Make Family Memories Along The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

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Decades from now, your children will fondly remember the family vacation spent along the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel on Florida's Gulf Coast.

They’ll recall the sensory experiences: the spray of warm water as they splashed in the surf, the powdery softness of the white sand they sifted through in search of seashells and the spectacular sight of a dolphin leaping skyward.

Life long memories are made in this tropical playground, a chain of islands set against the warm Gulf water with more than 50 miles of white sand beaches. Some destinations are so remote that they're only accessible by boat. Family-friendly resorts cater to all ages and interests, providing opportunities for youngsters to play pirates or mermaids, spend a day as a marine biologist or explore the mysteries of the sea. An added bonus: There's plenty of free time for mom and dad.

Each beach has a distinct personality and dynamic, from the constant energy of Fort Myers Beach to the blissful solitude of Cayo Costa. Public amenities along the picturesque island coast offer playgrounds, concession facilities, metered parking and sand volleyball courts while waters sports vendors specializing in everything from jet skis to paddleboards expand family-time activities.

The gentle inward curve of the shoreline at the southernmost Bonita Beach Park frames the panoramic view north to the Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island skylines. Boardwalks span delicate sand dunes before revealing a wide sweep of beach and the Gulf. No matter the time of day, little appetites will find breakfast, lunch and dinner choices at Doc’s Beach House, a landmark waterfront restaurant. Here families can also book a dolphin eco-tour or rent jet skis and Hobie sailboats. For those traveling with the family pet, Dog Beach a few miles north is an off-leash facility.

Older children and teens favor Fort Myers Beach. Restaurants, shops and a 560-foot fishing pier are just steps from the beach and provide a break from too much time with the parents. The island’s soft, white sand has proven the perfect medium for many budding sandcastle artists, including professionals who participate in the annual American Sandsculpting Championship & Beach Festival. Fort Myers Beach is also home to a weekend sailing school and swashbuckling adventures aboard the Pieces of Eight pirate ship.

A series of scenic bridges and causeways connect the mainland to Sanibel and Captiva islands, where beaches are quiet and beachcombing may produce a prized shell find: the elusive junonia. Sanibel’s atypical east-west orientation makes it a bounty for shellers, whose bent-over stance is called the “Sanibel Stoop.” One of the best shelling destinations is in the shadow of the nearly 130-year-old lighthouse at the appropriately named Lighthouse Beach. South Seas Island Resort on the tip of Captiva boasts 2.5 miles of beaches and a menu of children’s programs tailored to the sea – from sailing school and mermaid and pirate play sessions to on-the-beach day camps through Sanibel Sea School and a popular catch-and-release fishing program. Families can also rent personal watercrafts, learn the hot sport of stand-up paddleboarding or book a dolphin cruise aboard a catamaran.

Pack a picnic lunch and charter a boat, or board the resort’s daily excursion, to Cayo Costa State Park, a secluded island strewn with unclaimed shells. This uninhabited piece of paradise offers hiking trails, rustic cabins, primitive campsites and nine miles of beaches for families who don’t mind swapping electricity for star-filled nights and togetherness.

No matter which island or beach you choose The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel create cherished memories, ones your children are bound to revisit for years to come.

This article is brought to you by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. To plan your trip, go to www.fortmyers-sanibel.com.

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners

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Jasmin
Jasmin May 16, 2013 10:36 AM
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