Distance from Orlando to Sanibel Island


Earning My Ears
Aug 19, 1999
Where do I post a question about this? I need to know how long it will take us to drive from the Hotel Royal Plaza in Downtown Disney to Sanibel Island, Florida (off of Fort Meyers). Thanks!
I would like to know this too. We are driving down to Sanibel in March after a few days at Universal. I know there are many ways to get there but I would like to know the shortest route!
WDW Trip Nut - When in March are you heading to Sanibel? We'll be driving down there on March 30th to spend a week at a condo. It's a gorgeous spot - we loved it there back in 1996. Enjoy! :)
If you take I-4 west to 75 south it should take you a solid 3 1/2 hours to reach the exit for Sanibel ( I prefer exit 21, Daniels Rd. Pkwy). If you take 27 south to 17 south into Arcadia and pick up 30 south to Fort Myers you can be there in as little as 2 1/2 hours. You will be traveling older routes, but most are 4 lanes. (Not all, however and you can get held up behind slow drivers). The "back way" is shorter mile wise, and as I said, can be faster. I-4 to 75 is longer, but can be faster given the higher speed limits. However, if there is an accident on either of these major routes you can be held up for quite some time. Hope this helps and enjoy Sanibel. It is a wonderful island, as is Captiva.
Thanks for the directions, DVC - OKW! Do you have a personal preference as to which route you would take?

I appreciate your help!
Snowmom, We will be leaving HRH on the 11th of March going to Sanibel until the 15th. This is our firt time to Sanibel. Do you have any suggestions for places to eat,etc.? I hope ya'll(I'm from the South) have a great Time!
Hi... I live just outside of Ft Myers & go up to Orlando about every 6 weeks or so. For a while I liked the back roads better, but I think I-75 is faster. If you are on the back roads & get stuck behind slow traffic or a school bus forget it. Also if you have to use the bathroom, there aren't very many clean ones to go to. When it is just me & the kids, we do I-75 (it seems safer). With my husband we will go the back roads. Some of the towns on the back roads aren't places where I would want to get stuck at. Milage wise...back road is shorter, time wise...I think I-75.
Thanks for the advice, Mickeyfan! I appreciate it...

Trip Nut - I'll tell you about a couple places that we enjoyed on Sanibel. Remember though, it's been six years since we were last there.

*Matzaluna's Italian Kitchen - we really liked the food & atmosphere here. In fact, I think we ate there two times during our week's stay.

*Hungry Heron - I don't remember too many details, but do know that it had an extensive menu. My husband was able to have fresh grouper, while the kids could still enjoy their kid-type meals.

*Cheeburger, Cheeburger - a fun burger, fries & malt shop.

*Lighthouse Cafe (or something like that - not to be confused with a similarly named fine dining establishment) - a local told us about this spot for a good breakfast and we LOVED it! It's just a small little place. Probably not somewhere that you'd stop if someone hadn't recommended it.

Perhaps Mickeyfan could give you some good ideas. We're looking forward to trying some of the old spots, but want to try some new ones as well! :)
I had to chirp in. My family and I have been fortunate to travel to Sanibel 6 times in the past 5 years. It's a great place for families! Very quite and outdoors oriented. Lots of great bike paths (see Finnimores for a good deal on bike rentals) and, of course, lots of shelling on the beach. We were just in Sanibel in November and our favorite restaurants on this trip were Katie Gardenia's (on Periwinkle) and Keylime Bistro (on Captiva). Here's a link with restaurant info:


We always discover something new each time we go to Sanibel. This past trip we discovered the aviary/mini zoo at the Campgrounds. If you have kids, I would highly recommend this "free attraction". They have quite a collection of parrots, lemures(?sp), ducks, etc. Our son got to "hold" a parrot on his shoulder. He was quite excited!

If you want any more info on Sanibel, please ask...
ttfn - keep the ideas coming...! It's so good to get some insider, updated info! :) Tell me more about the two restaurants you mentioned. Are they kid-friendly? What are the menus like?

The aviary/zoo sounds great! Is the place just called the Campgrounds?

Have you gone on a dolphin cruise? We did one in 1996, but didn't see any dolphins. :(
If you've gone on one, is there one you'd recommend?

Thanks a bunch!

I would love to reccomend places on Sanibel but I don't go out to eat there much. It's funny, I live 20 minutes from there & hardly ever go. I am in Orlando more than I am in Sanibel/Captiva. Cheryl over on the Universal Board lives out that way & can give you tips on places to go. Me, I like the Outback & Hooters in Fort Myers. I am not one for fancy places to eat. As far as the beach....eeeeekkkk I am not a beach goer either (sorry), I am a pool person. There is a nice small resturant on Matlacha (going towards Pine Island) that may be worth your while checking out.....Sandy Hook is the name....
Take a look at the website that I posted above. You should be able to find some links
to the restaurants that will have menus. We ate at Katie Gardenia's for lunch (much
more reasonably priced). My son (5 yrs old) had a blast! We sat outside and this place
is filled in/outside with all sorts of mermaid related stuff. They even hang little plastic
mermaids on your drink glasses. I would definitely say that this is a place for all

We also all ate at Keylime Bistro. It was a bit pricey, but incredibly good. The manager/
wait staff were great with my son. They had a basket of kids books that kept my son busy.

