The different regions of the Sunshine State all provide unique attractions and compelling destinations. Prominent on the list of must-sees are Fort Myers and its islands, beaches and neighbourhoods
Make idyllic Fort Myers the base for your Florida sunshine break,
Dated: May 26 2023
he different regions of the Sunshine State all provide unique attractions and compelling destinations. Prominent on the list of must-sees are Fort Myers and its islands, beaches and neighbourhoods – a nature-first series of hideaways that offer a wonderfully laid-back vibe.
When you’re imagining that true holiday bliss-out feeling, the kind where you have your toes in the sand, a drink in your hand and the rest of the world is an afterthought, the chances are you’re dreaming of Fort Myers and its little corner of southwest Florida. British Airways flies direct to three major airports in the state, making this part of the world easily within reach. Booking flights, hotels and car hire through British Airways Holidays makes exploring the region even easier.
Here, just two hours south of Tampa and surrounded by great big helpings of nature, Fort Myers’ islands, beaches and neighbourhoods will whisk you away to a carefree realm of small-scale vacation nirvana, where manatees loll in the languid waters and the wildlife is often the prime attraction.
Discover a world of waterways
Looking at the geography of the area, it’s plain to see how things have become so water-focused. With the Caloosahatchee River acting as the main artery that leads into the intracoastal waterway and then the Gulf of Mexico, this is clearly a region that sets great store by its coastal elements.
It starts with Fort Myers – a bustling city bordering the water with gorgeous river views on either side, where you’ll find a series of restaurants and bars taking advantage of the vista.
Next up is Cape Coral, a destination notable for the fact it has more canals than Venice – some 400 miles of them, to be precise – and natural wonders like Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve, with raised walkways through the mangroves offering up-close views of this unique ecosystem.
Bonita Springs and Estero are also land-based gems with nature as their backdrop, combining a peaceful village-style atmosphere with proximity to some of the region’s best beaches.
Tune into the slower pace of island life
With six main islands and several dozen smaller ones, it’s no surprise much of the focus hereabouts is on the type of holiday that keeps to a relaxed pace, where time is measured by a calendar, not a wristwatch.
It’s therefore easy to lose yourself among this network of idyllic locations, highlighted by the offshore islands of Sanibel, Captiva and Cayo Costa. This trio were affected by Hurricane Ian in 2022 but have bounced back in style to ensure their reputation for secluded beachside magnificence remains intact alongside the warm Gulf of Mexico waters.
Showcased by the JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge – with the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the US – Sanibel devotes some 6,000 acres to this wildlife wonderland. Featuring epic bird-watching, hiking and biking trails, a four-mile scenic drive and fascinating canoe and kayak tours of the mangroves, this is where you will likely see alligators, manatees, horseshoe crabs and ospreys among a super-abundance of land and marine life, all in their natural habitats.
Get closer to the water
From kayaks to speedboats and jet-skis, the Fort Myers region is definitely somewhere that does boating exceptionally well. You’ll find a seemingly endless array of possibilities for enjoying life on the open water of both the intracoastal waterway and the Gulf itself.
Half and full-day rentals – from luxury yachts to friendly pontoon boats – are on offer at multiple locations, while the kayaking around the islands is simply some of the best, and most wildlife-rich, in Florida.
Whatever your level of boating experience, you’ve a golden opportunity to explore the impressive Calusa Blueway – a photogenic, 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail that meanders through the coastal waters and inland tributaries of Lee County, Florida.
Soak up city life the way folks used to
You definitely shouldn’t miss the land-based delights of Fort Myers itself. This city of almost 100,000 happy souls is actually studded with little-known gems that add up to a compelling old-world experience.
Start with the winter estates of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and progress to the River District, historic home of old Fort Myers and its early 20th-century core as well as a compact hub of delicious fine-dining options and bars.
Finish up with a scenic drive along palm-tree-lined McGregor Boulevard, one-time home to the rich and famous, testament to the Florida of yesteryear and its luxury style.
Kynse Leigh Agles
Kynse Leigh Agles moved to SW Florida to begin her Real Estate career in 2000 as a personal assistant to a RE/MAX top producing real estate team. She currently lives in the historic district of Fort M....
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