Fun Things to Do in Fort Myers Beach on a Southwest Florida Vacation

Fun things to do in Fort Myers Beach Florida include savoring fresh US Gulf Coast seafood, relaxing and playing on super wide sugar sand beaches, enjoying the world’s best shelling, and visiting Captiva Island and Sanibel Island.

Southwest Florida is a crown jewel along the glorious US Gulf Coast. When you want to enjoy the freshest Gulf seafood, the widest and softest sugar sand beaches, liquid road trip funness, and some of the world’s best shelling opportunities, Fort Myers Beach (Estero Island) and nearby Sanibel Island and Captiva Island should be forefront on your mind.

entrance to Lighthouse Point Beach on Sanibel Island
entrance to Lighthouse Point Beach on Sanibel Island

Thank you to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel for hosting McCool Travel.

Please note that the Fort Myers area was directly hit by hurricane Ian in late 2022 and many businesses might have closed or have changed their hours of operation. Please check their official website or call before visiting.

Liquid Road Trip: Kayaking in Southwest Florida

Join a guided kayak adventure from the Mound House in Fort Myers Beach and paddle a portion of the 190 mile Great Calusa Blueway. Before or after your kayak adventure, explore the Mound House exhibits and learn about the 2,000 year old history of the Calusa Indians, life for the early Southwest Florida settlers, and the Estero Island natural habitat and environment.

kayaking from Mound House in Fort Myers Beach on The Great Calusa Blueway
kayaking The Great Calusa Blueway from Mound House in Fort Myers Beach



We did another guided kayak tour with Sunny Island Adventures at the north end of South Seas Resort on Captiva Island. It was fun exploring a tiny bit of the open waters of Pine Island Sound (intracoastal waterway) and the protected bay past the South Seas resort marina.

McCool Travel tip: Look for the resident manatees in the South Seas Resort marina.


Both of these US Gulf Coast adventures help you uncover fun nature photo spots in Florida. Please read about more fun places to kayak in US.

Estero Bay Express

Estero Bay Express Dolphin and Sunset Cruise
dolphin sunset cruise is one of the top things to do in Fort Myers Beach


The Dolphin and Sunset Cruise from Estero Bay Express is one of the most cool, happy, and fun things to do in Fort Myers. Well, being on the water in Southwest Florida is always fun.

The Estero Bay Express crew makes their cruises fun with continually puns while in the pursuit of dolphins. Once we found dolphins, the captain immediately had them following in the boat’s wake and jumping seemingly on cue for all the budding Instagram professional photographers.

Fun Fort Myers Beach Events

On National Shelling Day 2018, I and over 1,000 new friends help set a new world record for largest human seashell. Here I am posing with the official judge from Guinness World Records. She said it was her favorite office setting ever.


See more Fort Myers Beach fun events.

Fort Myers Beach is one of our favorite Gulf Coast Spring Break Destinations.

Ding Darling Refuge

Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
see roseate spoonbills at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island


The Ding Darling Refuge on Sanibel Island contains over 6,000 acres of USA’s largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem. Over 230 bird species live in or visit the Ding Darling Refuge, including bald eagles and roseate spoonbills (pictured below). The wildlife drive is open every day (including holidays) except Friday.

National Shell Museum

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Island is the only USA museum focused exclusively on shells and everything related to shells. Visit to see shells, see sea shells, and maybe see super sweet Sally secretly selling sea shells.

Where to Stay in Fort Myers Beach Area

South Seas Resort on Captiva Island

After arriving at the convenient Fort Myers airport, catch a shuttle or jump in your rental car and head to Captiva Island. South Seas Resort occupies 330 glorious acres with 3.5 miles of beach and most of their shoreline is secluded.

Here is the luscious view I had from my South Seas Resort room.


Exploring the South Seas Resort grounds early one morning, I basked in this wonderful view from a poolside tiki bar, looking toward North Captiva Island. It is also a fun place when the bartender and people show up!


For now, I leave you with this magnificent #USGulfCoast sunset. One of the most spectacular sunsets I have witnessed.


McCool Travel tip: this Captiva Island sunset was followed by a South Seas Resort butler serving champagne and a S’mores kit. That is a very romantic date night thing to do in Fort Myers for couples. See our review of South Seas Resort.

Click here for best rates at South Seas Resort.

Top Things to Do in Fort Myers Beach: Where to Stay

Lighthouse Resort

Gorgeous tropical colors, a vibrant tiki bar, and a sweet location are some reasons you will want to stay at the Lighthouse Resort Inn (aka Lighthouse Island Resort) in Fort Myers Beach. Find out why their motto is “where the fun never ends.


The Lighthouse has several different room configurations. We stayed in a kitchenette room, which is convenient for saving money on dining costs. Click here for best rates at The Lighthouse Resort in Ft Myers.


Popular Fort Myers Beach oceanfront hotels include Holiday Inn Express Ft Myers Beach, The Neptune Resort, Edison Beach House, and Tiki on the Beach.

Places to Eat in Fort Myers Beach

Fresh seafood rules the Southwest Florida and US Gulf Coast dining scene. My favorite is Florida grouper and I rarely pass on it. But if you see hogfish (aka filet mignon of the sea), consider ordering it. Shrimp, stone crab, redfish, pompano, monkfish, and many other seafoods will be local and fresh. Ask the market, stand, or restaurant how fresh the items are and where they are from.  

