10 of the Best Outdoor Activities on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

by ShermansTravel Editorial Staff
Sponsored by

10 of the Best Outdoor Activities on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

by ShermansTravel Editorial Staff
Sponsored by

It’s impossible not to think of the beach when conjuring up images of Fort Myers and Sanibel; they’re absolutely stunning. But there’s more to this destination than swimming and sunbathing. The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, with plenty of fresh air and space to roam in the natural settings. The area’s Conservation 20/20 program – which includes marked hiking trails, kayak launches, bike trails and more – protects natural areas for future generations. The best part? You can visit and enjoy the spoils year-round.

It’s impossible not to think of the beach when conjuring up images of Fort Myers and Sanibel; they’re absolutely stunning. But there’s more to this destination than swimming and sunbathing. The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, with plenty of fresh air and space to roam in the natural settings. The area’s Conservation 20/20 program – which includes marked hiking trails, kayak launches, bike trails and more – protects natural areas for future generations. The best part? You can visit and enjoy the spoils year-round. From some of the world’s best seashells to kayaking under the full moon, here are 10 of the best outdoor activities on The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.

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Boardwalk / Courtesy of The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
Shelling in Sanibel
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Collecting seashells on Sanibel Island

Shelling – the act of collecting seashells along the beach – brings people from all over the world to Sanibel. The island hugs the coastline, which then blankets the shores with beautiful seashells. The hotels here have taken note and often outfit guest rooms with shell stations for washing and prepping a haul. Sanibel even has its own shelling moniker: The doubled-over stance made when collecting shells is referred to as the “Sanibel Stoop.” 

Shelling – the act of collecting seashells along the beach – brings people from all over the world to Sanibel. The island hugs the coastline, which then blankets the shores with beautiful seashells. The hotels here have taken note and often outfit guest rooms with shell stations for washing and prepping a haul. Sanibel even has its own shelling moniker: The doubled-over stance made when collecting shells is referred to as the “Sanibel Stoop.” 

Caloosahatchee Regional Park
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Hiking (or Mountain Biking) at Caloosahatchee Regional Park

A piece of nature that could only be found in Fort Myers, Caloosahatchee Regional Park offers 20 miles of biking and hiking trails that feel almost straight out of a fairy tale book – or at the very least – what it might feel like to spend the day in a jungle. Here, pine flatwoods; oak hammocks; and cypress swamps wind , where tunnels almost look to be carved into trees. It’s an exhilarating way to spend a day, on foot or wheels. 

A piece of nature that could only be found in Fort Myers, Caloosahatchee Regional Park offers 20 miles of biking and hiking trails that feel almost straight out of a fairy tale book – or at the very least – what it might feel like to spend the day in a jungle. Here, pine flatwoods; oak hammocks; and cypress swamps wind , where tunnels almost look to be carved into trees. It’s an exhilarating way to spend a day, on foot or wheels. 

Kayaking at Lovers Key State Park
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Rent a Kayak at Lovers Key State Park

One of the finest (and most fun) ways to soak in Fort Myers Beach is to rent a kayak at Lovers Key State Park; it’s the perfect outdoor activity for all skill levels.  Just imagine being out in the middle of the calm waters, snug in a kayak, and taking in the unspoiled natural setting and sea life without any distractions. Lovers Key State Parks is a cluster of barrier islands with 2.5 miles of protected estuaries to spot manatees, dolphins, and osprey – just to name a few. Tour companies, like Gulf Coast Kayak, offer guided full moon tours for a chance to glide along the moonlit waterways and listen to nocturnal creatures in their native environment. 

One of the finest (and most fun) ways to soak in Fort Myers Beach is to rent a kayak at Lovers Key State Park; it’s the perfect outdoor activity for all skill levels.  Just imagine being out in the middle of the calm waters, snug in a kayak, and taking in the unspoiled natural setting and sea life without any distractions. Lovers Key State Parks is a cluster of barrier islands with 2.5 miles of protected estuaries to spot manatees, dolphins, and osprey – just to name a few. Tour companies, like Gulf Coast Kayak, offer guided full moon tours for a chance to glide along the moonlit waterways and listen to nocturnal creatures in their native environment. 

