“Heaven’s a little closer in a cottage by the sea.” Everybody knows that. But most of us can’t go out and buy one for a million dollars.
Even better is vacationing in one that someone else swept the sand from and hung clean towels in your bathroom. On this small island (12-ish miles long and 3 miles wide) with over 40 independently owned places to stay – many of them offering individual cottages – Sanibel-Captiva Island is Florida’s Cottage Motel Capital.
We’ve rounded up all the lodging where you can stay in your “own” place. Beyond our list are many quaint and charming hotels, Inns and vacation rentals (visit Sanibel-Captiva.org for more info) but for today we’re talking about free-standing accommodations (or in a few cases, partially attached cottages that made our list because they’re called “cottages” or “bungalows” – because, after all, Bungalows is our last name…)
We’re starting in Sanibel, going in alphabetical order. Click on each property’s name to visit their site for more info. Prices are approximate and based on the lowest current rate we found: prices are higher during peak season and holidays.
1245 Periwinkle Way
- You can’t get much more old-Florida charm than vacationing in an A-frame cottage! The A-frame originated in the 1930s and had its peak in the 70s; these darlings have withstood the test of time. Visit the site to see how cute they are on the inside!
- Anchor Inn offers standard and deluxe studios, efficiencies, and the historic A-frame cottages. Pets are welcome! Rates start at approximately $163 for a room, cottages at $230.
- Within walking distance of shops and restaurants, slightly less than a mile to the beach. Bicycles are available for rent.
3325 West Gulf Dr.
- Beachview Cottages have their own private beach, heated swimming pool and shaded tiki hut. Check their website for details about each cottage. Some units are pet friendly, rates start at approximately $235.
- The cottages are located in a mostly residential area with some condo buildings nearby and a few restaurants within walking distance.
4227 West Gulf Dr.
- Blue Dolphin Cottages’ property is on the Gulf, and offers efficiencies or one bedroom suites, all with sun decks. Included are amenities such as complimentary use of bicycles, lounge chairs, beach umbrellas, outdoor BBQs, and free continental breakfast. Rates start at approximately $134.
- Located in a quiet, shaded, and mostly residential area of the island, the closest restaurant is a mile and a half away, but with your full kitchen you may never need to venture out.
6460 Sanibel Captiva Rd.
- With 40 units, and a choice of either Gulf front or Bay front, the choices abound at Castaways. A private marina and the quiet bay offer boating, fishing and kayaking experiences. Many cottages have screened porches, full kitchens, some have a washer and dryer. Check their site for details about each cottage. Rates start at approximately $175.
- Located at the northern tip of Sanibel right before you cross over into Captiva, staying at Castaways lets you enjoy dining and shopping in both towns easily. Several restaurants are within walking distance.
1081 Shell Basket Ln.
- Choose from 1 or 2 bedroom cottages, 2 or 3 bedroom duplexes, efficiencies, or a spacious beach house. Cottages have full kitchens. Amenities include central A/C, free WiFi and beach needs. Gulf Breeze Cottages began in the 1940’s and is grandfathered in for set-back rules allowing them to be a shell’s throw away from the Gulf. Rates start at approximately $180.
- Tucked way back of the main road, down a small (seemingly private) lane, you might feel totally cut off from civilization. But happily there are at least 4 restaurants within easy walking distance.
3111 W. Gulf Dr.
- For over a century Sanibel Island Inn has provided visitors with a beautiful, peaceful vacation experience on 550 feet of pristine beach. Today you can choose from six hotel room types all within yards of the Gulf, and six spacious cottages with either 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms. Amenities are many including a heated pool, tennis courts, on-site resort dining at Traditions on the Beach, guest library & lounge, and much more. Rates start at approximately $215.
- Several restaurants are close by but with all the activities and the restaurant on site, you may find you never need to leave during your stay.
3951 W. Gulf Dr.
- On 6.5 acres, Mitchell’s has over 425 of Gulf front beach, 2 swimming pools, complimentary bicycles, kayaks, and is pet friendly. Rates start at approximately $145.
- Mitchell’s is located in a notably quiet, mostly residential area of the island and the closest restaurant is 1.5 miles away.
