If you do not have a few minutes to read the following post about the Sanibel tolls and the surrounding areas, consider this a QuickStart Guide to the toll charges and info for the Sanibel and Captiva Causeway.
Tolls for Cars: $6
Tolls for Motorcycles: $2
Bicycles are Free
Larger vehicles: $3 per axle
There is no charge to leave the island.
The causeway is open 24/7/365
You can use the statewide Sunpass transponder but you will be charged the full amount. Discount passes are available for locals at The Leeway Center.
If you do not have money or a transponder you can choose to go through the toll without stopping. Your license plate will be photographed and a bill will be sent to you for approximately $10. If you are in a rental car, the rental company may charge additional fees for collecting the payment.
Bicycles are allowed over the causeway. It is a stunning view and I would strongly recommend it! However I would not recommend it for young kids. The easement on the side of the road is wide but the barriers are fairly low.
The Causeway is 2.8 miles long consisting of two islands and three spans
QuickStart Guide over ….
The area around Punta Rassa and the Sanibel tolls:
When you visit Sanibel and Captiva you will inevitably have to drive across the 2.8 mile long Sanibel causeway. Before you get to the Sanibel tolls, you will approach along Summerlin Road. On your way you will pass the historical Bunche Beach and The Sanibel Outlet Mall (formally The Tanger Outlet Mall). Drive a little further and you reach Shell Point Retirement Community. I make this trip a couple of times a day (see the video of my motorcycle commute below) and this is how this blog post transpired: I was on my way to the studio the other morning and there are several billboards on the approach to Sanibel. At the entrance to Shell Point Retirement Community there are two billboards on opposite sides of Summerlin Road, I realized that I photographed both! Two separate businesses, one promoting the Shell Point Retirement Community and the other for the new Japanese Steakhouse called Shima, located at The Sundial Resort on Sanibel. That’s a first… ‘how cool’ I casually thought 🙂 But then I started thinking about all of the REALLY interesting things that happen on the last few miles of Summerlin Road, the area right before you get to the Sanibel Causeway and the toll booths. The area commercially coined ‘The Gateway to Sanibel’. I thought I would share some local knowledge of the area that I live and share some info that I think you may find interesting and useful.
Punta Rassa is the area where the toll booths and the boat ramp are located. Named by the Spanish Conquistadors in the mid-16th Century (Punta Rasca, later changed to Punta Rassa, means ‘smooth’ or ‘flat point’ in Spanish). In the 1800s it was used by ranchers to load their livestock onto boats for export to Cuba. It was also the home of the Sanibel Ferry before the causeway was built in 1963. In 1898 Punta Rassa was the location for one of the main communication links between USA and Cuba. It was in the form of a telegraph cable that stretched about 160 miles along the seabed to Cuba. This telegraph was instrumental in the start of the Spanish-American War. A message was sent from Cuba that the USS Maine had been attacked in Havana Harbor, this caused outrage in the USA, which subsequently started the war.
A couple of miles before you get to the Sanibel Tolls via Summerlin Road you will pass John Morris Road. If you take a left down John Morris you will find Bunche Beach. Bunche Beach was at one time designated a ‘Coloreds Only’ beach. It is named after Ralph Bunche the first African American to win a Noble Peace Prize. Fortunately, it has come a long way since those days. It is a great spot to walk or hang out (as I’m sure it was back then). It has great views of Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel and you can walk about a mile to your left and about a half mile to your right. The whole area has been given a makeover recently, with improved parking and a building with facilities. You can also rent paddle boards and kayaks at Kayak Excursions. They are located at a concession stand about halfway along John Morris Road on the right hand side. The kayaking is phenomenal, not overcrowded with plenty of wildlife to see. The water in this area is part of The Great Calusa Blueway. I often take my kids to Bunche Beach for a sunset walk (see the video below). It’s great for kids at low tide; shallow pools, shells, and lots of marine life to be caught in nets.Bunche_beach_sunset
The area to the left of Summerlin Road along the final mile approach to the Sanibel Tolls is perfect for fishing! It’s not very obvious but take a look at high tide and you will see lots of locals wading out onto the grass flats (preferred hideout of sea trout and other species) Its like going ‘back-bay fishing’ without the need for a charter boat! You will need a fishing license if you are not a Florida Resident. Look for gaps in the foliage and you will see where people park. Want a real Florida fishing experience? Get an awesome custom rod made by local fisherman Dan James at Dan James Custom Rods. Just around the corner from Punta Rassa is the preferred tackle shop of locals and guides, Andersons Tackle Inc located on McGregor Blvd, it has the gear the fishing guides use, quality products like Calusa cast nets, not the touristy junk that a lot of stores carry. Need a spot of lunch? head over the road to The Crackerbox Resteraunt , the second oldest restaurant in Fort Myers. Nothing fancy, just real Florida. If you are the sort of person that would not want to wait for your server to finish singing Karaoke before getting you a beer, this may not be the place for you:)
For all you shoppers out there The Sanibel Outlet Mall is a hot favorite. Located just a couple of miles before the Sanibel tolls and causeway at the intersection of Mcgregor and Summerlin. It is a great place to hit after an early checkout or on your way to the island. Shops include: Polo, Coach, Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Sunglass Hut, Gap etc .
Lastly, The Sanibel Causeway has to be among the most beautiful journeys in the world, enjoy the view, take a deep breath and savor:) The best thing about it is, you have to do it all over again when you leave…. or maybe not:)