Sanibel And Captiva are Great for Family Reunions - My Family Travels

Beach house rentals at America’s top coastal resorts, such as Sanibel and Captiva Islands off Florida’s Gulf Coast, make planning and enjoying a small family reunion easy and fun.

Are your family members are scattered between Portand, Maine and Portland, Oregon, as well as points in between? Plan a get-together at one convenient location to commemorate that special birthday or anniversary.  Renting a house that will accommodate several generations under one roof is not only economical. Other good reasons to rent a house rental include providing space for your extended family to spend time together and giving everyone more privacy as well.

Variety of vacation homes and condos on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.
Variety of vacation homes and condos on Sanibel and Captiva Islands offered by Florida Sanibel-Captiva Iland Vacation Rentals company.

Here are my six top beach destinations in the United States, chosen because they are easily reachable, have enough varied activities to please most kids, parents and grandparents, and offer fair weather almost year-round.

  •  Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  •  Galveston, Texas
  •  Newport Beach, California
  •  San Diego, California
  •  Sanibel/Captiva Islands, Florida
  •  Virginia Beach, Virginia

Please use the search tools on this site to find reviews of house rental agencies and what each destination has to offer families.

Tips for Planning Your Beach House Rental

Girl and boy explore seashells on the beach with a photo guide.
Girl and boy explore seashells on the beach with a photo guide. Photo c. Sundial Beach Resort, Sanibel Island, Florida

Once you’ve reviewed the “virtues” of each of my favorite destinations, discuss them with other family members, determine how convenient they will be for all parties, and decide whether you’re heading East or West.  Then you can determine with other family members how many bedrooms and bathrooms everyone will need. (Most rental vacation homes have one or more sofabeds and roll-aways for extra kids.)  Allow as much flexibility in your rental dates as possible.

Several real estate agents I interviewed for this story mentioned that since large rental homes (5-6 bedrooms) are rare, they are often booked far in advance. However, they also mentioned that many families register their homes for rental only after the January 1st deadline each year. That means you’ll have the most choices of rental homes if you call the recommended agents early in the year.

What’s Special About Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida

Aerial view of Sundial Beach Resort, Sanibel Island, Florida
Aerial view of Sundial Beach Resort, Sanibel Island, Florida

Don’t forget to bring your pails and magnifying glasses to the “Shelling Capital” of the Western Hemisphere. 

Sanibel is one of the world’s few barrier islands which run perpendicular to the coast, and its east-west orientation in the Gulf of Mexico allows more than 275 different kinds of shells to wash up on the island’s beaches. 

Also of  interest to all ages in the family are the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum and the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a 5,000-acre home to more than 200 species of birds, as well as alligators, turtles, otters and manatees.  Both Sanibel, lined with low-rise condos facing the tropical Gulf Coast, and Captiva, dotted with wealthy private homes, don’t offer night life or thrills. However, take the opprotunity to relax, stroll or rent a bike and enjoy cycling along the numerous bike paths through mangrove forests.

You may also want to avail yourselves of the wonderful children’s program (for kids ages 4-12) at The Sundial Beach Resort. In the past, they have accepted non-guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Call them at 866/565-5093 to check availability.

For vacation rental options, try the Sanibel/Captiva Chamber of Commerce at (239/472-1080) or review their website for lodging specials. Two recommended rental agents are Vacasa and Re/MAX Real Estate on the Islands.

Be sure to start your search early if you’re looking for one of the larger, multi-bedroom homes or condos.

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