Modern Bonita Springs, named for a medicinal spring on the Shangri La Hotel property on U.S. 41, began life as the town of Survey. Next, the outpost was transformed first into a pineapple, banana and coconut plantation, then into a hunting and fishing destination. The arrival of developer Barron Collier’s Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) and railroad brought a new wave of prosperity to the town, which incorporated for the first time in 1925, and again in the late 1990s.
Attractions such as Everglades Wonder Gardens and Koreshan State Historic Site brought the wonders of the natural world to the forefront. Nearby Bonita Beach on Hickory Island was called Fiddlerville because of the vast number of fiddler crabs on its shell-strewn shores. Visitors today enjoy boating the waterways and the amenities at Bonita Beach Park.
Further north, Estero was incorporated in 1904 by the Koreshans, a religious sect that at one time numbered near 10,000. The remains of their “New Jerusalem" on the banks of the Estero River can be seen at the settlement at Koreshan State Historic Site, which also encompasses Mound Key, a large, former Calusa Indian village and sacred site.
More recent attractions include great dining options, Germain Arena for live events and shopping emporia such as The Promenade, Miromar Outlets, Coconut Point Mall, and Gulf Coast Town Center.
Lonely Planet Guidebook
Discover Florida's Island Sanctuary, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, with this new guidebook from Lonely Planet. Click here to view the e-book and view all the sights and activities Bonita Springs & Estero have to offer!
Our Pinterest Board
Spot wildlife along the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, explore uninhabited islands, discover ancient shell mounds and soak up natural beauty. Click here to see!
On Water Activities
We owe everything to the warm Gulf waters that surround us. The soft, white sand beaches to play on, the millions of shells to find, or the days spent kayaking, boating or fishing – none of which would be possible without it. The water connects us to nature, and with each new discovery, to each other. Click here to view other water activities!
Additional Links & Resources