There are a few destinations that continue to surprise us. Places that we return to year after year that leave us wanting more. The Fort Myers and Sanibel area is one of those "When are we planning our next trip?" kind of locations. The options are endless as far as places to visit, activities to do, and pristine beaches to explore… Every time we leave with new "favorite" spots! This time around, we took some notes about getting around, different island quirks, and some must-do's around Fort Myers and Sanibel. Here's what we learned:
1. Island Hopping Explorations
First things first, getting around is EASY. This is one destination that we highly recommend renting a car, as navigating and exploring is very hassle-free. You aren't dealing with bustling traffic or confusing streets – the roads are hardly ever busy and everyone drives at a leisurely pace! Island hopping via car is super convenient, as we hopped over to Sanibel Island multiple times from our hotel to do some shelling. We also spent an afternoon on Lover's Key, where we had a beautiful, long stretch of beach all to ourselves… it is a totally romantic spot for a sunset!
We'd also recommend that you spend at least one day on a boat for some true island hopping. After chasing dolphins in the mornings, you need to experience cheese burgers and Bloody Mary's on Cabbage Key (more on that here). Next, go sandbar hunting and have your mind blown at how incredibly gorgeous this part of Florida can be. We found an epic sand bar off of North Captiva and spent a couple hours enjoying the remote paradise. We boated by it later and it was basically gone because the tide had come up! Lastly, make your way up to Cayo Costa and Boca Grande, two more islands that you can find stunning stretches of beach on. Honestly, it was a bummer we only had one day to explore, because there are SO MANY hidden gems on these stretches of coastline.
2. "Island Time" is Real!
Being from Orange County where everyone is always in a hurry, visiting the Fort Myers and Sanibel area is like an instant hug and a nap all in one. Life moves a little slower out there (the speed limits are a little slower than home), and we LOVE it. I mean, why rush when you're on vacation? It's much easier to relax when the people around you are relaxed.
3. On Land or at Sea, There's Fun to be Had Everywhere!
As we mentioned above, we spent 12 hours island hopping by boat one day, and it was absolutely the highlight of the trip. Seeing the Sanibel coastline from the sea is almost like visiting a different destination – there's so many cool spots! There are several restaurants that are accessible only by the water, so lunch and dinner were spent docked at before-mentioned Cabbage Key and Barnacles, another popular spot. There's something SO thrilling about arriving to a restaurant by boat – we'd be lying if we said we didn't feel like celebrities! (Or should we say, "shell-ebrities?!") There are also plenty of beautiful sandy beaches where you can anchor the boat and go exploring… we'll let our pictures do the talking on that one!
4. The Tropical Vibes are STRONG!
The tropical vibes are STRONG in Fort Myers and Sanibel. We're constantly telling our friends that it truly feels like you've stepped foot on a Caribbean island – without paying for the expensive hopper flight or overpriced hotel!! One element of our latest trip that we loved was all of the fun and quirky restaurants we ate at (catch our full list here), all of which were oozing of tropical flavor. We loved how warm the evenings were, and how we were never out of sight of at least one palm tree.
5. The Shells are Rare and the Sand is Soft
On our last trip to Fort Myers and Sanibel we spent a lot of time "shelling" and learning all about the different types of seashells this area attracts (read more here). This trip, we didn't spend as much time shelling, but we DID spend a few afternoons combing the beaches for some rare varieties… it's so much fun!! Bobby was on the hunt for a Junonia, and while he didn't end up finding one, we saw a ton of cool varieties. Last time we had a shelling expert by our side, and we have decided that will be a must when we return.
We also wanted to mention the sand. Not every beach, but some stretches of sand, like Fort Myers beach, has sand that feels like flour. So soft and heavenly that it totally elevates the overall vacation vibes. Enjoy!
Have we convinced you to book a trip to Fort Myers and Sanibel yet? We haven't even mentioned the perfect sunsets, the golfing, the fishing, the night life, the stunning resorts… more blogs coming up! One things for sure, there's still a lot that we have yet to see and learn in this dreamy tropical destination. Here's to coming back soon!