Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon
The first waterside restaurant we will be visiting is Gramma Dots located at 634 N Yachtsman Drive at The Sanibel Marina.
Open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week, Gramma Dot’s menu features a full line of fresh seafood, salads, sandwiches for a light lunch and scallops, lobster, steak and more for an elegant dinner. Named after the owners amazing and adventurous Grandmother, who’s tribute is featured on the wall, Gramma Dot’s has outdoor seating so you can dine dockside at the marina. You can bring your boat to the restaurant, all you need to do is hail the dock master on VHF channel 16 and the dock master will do their best to accommodate you. If you do not have VHF just pull up to the gas pumps and they can direct you to a slip.
Conveniently located behind Gramma Dot’s restaurant is the Ships Store. Small but comprehensible, they sell the essentials such as beer, wine, snacks, ice, oil, oil filters, dock lines, life jackets, hats, bags, gifts, and more. They also sell gas and diesel.
The Marina is also home to the Sanibel Thriller, which is an open top, fast catamaran offering exciting and informative boat tours of the island. Other tours include the Stars and Stripes Cruise which offers dolphin, wildlife and sightseeing tours. If you are the type that prefers to don the captains hat, you could rent one of the marina’s 21’ center consoles for a day or two.
2. Island Time Bar & Grill at the Sanibel Inn
Located at 937 East Gulf Drive sits The Sanibel Inn which is home to 2 restaurants, Dante’s Pizza and The Island Time Bar and Grill. Whilst Dante’s is a great spot for coal fired pizza, our focus is on the poolside Tiki bar, Island Time which is the only waterfront restaurant at this resort. Open 11am to 7pm, Island Time serves a fabulous lunch menu full of Island inspired favorites and good cocktails. A great spot for the family and, you can boat there if you don’t want to drive!
3. The Pool and Beach Side Tiki Bar at Sanibel Island Beach Resort
Sanibel Island Beach Resort, located at 1231 Middle Gulf Drive, features 2 restaurants. The first, Sandollar Kitchen & Bar located to the left of the resort entrance and, towards the back of the resort, The Pool and Beach Side Tiki bar. The Tiki bar is where you want to be if you want the water. To get to the Tiki Bar, head towards the shore. On your journey you will pass a picturesque lake teaming with wildlife, and be sure to check out the huge palm trees surrounding the whole property, they make for perfect hammock territory and are probably some of the most beautiful on the island. The resort has a sun deck, an outdoor ping pong table, great frozen drinks and good food, what more could you ask for? A great spot to come on the weekends and you can be as sociable or as quiet and relaxed as you like!
4. The Sea Breeze Café at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa
Located at 1451 Middle Gulf Drive is the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa. The Sundial boasts the most waterfront dining options on Sanibel with diverse menus ranging from a casual beach side Tiki Bar to elegant, upscale dining.
Once you are parked at the front of the resort, take the grand entrance steps up into the lobby. Shima, the resorts Japanese Steakhouse, is to your left. This fine dining establishment is the only dining option that does not have waterfront views.
Look to your right and you will see the first waterfront option, the Sea Breeze Café which boasts a welcoming, modern bar area where you can watch a game and relax. There is outdoor dining and an extensive lunch and dinner menu. Open from 11am to 10pm, Sea Breeze offers a great lunch menu of soups, salads, burgers and lighter fare while the upscale dinner menu presents twin lobster tails, filet of beef, grouper and more.
Right beside the Sea Breeze Cafe is Ocean View, this large area caters to the breakfast buffet in the morning and in the evening is used as private function room. It should be noted that Sundial is a very popular choice for weddings and, the ever popular Kay Casperson Spa located on the top floor of the main building also provides incredible beach views if you want to be truly pampered in waterfront style!
5. Turtle’s Pool & Beach Bar at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa
When you head out of the main building towards the beach you will discover Turtle’s Pool & Beach Bar. With a light bar menu of wings, sandwiches and salads, this fun beachfront tiki bar is usually pretty hopping and popular with the locals. With tropical entertainment and frozen, handcrafted cocktails this is a great spot for beachfront revelry!
6. Thistle Lodge at Casa Ybel Resort
Continuing westward and nestled at 2255 West Golf Drive is one of Sanibel’s earliest established inns Casa Ybel Resort, rumored as a favorite of winter Fort Myers residents and inventors Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Casa Ybel has a distinctive wooden bridge you cross to enter and picturesque grounds that encompass lakes, fountains and two waterfront dining options. The first option is the upscale, fine dining and award winning Thistle Lodge Restaurant. With breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico and a terrace overlooking the pool, this historic and elegant eatery is the perfect destination for a romantic evening, a special family gathering or, a place to simply spoil yourself and your friends! The ambiance is relaxing with a comforting aroma of tropical hardwoods and the food is excellent. Serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner with the sea bass being highly recommended.
Above the Thistle Lodge is a small event room with outstanding floor to ceiling panoramic windows with an amazing view. Worth checking out if you are dining at the lodge.
7. Coconuts Pool Bar and Grill at Casa Ybel Resort
The second waterfront option is the pool side Coconuts Pool Bar and Grill open 7 days a week from 11am to 6pm, Coconuts has a large patio area for dining and sipping your favorite island cocktails with music most weekends! Check out their grouper sandwich and tuna tacos and ask Kevin the bartender to make you his signature Pop Top Shock Top cocktail if you dare!
8. Traditions on the Beach at Island Inn
Next stop at 3111 West Gulf Drive is the Island Inn, home to Traditions on the Beach. Traditions opens at 4pm, with bar specials and tapas 4 – 6pm and early bird sunset dinner specials 5-6pm. In the main dining room, the dinner menu offers contemporary cuisine Sanibel style with fresh ingredients sourced locally and made delicious by their award winning chef. With live entertainment and dancing almost nightly, you may forget about the incredible sunset backdrop altogether! Drop in for drinking, dancing and dining and take advantage of the Sunset Lounge and the relaxed, beachfront atmosphere.
9. Upper Deck Pool Bar at West Wind Island Resort
The West Wind Island Resort, further down at 3345 West Gulf Drive, is host to the Upper Deck Pool Bar. Open daily from 11am – 8pm, this extremely causal, swimsuit friendly hang out spot serves appetizers, lunch and excellent cocktails. A great place to sit by the pool with the Gulf of Mexico view just beyond, having a good time, check out their Happy Hour every Wednesday & Friday 5-7pm for an even better time! West Wind also has a more formal restaurant, Normandie Seaside Café, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the café is not on the waterfront.
10. Sunset Grill
Almost as west as you can get, located on 6536 Pine Avenue, is the Sunset Grill. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and open daily between 8am – 9pm, the Sunset Grill offers excellent dining with exceptional views. With outdoor seating available, watch the sunset while you sip on a fine wine and indulge in any of the delicious entrees on offer with the grouper being highly recommended.
11. The Mad Hatter Restaurant
As west as you can go before Captiva and your last chance to experience waterfront Sanibel dining is The Mad Hatter located at 6467 Sanibel Captiva Road. Known for its evolving menu inspired by the season, incredible sunset views, eclectic, unique interior and great service, this romantic, intimate eatery has very limited seating so reservations are strongly recommended. The Mad Hatter is open Tuesday – Sunday at 4:45pm for dinner only.