From the moment you arrive on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, you know you’re going to have a good day. Here, your days are full of sunshine and nature, bounties of fresh seafood and tropical fruits, and diverse cultural discoveries. However you choose to spend your days, you’ll uncover endless ways to enjoy quality time with your loved ones.
As Gulf waters push along the sloping seafloor, the sand is full of seashell treasures that change every day. Look around and you’ll see dedicated collectors hunched over to examine the shell hash for whelks, conchs and other pristine shells. Some of the best spots for shell collecting include Bowman’s Beach, Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel Island, and Turner Beach on Captiva Island. Dedicate at least one afternoon to expanding your knowledge at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.
Learn everything you need to know about shelling before you get started.
The days are simply better out on a boat. Let a captain lead the way as you bask in sunshine and fresh sea breezes, keeping your eyes trained on the waters to look for dolphins and manatees. Cross Pine Island Sound to explore the shell-covered beaches of North Captiva and Cayo Costa State Park; dine on the catch of the day at Cabbage Key or hand the chef your catch of the day to prepare just as you like. Useppa Island is an exclusive private club spanning 100 acres of pristine nature that is accessible to daytrippers via Captiva Cruises. On this remote island getaway, daytime visitors are welcome to step through an archway of banyan trees into the Pink Promenade, wander the lush butterfly garden and enjoy a leisurely lunch in the inviting surroundings of The Collier Inn Restaurant. Whichever island you land on, you can trust that your day is full of endless possibilities.
With so many unique neighborhoods to explore, every day can be something new. Vibrant and colorful pieces of art are everywhere you look on Matlacha, a fishing village that has been transformed into an artist enclave. Make your way between art galleries, splashy murals, even brightly painted mailboxes and campers. In Fort Myers, the art scene is always dynamic with new works and live music at the monthly Art Walk and the exciting Battle of the Arts where local artists compete creatively at the Artsemble Underground Gallery and Lounge in the Bell Tower.
Make every day special when you dine alongside the people you love. Seafood lovers have their pick from casual, family-friendly eateries lining the shores to elegant restaurants that are perfect for date night. Plan your meals in historic establishments, like Tarpon Lodge, which has been a local favorite since 1926. Savor farm-to-table cuisine that showcases the best ingredients in Southwest Florida — like Buckingham Farms in Fort Myers where the menu is inspired by the surrounding 80-plus-acre ranch and hydroponic farm. Order an island mojito at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and sip your way through more beach-inspired cocktails at laid-back bars all over the islands.
Discover the best wine pairings with local seafood.
In the water and on land, there’s beauty everywhere on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Go kayaking through the mangrove estuaries and wildlife-filled bays. Ride bikes from end to end on Sanibel Island along 25 miles of paved paths. Add birdwatching to your list of favorite pastimes as you count more than 245 species that are drawn to these beaches, wetlands and mangrove forests. However you decide to spend your day, getting out into natural surroundings is calming and restorative — making it easy to put down your electronic devices to enjoy your time together.
Find more eco-adventures in our parks and preserves.