A two-hour drive from
With over 100 barrier islands, the beaches of Sanibel and Fort Myers offer unique access to nature. Sanibel and Captiva Islands have some of the best shelling in the world. The secluded outer islands of Cayo Costa, Cabbage Key, North Captiva and Boca Grande are only accessible by boat, and the only way to travel round them is on foot, by bicycle of golf cart. If you’re short on time Adventures in Paradise run organised island-hopping tours – fishing, walking, camping, walking, shelling and biking trails. Great for families, Fort Myers Beach on Estero Island has estuaries and lush mangrove forests you can kayak.
Get up and close to nature at the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge which has one of the largest mangrove wildernesses in the country. It’s a mecca for birdwatchers, with over 230 bird species, and also encompasses Tarpon Bay. Babcock Wilderness Adventures run 90-minute buggy tours through the Babcock Ranch and Telegraph Cypress Swamp, where you can see rare panthers and wild alligators.
Paddling along the water trails of Fort Myers by kayak or canoe is a great way to experience mangroves and islands that are otherwise inaccessible. The Great Calusa Blueway follows the path of the early settlers and is home to over 200 miles of paddle trails.
The fascinating shell mounds and ridges of Mound Key rise 30 feet above Estero Bay and are thought to been created by the Calusa Indians around 2,000 years ago.