Biking in Cape Coral
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Biking in Cape Coral

Florida’s Gulf Coast offers incredible cycling, but Cape Coral might just be the area’s finest place for those traveling on two wheels. The designated bike-friendly community has 90-plus miles of interconnected, relatively flat bike routes throughout the city. Whether a novice or serious cyclist, there is nothing quite like being perched upon a bicycle, whooshing past nature preserves, marinas, and sparkling waters. And because the routes are often flanked by canals and parks, a quick detour for a hike, kayak, or sunset-watching session is always an option. 

Florida’s Gulf Coast offers incredible cycling, but Cape Coral might just be the area’s finest place for those traveling on two wheels. The designated bike-friendly community has 90-plus miles of interconnected, relatively flat bike routes throughout the city. Whether a novice or serious cyclist, there is nothing quite like being perched upon a bicycle, whooshing past nature preserves, marinas, and sparkling waters. And because the routes are often flanked by canals and parks, a quick detour for a hike, kayak, or sunset-watching session is always an option. 

Paddleboarding at Bunche Beach
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Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Bunche Beach Preserve

Located on San Carlos Bay, Bunche Beach Preserve feels almost like a hidden gem beloved by locals. But really, it can be anyone’s paradise. This park preserves 718 acres of natural ecosystems, beautiful beaches, mangroves, and salt flats. It can be explored a myriad of ways, but the grounding feeling of being on a standup paddle board is one of the best. Plus, the calm waters make it a breeze for beginners. There are two paddlecraft launches that send SUPs to glide along the serene, bird-filled mangroves. The sandy beaches and sand flats provide the perfect respite from the board. 

Located on San Carlos Bay, Bunche Beach Preserve feels almost like a hidden gem beloved by locals. But really, it can be anyone’s paradise. This park preserves 718 acres of natural ecosystems, beautiful beaches, mangroves, and salt flats. It can be explored a myriad of ways, but the grounding feeling of being on a standup paddle board is one of the best. Plus, the calm waters make it a breeze for beginners. There are two paddlecraft launches that send SUPs to glide along the serene, bird-filled mangroves. The sandy beaches and sand flats provide the perfect respite from the board. 

Fort Myers Country Club
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Tee Off at the Fort Myers Country Club

Fort Myers and Sanibel offer top-notch golf courses. In fact, the area boasts over 50 that can be played year-round in the area’s sunny and warm climate. The Fort Myers Country Club makes for an especially unique experience. Named “The Fort” by locals, this club on the historic McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers is one of the oldest golf courses in Florida. The location sits just a mile from the Edison-Ford Winter Estates, where the two men played throughout the 1920s. The course – known to be beautifully manicured and satisfyingly challenging – was designed by Donald Ross and perfectly marries a historic past with modern and sophisticated amenities. 

Fort Myers and Sanibel offer top-notch golf courses. In fact, the area boasts over 50 that can be played year-round in the area’s sunny and warm climate. The Fort Myers Country Club makes for an especially unique experience. Named “The Fort” by locals, this club on the historic McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers is one of the oldest golf courses in Florida. The location sits just a mile from the Edison-Ford Winter Estates, where the two men played throughout the 1920s. The course – known to be beautifully manicured and satisfyingly challenging – was designed by Donald Ross and perfectly marries a historic past with modern and sophisticated amenities. 

Red Coconut RV Park floridarvadventures
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Camping or RVing in Paradise

Could there be anything more exhilarating than falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves? Only, perhaps, waking up to a warm Gulf breeze. This is what it’s like to camp in paradise. Places like the nine-mile-long Cayo Costa State Park offers everything from rustic cabins to tent camping – visitors can even sleep in a hammock under the stars. Koreshan State Park allows you to pitch a tent in a nationally registered historic site or guests can sleep in style at one of the area’s many RV parks; San Carlos RV Resort & Marina looks out onto Hurricane Bay.

