Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods presents a natural, romantic holiday spiced with nightlife, festivals and local seafood.
Turquoise waters lap bright-white sands scattered with pastel shells. Sunsets cast evening skies a changing spectacle of colour. Snowy pelicans contrast grey dolphins inside reserves fringed with wild greenery. The palette is calming, natural – the essence of Fort Myers, with its barrier islands, white sand beaches and eclectic neighborhoods. Shops, live music, original restaurants and festivals punctuate this tropical destination (with an average annual temperature of 23° C). Convenient air access and the value of your holiday dollar make the choice to visit Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach even easier.
Visit Sanibel Island for its shell-studded beaches
More than 50 miles of shoreline bound Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods, but it's the character of these beaches that suggests a tropical escape. Some of the 400 shell species found here actually hail from the Caribbean – delivered by the currents and a sloping ocean floor. Visit Sanibel Island's Blind Pass Beach or North Captiva's sands for your shell souvenirs.
Some 100 outer islands are inhabited primarily by mangroves. Bridgeless North Captiva and Cayo Costa offer little more, save for a charter service transporting you to their "castaway" settings for shell-collecting, bird-watching and swimming in the warm Gulf. Pristine and remote, the islands inspire romance, naturally sparked by the setting sun.
A visit to Fort Myers, Florida will show you a beach that buzzes day and night with energy, where you can dine, shop, listen to live music and fish from the pier.
Eco-minded and active attractions
On Sanibel, native plants brush the roadways and the tallest building is said to be no taller than the tallest palm tree. You'll be asked to black out lights visible from the beach, so as not to disorient nesting sea turtles in season. The island is a fitting home for the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, where eco-cruises introduce you to dolphins, manatees and rookeries rich with birds.
The Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail connects the refuge with numerous landings, including Lovers Key State Park. It's a well-known spot, but if you arrive early, you can share a stretch of beach with just a few wading birds.
Fishing, particularly for tarpon, is also popular here, with piers and charters at your service.
Shops, Festivals and Eateries
If you've come to shop, you'll find all manner of outlets, from mega Gulf Coast Town Center (an open-air mall in Estero) to Coconut Point Mall, another open-air collection in Bonita Springs. Sanibel and Captiva islands specialise in one-of-a-kind shops and retail villages that keep you close to the sun. Matlacha and Pine Island present a riot of colour in their art galleries showcasing local creations.
Annual events are similarly vibrant, including the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival in March, which offers tastings from local restaurateurs. A favourite, both for the fresh seafood and the casual, arrive-by-boat ambience, is the Cabbage Key Restaurant on Cabbage Key.
Places to Visit in Fort Myers & Sanibel
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford spent many winters as neighbours in Fort Myers. Tour their estates situated on the scenic Caloosahatchee River, along with Edison's gardens and a museum illuminating the pair's inventions.
The Randell Research Center at Pineland presents a lesson in pre-history. Walk past shell mounds and canals created by the Calusa Indians who inhabited this site for more than 1,500 years. Visit boat-accessible Mound Key Archeological State Park for more. For nothing but fun, board the Key West Express. The high-speed ferry runs from Fort Myers Beach to Key West.
For information on planning your trip to visit Fort Myers, Florida & Sanibel Island, go to Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods