6 Ways You Can Explore the Ocean in Southwest Florida

Boating on the outer islands

The water is a way of life on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Some days you’ll be under an umbrella on the sand’s edge; other days you’ll be on the edge of your seat reeling in a 200-pound tarpon. Here are the many ways of getting in and around the waves in Southwest Florida.


Beaches are so important to us, it’s even in our name. And with over 50 miles of white-sand shoreline from the beautiful beach of Bonita Springs to the outer islands and Boca Grande, it’s easy to find some space to call your own. Try driving to Sanibel or Captiva, calm, palm-lined beaches that feel a world away. Or, head to Fort Myers Beach for a more lively stretch of sand.

Couple tanning on the White Sands Beach


Shells go hand in hand with sand and, thanks to our unique geography, you’ll find handfuls of beautiful, unbroken shells washing gently onto shore. We call collecting these shells “shelling” – and we’ve made an entire holiday of it called National Seashell Day. With over 400 species, there’s a lot to look for. Try starting with these six.

Collection of seashells on the beach


Our most popular islands, like Sanibel and Captiva, are connected by bridges. Most others are only accessible by water, but that’s an easy ask thanks to our 20 local marinas. Rent your own boat for the day or just kick back on a specialty cruise. For an extra challenge, enroll in sailing lessons with Offshore Sailing School. Depending on the course, you can be behind the wheel in just a few days – or even hours.

Group of boats in motion

Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Stand-up paddleboarding, or “SUP,” is one of our favorite things to do in Southwest Florida. Getting your stand-up sea legs can take some practice, but stick with it and you’ll be exploring local waterways in no time. Among our favorite places to paddleboard is the Great Calusa Blueway, a 190-mile marked paddling path through mangrove forests and inland tributaries. It’s the perfect excursion for couples.

Family paddleboarding


The small island of Boca Grande has more than a beach. Every summer and spring, it becomes a focal point of fishing, known globally as the Tarpon Capital of the World. But we have great angling year-round – whether you’re reeling in the fall or for a weekend. And around here, you can even bring your catch to local restaurants for dinner.

Man fishing from a boat on the ocean


In the 1960s, local anglers started experimenting with man-made reefs. And it quickly became clear that these reefs could benefit more than just the anglers. Our network of artificial reefs now includes steel towers, boxcars, a bus and the USS Mohawk – a decommissioned World War II patrol boat. These structures benefit fish, fishers and divers. Maxed Out Charters and Offshore Adventures are two companies that access these reefs.

Scuba diver among striped angelfish in Southwest Florida

Ready to jump in? Start planning your trip to Southwest Florida.

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