We've also enjoyed RC Otters (Capitiva), Lighthouse Cafe (for breakfast - this place
can get very busy!!!), Gilligans, and the Lazy Flamingo. The island (as you probably know) is very casual and kids are pretty much welcomed anywhere. My son's favorite place is the ice cream shop near the Lighthouse Cafe. Very yummy locally made ice cream.

Sanibel is not a cheap place to visit. That's one of the main reasons we hit it in the offseason,
plus we prefer the much slower pace.

I would recommend that you stop at the Albertson's before you cross the causeway for more
reasonably priced groceries/adult beverages.

We have gone on Dolphin Cruises on Capitiva Cruises. It's a nice boat for kids, or people with a fear of the water. The interaction with the dolphins can be great. However, it does depend on if the dolphins want play. This past November, we found a couple of real playful dolphins that stayed with us for a long time. My son still talks about them.

Since you have kids, I'm going to put a plug in for the local library. For a small fee ($10), you can take out books, videos, etc to keep the kids occupied. My son loves books and I prefer
not to pack them; not to mention it's cheaper than renting videos. Plus, we like to support the local library.

As for the campground. You can't miss it. It's on Periwinkle and I believe the only campground on Sanibel. Every local knows where it is - so just ask if you can't find it.

Where are you staying, Snowmom? We've stayed at the Sundial Resort which has a great kids program.

Oh - don't forget the bug spray. The no-see-ums were bad in November. And once they start
biting, it's too late to spray. You can have 100's of bites in less than a minute. So, spray before you think you need to.

Let me know if you have any more questions.
Thanks for all the great ideas! Actually, I have two ressies as of now. South Seas Resort on Captiva and Holiday Inn on Sanibel. I'm thinking of going with South Seas even though it's more $$$. The only reason I haven't decided for sure is because I'm worried that South Seas might be a little out of the way.(biking,shelling,restaurants,etc.) If anyone has any input I will be glad to hear it!

p.s. Also, at South Seas we won't be directly on the beach(way too much $$$)
Lately, we've been staying at the Periwinkle Campground and my parents stay at the Holiday Inn because they are so close to one another. When we go with our friends, we prefer cottages like the Beachview Cottages which has a good web site. You know the same company runs the South Seas and other properties on the islands, such as the Best Western and the Sanibel Inn. If you stay in one, you get a card that lets you visit all the other hotels and use their pools, game rooms, tennis courts, whatever. This is cool because they are all different and one has a nautalis-shape pool slide that the kids would like. The Best Western is almost perfect, but the screened porches are not all private, which is unusual. It's also on either West or Middle Gulf which puts you in a position where it's easier to get to the restaurants in Sanibel and on Captiva. The hotels on East Gulf have beaches that tend to be a little more crowded. We like a kitchen ourselves, as it's just more convenient to make lunch than go out when you're salty and sandy.

For restaurants, we like RC Otters ( which is owned by the same people who own the Hungry Heron,) The Bubble Room, and I can't wait to try Katie Gardenia's which is run by the woman from the original Bubble Room. Gramma Dot's is also fun.

When you first get on the island, you'll see the Chamber of Commerce visitor's center on your right which is a gold mine of free magazines, newspapers, and brochures (some with coupons.) They also sell for just a few dollars, a dining guide that has menus from almost all the restaurants on the islands, including prices for most. It's so inexpensive, but worth its weight in gold.

We've been going to Sanibel several times per year since the 70's and I just love it still. One more thing, in nearby Fort Meyers Beach, there is a bridge where all the shrimp boats dock, and the road next to it has some small seafood stores that have outrageously fresh seafood, not just shrimp. I couldn't tell you how to get there, though, but if you decide on a condo or cottage, maybe someone more local could.

Have you ever thought about renting directly from an owner of a condo? Check out this site for info on owners:

It's so much cheaper to go directly through the owner versus the hotel management. I know that private owners rent at South Seas. We've always rented directly from an owner at Sundial and had no problems. It's amazing how much more affordable the rates are and you can enjoy the same accommodations - actually sometimes better since owners often have games and beach toys, chairs at the units.

We like the Sundial Resort for the kids program. It's a pick and choose program. They have 1/2 day programs, craft programs that are anywhere from 1/2 hr to 1 hr, "kids night out" programs, ice cream sundaes, crab races, etc. The staff has always been very friendly and my son loves the activities. We love having a bit of a break on our vacation. The resort also has an eco center with fish, shells, crabs, etc.

We like Sanibel since we can easily bike everywhere. Capitiva is beautiful but I don't think I would like to bike it with young kids. Too much traffic. Don't get me wrong. We love to visit Captiva, and we usually spend at least one day there, but not a whole week.

Unless I'm mistaken, the Sundial is the resort I mentioned with the nautalis-shaped pool slide - part of the Souths Seas group.
Sundial did add a new slide to the main pool this past year. It's a pretty gaudy looking big shell (nautilus). However, my son really enjoyed this slide and was thrilled it was added.
Last summer my son and I stayed at the Best Western Beach Resort in Ft. Myers Beach. It was beautiful. All the rooms have kitchenettes, balconies, face the ocean, free continental breakfast, newspaper,and the most beautiful manicured lawn w/ a BBQ area, tiki huts, palm trees, shuffle board, pool, and a seamless transition from grass to beach. The ocean is 50 ft from the hotels backdoor, if that. They also have all the watersport rentals on property. They even have a talking parrot named Coco. The rooms were immaculate and about $110.00/night. We walked the beach every night down to the pier and boardwalk to eat. Sannibel is 15 min away but I can't say enough good things about this hotel and area. Liz


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