Discover secluded beaches and scenic retreats on three beautiful barrier islands.
Island life on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, located on the Gulf of Mexico coast in Southwest Florida, moves at a laid-back pace. Get ready for a day planner filled only with island hopping, kayaking, shell-collecting, relaxing on white-sand beaches and disconnecting from the stresses of everyday life.
Exploring Cayo Costa State Park
Cayo Costa, which means “key by the coast” or barrier island, was home to Calusa Indian fishing villages for thousands of years. Today, much like all those years ago, this peaceful retreat still features serene mangrove forests and more than 14 kilometers of pristine beaches. In fact, it’s one of the largest undeveloped islands remaining in Florida. Get here by boat to be transported back in time. Spend your time kayaking, collecting shells, bird watching or swimming. The island’s interior has several walking and biking trails. Bring a pair of binoculars to help in spotting shorebirds, as well as sea turtles, manatees and dolphins. Plan ahead to book a cabin or campsite.
Searching for seashells at Cayo Costa State Park
Paddling on Captiva Island
Take the scenic drive from Fort Myers, through Sanibel Island and across a small bridge at Turner Beach to the 6.4-kilometer island of Captiva. This island may be small but it offers plenty when it comes to entertaining its visitors. Bike leisurely along the island’s main road. Relax on the beach. Tour the historic Chapel by the Sea. First built as a small schoolhouse more than 100 years ago and later used as a Methodist church, it now sits on the National Register of Historic Places. For a water-based adventure, rent a kayak and paddle through the lush mangroves of Buck Key Preserve. The kayak “trail” through the green tunnels of mangrove trees and lagoon waters takes paddlers on a magical journey. Keep an eye out for manatees, dolphins and sea turtles.
Bird watching while kayaking the mangrove tunnels of Buck Key Preserve
‘Old Florida’ Vibes on Cabbage Key
It’s believed that singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett had Cabbage Key in mind when he wrote his hit song “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” The island, only accessible by boat or island taxi and with no paved roads or cars, was home thousands of years ago to the Calusa Indians (a Native American shell mound remains there today). Cabbage Key still has the laid-back atmosphere enjoyed by Buffett and visitors alike, all in search of a cold beverage, a memorable cheeseburger and a peaceful oasis. Visit the historic Cabbage Key Inn & Restaurant, built by mystery writer Mary Rinehart and her son in the late 1930s, for awesome views of Pine Island Sound. Enjoy a meal at the open-air restaurant, known for its tens of thousands of dollar bills tacked to the walls by previous diners. Climb the switchback staircase of Cabbage Key’s water tower for a panoramic view of the area. Make time for fishing and for checking out local wildlife, including burrowing gopher tortoises.
A marker in the water welcoming boaters to Cabbage Key Inn & Restaurant
Fly into Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers to begin your adventure here.