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Manasota Key vs. Sanibel?

St. Paul, Minnesota
3 posts
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Manasota Key vs. Sanibel?

Hello -

I am wondering how Manasota Keys compares to Sanibel. I was planning on staying on Sanibel Island this coming winter for a vacation because I love the natural look of the island (I had only stayed on Ft. Myers Beach before) and the nature preserve and bike baths were major attractions for me. Then I started checking out rental rates and was disappointed how expensive it was. I then researched other areas to vacation in SW Florida and read great things about Englewood and Manasota Keys. For those of you that have visited both, how do you think Manasota & Sanibel compare for beaches, shelling, nature preserves, biking, etc? I'm thinking I might even like Manasota better if it's not as well-known, i.e. "touristy".

Thank-you for any feedback!


Venice, Florida
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527 posts
9 reviews
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1. Re: Manasota Key vs. Sanibel?

I have never been to Sanibel but I can tell you a little about Manasota Key. Its not touristy at all. There is one main road that runs the length of the Key which is quite long. The road is pretty much all canopied by trees and gives a very laid back rustic feeling. A lot of the homes sit way back off the road and can't really been seen at all. The southern end of the Key has some condos and restaurants. I don't think any of the condos are over 3 stories so there are no hi rises.... There are several beach areas where there are rest room facilities and parking. The north beach even has huts with grills (bring your own charcoal). You can walk the beach for miles and hardly see anyone. The shelling is good but not like Sanibel which is known for its shells. The whole feel of the Key is definitely "natural".

Englewood, Florida
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38 posts
1 review
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2. Re: Manasota Key vs. Sanibel?

Hi Lorinda.

I have been to both and we bought a rental home here in Englewood by Manasota beach, so, I guess you can say I am partial to the area. This is where we will retire, unfortunately still too far off in the future.

Sanibel and Manasota Key both have the natural look to them, and as the other poster said, many of the homes can't even be seen from the road. You will get the same type beach and water as it is the Gulf of Mexico but if shelling is your thing Sanibel can't be beat. We get some nice shells here and sharks teeth but it is not as plentiful as you would find on Sanibel. If you stayed in the Manasota Key area you could still visit Sanibel as it would be about a 2 hour ride.

Rental rates are definitely better here because it is not as touristy. There are many condos for rent on Sanibel. In the Englewood/Manasota Key area there are condos but also nice homes for rent with pools if you do not want to vacation with lots of other people as you would in a condo.

As far as biking goes, if you do a search on shamrock park in venice florida, the park has a beautiful path which runs along the intracoastal water. When we were down a few weeks ago a friend took us there to bike. It is not crowded and was a very peaceful ride. We have not done it yet, but Myaaka State Park is supposed to be nice with trails and kayaking.

Manasota beach is in the north has lifeguards, picnic and bathroom facilities. Blind Pass beach(middle beach) has restroom facilities. Englewood beach to the south is definitely the more crowded of the Englewood beaches. You have to pay to park but there are restaurants across the street as well as some shops you can walk to. Here you will find lots of condos very close together .

There are many great restaurants in the area. Venice is a short ride away with shopping and restaurants. About 40 minutes north will get you to Sarasota and St. Armands with shopping and restaurants.

Hope this helps.

Ann Marie

Destination Expert
for Florida
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48,228 posts
22 reviews
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3. Re: Manasota Key vs. Sanibel?

I own a house near to Englewood Manasota Key and I like it there, and it is great value for money. There is a 4th beach, Stump Pass beach, south of Englewwod beach.

Sanible has better shelling and has a 'town' feel and the nature preserve right there. But you pay for it in the high prices there. It has better shelling because ot the way the island faces, whereas most beaches here face west.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either area, and I would add Gasparilla Island to the mix but it will be as pricy as Sanibel probably.

So the best bang for the buck would be manasota Key, and for the cheapest option a pool home on the mainland- mine is 13 mins by car from the nearest beach (Englewood).

Brandon, Florida
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8,388 posts
1 review
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4. Re: Manasota Key vs. Sanibel?

Lorinda, let me add to your decision making, lol. We just spent a day with some friends who had a long weekend at the Island House on Casey Key which is a little further North of Manasota Key and just North of Venice.

If you want old florida style, Island House is it. But read about them at www.islandhouse.org. They still have their 2008 rates up which I think holds for 2009. In any case you can call or write to confirm.

Don't expect Hilton style posh - far from it. But the apartment was comfortable and adequately furnished - full stove, fridge and micro. You didn't say how many are in your group, but the apartment our friends had, had a king sized bed and a pull-out sofa in the living room.

The water in that area will be the same as at Manasota Key.

If it means anything, there were no vacancies for this week. There are only 10 apartments which all face the Gulf.

5. Re: Manasota Key vs. Sanibel?

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