• MustDo.com | Florida beach shells. Must Do Visitor Guides
  • MustDo.com | Fort Myers Beach, Florida, USA.
  • MustDo.com | Sanibel Island, Florida Lighthouse Beach. Photo by Jennifer Brinkman.

Beaches

Southwest Florida boasts more than 600 miles of shoreline and is home to some of the best beach destinations in the world. Warm Gulf waters, white sand, and shell filled beaches are an alluring part of vacationing in the Fort Myers, Sanibel, and Captiva Island area. You will find award-winning Fort Myers, Sanibel, and Captiva Islands’ beaches provide an excellent opportunity to lie around and soak up the Florida sun!

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Captiva & Sanibel Island Beaches

The barrier islands of Fort Myers are perfect places to start any beach excursion. Rich with wildlife and first class amenities, Captiva and 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!

Sanibel Stoop

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. 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.

Sanibel Island beaches & Captiva Island beaches also provide a bounty of fishing opportunities. Regardless of whether you choose to fish from the pier, shore, or aboard a charter, you’ll have plenty of possibilities 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

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 sand and 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, Key West party atmosphere, 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.

See more things to do in Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, and Captiva Island and check out Sarasota and Naples.

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Must Do Beaches

Captiva Beach. Alison Hagerup Beach Park Captiva Island, Florida USA. Photo by Nita Ettinger

Alison Hagerup Beach Park

Alison Hagerup Beach Park AKA as Captiva Beach is a wide, sandy stretch of beach located at the northern tip of Captiva Island off San-Cap Road adjacent to South Seas Island Resort. Captiva Beach is located within easy walking distance to several Captiva Island casual restaurants and cafes. Take a short walk from the beach to cool off with some ice cream, a... Read More
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Lovers Key State Park & Beaches

Things to Do at Lovers Key State Park Lovers Keys State Park covers 712 acres and includes tidal lagoons, canals, and four barrier islands. It remains an unspoiled area for many types of birds and wildlife. Manatees, dolphins, coastal birds and even bald eagles can be seen on the islands and in the waters surrounding them. Lovers Key is the main barrier island, with... Read More
Capiva Island, Florida, USA

Turner Beach

Popular Southern Captiva Island Beach Turner Beach which is located on the southern tip of Captiva Island is popular for fishing from the beach and rock jetty, shelling, and admiring beautiful Gulf of Mexico sunsets. It is located on Sanibel-Captiva Road, on the Captiva side (right at the "Welcome to Captiva" sign) of the Blind Pass Bridge. Swimmers should exercise caution when swimming near the... Read More
Bowman's Beach on Sanibel Island, Florida USA

Bowman’s Beach Park

Sanibel's Award-winning Bowman's Beach Several miles of secluded white sandy beach with plenty of room to play, relax, or gather shells. U.S. News Travel Recognizes Bowman's Beach in the Top 10 Best Beaches in the World and was recognized by Travelocity as one of the Top 25 Beaches in the United States! Bowman’s Beach is located off Sanibel-Captiva Road just past J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife... Read More
Photo Debi Pittman Wilkey

Cayo Costa State Park

Pristine Cayo Costa Island Cayo Costa (“key by the coast”) looks much like it did 500 years ago when European settlers arrived. The park is one of Florida’s most underdeveloped islands where visitors are rewarded with acres of pine forests, oak-palm hammocks, mangrove swamps, nature trails, and shady picnic areas. In addition, once you arrive at Cayo Costa State Park you’ll be rewarded... Read More
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Dog Beach Park

Fort Myers Pet-Friendly Beach Give your pet an off-the-leash run at the only county-owned beach where pets are allowed. Dog Beach is a coastal tideland; therefore, the size of the beach varies on the water level and tide. Disposal stations are available and owners are required to clean up after their pets. There is a maximum of two dogs per person allowed. No restrooms but... Read More
Sanibel Lighthouse. The lighthouse and beach are located on the eastern tip of Sanibel, wrapping around to the bay side offering both Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay views. Photo by Jennifer Brinkman. Must Do Visitor Guides, MustDo.com

Sanibel Lighthouse Beach & Fishing Pier

A Fun and Historic Sanibel Attraction The historic, working Sanibel Lighthouse, Lighthouse Beach, t-dock fishing pier, and a boardwalk nature trail that winds through native wetlands. The lighthouse and beach are located on the eastern tip of Sanibel, wrapping around to the bay side offering both Gulf of Mexico and San Carlos Bay views. Sanibel Lighthouse History Sanibel Lighthouse is 98 feet tall and was... Read More
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Bowditch Point Park

Encompasses the entire end of Estero Island (17 acres) and has shoreline on both the Gulf of Mexico and the back-bay, or Matanzas Pass. Bowditch Point Park beach is accessible for individuals with disabilities from the parking area to the Gulf of Mexico. There is also an accessible boat dock. Don't let Florida's hot, humid weather spoil your visit. Florida Sunshine Survival Tips. Bowditch... Read More
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Sanibel Causeway Beaches

San Carlos Bay and Gulf of Mexico Access Two very popular beaches located just after the toll booth on the spoil islands used to link Sanibel Island to the mainland. The causeway bisects San Carols Bay close to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River allowing bay and Gulf access. The first of the two islands is referred to as Causeway A, the second Causeway... Read More
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Lynn Hall Memorial Park Beach

Fort Myers Beach Beachfront Park Lynn Hall Memorial Park is a beachfront park located on Fort Myers Beach, just north of the foot of the Matanzas Pass Bridge, next to Times Square. You can enjoy a full day of activities at Lynn Hall Memorial Park. This busy Gulf front park located on Fort Myers Beach is great for families! It features picnic shelters with... Read More
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