Whether by land or by sea, the opportunities for adventure are never far away.
Beaches of Ft Myers, Sanibel and Captiva
Shell-aficionados from all over the world make the trek to this area of the Gulf Coast, considered by Travel and Leisure Magazine to be the best shelling spot in North America. But be careful, the incredible abundance and variety of shells could have you in the Sanibel Stoop for hours.
Some of the most beautiful locations in the area are accessible by boat only. Hundreds of islands are waiting to be explored just off-shore. Visit one of 20 local marinas and snap up a charter or join a sightseeing cruise between islands like Cayo Costa, Cabbage Key and Boca Grande. Maybe even take a sailing course and learn a more traditional approach to navigating the waters off Ft Myers.
Snorkeling and Diving
Ft Myers Beach offers several hot spots for snorkeling, including Blind Pass. Enjoy the shallow water on your own or take one of many snorkeling excursions offered by private charter. For a deeper dive experience, many enjoy exploring the Veterans Memorial Reef, the World War II warship U.S.S. Mohawk CGC that was deployed in 2012 its final resting place 90 feet under water, about 28 nautical miles off Sanibel Island.
Where to go and what time; what rod, lure and bate to use; when to cast and how far? All questions that need to be asked. But first, you must decide… Innshore Fishing or Offshore fishing. Innshore fishing, sometimes called backwater fishing, is virtually limitless for places to test your skills thanks to the region’s vast estuary network and shallow grass flats that are just ideal. But if offshore is your thing, the swaths of open limestone-bottomed areas and plenty of shipwrecks reefs make offshore fishing pretty rewarding.
Canoe and Kayaking
Launch and rental facilities are in abundance anywhere near the water. The guided tours can direct you to notable spots. But a must-paddle is the Great Calusa Blueway. This 190-mile water trail is arguably the finest paddling trail in the United States. As it winds thru Southwest Florida, it gives adventurous a closer look at native birds and manatee relaxing in their habitat.
Hiking and Biking
Seasoned hikers and mountain bikers should check out the Caloosahatchee Regional Park. Made of pine flatwoods and oak hammocks, the 20 miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails offer a thrilling way to experience the area and its wildlife. For a slightly slower pass the boardwalks that run through Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve offers dry vantage points throughout this 2,500-acre wetland preserve.
Dining and Nightlife
You will find many bucket-listed dining experiences from dinner cruises that carry you onto the Gulf waters on a modern yacht, to sumptuous candlelit dinner spots and the seaside restaurants lend to a casual evening sipping tropical drinks and enjoying live music. In downtown Ft Myers in the River District is highlighted by the Music Walk and the vibrant Art Walk. Microbreweries host a variety of live entertainment along with mouth-watering lagers, ales and more.
Anyone say retail therapy? The River District in Downtown Ft Myers offers a broad range of unique and diverse boutiques. But the street-style complex of Coconut Point, with more than 100 shops and 25 restaurants, is the crown jewel of retail. Similar in style, the 140+ stores at Miromar Outlets combine a sophisticated atmosphere with bargain prices.
Arts and History
Pastel-painted galleries are filled with local artist’s works. Matlacha is the most eclectic of Ft Myers creative communities with brightly colored paintings, sculptures and inspiration. For a historical walk with American icons Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, you can explore their beautifully maintained homes and surrounding acres of gardens, many planted by Edison himself. Interested in archaeology? Then you will want to visit Mound House and learn the customs of the Calusa Indians who lived atop the 2,000 year-old shell mound that is now a unique archaeological site.
Museums and Galleries
The local museums and galleries are a great way to understand the life, times and work of those who came before us. At the Southwest Florida Museum of History, exhibits from dinosaurs to native Americans and Spanish explorers are perfect for history buffs and science lovers alike. Downton Fort Myers hosts an art walk every month and features more than a dozen galleries that are concentrated within a four-block area. This first Friday event draws thousands to stroll the streets, enjoy art demonstrations, see new exhibits, meet the artists and more.