Peaceful Paddling on the Sanibel Canals

Sanibel's east end canals wind through both residential areas and mangrove habitat. 

Sanibel's east end canals wind through both residential areas and mangrove habitat. 

Easily accessible from the Sanibel Boat Ramp, the canals of Sanibel’s east end offer a place for peaceful, protected paddling. Mostly sheltered from the wind, and with plenty of shady stretches, the waters are calm and there are endless nooks and crannies to explore.

If you’re a fan of landscaping and architecture, enter the canals at the Sanibel Marina and turn right to explore the Shell Harbor neighborhood. There are beautiful homes and gardens to admire as you glide by, and a few abstract outdoor sculptures along the way.

If you prefer the solitude of the mangrove forest, head straight past the marina, pass under a small bridge, paddle along the thin mangrove corridor, and turn left when you come to a T-shaped intersection. This path will lead you through dense foliage as you approach the Kinzie Island area. Keep an eye out for wading birds and mangrove crabs.

Before paddling the canals, it is helpful to orient yourself. We like to use the satellite aerial view feature on Google Maps. Perhaps look for the two Periwinkle Way bridges and find the “East End Canal Loop” that passes under both. This paddle route will take you through residential and mangrove zones, and it is a great introduction to what the canals have to offer.

No matter which direction you choose, there is a good chance you will encounter manatees, dolphins, birds, and other wildlife along the canals. We recently spotted a Bald Eagle flying near the Lindgren Boulevard bridge. It can also be fun to look for invasive iguanas sunning themselves along the walls. Happy paddling. 

Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a club hosted by Sanibel Sea School that helps the SWFL paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit or follow us on Facebook to learn more.