This post was written before Sanibel, Captiva, and parts of the surrounding area were absolutely blasted by Hurricane Ian in September 2022. While the intention is to rebuild, the causeway has been fixed, and the island is expected to begin opening to tourism in January 2023, things are not “back to normal” and likely won’t be for a long time. If you’re planning to visit the area, make sure to do plenty of research to find out what’s open, what’s available and what’s just not even there anymore.
Nowhere does tennis like Florida. Seriously, Florida has to be one of, if not THE epicenter of tennis in the world. The weather is always perfect for tennis! So it’s no wonder that people coming to Florida on vacation want to play tennis.
Sanibel island (off the coast of Fort Myers on Florida’s Gulf Coast) may not be a flashy hot spot for vacation tennis in Florida, but there are a handful of good resorts and places to stay if tennis is a vacation priority for you.
Keep reading to find out the best Sanibel island tennis resorts plus my personal review of one of the most popular ones:
Sanibel Island Tennis Resorts
Sundial Beach Resort: A quick Google search brings up the Sundial Beach Resort as really one of the only tennis resorts on the island. With six Har-Tru clay courts and 12 pickleball courts across the street, it’s definitely the largest tennis facility attached to a resort on the island.
Casa Ybel Resort: Established in the late 1880s, Sanibel’s historic property has hosted its fair share of important people (Thomas Edison and Henry Ford used to lunch at the resort’s restaurant). This luxury resort (as luxury as you’ll find on Sanibel) has hotel and condo-like accommodations and six tennis courts plus an onsite pro for lessons and clinics.
The Inns of Sanibel: This little cluster of four distinct inns offers something for everybody from couples to families to adventurers. There are two new pickleball courts and one tennis court on property, but where you’ll really want to be is at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club. Located super closeby, the Dunes Club is the most hopping spot for tennis on the island. Join daily drills and clinics or have a lesson with one of the club’s pros.
Tortuga Beach Club Resort: This intimate beachside property is part of Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare, but anyone can book a stay. Accommodations are 2-bedroom townhome suites. You’ll also have access to the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club
South Seas Island Resort: Not on Sanibel, but on neighboring Captiva island, the South Seas Island Resort features a smorgasbord of accommodations from a traditional hotel/inn to condo units to villas. The onsite Blackwood Tennis Academy hosts daily drills and clinics in tennis and pickleball as well as private lessons.
Sundial Beach Resort Review
I’ll be totally honest…I STRUGGLED finding a place to stay in Sanibel. I am not really a condo person unless they are really nice (to the point where they’re usually the same price as a nice hotel and I’d rather stay in a hotel), but there aren’t really any true hotels or resorts on Sanibel. It’s a condo/vacation rental island. Which I understand is part of it’s charm, buuuut I just want to set your expectations.
So I decided on the Sundial Beach Resort largely because of the tennis, but also because it seemed like the best “resort” on the island. Unfortunately, it was exactly what I hoped it wouldn’t be. I’m sure lots of people are super happy staying somewhere like this but it’s just not what I like (especially for the money).
The property was nice enough (fairly good size pool area on the beach with a lot of chairs, ping pong, activities, restaurants, etc), but the rooms are condos and I wouldn’t call them high end. It was hard to say if they were dirty or just worn. I tried not to look to hard ; ) Shag carpet in the bedroom, super uncomfortable beds, and everything just seemed a little sticky. Honestly the whole place felt like it could use a really good scrubbing.
I don’t know…it’s definitely not the worst place I’ve ever stayed, but it also wasn’t the kind of place I really wanted to hang out and we pretty much just used it as a place to sleep and shower which isn’t usually what you’re looking for in a $400/night place.
It wasn’t baaad, but it’s also not really a place that I would recommend. Again, this all depends on what kind of places you’re used to staying at but as I stayed at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne for tennis on my last trip, I’ll just say…it was not on that level.
The funny thing is, I never even ended up playing tennis! I had such a short time on the island and my list of things to do grew longer once I got there so tennis got the axe. But the resort does have six clay courts and 12 pickleball courts. They have a decent program with a drill/clinic most days (although not open to all levels every day) and it’s easy to get a lesson with a pro. While I’m obviously partial to tennis, the pickleball scene is really what’s booming on Sanibel. I wish I had time to take a lesson while I was staying here, but they actually had a tournament going on and the courts were maxed out every day.
Is Sanibel the Best Place for a Tennis Vacation?
Okay, this is the real question. If you’re looking for a tennis-centric vacation spot in Florida, I’d probably pick somewhere else. There are so many phenomenal resorts in Florida (more my speed) that have great tennis academies and centers attached that I think you can pick a better spot (Key Biscayne and Amelia Island come to mind immediately). But if you’re set on coming to Sanibel (hey, it’s a great island!), then there are good places to play tennis on the island.
Where I Would Stay Next Time
I had a couple of personal recommendations for the Casa Ybel Resort and Tortuga Beach Club Resort when I was on the island so I would definitely check those out. Tortuga Beach Club and the Inns of Sanibel both have their own tennis and pickleball courts, but are also nearby the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club for added playing opportunities. And non-tennis specific, but after seeing a lot of Sanibel and Captiva, I decided that next time I’d like to stay at the South Seas Island Resort on Captiva. They have several courts there and some regularly scheduled drills and clinics as well.
More posts about the area:
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