1431 Jamaica Dr.
- Built in 1959, Periwinkle Cottages offer old-Florida charm with modern comfort. Each cottage is designed for adults and children age 13 and older, and each has a full kitchen, beach chairs, beach cart and cooler, beach umbrella, Weber charcoal grill, complimentary use of bicycles, and more. Rates start at approximately $130.
- Private beach access is located just 300 yards away, a short walk through a peaceful residential neighborhood. With your full kitchen you may never need to leave your cottage, but many restaurants are located just 3 miles north and south of Periwinkle Cottages.
1223 Buttonwood Ln.
- Attached cottages with private entrances in front and back and private sundecks, peaceful and romantic Seahorse Cottages are designed for adults. Choose from a studio, a 1 bedroom, a deluxe 1 bedroom, or 2 bedroom cottage. Amenities include full kitchens, complimentary use of bicycles, sand chairs, beach towels, and beach carts. A small heated pool is surrounded by tropical gardens and barbecue facilities. Rates start at approximately $90 for a weeknight.
- The beach is just steps away down a quiet lane, and shops and restaurants are within easy walking distance as well.
2823 W. Gulf Dr.
- Old-Florida style resort with modern conveniences, Shalimar offers motel efficiencies and 1 or 2 bedroom cottages with fully equipped kitchens. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, large heated pool, shuffleboard, basketball court, gas grills, and guest laundry. Bike rentals are available on site. Rates start at approximately $175.
- Shalimar is a Gulf front property with the motel units and most cottages just a few steps from the beach. The Sand Bar restaurant is just outside of the property, and several others are within easy walking distance.
4819 Tradewinds & Jamaica Dr.
- Offering 1 and 2 bedroom beach units, pictured above, and larger near-beach 1 and 2 bedroom cottages (just down the street) Tropical Winds is located in a quiet residential neighborhood. Some units are pet friendly! Amenities include a swimming pool, bicycles, beach chairs, beach wagons and umbrellas (towels for the doggies, too!) Kitchenettes “with all the trimmings.” Cottages have full kitchens. Rates start at approximately $185.
- Room 10 is ocean view and the beach units are just steps from the beach, cottages are a half block away. Most restaurants are within 3 miles of Tropical Winds.
3033 W. Gulf Blvd.
- Waterside Inn offers Old Sanibel Island charm and a number of lodging options including Gulf front and Gulf view cottages, pool side cottage efficiency, Honeymoon cottage, Gulf view lodge guest room, Gulf view lodge efficiency, and Breakers West condominiums. Click on their name above to see what each cottage/room offers. Amenities include a heated pool, full kitchens in all cottages, beach towels, BBQ grill and shuffleboard courts. Pets are allowed in the cottages but not the lodge or condos. Rates start at approximately $224 for a Gulf view cottage.
- The cottages and most rooms are just steps to the beach, and several restaurants are within an easy walk of a half mile or less.
Captiva is located at the northern tip of the island reachable by just one main road. Getting there takes a little longer than staying in Sanibel, but Captiva offers the bonus of a pretty little main street with shops and restaurants, within walking distance of most cottages and Inns. We like the option of being able to park our car and leave it for the duration.
North Captiva (separated from Captiva by a hurricane in 1921) is accessible only by boat which has its own charm, and is great for families. With just a small handful of restaurants and only one resort though, North Captiva didn’t appeal to the Beaches, Bars and Bungalows team. What would we write about?
11508 Andy Rosse Ln.
- Right on the main street that leads to the beach, Captiva Island Inn has the perfect location for those of us who love to be close to everything. Just a couple of steps away is one of the best restaurants in town, Keylime Bistro. Across the street and one door down is the Captiva Island Store (for groceries) and Captiva Discount Liquor. The beach is a 3 minute walk to the west, and the Pine Island Sound is a 2 minute walk to the east. Shops, restaurants and art galleries can all be found on this street, and more are located a little further north – an arduous 6 minute walk – on Captiva Drive.
