Known for its beaches covered with shells, Sanibel is a large barrier island west of Ft Myers in the Gulf of Mexico. Sanibel was a big trip for us: the longest stay in the Cricket at seven nights in the south Florida summer heat. During the trip we had a good assortment of outdoor adventures, found new favorite restaurants, and explored south Florida.
We loaded the Cricket and 4Runner down with gear: two stand up paddle boards, four bikes, helmets, paddles and life jackets, boogie board, sand toys, camera and tripod, and much more. This is a pro of camping that we didn’t consider in the past; we can really bring everything -- and a kitchen sink -- with us that we might want for the week. In the past, we would have had to leave most of this at home because we just didn't have the room.
Loaded to near-capacity, we were on the road after work on Friday night. Since we travel overnight in order to maximize our limited vacation time, we plan longer stops along the way. This trip included Chuy’s Tex Mex south of Nashville and a Cracker Barrel the next morning somewhere in Florida. We think this is a great tip: if you are doing a long, non-stop drive, schedule in a real meal to get a break from the road. We knocked out 1050 miles in about 19 hours. We arrived by mid-day on Saturday and checked into the campground just after noon.
We ate out a lot this trip. We declared it too hot to cook, so we took advantage of great island dining locations.
Sanibel Grill was our first meal on the island. This is a Sanibel classic bar and grill that doesn’t disappoint. We had grilled grouper, which seemed to become a go-to option throughout the week.
We loved Lazy Flamingo, of which there are two locations on the island. The original is about 1000 feet from Blindman’s Pass just before you cross to Captiva Island. This location is run efficiently by two workers; a cook and a bartender. The grilled grouper and buffalo shrimp were both outstanding. As an added perk, this location is ideal to catch a sunset if you time your meal right. We did and took the picture above. The second location is across from Periwinkle Park. This one is fully staffed and has the same menu. The kids meals were served on a Frisbee you can use later on the beach.
We really enjoy the atmosphere of Island Cow, it’s a big, busy party with great indoor and outdoor seating and an outstanding wait staff. This kids loved the alligator tail which isn’t on the kids menu but will be served if you ask. The menu here is massive, too big in fact. If you try Island Cow, we recommend you stick to ordering from the daily specials menu, just to limit your choices to a reasonable amount.
Grandma Dots is our hands down favorite place to eat on Sanibel. We ate here three times in a week and were never disappointed in any way. They have the best fried oysters on the planet. All of the fish and shrimp dishes we tried were awesome. Everything is served with an herb mayo instead of tartar sauce and it was a great addition. Grandma Dot’s is in the middle of Sanibel Marina, so you can look at the boats and yachts surrounding the restaurant.
Doc Ford's Rum Bar, based on the character from Pine Island resident Randy Wayne White’s novels, is a great choice as well. Doc Ford's has three locations, with a fourth being considered, and we will admit that we ate at the Ft Myers Beach location off Sanibel. The food was good and the location was again beautiful set at a marina. Being a rum bar, we sampled and enjoyed a couple premium rum options.
Lighthouse Café boosts the world’s best breakfast, and there were no complaints from us. We typically don't eat breakfast out, but this is a worthy exception. We stopped by after a morning at Lighthouse Beach and enjoyed a late breakfast.
Seven nights in the Cricket… we survived! The Cricket slept great as the portable a/c effectively cooled us down at night. However the a/c could not keep up during the day as the Cricket temperature would exceed 90 with the a/c running when in the full sun. This may have been a downside as we didn’t have an indoor location to escape a hot afternoon. This forced us to be out the entire day. We need to address the venting of the a/c and this will be our first modification to the Cricket. We plan to cut a five inch hole in the floor to better vent the a/c.
We were close to the beach and sand coated everything inside of the Cricket. It still coats nearly everything even after cleaning. Just a reminder of a lovely Sanibel beach vacation.
Next up for us is the Dakotas toward the end of the summer and maybe a weekend trip before that in Nashville. Stay tuned for more of our adventures of Cricket Camping!
Shane and Jessica
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