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Few places in Florida rank as high on the romance meter as The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel and the Lee Islands. Over 100 of them dot the Gulf Coast opposite Fort Myers. We stayed on Sanibel, then took day trips to investigate a half-dozen others.

Shelling on Bowman's Beach on Sanibel Island, Florida
Shelling on Bowman's Beach on Sanibel Island, Florida
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Each morning, we searched the beach for heart cockles, angel wings and kitten's paw shells. Later, we rented a bicycle-built-for-two and cycled along the path bordering Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Brown pelicans dived for fish and cameo-pink roseate spoonbills perched in mangroves like Christmas ornaments.

Lovers Key

One day, we drove to Lovers Key to stroll along the driftwood-strewn beach and enjoy a barbecue. We discovered more wonderful picnic spots at unspoiled Bowman's Beach.

Banded tulip shell
Banded tulip shell
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

If you're counting pennies, many resorts offer substantially reduced rates from late April to early December. You can also save money at hotels which have kitchens and/or microwave ovens. Make your own breakfast or lunch, then splurge on dinner at a romantic Fort Myers or Sanibel restaurant.

Useppa Island

From the South Seas Island Resort marina, on Captiva Island, cruises depart daily for Cabbage Key. The laid-back island has an historic inn and cottages. The walls of the restaurant at Cabbage Key are papered with U.S. $1 bills.

Other Captiva Cruises travel to a bygone era at Useppa Island, with its turn-of-the-century homes and Great Gatsby-style croquet games. Two white rocking chairs beckon from the veranda of the Collier Inn, where the rich and famous stayed after it was built in 1912.

Passengers have two hours to dine at the inn's elegant restaurant. The menu features conch chowder and key lime pie.

After two hours on Useppa Island, the Lady Chadwick brings you back to Captiva Island in time to witness a colorful palm-stenciled sunset.


Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau: www.FortMyers-Sanibel.com

Visit Florida: www.VisitFlorida.com

More things to see & do in The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel area:

Calusa Indian History at Mound Key Archeological State Park Florida

Sea Turtle Conservation Fort Myers Beach Florida