- Captiva Island Inn has 10 cottages (including a tiny one called The Love Shack, pictured below, which may have had an illustrious past, but I can’t find that info anymore online… maybe I dreamed it…) 4 suites with full kitchens and either 1 or two bedrooms and 3 rooms with private baths that share a kitchen, living room and patio. Complimentary beach towels and beach chairs are available, and you can ride for free to area restaurants on their colorful S CAR Go trolley. As part of your stay you receive free breakfast daily from either RC Otters Island Eats or Keylime Bistro.
15300 Captiva Dr.
- Captiva’s only small resort directly on the beach, Jensen’s on the Gulf offers five “View Suites” in the main building that have breathtaking vistas of the beach and Gulf, but for us the gems are the Garden Suites: Post Office Sweet #6, and PO Box #7, in the historic cottage that was the original Post Office for Captiva Island. The Post Office Sweet has a full kitchen and PO Box #7 has a mini fridge, microwave, coffee maker and toaster. Amenities include use of beach towels, beach chairs, umbrellas and beach toys. Picnic tables, tiki hut, and BBQ’s are available on the property.
- The downtown area’s shops, restaurants and galleries are under a half mile away, and The Green Flash Waterfront Restaurant is about a minute’s walk down the street.
15107 Captiva Dr.
- Stay in a historic cottage – and don’t let the plain exteriors fool you. Inside you’ll find spacious updated comfort. Jensen’s offers a number of free-standing cottages with either 1 bedroom, 2 bedrooms/1 bath, 2 bedrooms/2 baths, and suites with either screened balconies or patios. All have full kitchens with all the basic supplies you’ll need to cook and eat at home (I think we did have to slip over to the Captiva Island Store for salt and pepper.) The marina’s bait and tackle shop has interesting historic photos and kitschy memorabilia, fishing gear to buy or rent, souvenirs, snacks, drinks, t-shirts, hats, and more. A huge bonus is the spacious lounge/grill area by the water. Sit under a tiki hut and watch the fishing boats go by, or cast a line and try your luck, and then grill your catch. Rates start at approximately $160.
- Jensen’s Twin Palms is a short walk to all the fun on the main street, and about 5 minutes to the beach.
15951 Captiva Dr.
- Stretching literally between the Gulf and Pine Island Sound, ‘Tween Waters resort covers 13 acres with many choices of accommodation style including 1, 2, and 3 bedroom cottages, suites, studios and guestrooms. What started in 1931 as a charming collection of fishing cottages has grown into a luxury resort with much to offer. Most intriguing for us are the 19 cottages – bay front, Gulf front, and courtyard – where in olden times famous visitors, such as Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Theodore Roosevelt, stayed. Amenities for the cottages include full size kitchens (except for Cottage 109), HD flatscreen televisions in living and bedrooms, free WiFi, Olympic sized pool, kid’s wading pool, fitness center, daily newspaper, free continental breakfast buffet, The Spa at ‘Tween Waters, and three restaurants: fine dining, casual with live music, and a pool bar.
- With all the dining options and on-site watersports rentals, the beach and the bay right there, you can truly park your car for the duration and never need to leave the resort. Downtown Captiva is just over a mile.
While others on Sanibel-Captiva Island may not offer you your own four walls (or three), many are worth checking out for their old-Florida charm, history, and the evidence of pride and hard work the owners pour into their Inns and quaint motels.
A partial list of these:
After I rounded up this comprehensive list for you (and it took WEEKS! But have I told you I thrive on doing research? I get so wrapped up it feels almost like an addiction. That’s okay though, right?) I realized I hadn’t even mentioned what Sanibel-Captiva is famous for: shelling. This island is indisputably Florida’s – or perhaps the world’s – Shelling Capital. That’s where “The Sanibel Stoop” and “The Captiva Crouch” come from. Walking down the beach you either have to force yourself to look away from all the upturned butts, or just give in to it… After all, they’re so focused on finding that perfect specimen to take home, it’s almost like an addiction…
If we’ve left out any cottage-style accommodations (this kind of worry keeps me up at night, no lie) please let us know! Also, if you know of any other small island that has more independently owned cottage motels than Sanibel-Captiva, comment below.
Sanibel-Captiva Island is located on Florida’s Gulf coast, 42 miles north of Naples and 77 miles south of Venice.