The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in Southwest Florida are made up of over 100 barrier islands strung along the Gulf of Mexico. The area is renowned for its laid-back, barefoot holiday destinations each offering visitors a different experience, but drawn together by nature and the water. No visit to Florida’s Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel would be complete without taking to the water to island hop and discover the rich wildlife and flora that exists there. Think perpetual sunshine, white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Think fashionable boutique and outlet shopping. Think of days spent spotting dolphins and searching for sea shells. Read a book, build a sandcastle or enjoy the warm gulf waters with the kids. Imagine evenings spent enjoying delicious seafood as the sun sets. From the moment you arrive, you will feel connected to the people and unspoilt nature around you. Find your island on The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.
FORT MYERS BEACH
Fort Myers Beach, situated at the northern tip of Estero Island on the tranquil Gulf of Mexico, faces out to Sanibel Island on one side, and San Carlos Island and the mainland on the other. Visitors return year after year for its laid back holiday atmosphere, dazzlingly fine white sandy beaches which gently
shelve into the ocean, great seafood and local cuisine and entertainment – in fact you'd think you were in the Caribbean.
Hotels, cafes and restaurants line the wide white sand beach stretching for seven miles. You can sit back and enjoy the sun, walk along the beach and stop off at one of the beach bars and listen to live music, or try your hand at one of the many water sports available on the beach. There is even a sailing school available in several locations, which is great for relaxed family days out in sheltered and shallow waters, or for those looking for a little adrenaline on the Gulf.
There is plenty to enjoy away from the beach too: head to the seafood market and try local shrimp and crab delicacies; people watch near Times Square and San Carlos Blvd with their beach stores, restaurants and bars – this is the heart of Fort Myers Beach and a great place to visit during the day or evening. Close by you can also explore Matanzas Pass Preserve, a small nature reserve which leads you through a maze of mangroves to the water and stunning vistas.
Fort Myers Beach also offers a daily boat service to Key West on the Key West Express by catamaran, where you can watch the dolphins play in the wake of the boat as you make your way down to the Keys, with stunning sunsets on the return journey. Ideal for a day trip without all the driving, getting
there is half the fun on this full service passenger ferry from port to port in three hours.
Accommodation options on Fort Myers Beach are varied –
Outrigger Beach Resort, located on the souther, quieter end of Fort Myers Beach, offers the islands best Tiki Bar, standard and self-catering
units, , whilst
Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina – perfect for families – is on the northern end of
the beach and is a full service resort including water sport rentals, spa and marina for boat trips and rentals
Fort Myers Beach is suitable for families and couples who are looking to be close to amenities and places of interest and of course a great beach. Connected closer to the mainland, ideal for active visitors planning to including a shoppind day, exploring Downtown Fort Myers, beach time and evening
live entertainment whilst watching the sunset all in one day.
Driving Distances (Fort Myers Beach):
Fort Lauderdale: 132 Miles / 2 hrs drive
Tampa: 147 Miles / 2.5 hrs drive
Miami: 148 Miles / 2.5 hrs drive
Orlando: 169 Miles / 3 hrs drive
Accommodation comprises of hotels and self-catering hotels and vacation home rentals from
apartments to four bed homes with private pool. Following is a selection of properties:
Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina
SunStream Hotels & Resorts (DiamondHead, GullWing, Pointe Estero)
Outrigger Beach Resort
Vacasa Vacation Rentals
Sanibel Island, a barrier island stretching for 12 miles off the coast of Fort Myers, offers some the best beaches in the USA, left undisturbed by islanders who want to preserve the natural beauty of the region. There is an abundance of natural wonders on Sanibel including the largest Mangrove ecosystem in the USA which gives home to an array of species such as Florida’s state bird the Roseate Spoonbill, manatees, dolphins, alligators, sea otters, pelicans and more. The J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge can be visited by car, cycle, foot or kayak, or for a nominal fee you can take a guided trolley tour and spot the wildlife for yourself. Guided trolley tours depart twice daily except Fridays, the refuge remains closed on Fridays. Trolley tours cost $13 per person. Recommended to book in advance. Don’t forget to stop in the Visitor Educational Center
Admission: $5 per vehicle, $1 per pedestrian, $1 per bicycle
The geography of the island is also unique, with the tides of the Gulf of Mexico washing up hundreds of shells each day. Shelling is a popular pastime and those who partake in gathering these beautiful hells develop what is fondly known as the ‘Sanibel Stoop’. You can walk for miles discovering different shells at every turn. Of course, the best way to discover Sanibel is by bike – there are 25 miles of cycle paths designed to make it safe and easy to get around. A visit to Sanibel Island is incomplete without getting out on the water to explore some of the nearby islands like Cabbage Key, Useppa Island, Boca Grande or Cayo Costa State Parkthere are over 100 of them). . You don’t really swim in the Pine Island sound, therefore I would not mention it like this. Most hotels have boats and kayaks to hire so you can explore the local wildlife, paddle through mangrove canopies and visit the neighbouring island. Any boat journey from Sanibel requires a camera – you’ll be sure to see manatees and dolphins as you pass secluded beaches, private islands, lighthouses and spectacular waterfront
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Did you know that there are no chain restaurants nor fast food restaurants on Sanibel? Sanibel offers an array of local restaurants and venues in keeping with its un-commercialised approach, creating a great ambience and relaxed culture, particularly when enjoying a drink and watching the sunset over
the Gulf of Mexico. A few island classics are Island Cow, Lighthouse Café, Doc Fords....
