Everything you need to know about the beaches of Southwest Florida
Natural, uncultivated and secluded beaches partly known as Florida’s Paradise Coast, the safe beaches of Southwest Florida offer families “suffering from theme-park overload” an ideal escape to peace and fun activities including everything from shelling to golfing.
Bonita Beach Park
Located between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Springs, this 4-acre pristine beach front park features a boardwalk to protect the sea oats, sand dunes and coastal vegetation surrounding a gazebo and eight picnic shelters. Bathrooms, changing rooms and outdoor showers front parking areas with handicapped access. The nearby Bonita Springs Community Park is the hub of recreation in Bonita Springs and offers 60 acres for picnicking, a playground, sports fields, a 7-acre lake, library and community pool as well as a 19,000-square-foot skate park.
Life magazine praises southwest Florida’s Captiva island (along with Sanibel) as “popular with families suffering from theme-park overload,” and places the destination on its 10 perfect island getaways list. Indeed, the main attraction on Captiva is that there are none. Many people wile away the hours in one outdoor endeavor or another. For this reason, Captiva Island is also known as one of the most romantic beaches of the state. It was here that Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of the famous aviator, wrote her best-selling book, “A Gift from the Sea.”
Fort Myers Beach
Estero Island, home of Fort Myers Beach, long has been recognized as one of the “world’s safest beaches” because of its gently sloping shoreline. The sand is particularly soft and white, akin to powdered sugar. During the winter, Estero Bay is home to an extensive shrimp and fishing fleet. Life on Estero is especially suited for family vacations. Here one finds every imaginable water toy, from windsurfing to catamaran and parasailing. Numerous marinas operate boating and fishing charters. Local restaurants benefit from the catch, which generally includes red snapper and grouper.
Rated as the Best Beach for Romance, the romantic Lovers Key state park, located between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach, is both visually impressive and environmentally progressive. Activities include 2-1/2 miles of white sand beaches, world-class shelling, swimming, bridge and backbay fishing, bird watching and excursions to observe loggerhead sea turtles during active periods, as well as bottlenose dolphins and endangered West Indian manatees. Canoe and kayak explorations of miles of waterways lead to several uninhabited islands through the park.
Part of Southwest Florida’s Paradise Coast, Marco Island is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and offers world-class golf courses nearby, shopping and dining on Marco Island and in nearby Naples. The world famous Everglades National Park is immediately adjacent, and Marco Island offers immediate access to both the Gulf of Mexico and the mangrove-lined estuaries of the Ten Thousand Islands for shelling, fishing, boating, bird and wildlife watching, kayaking and canoeing.
Rated as the Best Beach to Watch a Sunset, Naples Municipal Beach & Fishing Pier and the surrounding area in the southwest is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, golf courses, fishing, boating, water sports and spectacular sunsets. At sundown the fishermen share the popular Municipal Pier that stretches deep into the gulf with tourists and locals alike for the daily event.
Many of the six beach front parks of the Naples area shoreline offer large preserves showcasing the region as it existed hundreds of years ago. Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary provides a 2.25-mile long boardwalk through an ancient cypress forest, home to hundreds of bird and animal species.
Rated as the Best Beach for Shelling, Sanibel Island is known worldwide for its shelling and the associated posture referred to as the “Sanibel Stoop”. Some fanatics attach flashlights to their heads, in an effort to be first in the daily search for top picks of the more than 400 varieties of shells found littering the beaches, particularly after an especially high or low tide. For most visitors, however, shelling is merely a delightful excuse to enjoy hours of sun worshipping along some of the finest shoreline in North America. In addition to the beautiful natural environment, active travelers are pleased to find an abundance of golf, tennis and water sports as well as some unusual attractions.
Ranked as the Best Beach for Kids, Siesta Public Beach on Siesta Key, an eight-mile long barrier island off the coast of Sarasota, Florida, has long been one of the Gulf Coast’s most popular vacation destinations with a wide variety of cozy, family-owned accommodations. Recreational opportunities include beach walking, fishing, boating, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and sail-boarding.
Siesta Key has received many honors for its powdery white-sand beaches including recognition as “America’s Best Sand Beach” and “Florida’s Top Ten Beaches” as well as being named to Dr. Beach’s top 10 beaches in America. National Geographic Traveler also named Siesta “One of America’s Best Beaches”. Crescent Beach has been rated “The World’s Finest, Whitest Sand”.
Known as the Sharks Tooth Capital of the world and famous for the abundance of fossilized sharks teeth along the 14 miles of sandy beaches from Casey Key to Manasota Key, in southwest Florida, Venice offers a wealth of recreational opportunities for shelling, swimming, sunbathing, surfing, fishing, boating and golfing. Caspersen Beach, the longest beach in Sarasota County still exists in its natural, uncultivated and secluded state.