch: Island Cow

– Martini: Traditions on the Beach

– New Restaurant: The Jac Island Grille & Rum Bar

– Pizza: Island Pizza

– Seafood: Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market

– Server: Joe Schulz, of The Sandbar

– Specialty Cheeses: Jerry’s Foods

– Steak: Shima Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

– Sushi: Shima Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

– Tapas: Traditions on the Beach

– Tiki Bar: Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

– Wine Selection: Bailey’s General Store

Did your favorites make the list? It’s easy to discover the best attractions on Sanibel Island!

Sanibel Island’s New Restaurants 2018


Like a gulf breeze, many of our favorite island establishments, restaurants included, come and go. With most sticking the test of time and earning status as a “legendary” island restaurant, there are always a few new restaurants that pop up on the island during the off-season, ready and waiting for the seasonal crowds to descend on the all-new eateries. A few of the newest Sanibel Island restaurants have been outlined below. If you decide to visit—let us know what you thought about your experience!

The Jac

One of Sanibel Island’s most iconic restaurants, The Jacaranda is all-new and under new ownership. The tropical carpeting and trellises are gone and replaced with rustic coastal flair—and  all new menu that is sure to tantalize your taste buds. From burgers to tacos and a to- die-for grouper basket The Jac is sure to hit the spot. With the help of new chef Chef Phillipe Schroeder, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco, those who loved the old Jacaranda are sure to enjoy the all-new experience for those who want to embark on a culinary journey. For more information, visit or call 239-472-1771.

Paper Fig Kitchen

Owned and operated by Jeramie and Debra Campana, Paper Fig Kitchen is Sanibel Island’s newest quick-order eatery. Sourcing ingredients from local farms, the duo work together to create hand-crafted recipes including a fully-stocked cold case of ready to eat food and oven-ready hors d’oeuvres. There is also a made-to-order board with sandwiches, salads, soups and more. For more information, visit or call 239-887-0050.

The Paper Fig Kitchen is at 2003 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.


Beloved island restaurant, Traders, has opened a second location further down on Periwinkle Road, dubbed T2. Adopting a fresh and preppy vibe, the two restaurants share Chef Mike Patnode whose Traders offerings bleed over into T2. Nibble on oysters, gazpacho, and more offered on a one-page menu—a curated selection from the larger Traders establishment. Cocktails are to not be missed during a visit to T2. Try a blood-orange margarita or a gin and tonic with elderflower liquor and key lime juice—yum! For the Traders experience you know and love, but with a modern twist, stop by T2 located at 2340 Periwinkle Way. For more information, visit or call 239-558-8919.

Art and Entertainment on Sanibel


Sanibel’s largest arts organization, BIG ARTS, has announced that tickets for their 2019 season are officially on sale!

The 2019 season will feature 17 main stage performances as well as several exhibits, a film series, lecture programs and more. The 2019 Schein Hall series runs from January 2019 through March, kicking off on January 5th with Beginnings, a Chicago tribute band that has previously performed at Disney’s EPCOT Center and throughout Las Vegas since 2002.

Acts following Beginnings include classical acts like the Grammy Award-winning Pacifica Quartet with Sharon Isbin, Oboe Fusion, American virtuoso pianist Jonathan Biss, and seven piece brass band Bumper Jacksons.

With events highlighting pop, contemporary, bluegrass, classical and more, there truly is something for everyone who attends one of the exciting Big Arts shows.

In addition to main stage shows, a weekly film series takes place every Monday night from November to march. The series, chock full of foreign and independent documentaries from around the world, kicks off on November 5th at 7pm. The film shown, Itzhak, delves deep into the life of Itzhak Perlman.

There will also be a FORUM lecture series, host to some of the most highly anticipated events of the season. These lectures typically sell out very quickly, we recommend securing tickets as soon as possible. One of the lecturers this year is Lynn Povich, author of Good Girls Revolt.

New this year, BIG ARTS, has plans to host lectures focused on the theater as well as an expanded series of staged play readings.

Can’t wait until November to start attending? In October, both the Phillips Gallery and Founders Gallery will open to the public. Each gallery showcases one exhibit per month. Each showcase will begin with an artist’s reception that is also free and open to the public.

