Looking for the best Fort Myers beaches? Fort Myers is famous for idyllic white-sand beaches, crystal clear water from the Gulf of Mexico, as well as beautiful seashells. The best beaches in and around Fort Myers, including the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, offer a wide range of options for all types of beach goers.
Whether you’re looking to rip through the waves on a jet ski, paddleboard to meet manatees, or hike a wildlife trail that ends with a sea dip and a snorkel (or, you know, simply just recline and sunbathe in front of a perfect ocean horizon – no judgment), this guide provides information on the best beaches in and around Fort Myers, to suit every taste, including travel info, parking fees, activities to try out, available amenities, and much more.
Where is Fort Myers?
Fort Myers Beach is a town in southwest Florida, in the United States, located on Estero Island, off Florida’s coast. Beyond the pearly white sands, Fort Myers is also known for its natural and historic estates, while working as an ideal hop-off point to explore more of the region’s isles and islets, such as Captiva and Sanibel.
Best Fort Myers Beaches, Florida
Here are a few suggestions for the best Fort Myers beaches to get you started, which are easy to get to from town and have a wide range of amenities and activities for visitors to enjoy.
Note that all public beaches in and around Fort Myers close at sunset and reopen at 7am, and no pets are allowed unless otherwise specified.
Fort Myers Beach
Sharing its name with the town, Fort Myers Beach is a wide public beach with a number of things to see and do, such as water sports. Jet skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and water skiing are just a few ideas, though if you’re feeling less active then simply relax on the sand, watching the waves, or take a stroll to the north end of the beach, where there are a shady walkway and a laidback beach village of boutiques and cafes.
The sugary sands of Fort Myers Beach are famed, but one of the most increasingly popular activities to engage in is a dolphin eco-tour with waverunner. These scenic tours are led by knowledgeable guides, who introduce visitors to local wildlife, including dolphins and manatees.
When you’re looking to refuel or enjoy some air conditioning, head to Times Square, a shopping and dining area found at the Fort Myers Beach Fishing Pier.
There are several parking areas available for Fort Myers Beach and fees are USD2 per hour.
Lovers Key State Park
8700 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931
This thin and isolated two-mile stretch of sand is located between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach. The parklands were originally intended to become the site of luxury condos, however the mangrove forests and beaches were donated to the people of Florida, so that everyone can enjoy this stunning environment. Due to its romantic nature and apt name, Lovers Key is a popular spot for beach weddings.
There are a number of activities visitors can enjoy at Lovers Key. Guests can cycle five miles of trails either on a self-guided tour or guided bike tour; you can bring your own bike or rent one from Lovers Key Adventures. The trails are also great for hikes and two of the most highly recommended are the Black Island Trail (2.5 miles) and Eagle Trail (1.1 miles).
Boating can be enjoyed on your own vessel, or via kayaks and canoes, which can be rented from the Bait Shop. Keen anglers can fish for trout, redfish, snook, tarpon and mullet. The canals and lagoons of Lovers Key are home to an array of wildlife species, including graceful manatees, playful bottlenose dolphins and hunting osprey.
What’s more, construction is also underway for a Welcome and Discovery Center, which is expected to open in Q2 of 2021. This center will include an exhibition hall, a picnic area and outdoor discovery areas, which will be great for children.
Lovers Key State Park is open from 8am to sunset daily. Swimming is permitted, but there are no lifeguards on duty. Parking fees are USD8 per vehicle. Lovers Key Adventures & Events hosts a number of different programs and tours throughout the year, so check out the Florida States Parks website before your trip, or contact 239-463-4588 for up-to-date information.
Previously, Lovers Key State Park was only accessible by boat, but can now be reached by road. The entrance is located half a mile south of Big Carlos Pass.
Bonita Beach Park
Bonita Beach, Bonita Street, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931
Located between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Springs, Bonita Beach Park is particularly noted for shelling. Bonita is also the only off-leash dog beach in the county, so it’s the best beach to choose if you have a canine friend with you who wants to enjoy the beach just as much as you do!
Other activities to enjoy at Bonita include jet skiing, parasailing, swimming, volleyball and swimming. There is a canoe/kayak launch, a covered pavilion, a gazebo and eight picnic tables, restrooms, showers and food/drink stations.
Parking fees are USD2 per hour.
Bowditch Point Beach Park
50 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931
Perched on the northernmost tip of Estero Island, Bowditch Point Beach Park has a prime vantage point for watching boats cruising in and out of the Gulf of Mexico. Other than boat-spotting, visitors can rent kayaks and paddleboards, wander along the mangrove-lined boardwalk, hike the walking trails, birdwatch, or explore the butterfly gardens.
Amenities include barbecue facilities, picnic areas, a boat dock and paddlecraft launch, restrooms and changing rooms, as well as food and beverage stands.
Bowditch Point Park is part of a larger preserve on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. There are three unique habitats, which play host to a diverse array of wildlife species; an estuarine, the beach and an upland pine forest.
Parking fees are USD2 per hour. Bowditch Point Beach Park is accessible for wheelchair users from the area to the water and there is an accessible boat dock. Dogs are allowed on the beach, but must be kept on a leash.