Could there be anything more exhilarating than falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves? Only, perhaps, waking up to a warm Gulf breeze. This is what it’s like to camp in paradise. Places like the nine-mile-long Cayo Costa State Park offers everything from rustic cabins to tent camping – visitors can even sleep in a hammock under the stars. Koreshan State Park allows you to pitch a tent in a nationally registered historic site or guests can sleep in style at one of the area’s many RV parks; San Carlos RV Resort & Marina looks out onto Hurricane Bay.

Ding Darling Birding
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Birding at J.N “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

It’s hard to miss the J.N. “Ding” National Wildlife Refuge – there’s a good chance that a bright pink bird will be a greeter. Taking up one-third of Sanibel Island, this National Wildlife Refuge is home to over 245 species of birds. Visitors can snag a checklist and mark each one off, like an American Flamingo, the Green Heron or the “Big Five” that are unique to Southwest Florida. A peaceful stroll along the pathway includes a handful of overlooks, an observation tower, and signage that identifies the birds and trees. Pro tip: Bring a pair of binoculars.  

It’s hard to miss the J.N. “Ding” National Wildlife Refuge – there’s a good chance that a bright pink bird will be a greeter. Taking up one-third of Sanibel Island, this National Wildlife Refuge is home to over 245 species of birds. Visitors can snag a checklist and mark each one off, like an American Flamingo, the Green Heron or the “Big Five” that are unique to Southwest Florida. A peaceful stroll along the pathway includes a handful of overlooks, an observation tower, and signage that identifies the birds and trees. Pro tip: Bring a pair of binoculars.  

Pine Island Boat Charter
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Island Hop the Pine Island Sound on a Chartered Boat

Island hopping, in Florida? You bet. One of the best ways to experience Fort Myers and Sanibel is by boat. The area is ideal for island hopping, and the Pine Island Sound is protected from every side and offers the perfect habitat for dolphins and manatees, plus a large variety of fish and birds. Bring your kayak or SUP; Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is 190 miles that winds through the Pine Island Sound to Estero Bay and up the Caloosahatchee River. There are many different tour operators in the area offering anything from a sunset cruise to a private charter with stops at Cabbage Key, Useppa Island, and North Captiva Island.

Island hopping, in Florida? You bet. One of the best ways to experience Fort Myers and Sanibel is by boat. The area is ideal for island hopping, and the Pine Island Sound is protected from every side and offers the perfect habitat for dolphins and manatees, plus a large variety of fish and birds. Bring your kayak or SUP; Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is 190 miles that winds through the Pine Island Sound to Estero Bay and up the Caloosahatchee River. There are many different tour operators in the area offering anything from a sunset cruise to a private charter with stops at Cabbage Key, Useppa Island, and North Captiva Island.

Manatee Park
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Picnic While Watching Florida Manatees at the Manatee Park

Take a break from the boat for a visit to Manatee Park. As the name suggests, this park is devoted to the Florida Manatee, but think more soothing outdoor experience than wild theme park. This is a non-captive, warm water refuge for the endangered Florida Manatee, where the largest numbers are spotted in cool-weather months. Visitors can make a day of it by packing a picnic lunch and enjoying the lovely views. Post-picnic, rent a kayak and paddle among the magnificent mammals.

Take a break from the boat for a visit to Manatee Park. As the name suggests, this park is devoted to the Florida Manatee, but think more soothing outdoor experience than wild theme park. This is a non-captive, warm water refuge for the endangered Florida Manatee, where the largest numbers are spotted in cool-weather months. Visitors can make a day of it by packing a picnic lunch and enjoying the lovely views. Post-picnic, rent a kayak and paddle among the magnificent mammals.

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