Though you may only spend a week or two on Sanibel Island during your stay with us here at Signal Inn, we highly recommend attending any BIG ARTS events for the opportunity to not only experience great music, performances, lectures, films and more, but also to mingle with the Sanibel Community and support the local island art scene.

Learn more and purchase tickets at

BIG ARTS is located just 2.8 miles away from Signal Inn at 900 Dunlop Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957.

Watersports on Sanibel


You’ve explored the sand, and maybe even picked up a few shells on the way. Now, introduce yourself to the waves and waters of the glistening Gulf of Mexico.

Experiencing life on the water is easy on Sanibel Island, especially with more watersport activates than you can count on two hands. Whether you prefer smooth, easy sailing or adrenaline-inducing fast paced fun, watersports on Sanibel island are fun for everyone, regardless of age or skill.

Cruise on top of the waves (or explore the Sanibel River or Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge) from the comfort of a kayak or paddleboard. There are several shallow and calm local waterways that allow people of all skill levels to kick back and enjoy an afternoon on the water. Kayaking and paddle boarding is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with our area’s local wildlife residents. It is not uncommon to catch a dolphin swimming nearby or a manatee gracefully drifting underneath your feet.

If you prefer high energy excitement on the water, head on over to Captiva to hop aboard a wave runner and skim across the coast for the most thrilling watersport activity on Sanibel-Captiva. Please keep in mind, all wave runner drivers must be 16 years of age and provide identification with a birthdate present.

If you’re a boater, Sanibel Island is host to several local rental companies that will get you and your family on the water in the perfect vessel for your needs. Whether you’d prefer to laze the day away on a sturdy pontoon boat or head off shore for a little bit of fishing in a state-of-the-art fishing boat, there truly is an option for everyone.

If you are interested in participating in any watersport activities on Sanibel Island, do not hesitate to reach out to our front desk staff. They are always happy to guide you towards a watersports rental company that suits your specific needs and budget!

Sanibel Island Named “Florida’s Best Kept Secret”


Great news from across the pond! British daily broadsheet newspaper, The Telegraph, has named The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel “Florida’s Best Kept Secret.”

As described by The Telegraph:

“With 100 subtropical islands and a wealth of outdoor activities and sights to choose from, it’s easy to see why Florida’s secret heart lies in the unspoilt paradise Fort Myers and Sanibel.”

Recognizing Southwest Florida’s low profile and abundant opportunities for outdoor activities and exploration it’s easy to see just why our island destination of Sanibel was selected

“It is a place where you can find yourself spotting manatees and dolphins, then soaking up the sunshine at a charming open-air beach eatery. A place where you can immerse yourself in nature, gaze in wonder as glorious sunsets turn the sky a rich red, or simply wander off to collect some of the dazzling array of shells that wash up on the soft sands,” writes Sarah Gordon, the author of the expose.

Local attractions highlighted by the article include Bowman’s Beach, D.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, local kayak and bike trails, and the many opportunities for observing wildlife.

At Signal Inn, we invite and welcome visitors from around the world to join us right here on the pristine sands of Sanibel Island. Experience pure paradise from your very own private gulf side villa, steps away from world-class beaches littered with one of a kind shells. Exploring the island is a breeze when Signal Inn is your home away from home. Our perfect location provides access to bike trails, and a bounty of unique island boutiques and restaurants.

As we enter the summer months, we are pleased to announce that we are offering “off-season” discounts all summer long. If you’d like to join us and experience our “secret” island for yourself, please make your reservation on or give our travel experts a call at (800) 992-4690.

To read the article by The Telegraph, click here.

June on Sanibel: National Seashell Day



On June 21st, National Seashell Day returns to the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel and we are inviting you and your family to celebrate this special day with us, right here on the sands of Sanibel Island.

On the nationally recognized holiday, join shelling enthusiasts and master naturalists will come together on this special day to host a slew of events and activities for those who would like to shell, learn, and enjoy the company of others in attendance.

In the past, this event has drawn national attention including a visit from Good Morning America.

“Our beautiful shells have long attracted writers, artists and innovators to our beaches for creative inspiration and a connection to nature. National Seashell Day is a celebration of the gifts from the sea that make our area so special,” said the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel.”

The latest addition to this annual event is the 2018 quest to break the world record to create the Largest Human Seashell.  Shell Oil Co. currently holds the record with 855 participants.

