boat on the ocean with a sunset

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fort myers & sanibel boating

Many of the most beautiful locations in Southwest Florida are only accessible by boat. Step from dock to deck and cruise to laid-back settlements or stretches of coastline left to nature’s influence, all while dolphins play in your boat wake.

With hundreds of islands dotting our Gulf waters, a majority remains disconnected to the mainland by bridge. For an even more secluded experience than the sparsely populated beaches on Sanibel and Captiva, try the local pastime of island-hopping in Pine Island Sound. You’ll discover the remote shores and personalities of some of our more famous outer islands.

Visit one of 20 local marinas, where a variety of charter and sightseeing cruises are available for spending the day hopping between islands like Cayo Costa, Cabbage Key and Boca Grande. Beyond island-hopping there are so many ways to boat. Just choose the craft that’s your speed.

Sailing courses teach a traditional approach to getting around our waters. From three-day courses to advanced racing, coastal navigation and passage making, lessons from a variety of providers offer unique sailing experiences. Area kayak tour outfitters offer tips on the basics of paddling and can outfit you properly with paddling gear and guides.

For fun and learning in the same boat excursion, book a trip with a shelling and snorkeling cruise to the outer islands. For a deeper experience, earn your scuba certification during your visit. On Florida's Southwest coast, you’ll find the first Veterans Memorial Reef using a military ship, the U.S.S. Mohawk, located 28 nautical miles off of Sanibel Island. Learn to dive with lessons in the classroom and in the pool before descending to this popular site.

Half the fun of being on a boat is fishing. At Lover's Key State Park just south of Fort Myers Beach, rangers lead fishing and cast-netting programs for people of all ages. Check in with local bait shops to learn what’s biting where and for information on fishing restrictions.

Discover more about The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel