Great beaches are an alluring part of vacationing in the Fort Myers, Sanibel and Captiva Island area. From award winning Sanibel Island beaches, to Captiva's beaches and Fort Myers Beach, you will find each provide a great opportunity to lie around and soak up the Florida sun!
* One important caution: Make sure the shells you collect are not live (inhabited). Aside from the surprise you'll get back home, it's illegal to remove living shells from the beaches. This includes sand dollars, starfish and sea urchins.
The barrier islands of Fort Myers are perfect places to start any beach excursion. Rich with wildlife and first class amenities, Captiva & Sanibel are considered two of the most captivating barrier islands in the country. Captiva and Sanibel islands have also earned a reputation for some of the best shelling in the world. The Southwest Florida water currents play into a sheller's hands, washing up more shells along the coastline than in any other place in North America — more than 400 species!
Visitors and locals alike can be found all over the area doing the “Sanibel Stoop” while scouting for shells on Sanibel Island beaches. You can find small treasures along the high tide line, but knowing where to look is the secret to successful shelling. The large shells will be obvious and easy to see, but for the small, intricately colored and sculpted shells, you'll have to peer inside sponges and pieces of wood, overturn washed up coconuts and shore debris. Expect to encounter varieties of conch, scallop, whelk and shark eye. Some shells appear seasonally; others pop up indiscriminately or tend to remain in a specific area. Find them where they lived — on mudflats and sandbars, within grasses or mangroves or even inside other shells.
Sanibel Island beaches & Captiva Island beaches also provide a bounty of fish. Regardless of whether you choose to fish from the pier, shore, or aboard a charter you’ll have plenty of opportunities for a big catch. Local inshore species include grouper, snook, sea trout, mackerel, amberjack, snapper, shark and tarpon. In fact, tarpon migrate to the Sanibel-Captiva area from April through June making it the Tarpon capital of the world!
Fort Myers Beach (which is actually located on Estero Island) is ideal for a family outing. The seven-mile stretch of beach has a wide shoreline that eases into the Gulf. Gentle undertow and no steep drop-offs, the palm-shaded sands family-friendly reputation nabbed it the title “World’s Safest Beach”. The kids can build sand castles near the water, and parents can stroll the funky and laid-back pit stops that line the beach and offer libations, seafood, burgers and more. Colorful Fort Myers Beach is a beachcomber's delight, replete with island style shops, parks and marinas. All that is beach fun is found in the Fort Myers area, from quiet shelling and birding to boisterous parasailing, wave running, windsurfing and boating. Read our Sea Turtles of the Paradise Coast blog article here.
For an active day of water sports or just unwinding in a picturesque hideaway, you’ll have no problem finding it all on the beaches of Southwest Florida.