Sanibel is great for those looking to: reconnect with family and friends, for a quiet and relaxed getaway, for sun-drenched beaches, clear balmy waters and Mother Nature on their doorstep. Guests can choose from a range of holiday lets and rentals such as Royal Shell for vacation homes, Sundial Beach Resort for self-catering options with resort amenities. Sanibel Inn or Island Inn for traditional Sanibel Island beach hotels.
Sanibel Island is suitable for families and couples looking for a relaxed holiday with options to explore the area and enjoy plenty of nature based activities.
Accommodation comprises of hotels (no hotel can be higher than the surrounding palm trees) and holidays homes for rent, from apartments to four bed homes with private pool. Following is a selection of properties: no building can be taller than the tallest palm tree on the island, therefore no building is higher than 3 stories. No chain hotels on the island. Makes your stay truly unique and a true Sanibel experience.
Sundial Beach Resort
Inns of Sanibel
Sanibel Island Beach Resort
Island Inn – an island classic
Many hotels on Sanibel offer self-catering rooms/units including full kitchen and living room
for more comfort and ideal for families and longer stays
Twin centres: Orlando, Miami, Key West, New York City, Las Vegas & Boston are all great twin centre options. Hotels, self-catering and villa rental options across the islands are available.
***** The Key West Express offers daily catamaran service between Fort Myers Beach and Key West; approximately 3 hours each way– a stunning boat
transfer for those visiting Miami and Key West. The Key West Express is a full service passenger ferry operating year round, providing an easy option to
explore Key West for a day trip or more. *****
Pre post cruise :
Relax on the beach after a cruise departing Fort Lauderdale or Miami – only two hours’ drive away
Fly Drives :
Along the Gulf of Mexico coast, Atlantic and Gulf coast road trip or all the way up to New Orleans from Southwest Florida, all are well connected and
Point to point :
Popular with families across generations – relax with nature in the sun and reconnect with what matters to you
Driving Distances (Fort Myers Beach)
Fort Lauderdale 132 Miles / 2 hrs drive
Tampa 147 Miles / 2.5 hrs drive
Miami 148 Miles / 2.5 hrs drive
Orlando 169 Miles / 3.5 hrs drive
Sunrise or Sunset – a picture postcard
Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, experiencing the sun rise and fall against the azure waters of the Gulf of Mexico is a truly spectacular event. The sky above transforms into a performance of soft light that melts into the horizon. Fort Myers Beach entertains the morning sun quite majestically while Captiva is renowned for its sunsets which change with a blink of an eye.
Become one with Nature at the J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Lose yourself in the largest undeveloped mangrove eco system in the USA with miles of primordial wetlands. Watch flocks of birds migrate across land and sea, and see alligators and manatees in their natural habitat as you head along the drivable '' wild life trail. Grab a pair of binoculars from the visitor centre to help you spy on some of the 250 species of bird that are protected in this pristine habitat. For those wanting to learn more, take a tram trolley tour with a local master naturalist guide....pre booking recommended due to small group sizes. Include link to tarpon bay explorers for
the tram tour.
Step back in time at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates
As well as learning about Edison and Ford's lives and inventions, visitors can go back further and learn about the Koreshan settlers, Florida pioneers and the areas original inhabitants, the Calusa Indians.
Island hopping, Florida Style
With over 100 barrier islands to explore, the best way is to jump on a boat, whether paddle powered or escorted by a trusty captain, by getting on the water you will really experience The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Many of the islands are uninhabited mangrove clusters, whilst others take visitors' breath away with their beautiful beaches, historic homes and wonderful restaurants. Places like Cabbage Key and laid back Gasparilla are well worth visiting.
Sanibel Sea School
Living with nature is the lifeblood of The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel and every effort is made to ensure the beaches and wildlife is protected for everyone to enjoy. Sea Schools are fun ways for kids to learn about nature and the waters of Sanibel and Captiva. Kids get to spot dolphins, search for crabs, discover beautiful shells and learn about the abundant wading birds that live off the islands. A variety of fun and educational courses are available.
A fantastic holiday favourite in the USA, and something that The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel excel at. Miromar Outlets in Estero has over 140 top designer stores offering discounts of up to 70%. Grab a coffee or lunch as you will be sure to spend the day on those bargains! On your way to
or from Sanibel? Sanibel Outlets is perfect for a pre or post shopping experience. And if you are in the Bonita Springs area Coconut Point Mall offers a nice selection of high end brands in a very walkable, outdoor space.
Anhigas dive, pelicans flap, herons pose, alligators cut through the water and manatees roll like giant grey jelly beans... animal lovers will find a lot here to enjoy. Watch dolphins when you hop on a seagoing charter with outfits like Tarpon Bay Explorers, Captica Cruises or go to Sanibel Island and visit education centres like the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife. The clinic serves as an animal hospital for birds, otters, sea turtles and even deer.
Paddle the Same Trails... as the Calusa Indians
Head out on one of the largest, best executed paddle water ways in the country - a network of trails. Get geared up with one of the local outfitters at Estero River Outfitters and hit the teal spiderweb that is the Great Calusa Blueway, which provides access to 190 miles of pristine, waterbound goodness.
Get your fish on
From March through June, anglers from all over the world come here for Megalops – the tarpon, one of the world’s great game fishes. You can catch some yourself at Boca Grande Pass, on the south edge of Boca Grande, known as the ‘Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World’.
Watch the world go past
Head to Times Square and San Carlos Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach to watch the world go by.
Street cafés and restaurants offer live music and beach stores sell all you need for the kids to look the part on the beach.