To participate, head on over to our neighbors on Fort Myers Beach, specifically at 6200 Estero Blvd. The event is free to participate in, but interested record-breakers must pre-register, as the free t-shirts will be provided to the attendees to color-coordinate the shell image. Pre-registrars will also receive a free bus pass, as there is no on-site parking in the area around the beach.

Participants can use the free Park and Ride LeeTran Beach Trolleys (Route 400), which run every 10-15 minutes. The trolleys leave from the Beach Park & Ride at 11101 Summerlin Square and Lovers Key Park & Ride at 8700 Estero Blvd., on the east side of the road.

Check-in begins at 6:30 8:30 a.m. and the photo of the shell created by the outline of the participants will begin at 9 a.m.

To register visit

If you would like to celebrate National Seashell Day and stay right here on Sanibel, activities and events will be hosted on-island all day long.

Visit for more information.

Can’t make it to Sanibel Island in June? The fact of the matter is that every day is National Seashell Day on Sanibel! Cruise the surf all day, every day to find beautiful and unique shells crafted by Mother Nature herself.

See you at Signal Inn!


Sanibel on a Budget


Your Sanibel vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. Explore all of the attractions Sanibel Island has to offer with a borrowed attractions pass from the Sanibel Public Library.

The library now offers passes to four of the island’s popular attractions, The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples and CROW’s Visitor Education Center.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is the only museum in the United States that is solely devoted to shells and the mollusks that make them. The natural history museum that exhibits beautiful shells from around the globe

Explore and discover the rich history of Sanibel up close and personal at The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. Experience the story of Sanibel is told from the Calusa and Spanish eras to the early pioneer families who settled on the island in the 1800s.

The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples is a brain-building powerhouse and Southwest Florida’s first museum devoted for children and families to learn through play. With hands-on exhibit galleries, the accessible museum invites visitors of all ages to journey through the swamps of the Everglades, weave through a maze, climb a two-story banyan tree, or experiment with the water play station.

At CROW’s Visitor Education Center, guests learn about CROW’s history and day-to-day operations through displays, interactive exhibits and video. The center also features live animal
exhibits, special children’s areas and live camera feeds of the hospital intake room and several
outdoor rehabilitation enclosures.

Cultural passes may be reserved to check out for one week using a current Sanibel Public Library card.

To purchase a visitor’s library card for the Sanibel Public Library, please visit the library and pay a fee of just $10. A visitor’s library card is good for one year.

The Sanibel Public Library has been recognized as one of the best libraries in the country. Library Journal named it a 5-Star Library in its annual America’s Star Libraries survey.

Easter on Sanibel


Sun, sand, and Easter eggs? Celebrating Easter on Sanibel is truly a one-of-a-kind island experience that your family is sure to enjoy and never forget.

Start your very special Easter Sunday on Sanibel Island at the outdoor, non-denominational Christian Easter morning sunrise service on the Sanibel causeway. Hosted by the Sanibel Community Church, the service starts at 6:30 am sharp and will include a full praise band, a youth presentation, ministry from Teen Challenge and a declaration of the Word of God. Arrive early for complimentary coffee and donuts.

Next, head over to the Sanibel Island Farmers market. Browse through the marketplace that is chock full with local vendors offering baked goods, live plants, honey, pasta, cheese, sausages, fresh fish, fresh organic produce, and more. The Sanibel Farmers Market is open every Sunday, October – May at City Hall from 8am to 1pm. It offers a large variety of fresh and original products from locally grown fruits and vegetables to fresh caught seafood and homemade salsas and dips. The vendors are local businesses and farms who come every week to contribute to this unique experience on the island.

If the kids are looking for a local Easter egg hunt, you’re in for a treat. Hop aboard the most unique Easter egg hunt experience in Southwest Florida. Adventures in Paradise is prepared to whisk you away to Picnic island for a one of a kind egg hunt on the sand. Easter pails and water are provided. Egg hunt is for those 11 years of age and under. Keep an eye out for dolphins!

End the perfect Easter Sunday on Sanibel at one of our local gourmet restaurants with a delicious Sanibel Island Easter Dinner including Thistle Lodge, Traders, or Il Cielo.

Feel like staying in to end your day? Watch the sunset from our beach or from the comfort of your lanai. At Signal Inn, an island-inspired Easter celebration has never been easier or more memorable.