Best Beaches around Fort Myers, Florida
Fort Myers does not hold a monopoly on the best beaches in the area, as many of the isles adjacent to Estero also boast white sand beaches, turquoise waters and a plethora of things to see and do. You may have to venture further afield (or take a boat or two), but the seclusion afforded by more remote beach locations offer the greatest rewards for eager beach-hunters.
Sanibel Island, located just a short drive from Fort Myers, is home to fantastic shelling, rich sunsets, a charming lighthouse, art galleries and glamorous resorts.
The Sanibel Lighthouse dates back to the 1880s and is still working today. Lighthouse Beach is one of the most popular stretches of sand to visit. There’s a fishing pier here and one of the best shelling spots on Sanibel is located a five-minute walk to the right of the lighthouse. However, be warned that there are strong currents here, so it’s not advised to swim at Lighthouse Beach. Parking fees are USD5 per hour and due to its popularity, it’s recommended to arrive early to get a good spot, as the small beach can become crowded.
Another popular Sanibel Beach is Bowman’s Beach, which feels untouched and is usually quiet. The beach has a few amenities, such as picnic tables, grills and restrooms. The parking fees are $5 per hour.
Finally, the Sanibel Causeway Beaches are also worth a visit, both located just after the toll booth; Causeway A and Causeway B. There is a variety of activities to enjoy here, including fishing, canoeing or kayaking, windsurfing, kiteboarding, as well as swimming, shelling and sunning. Causeway B is the slightly larger of the two and has more amenities and shade. There is no fee for parking.
Captiva is Sanibel’s quirky little sister, matching Sanibel for spectacular beaches and souvenir shopping, but it has an edge when it comes to dining options (try The Mucky Duck or Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille) and romantic sunset beach walks. Captiva is also a little quieter than Sanibel.
Outdoor activities to enjoy on Captiva include biking, sailing, birding and water sports. Turner Beach and Allison Hagerup Beach Park (often called Captiva Beach) are loved by both locals and tourists for powdery white sands, gentle lapping jewel-toned waves and impressive sunsets.
Captiva Island can be reached from Sanibel via Sanibel-Captiva Road and over the Blind Pass Bridge. Parking fees are USD5 per hour.
North Captiva is a sparsely populated island accessible only by boat, so it is best explored on an island-hopping excursion. There are beautiful, crowdless beaches to enjoy, as well as a more exclusive collection of shells than can be found at Fort Myers.
Located north of Captiva Island and separated by the Redfish Pass (which was created during a 1921 hurricane), North Captiva also lies just south of Cayo Costa, separated by Captiva Pass. The island’s west facing beaches offer some of the best sunset watching spots in the whole of the Fort Myers area. As you watch the sun sink into the Gulf Mexico, some have even reported seeing the elusive “green flash,” which appears when the sun is almost entirely below the horizon.
Cayo Costa Island State Preserve – Fort Myers Beaches
13921 Waterfront Drive, Pineland, FL 33922
Like North Captiva, Cayo Costa State Preserve is only accessible via boat (there are ferry services from Captiva Island, Punta Gorda, Boca Grande and Pine Island) and is famous for its remote, wide-open beaches and excellent sea shells. Located close to Punta Gorda and North Fort Myers, Cayo Costa is one of the largest of Florida’s barrier islands, covering around 2,425 acres, and is also one of the most underdeveloped.
The island is noted for its pine forests, lazy hammocks swinging between oak palms, mangroves, nature trails and picturesque picnic areas. However, be sure to bring your own food and drink, as there are no concession stands available.
The nine-mile stretch of pristine beach is populated with sand dunes, turtle nesting areas (May to September), six miles of hiking and biking trails (bikes can be rented from the Ranger Station), as well as beautiful sea birds such as pelicans. Offshore, Cay Costa’s tranquil waters are safe for swimming and snorkeling, while dolphins frolic in the deeper waters.
Should you wish to stay overnight in Cayo Costa State Park, there are options for tented camping and basic cabin accommodation (bunk beds, communal toilets, cold showers, no electricity), but these should be reserved in advance. Half- and full-day trips are more popular.
There is an admission fee of USD2 per person required for entry to Cayo Costa Island State Preserve, which must be paid in exact change into an honor box.
Boca Grande Beach, Gasparilla Island – Fort Myers Beaches
If you’re looking to travel further afield than Fort Myers, but you suffer with a spot of seasickness, then Boca Grande Beach is a great option, as Gasparilla Island can be reached via road, on a USD6 causeway toll bridge. Gasparilla Island also has five other pristine beaches to choose from, all facing to sparkling Gulf of Mexico.
The name Boca Grande comes from the Spanish for “Big Mouth,” relating to the mouth of the Boca Grande Pass waterway, which used to be used as a shipping point due to its naturally deep waters.
While visiting Boca Grande, make sure you stop by Gasparilla Inn & Club, which was originally built in 1911 and showcases Florida’s old world resort charm. The quaint and historic downtown adds to the atmosphere.
Boca Grande is located close to Cayo Costa, so these two beach beauty spots can be combined easily on the same trip.
More of Fort Myers Beaches in the Area
Are your favorite picks for Fort Myers beaches featured on this list, do you agree with the choices, or do you have more to add? Hopefully, this selection of Fort Myers’ public beaches has helped you figure out the best beach for the trip you want to make to Florida’s gorgeous barrier islands and the Gulf of Mexico. If you have any further recommendations for Fort Myers, let us know in the comments below.
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