We spent a week there in an oceanfront condo. I have to tell you that place is awesome. We were there in May. It was not crowded on the beaches. The shells are fantastic. There are lots of great restaurants from Sanibel all the way to the end of the island at Captiva. It is pricey, but you will love it. You don't HAVE to eat at all the expensive places. Go to the Bubble Room. It's an experience just to be there. And not that expensive.
I'm not trying to talk you out of going to the obx, but just this once try Sanibel. You won't be disappointed.
110% concur ! I went to Sanibel May of 2013. Loved it. Going back this April. Heard population from January to April is noticeably heavier than May - Fall. Many great eating establishments. Remember Doc Fords as being good. We biked the entire week, it was great