Island Hopping Is A Must In Florida’s Most Family-Friendly Beach Town

Published January 3, 2020

Rumble / World TravelUnlike the gridlocked hustle of sister cities Tampa and Miami, Fort Myers Beach is the gem on the Gulf that still has the magic of a Florida long forgotten elsewhere. It's the kind of view you're convinced you need a passport to see until the windows of the car roll down crossing over the Matanzas Pass Bridge onto Estero Blvd. In the mid-morning sun, the salted fresh scent wakes you up to the kind of American island you really can still find.

Here on Fort Myers Beach on Estero Island in Southwest Florida, there are as many families in the seven-mile surf as there are couples, newlyweds to retirees. We spent a long weekend at the Pink Shell Resort in September 2019, and planned your perfect day in Fort Myers at the best beaches and locations we could fit into a long weekend. There are always things to do here for day trips on the surrounding islands of Sanibel Island and Captiva Island, click here to jump to digest below.

Island hopping, shelling, and eco-tours

You're here in Florida, grab that lovely continental Pink Shell Resort breakfast and get outside. If you love deep sea fishing, book one of the local fishing charters in town to catch your own dinner. Not in the mood to fish? Book a trip with EcoVenture Florida where Captain Matt Hetrick and First Mate Lauren will guide you through a true island hopping adventure. We coasted around the famous Sanibel Lighthouse and anchored at our own private little beach for shelling on the gorgeous Costa Cayo. The seashells are shades of reds and pinks, and some are as big as your face.

If you thought you needed to leave America to find white sand beaches and clear crystal water year-round, it's all right here in the United States' coastline on the Gulf of Mexico. We saw dolphins, manatees, fevers of rays, and one incredible sea turtle in our time with Captain Matt, but he asked me to say that seeing all those in one day is incredibly lucky. Ol' Captain Matt is a modest guy.

Water sports, parasailing, and paddle boarding

If you're not in the mood for a boat ride, head out to the Pink Shell's beach resort zone where you can start your morning ocean kayaking or paddle boarding in the gentle surf. The serene view from the room each morning is all the convincing you need to feel the mild saltwater on your toes. Take a short waverunner course and grab the jet ski views of the boardwalk from the ocean. Bike around Lovers Key State Park, the one place every guest at the resort raved about. We didn't get to make it here, but learned it's a popular spot for lovers of all ages to take sweet photos.

Downtown Fort Myers

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates are a must-see for any kind of traveler, particularly those botanical garden lovers! These vacation homes of first Thomas Edison's family, followed by Henry Ford's family later, are preserved with the original knickknacks and science center, including the working laboratory. Mina Edison is responsible for the exotic and blossoming flora on the estates and she is the true patron saint of Fort Myers. The history of the city, once a popular cattlemen stop, begins with the Edisons arriving and rebuilding the dock. The Royal Palms lining the Edison's estate roads are just one of the legacies left behind.

Fort Myers & Sanibel Island

If you're looking to escape somewhere gorgeously serene with more activities than you could possibly fit into one week, Fort Myers Beach is the spot for you. This barrier island gem is budget-friendly, pet-friendly, and impossibly clean, a nod to the high eco-standards Lee County holds itself to. The next time you want to escape somewhere south, just remember that you need to go as far as Key West to find white sand perfection. Fort Myers Beach is Florida's Florida, the kind you're looking for.