McCool Travel tip: be careful with local oysters because of the warm water. The best oysters are from cold water areas.

Dixie Fish Company

For a fun, old school waterfront seafood restaurant with lively bar in Fort Myers Beach try Dixie Fish Company. Pretty sure I ordered blackened grouper and key lime pie both times I visited here. So good!

dinner at Dixie Fish is one of the top things to do in Fort Myers Beach
Dixie Fish Company in Fort Myers Beach



Fresh seafood is always on hand at Fish-Tale, a waterfront restaurant in the Fish-Tale Marina area. Fish-Tale is located near the southern end of Estero Island and about a mile from the Big Carlos Pass bridge to Lover’s Key State Park.

calamari at Fish-Tale in Fort Myers Beach
calamari at Fish-Tale in Fort Myers Beach

Their salads are creative and yummy. Finish off your dining experience with a slice of one of the best key lime pies along the Florida Gulf Coast.

key lime pie at Fish-Tale Fort Myers Beach
superb key lime pie at Fish-Tale Fort Myers Beach

Smoking Oyster Brewery

A short walk from the Lighthouse Resort is this cool and fun place. Smoking Oyster Brewery—aka Fort Myers Beach SOB and they claim classiest dive bar on Fort Myers Beach—has a full bar and yummy food. They partner with with Big Top in Sarasota to produce SOB Brew Belgian Wit and SOB Brew IPA, which they serve here in cans.


Heavenly Biscuit

Heavenly Biscuit in Fort Myers Beach was so good, we went two mornings in a row. Delectable biscuits—some might say heavenly—with your choice of toppings. We opted for the basic egg and bacon but you can choose a whole salmon filet if you wish! Heavenly Biscuit also satisfies your sweet tooth cravings.

McCool Travel tip: Heavenly Biscuit does not accept credit cards but is a CASH ONLY place I would gladly return to.

Places to Eat in Cape Coral

Wicked Dolphin

Half of USA’s sugarcane is produced in South Florida. Wicked Dolphin set up shop in 2012 about 35 miles from the Florida sugar fields with the intent to create Florida’s rum. On the way to winning several major international and domestic awards, Wicked Dolphin continues to produce small batch, premium rum, using 100% Florida sugarcane and local ingredients.

Wicked Dolphin Artisan Rum in Cape Coral Florida
award winning Wicked Dolphin Artisan Rum in Cape Coral FL

In addition to being master artisans, the Wicked Dolphin family is also quite clever. The gift shop is full of their rum offerings in all flavors and sizes, including TSA-friendly 100 ml (~3 ounce) bottles.

Places to Eat in Sanibel Island

Totally Baked Bakery and Cafe

For scrumptious sweets, incredible breakfast and lunch sandwiches, stop in Totally Baked on Sanibel Island.

Pinocchio’s Ice Cream

Since I love ice cream, especially in beach towns, I asked several people for suggestions. Pinocchio’s Ice Cream on Sanibel Island kept being mentioned as the only place I must go to. So I did.

I was greeted with a line out the door (a great omen) and signs saying “Ice Cream Laboratory.” I love that. The small adjacent deli is called Geppetto’s and has baked goods and other food items.

Pinocchio's ice cream on Sanibel Island
best ice cream in Fort Myers Beach is Pinocchio’s ice cream on Sanibel Island

Places to Eat in Captiva Island

Doc Ford’s

There are three Doc Ford’s locations in the Fort Myers area. Doc Ford was a local character and make sure you learn the Doc Ford story before your next visit.

At Doc Ford’s Captiva Island, make sure you order some tasty fresh seafood and a drink made with one of their 10,000 rums (please do not fact check me on that number).

mojito at Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille in Captiva Island
mojito at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille in Captiva Island

Cabbage Key: Cheeseburger in Paradise

Long ago, a free-wheeling, fun-loving, not yet world-famous music celebrity, visited Cabbage Key and legend has it was thus inspired to write a song called Cheeseburger in Paradise. Cabbage Key attracts visitors from around the globe, because of Jimmy Buffett but also because it is a cool, fun, and happy place to visit.

Cabbage Key is accessible by a Captiva Cruises from South Seas Resort on Captiva Island. In fact, Cabbage Key is only accessible by boat—there are no roads, no vehicles, and no landing strip. OK, I guess you could swim, snorkel, flyboard, or even parachute to Cabbage Key if you wish.

Bring a single dollar bill or several to tape to the wooden walls of the restaurant. Every month, several thousand dollars are donated to charity, just from the bills that fall from the walls.

dollar bills on walls of Cabbage Key, Florida
visiting Cabbage Key is a unique things to do in Fort Myers Beach

You will of course have a cheeseburger at the Cabbage Key restaurant but definitely order a slice of key lime pie. The original key lime pie recipe, from Fern Butters of Key West in the 1930s, is used here on Cabbage Key. This key lime pie version places Cabbage Key on our Gulf Coast Dessert Trail.


Where is Fort Myers Beach Florida?

Fort Myers Beach is located 15 miles southwest of Fort Myers Florida. The nearest airport to Fort Myers Beach is Southwest Florida International Airport (airport code RSW), 20 miles away. Sanibel Island is 16 miles west of Fort Myers Beach and Captiva Island is another nine miles west.

Fun day trips from Fort Myers Florida include Naples Florida (27 miles), Marco Island (48 miles), Punta Gorda (50 miles), and Sarasota (100 miles).

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