The beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in Southwest Florida are made up of over 100 barrier islands each offering visitors a different experience, but drawn together by unspoilt nature, white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and activities for all ages.
When you first step foot on these spacious, unspoilt sands, it’s hard to believe you’re only a couple of hours away from bustling cities like Miami and Orlando. And with so much untouched beauty surrounding you, the wildlife sightings are just as exotic, from its manatee-filled waters to its alligator-inhabited wetlands. But it’s not just about the beach here. If you’re not sunning yourself on the sand, you could be touring the former homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, or visiting a museum entirely devoted to seashells.
Things to do
Fort Myers & Sanibel is made for island hopping. There are so many stunning shorelines to choose from! After its 18th century lighthouse, Sanibel’s beaches are probably most famous for shelling, with over 250 seashells to hunt down between its coastline and neighbouring Captiva Island. If shelling isn’t your thing, hiking, canoeing and guided fishing tours are just some of the activities you can test out at Lovers Key State Park.
The seven-mile-long shoreline along Fort Myers Beach gets most of the attention (for good reason), but it’s the pedestrianised Times Square that sees all the action. Lined with restaurants, bars, ice cream counters and surf shops, this oceanside playground has something for all ages. It’s also host to a public party each weekend to celebrate the sunset. If you’d prefer to stay away from the hustle and bustle, nothing beats days at Bonita Beach Park.
Aside from the beaches, Sanibel is also home to The J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. With over 7,600 acres of trails to explore, you could easily spend all day just spotting the many bird and reptile species living among the mangroves. For even more animal encounters, the Great Calusa Blueway’s wildlife-packed waters are a must for keen kayakers.
As for history, the island’s choice of museums are up there with its wildlife sightings. The biggest historical highlight is over in Fort Myers, along the Caloosahatchee River. Known as Edison and Ford Winter Estates, people come from all over the world to see Edison’s laboratory and gardens, where many of his experiments took place.
As one of the best shelling destinations in North America, it should come as no surprise that Sanibel is home to a building full of them! And if you thought you weren’t interested when you arrived, you will be by the time you’ve visited Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.