What’s new from The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

In addition to great, year-round weather, shell-drenched beaches and the sparkling Gulf of Mexico, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in southwest Florida continues to provide new experiences for visitors to Florida’s unspoiled island destination. For the latest vacation information, please visit www.FortMyersSanibel.com.

What’s new from The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

Nationally-recognized festivals and more!

LEE COUNTY, FL (U.S.A.)– In addition to great, year-round weather, shell-drenched beaches and the sparkling Gulf of Mexico, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in southwest Florida continues to provide new experiences for visitors to Florida’s unspoiled island destination. For the latest vacation information, please visit www.FortMyers-Sanibel.com.

 “Ding” Darling Days, Oct. 15-22

The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife plans to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week with “Ding” Darling Days, Oct. 15-22. The refuge will offer free admission to Wildlife Drive to all traffic for two days during that week, and to only biking and hiking traffic on Friday, Oct. 21. (The drive normally closes to all traffic on Fridays.) 

On Sunday, Oct. 15, the drive is free to all visitors during “Ding” Days’ kick-off Family Fun Day. In addition, Tarpon Bay Explorers (TBE), the refuge’s recreation concession, will offer free narrated 60-minute tram tours of the drive on a first-come basis to those who sign up that day. Note: This is the only day free general tram tours will be offered.

And if you’ve ever dreamed of exploring Wildlife Drive without the usual traffic, mark Oct. 20, on your calendar. Pedestrians and cyclists are admitted free of charge that day. Tram passengers receive a 25 percent discount Friday and during the week: $9.75 for adults, $6 for children for the 90-minute narrated tour. Reservations are recommended at 239-472-8900 for Monday through Saturday of “Ding” Days.

Admission to Wildlife Drive is free for vehicular as well as bike and foot traffic the following day, Saturday, Oct. 21 – Conservation Art Day, when plein-air artists will be painting along the drive. Call ahead to 239-472-8900 to make reservations for the free two-hour Photography Tram Tour that departs at 3 p.m. that day.

In addition to these free access days, the refuge conducts Birds & Wildlife Tour Caravans with free Wildlife Drive admission Monday through Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

Wildlife Drive is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. during “Ding” Darling Days. Friday, it is closed to all private motorized traffic.

Callout/Side note: Prior to “Ding” Darling Days, Wildlife Drive will be open fee-free on Saturday, Sept. 30, for National Public Lands Day and on Sunday, Oct. 8, for National Wildlife Refuge Day.

For Tarpon Bay Tram Tour schedules throughout “Ding” Days week, please call 239-472-8900 or visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com. For a full “Ding” Darling Days schedule, visit www.dingdarlingdays.com,  or call 239-472-1100.

Turtle nesting season

Each summer, loggerhead sea turtles travel hundreds of miles, to return to our Florida coastline beaches. Most adult loggerheads nest every year, laying several clutches of eggs. Turtle nesting and hatching season begins each May 1 and lasts through Oct. 31. Unfortunately due to human actions, coastal development, loss of habitat, pollution, artificial lights, shrimp nets or boating related accidents, sea turtles are facing extinction. Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau and Turtle Time, Inc. are committed to protecting our endangered marine turtles. Help protect our sea turtles by following a few basic turtle-friendly rules. For a complete list of rules and more sea turtle information, visit www.turtletime.org

Save the date!

“Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tourney, Sanibel Island

May 11, 2018

239-472-1000, ext. 4


To celebrate the history of the first documented tarpon caught on a rod-and-reel in “Ding” Darling’s Tarpon Bay in 1885, Doc Ford’s and the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge have partnered to host this 7th annual “catch, care, and release” tournament on   Registration is $500 per team of four, 100 percent of which goes back to the anglers in cash awards. Proceeds support the wildlife and conservation efforts at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Check out all of the details on the website.

3rd National Seashell Day

June 21, 2018

Shelling is such a popular pastime at The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel that it has its own special day. The third annual National Seashell Day takes place on June 21, 2018 and shelling enthusiasts now have a reason to shellebrate the joy of shelling and pair it with the perfect summer getaway. For details visit www.nationalseashellday.com


The Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs opened its $7.1 million Lazy River waterpark with three, three-story slides and a 1,095-foot heated lazy river. Adding one acre to the hotel’s existing two-acre pool area makes Hyatt Regency Coconut Point’s complex one of the largest resort poolscapes in Florida.

The waterpark will serve as a multifunctional recreation area, while also bringing new culinary offerings with both a food truck, serving a seasonal menu of cuisines, and the newly renovated Corkscrew Pool Bar. Details:  www.coconutpoint.regency.hyatt.com

The Mound House on Fort Myers Beach has unveiled $2 million in renovations.The 1921 period renovations to the islands oldest standing structure atop an ancient Calusa Indian shell mound serve as a backdrop for stories spanning some 2,000 years. Inside the restored two-story home, three new galleries have been added: Ancient People Gallery, Settlers on the Shells Gallery and the Digging Deeper Exploratory Gallery.  The grounds have been landscaped with three gardens and guided kayak tours are available.  Details: www.moundhouse.org

The Historic Koreshan home in Estero has completed the cottage rehab where one of the "Final Four" Koreshans lived. The home of German-born Conrad Schlender, the tiny wood-frame building was likely built around 1900, then moved to the Utopian communal settlement in the 1930s. A stand of giant bamboo shades the little building on the grounds of Koreshan State Historic Site, which offers visitors a glimpse of the lives the idealistic pioneers carved out of the subtropical scrub around the turn of the 20th century. Led by the charismatic Cyrus Teed, who renamed himself Cyrus (Hebrew for shepherd), the group planned to create the New Jerusalem.Visit floridastateparks.org/koreshan


Editor's note: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in Southwest Florida includes: Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Boca Grande & Outer Islands, North Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres. For media assistance, visit www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/media-central/. Images available upon request.

Megan Contreras