Paradise Awaits at Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort and Spa

Written by Lisa Waterman Gray

December 27, 2021
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I had last explored the beaches in front of Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort in Florida more than 40 years earlier. Discover why this Florida paradise is an ideal beach vacation.

I took my first beach walk at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, on Sanibel, in Florida, within half an hour after I unpacked. My last walk on these Gulf beaches was more than 40 years earlier and I was eager to stroll along the water’s edge. A travel writers conference had brought me here and I couldn’t have been more delighted with the destination. I definitely discovered that paradise awaits at Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort in Florida.

Walking the Shore at Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

Several wide swaths of shells had collected parallel to the water’s edge. They stretched as far as the eye could see. Like a prickly carpet, they both attracted and repelled my bare feet. But I made sure to carry my sandals, in case the texture felt too rough. Sea birds explored water-washed sand and flew in loose formation above small, gentle waves.

Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

I hit the beach near Sundial as soon as possible after we arrived. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

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Vegetation beside Sundial’s beach area provided pretty camouflage for the sandy path back to the resort. As I returned to my condo, I rinsed off powder-fine white sand at the resort’s foot-washing tower. Another barefoot beach lover had left flip-flops nearby.

Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

A foot-washing station reduces how much sand ends up in Sundial condominiums. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

My Accommodations at Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

My one-bedroom condo felt relaxed and inviting, with pale furniture finishes. In the living room, blue and lime beach-hardy fabrics upholstered a queen-size pull-out couch and chair. There were nearly invisible floor-to-ceiling screens and a couple of chairs, on a small porch that offered resort views.

Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

Living room furniture featured beach-hardy fabric and bright colors. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

A small dining table flanked the compact kitchen, with a full-size refrigerator, microwave, and four-burner stove. Two tall chairs stood beside a countertop for dining. There was plenty of silverware, glassware, and dishware as well as a Keurig coffeemaker. Trash and recycling cans sat beneath the sink.

Side tables accentuated a comfortable bed in the narrow bedroom. Subdued lime green accents complemented the neutral palette, while shadowboxes displayed large shells and starfish. The bathroom tub/shower featured wall-mounted shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, crafted by the resort’s Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa & Boutique.

At this resort full of private kitchens, guests can also order a wide variety of food items, plus games, puzzles and toys, beachwear, and even beer or wine. Bailey’s Marketplace at Sundial delivers the goods. It’s a popular offshoot of local favorite, Bailey’s General Store. The business opened on Sanibel more than a century ago.

Beyond My Condo at Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

In addition to one-bedroom condominiums, guests may choose a studio, two- or three-bedroom unit. Gorgeous sunsets or sunrises are visible only minutes from accommodations. Seagrass waves and bright flowers accentuate wood chip paths where nearly-black rabbits frequently hop.

Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

Gorgeous sunsets are visible only minutes from condo buildings. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Plenty of activities take place throughout the property, which boasts six clay tennis, 12 pickleball courts, golf, and dozens of bicycles stored in open-air garages. Three swimming pools include one filled with saltwater.

Foosball and ping pong tables—and a spacious fitness center—await guests at the main building. White canvas cabanas surround the nearby pool.

Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

This is a beautiful resort where you can relax and recharge. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Grab a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard on the way to the beach too.

Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available near Sundial’s main building and pool. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Kids can also participate in the resort’s Turtle Scouts children’s activities. They learn something new through each activity, craft, or game offered during the morning, afternoon, and/or evening camp sessions.

While the kids enjoy camp, adults can book relaxing massages at Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa & Boutique. This is also a great place to learn about the latest skincare trends, find a new hairstyle, and schedule manicures or pedicures.

Sundial’s Eco-Friendly Efforts

Sundial sells Sun Bum reef-friendly sunscreen products. It’s a highly visible indication of the resort’s green initiatives. In fact, Sundial is a Florida Green Lodging property, certified by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This designation “recognizes lodging facilities that make a commitment to conserve and protect Florida’s natural resources.”

Guests and staff can learn more about conservation methods and procedures via camps and private programs at the nearby Sanibel Sea School. Or enjoy the school’s onsite guided beach walks and half-day programs for children.

Eat and Drink at Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort is known for its great seaside cuisine. In fact, it has been voted “Best Waterfront Dining in Southwest Florida” and offers great options for almost any palate.

  • Sea Breeze Cafe is the all-day dining venue, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can find everything from wild-caught seafood to sandwiches. There is indoor or outdoor seating.
  • Shima Japanese Steakhouse serves teppanyaki and sushi.
  • Shima Grab N Go is an alternative to dining at Shima Japanese Steakhouse. Get the same, great, award-winning sushi to take back to your own accommodation every Tuesday through Saturday.
  • The poolside Turtle’s Tiki Bar is known for signature cocktails and favorite island dishes. This is a family-friendly patio with live entertainment every Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Pizza and ice cream rule, at Slice of Paradice, which is a casual dining option for a quick meal or snack.
  • The lobby bar offers more than a dozen seats, it also featured several small TVs.
Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

The poolside Turtle’s Tiki Bar is known for cocktails and quick bites. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

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When I Return to Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort

Staying in this idyllic island paradise and multifaceted resort easily gets under your skin. But there simply wasn’t enough time to fit everything in. On my next visit to Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort, I’ll indulge in a spa treatment and take a guided beach walk. Hopefully, that won’t take another 40 years! Be sure to check out Wander for more ideas for what to see and do when you visit Florida. We also have suggestions for more great beach vacations.

I had last explored the beaches in front of Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort in Florida more than 40 years earlier. I rediscovered this Florida paradise that is an ideal beach vacation for a romantic couple's escape or a memorable family vacation in Florida. 

Paradise Awaits at Sanibel Sundial Beach Resort and Spa

Written by Lisa Waterman Gray

A Kansas City-area resident, Lisa Waterman Gray has savored Quebec’s finest cuisine, ridden in a pickup before a Kansas buffalo herd, and toured natural Arizona landmarks with Native American guides. In June 2011, 18 months of driving, research, and writing ended with national publication of Lisa’s book, An Explorer’s Guide: Kansas. During October 2014, she was a U.S. delegate for Terre Madre and Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy – a conference for Slow Food International. Lisa has written for Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle (a Canadian magazine), USA, Midwest Living, four AAA magazines, and other clients. Visit her online at

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