One of the most popular destinations in the country right now happens to be my home-away-from-home. From someone who knows, here are the 5 best beaches in Fort Myers, Florida.
The 5 Best Beaches of Fort Myers
Though Fort Myers, Florida is at the epicenter of this post, the area speaks more broadly to Southwest Florida. Visitors to the area won’t think twice about driving 15-20 minutes for the experience they want. However, some areas like Sanibel Island don’t have commercial service so Fort Myers will stand in for the region.
This list of popular beaches along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico will include any within a 15-mile radius of Fort Myers Beach.
The eponymously named Sanibel beach extends on either side of Sanibel Island; connected by a bridge over the water north of the city. From the moment the bridge descends to the island, casual fishermen (and women, fisherpeople?) cast lines from white sand beaches.
Farther into the barrier island, visitors will find a number of restaurants and bars as well as vacation rentals for longer visits. A must-see location on Sanibel is the Light House. Just a few weeks ago, we witnessed dolphins so close that we could have waded to them in waist-high water.
Sanibel has a $6 entry fee paid by Sun Pass when crossing the bridge. This fee is just high enough to limit crowds and keep the shell-laden beaches less crowded than the rest of the beaches in the area.
Connected to Sanibel Island by a very limited channel bridge (visitors often don’t realize they have crossed from one island into the other.) Captiva beaches, like Sanibel, feature many shells and even smaller crowds than its neighboring island. Due to its distance and low speed limits on the island, reaching the north portion of the island is a farther 15 minutes from the shore of Sanibel.
Stopping by the Marina ($5 parking lot) and walking across to the public beaches of Captiva will give some of the most pristine and open views the area has to offer.
Lovers Key State Park
Sandwiched between Fort Myers Beach to the north and Bonita Beach to the south, Lovers Key State Park is one of the most beautiful beaches on the coast. Known for its lush green mangroves and wildlife, Lovers Key is a perfect picture of Southern Florida.
Like Sanibel and Captiva, the difficulty in reaching Lovers Key adds to its limited use by visitors. All the better for those who make it there. As a state park, it offers many picnic areas from which to have a cookout or take in the sunrise or sunset. The park beaches are well maintained.
Perhaps my favorite beach in the area is Bonita, near the city of Bonita Springs, Florida. The beach offers convenient paid parking at Bonita Beach or Barefoot Beach next to it.
Like many other beaches on this list, Bonita has millions of shells and lots of marine life. Upon arrival at the beach, picnic tables and gazebos welcome guests to settle in for a long day. On your way home, stop by Doug’s Seafood and take home some smoked salmon dip and some fresh-caught fish.
Fort Myers Beach
The commercialized beach on the coast, I include Fort Myers Beach for completely different reasons than the others. If you’re looking for a typical Florida experience, this is your spot. Fort Myers Beach is the best established of the area, it has a number of shops and restaurants and feels like what a spring break spot should.
Lynn Hall Memorial Park on Estero Boulevard is near the Fort Myers pier and offers convenient parking and close proximity to hotels and beach properties. This is also near Times Square where street performers entertain beachgoers. The beach itself doesn’t have the best sand, but if you’re looking for the party atmosphere, decent restaurants, and a souvenir t-shirt, this is where to head.
For those looking for a more secluded spot on Fort Myers Beach, head north to Bowditch Point Park for peace and quiet away from the action, but still close enough to walk.
BONUS: Dog Beach
North of Bonita and south of Lovers Key, a treat awaits dog lovers with boats. Accessible only by water is a dog beach where low tide reveals a sand bar. This spot allows dog owners and their furry friends to play with other dogs and take in a beautiful day on the water with like-minded individuals.
Here’s a pro tip: boats with captains can be hired from the pier at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point to take you to the island, with or without a dog of your own. Guests of the hotel will find this highly convenient and observers can get close to Dog Beach on the way to Hyatt’s private island.
Fort Myers, Florida has so much to offer visitors. From great restaurants, family-friendly activities, unique things to do, to excellent beaches, Southwest Florida has a ton to offer. Grab your flip flops and some shells and make memories on the 5 best beaches in Fort Myers.
What do you think? Do you have a beach that you’d put on this list?