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10 Beautiful Places in Fort Myers and Sanibel

  • By Harry Hastings
  • Published 20 May 2019
  • Revised 08 February 2023
10 Beautiful Places in Fort Myers and Sanibel
  • By Harry Hastings
  • Published 20 May 2019
  • Revised 08 February 2023
10 Beautiful Places in Fort Myers and Sanibel
  • By Harry Hastings
  • Published 20 May 2019
  • Revised 08 February 2023
The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel are the best-kept secret in Florida with stunning beaches, a rich collection of wildlife in one of nature’s finest gardens, while its islands create the perfect place to get away and relax with a little island hopping adventure, too. We’ve included some of our favourite spots which will help whittle it down a little when planning your days in the sunshine.

Sanibel’s Bowman’s Beach

Sanibel is renowned as the shelling capital of the USA. Its unique geography allows nature to serve up an abundance of seashells with each tide.  Artists, collectors and visitors head to this beautiful undeveloped shoreline to hunt for shelling treasure and to watch life go by - Sanibel style.

After your shelling hunt, see how your collection compares to the offering at Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. Learn about shells native to Sanibel and Captiva plus those that can be found around the globe. See shells from big to small, including those that have won records for being the largest in all the world.

J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Look out for manatees, dolphins, tortoise, turtles and over 245 species of migratory birds in the stunning J.N ‘Ding’ Darling National Refuge which spans 6,400 acres across the region. It is one of Americas largest and most impressive mangrove ecosystems. Explore the refuge by driving through the area in your own vehicle where you’ll find plenty of spots to along the trail to stop and admire the wildlife. Alternatively, join a walking tour, cycle or kayak through the refuge and take in this natural wonder.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

The area’s beauty is nothing new. Both Thomas Edison, the inventor of the lightbulb, and Henry Ford, famous for establishing Ford cars, had snowbird residences in Fort Myers to escape the winter chill of states further north. Their waterfront estates feature period homes with lush botanical gardens and a museum with a catalogue of their lives.

Gasparilla Island State Park

Visit Gasparilla Island State Park, home to the Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum. This state park boasts wonderful parkland where you can go swimming, walking, biking, or just relax with a picnic. If you fancy seeing inside, the lighthouse is open to visitors every day apart from major holidays.

Cayo Costa State Park

Only accessible by boat, feel like Robinson Crusoe and escape the hullabaloo of everyday life on Cayo Costa State Park, a bridgeless barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. This unspoilt park boasts more than 2,400 acres of land which includes beaches where you can go shelling and fishing. Walk or cycle the trails that meander across the island and then snorkel off the near 7 miles of pristine white sandy beaches. And if visiting between May and October you may get the chance to see Loggerhead turtles nesting on the shore. You can reach this stunning barrier island by chartering a boat, we recommend Captiva Cruises or Tropic Star from Pine Island.

Cabbage Key

Great for a day trip from Sanibel and Captiva Islands, take an island hopper boat trip to Cabbage Key, an old fishermans lodge in Pine Island Sound. Lush tropical islands dot the coast while old fisherman huts built on stilts still stand in the water. At Cabbage Key youll receive great hospitality and food - try their homemade smoked salmon or the famed cheeseburger in paradise! Whats more, there are no cars or roads on Cabbage Key - so you can enjoy the short tropical walking trail or watch Pelicans fill their beaks while relaxing on the boat docks.

Six Mile Cypress Slough

Journey into a 3,400-acre wetland ecosystem on a mile-long boardwalk trail. Enjoy overlooks, plants and wildlife and free guided walks year-round.

On your exploration, you may come across alligators, turtles, otters, and wading birds, who live at the Slough year-round. Additionally, many types of migratory birds use the Slough as a rest stop and feeding area.

Manatee Park

Known as sea cows, Manatees are gentle giants that migrate to the warm mangroves around the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel to escape the cooler waters in the Gulf of Mexico. You can see up to fifty of them at once at Manatee Park, but youll be sure to see them elsewhere in the warm waters of Pine Island Sound. J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge is a great spot to marvel at these wonderful mammals, or you may see them nestling up to quaysides along the water’s edge as they feed on their beloved seagrass. There’s something so magical about seeing animals in their natural habitat and this is no exception

Mound House

Mound House is a 2000-year-old Calusa Indian shell mound which is thought to be the oldest structure on Estero Island. See the lives of early settlers come to life as you tour the house and the surrounding natural environment. The structure is made up of bones, shells and pottery pieces and stands 30ft above the water. This incredible mound is thought to have been the ceremonial centre of the Calusa Indians, making the visit to the site memorable.

Lovers Key State Park

The two-mile-long beach is accessible by boardwalk or tram and is popular for shelling, swimming, picnicking and sunbathing. Black Island has over five miles of multi-use trails for hiking and bicycling. Hop in a kayak and explore serene canals and lagoons that are favourite grazing spots for manatee and shorebirds. You may see the calm, turquoise waters broken by a dolphin’s dorsal fin or by the strike of an osprey’s talons.

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