Tourists, Traffic and Tantrums

Sanibel is not perfect. (What? Did I say that?) We actually have a few issues – and I’ll share one of the biggest gripes our busy season visitors have:

Too much traffic. And its true – sort of.

I just had a customer who was excited about what Sanibel has to offer. They drove onto the island, toured up and down Periwinkle Way, got stuck in traffic, had a tantrum and left. Unfortunately, they came during one of the busiest weeks, at the busiest time of day and limited their visit to the only road that suffers from major backups.

Sanibel (like most tourist destinations) sees increased traffic during the height of our tourist season. Some visitors, who are caught unaware, get stuck in the worst of it and get frustrated. Maybe this has happened to you?

Sanibel traffic is limited, predictable
and can be easily avoided.

I can’t stand bad traffic. I moved to Sanibel to leave such problems behind, and I wouldn’t be here if traffic was a daily problem.

Only during the months of January through March is traffic a hassle. The rest of the year, our roads are wide open. And, by turning off the main road, you will leave the cars behind. Even during ‘season’, residential neighborhoods maintain their peace and solitude.

In truth, we really don’t have that many cars.

Our main street is only two lanes lined with bike paths, trees and foliage. It takes less cars to create congestion.

Sanibel just hasn’t made pavement a priority.

Our community made a choice not to scar the island with wide swaths of asphalt to bake in the Florida sun (who would like to ride their bike next that?). We want to enjoy night skies instead of the glow of street and traffic lights. This is part of what makes Sanibel special. Most communities happily lay more pavement to make room for more cars. In time, those roadways fill up, so even more pavement goes down.

Won’t Traffic Get Worse?

Sanibel is nearly built out and during season our occupancy reaches the island’s capacity. In other words, what we are experiencing is about the worst it can get. In 10 years it should be no different, while many other communities will get busier, more congested, and of course, more asphalt.

How to Avoid Sanibel Traffic

1. Traffic peaks at certain hours. Coming on the island (westward) can be congested between 8am and 10am. Leaving the island (eastward) is bad from 4pm to 6pm. Simply avoid these times (easy to do if your on vacation!).

2. Only one stretch of road backs up so skip Periwinkle Way. Periwinkle Way goes through the main business district. Use Middle Gulf Drive and West Gulf Drive as these roads never back up.

3. Visit during ‘shoulder season’. Just before and after our January-March season, the island is quiet with little traffic and enjoys excellent weather. Plus, if you are renting your property out to vacationers, visiting during this time helps you maximize your rental income.

Abigail's first big tantrum (but it wasn't over traffic).

Jim McCallion About Jim McCallion

Meet the "Marketing Megaphone" and Webmaster behind McCallion & McCallion. After selling his software company, Jim, Susan and kids moved to Sanibel in 2008. With his tech experience, he and Susan bring a fresh approach to island real estate.