Cape Coral to Sanibel Island by Boat


Located on the north side of the Caloosahatchee River, Cape Coral is the sister city to Fort Myers, which lies on the south shore. A long stretch of Cape Coral borders this gateway to Lake Okeechobee and the Atlantic.

The western boundary of Cape Coral is the Matlacha Pass and its wildlife preserve. This waterway runs between the mainland and Pine Island, which is very shallow and home to many marine life species.

Where you are boating from out of Cape Coral will determine how long it takes you to get to Sanibel Island. The route you take is also a factor because Sanibel Island is approachable from Pine Island pass or the Gulf of Mexico.

Whether you want to fish, swim, walk the beach in search of shells, or gather sand dollars and starfish, the best way to see Sanibel Island is by water.

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How far is Cape Coral from Sanibel Island by boat?

That depends on your starting point, and if you start in the city, the distance isn’t the issue. The time is. For example, downtown Cape Coral to Sanibel Island is about 14 miles, depending on your route. However, you must traverse the ‘miserable mile‘ in the middle of that route.

how far is cape coral from sanibel island

This area of the Caloosahatchee is where manatees make their homes in the shallow, grassy, warm waters. They are a hazard to boaters, and boaters are a hazard to them, so the speed limit in these areas is SLOW and strictly enforced.

The other reason for the slower speed on this section of the river is the traffic that frequents the river. The Caloosahatchee River, via locks, will take you to Lake Okeechobee and out the other side to the Atlantic. Because it is a passageway, the traffic on the river can get very heavy, and slowing it down keeps everyone and the wildlife safer.

Much of the traffic is due to those coming and going to and from this cross-country passage. It adds to the congestion that occurs along the ‘miserable mile.’ Once you are free of the river, the trip is about five miles if you are going under the causeway to the Sanibel Lighthouse, which is on the southern end of the island.

Can you dock a boat on Sanibel Island?

Sanibel Marina is a popular place on the island to dock your boat. The Sanibel Marina offers bathrooms, showers, a public beach, and the famous Grandma Dots restaurant.

If you are on the Captiva end of Sanibel Island, there is dockage available at the Tween Waters Inn, where they have 41 boat slips and dining. The Tween Waters Resort & Spa was established in 1931 offers fine dining, beach access, and many other family-friendly activities. 

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Can you beach your boat on Sanibel Island?

Boats cannot be beached anywhere on the Gulf side of Sanibel Island. Therefore, if you are anchoring at one of the island’s beaches, you need to be 200 feet from shore. If the beach is designated as a swimming beach, the distance becomes 500 feet.

can you beach your boat on sanibel island

A few locations on the Pine Island side of Sanibel Island are suitable for beaching a boat. However, much of the land here is a wildlife refuge or private land. The water is also very shallow, so if you do beach your boat watch the tide, or you may be sitting for a while before the tide turns and floats you again.

Stay in the Channels – Obey the speed limits.

The Caloosahatchee River is the winter home to manatees and other marine animals above and below the water. It is also home to many people who call this area of Florida their winter home.

Obeying speed limits, staying in the channels, and safely operating your boat will get you out on the water and back again, safely.

Although smaller boats are often seen out beyond Pine Island, if you spend your day working your way from the beach to the beach, a 20 to 30-foot boat would be perfect for these waterways.

However, if you spend your time on the backside of Sanibel Island, a smaller boat would work well for the shallow waters of Pine Island Bay.

Make your trip to Sanibel Island by boat.

Ready to explore Sanibel Island? With Boatsetter, you can rent local pontoons, sailboats, fishing boats, catamarans, and many other types of boats in the Cape Coral area

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