Visiting Fort Myers and Sanibel Beaches

By Laurén Ettinger

Any day at the beach is a day well spent but with a little planning, your Fort Myers or Sanibel beach day can be taken to the next level! Even if you plan to lounge on the beach and do nothing else, there are some basic items you’ll want to have. Check out our list of beach essentials to make your vacation to Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel or Captiva Island, Florida even more memorable. 

  • Reef-safe, ocean friendly sunscreen
  • Beach hat
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Cooler with snacks or packed lunch, water or other beverages
  • Sand toys for the kids
  • Beach towels + extra towels or a bedsheet to lounge or spread a picnic
  • Baby powder to gently remove sand from tender skin and feet
  • Plastic zip top bags for shells, leftover food, and to keep phones from getting sandy
  • Portable speaker and your favorite playlist
  • Beach chairs
  • Umbrella or beach tent for shade, small shovel or garden trowel to secure umbrella in the sand
  • Book, magazines, or e-reader
Essentials for Visiting Fort Myers and Sanibel Beaches - A list of beach essentials including the best beaches in Fort Myers and Sanibel, Florida with info about parking and amenities. Must Do Visitor Guides |
Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Once you’ve packed the ultimate beach bag, it’s time to find the perfect Fort Myers, Florida area beach to lounge the day away. No decision can be wrong when all options lead to sun and sand! 

Top Beaches in Fort Myers Sanibel and Captiva Florida

Essentials for Visiting Fort Myers and Sanibel Beaches - A list of beach essentials including the best beaches in Fort Myers and Sanibel, Florida with info about parking and amenities. Must Do Visitor Guides |
Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Fort Myers Beach 

Many visitors to the Fort Myers, Florida area base themselves on Fort Myers Beach, and with good reason! There are several access points to Fort Myers Beach but families will enjoy the additional amenities provided by Lynn Hall Memorial Park. This beachfront park has plenty of parking, picnic shelters with grills, a large playground, vending machines, and restroom facilities. Located directly next to Times Square and the Fort Myers Beach Pier, the location couldn’t get any better for a family fun day in the sun. Parking is $2 per hour from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Bowditch Point 

With a whopping 10 acres of park and shoreline on both the Gulf of Mexico and Matanzas Pass, Bowditch Point is a perfect pick for nature lovers. Enjoy walking trails, butterfly gardens, benches, BBQ grills, picnic areas, day boat dock and paddle craft launch, concessions, restrooms, and more. Parking is $2 per hour.

Beach at Lovers Key State Park 

Part of the award-winning Florida State Park system, Lovers Key State Park is a gorgeous place to get in touch with nature. Driving south from Fort Myers Beach, Lovers Key State Park is 712 acres of unspoiled paradise comprised of tidal lagoons, canals, and four barrier islands. Explore the area by hiking, biking, or relaxing on the pristine beach. Park admission fees range from $2 to $8 depending on mode of transportation and occupancy. 

Dog Beach Park

Dogs love spending the day at the beach two! Let your four-legged friends splash in the calm waters or run in the sand at Fort Myers, Florida’s Dog Beach Park. Maximum of two dogs per person allowed, parking is available free of charge. Additional amenities include doggie shower stations, portable toilet, and pet waste disposal stations.

Sanibel Causeway Beaches

The Sanibel Causeway Beaches are located on small islands used the connect Sanibel Island to the mainland. At both Causeway A and B, you have the ability to pull your vehicle up directly to the edge of the water, making it an excellent place for a tailgate style picnic! Causeway B has more shade due to the large Australian Pine trees and also has amenities that include drinking fountains, restrooms, and picnic tables. Both beaches have free parking and allow dogs on leash. Make sure to keep your eye out for dolphins which can be frequently spotted playing in the warm waters!

Bowman’s Beach Park

Bowman’s Beach Park located on Sanibel Island has been recognized as one of the best beaches in the United States and the World. The beach itself is about a ten-minute walk from the parking lot so be sure to bring a beach cart or wagon if necessary. Amenities include a shaded playground, picnic tables, BBQ grills, outdoor showers, and restrooms. Leashed pets are welcome, parking is $5 an hour. 

Turner Beach

Located on the southern tip of Captiva Island, Turner Beach is a popular spot for fishing, shelling, watching the sunset, and more. Those looking to swim or play in the water should exercise caution as swift currents and strong undertows can be preset. If you don’t feel like packing a picnic or want to grab a sundowner, there are lots of great bar and restaurant options close by. Parking is limited so arrive early, $5 per hour. 

Alison Hagerup Beach – Captiva Beach

Alison Hagerup Beach (also referred to as Captiva Beach), is located on the northern end of Captiva Island, Florida. The beach is wide and less crowded than other areas on the island, it is particular romantic at sunset and was even rated “The Most Romantic Beach in Florida” by Travelocity! Restrooms available, parking $5 for the first two hours.

Sanibel Lighthouse Beach and Fishing Pier

Combine your beach day with a little bit of Florida history at the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach and Fishing Pier. Built in 1884, the lighthouse marks the entrance to San Carlos Bay and helped ships depart with Florida cattle bound for Cuba. The beach is an excellent place for shelling especially about five minutes to the right of the lighthouse. Fishers can enjoy the lovely breeze off the pier and expect to catch redfish, snook, sheepshead, black drum, snapper, among other species. Amenities include restrooms, BBQ grills, outdoor showers, and a bike rack. Leashed pets allowed, parking $5 per hour.

Cayo Costa State Park

One of the most underdeveloped islands in the state of Florida, Cayo Costa State Park looks much like it did 500 years ago! Explore pine forests, oak-palm hammocks, mangrove swamps, and nine-miles of beautiful beaches. Bird enthusiasts will find a wide variety of creatures to watch. Pack a tent or reserve a primitive cabin for a weekend away in this natural Florida paradise. 

Get more information about Fort Myers, Sanibel and Captiva, Florida beaches

Essentials for Visiting Fort Myers and Sanibel Beaches - A list of beach essentials including the best beaches in Fort Myers and Sanibel, Florida with info about parking and amenities. Must Do Visitor Guides |
Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Written by: Laurén Ettinger | Author Website

Laurén Ettinger runs the travel and vanlife blog Flit Float Fly Away where she shares travel tips and stories from life on the road with her dog. She is the Assistant Editor at Siesta Publications for Must Do Visitor Guides where she manages social media, writes blog articles, and assists in editing print and online copy. Laurén also works as a freelance copy editor and proofreader. She holds a M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.A. in Global Studies from Appalachian State University. Follow her adventures on instagram or her blog