December 3, 2023

Ten Tips for Paradise Island in Southwest Florida

Ten Tips for Paradise Island in Southwest Florida


by Elsie Roman

(07.10.2021) From November 2021, lovers of miles of beaches and endless outdoor opportunities will once again be able to vacation around the beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel – as of March 2022, the area can once again be reached by flying direct with Eurowings Discover.

The beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel
Foto: Fort Myers kayaking


If you’re looking for foolproof sunshine, beaches, relaxation, nature experiences, fun activities, and shopping, you’ve come to the right place: Fort Myers & Sanibel beaches in southwest Florida have been one of the favorite destinations for Florida lovers for decades and are still a hint of the interior. The region is known for its wide white sandy beaches, exceptionally large oyster deposits, and lush green nature. Here are my top 10 to-do list tips for the upcoming holiday…

1. Collect seashells on Florida’s most pristine beaches at Sanibel Stop
The area’s endless white sandy beaches attract families, couples, and single travelers. Those early risers will find an impressive array of mussels here, with over 400 species here being washed night after night by ocean currents. Especially the beaches on Sanibel and Captiva Island as well as on Cayo Costa present themselves to visitors as the dorado mussels. A very special “sport” appeared here: Sanibel Stop. This is what locals call the walk of vacationers, who descend to gaze at and collect beautiful sea creature shells for hours. The beautiful, gently sloping and very wide Fort Myers Beach, considered one of the most beautiful in the USA, is very suitable for children. Whether you are building sandcastles, enjoying fresh fish right on the beach, refreshing yourself in the lounge bars or enjoying various sports such as kite surfing, jet skiing and water skiing – the many shows offer pure variety and promise plenty of fun for young and old.

2. Paddle in the footsteps of the indigenous Calusa people using the smartphone app
Kayak is one of the most popular means of transportation on Paradise Island, as it takes those who like to navigate to the most exciting places: for example on the Great Calusa Blueway. The network of waterways from Cayo Costa and Pine Island to Bonita Springs, used by the indigenous Calusa people hundreds of years ago, is about 300 kilometers long. The calm waters allow all skill levels to paddle in a relaxed manner and discover the wonderful and diverse flora of mangroves, offshore islands and exotic animals. To help visitors save paper, a smartphone app has been specially developed to help navigate and provide information about the nature reserve. Those interested can find campgrounds, parks, boat providers, outfitters, restaurants, accommodations, and other attractions along the trails.

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3. Hike the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
The JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is one of the most popular hiking trails in the area. With a total area of ​​2,500 hectares, it is the largest natural mangrove ecosystem in the United States and impresses with its staggering numbers of migratory birds. The “Wildlife Drive” is about seven kilometers long and offers many opportunities, for example to climb a birdwatching tower, to fish or to look at the dense mangrove forests at certain points. Visitors can expect a varied trail that reveals a colorful cross-section of all of Florida’s birds. Cyclists and kayakers are also welcome at the JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

4. Relaxation Course through Cape Coral and Sanibel Island
Named the “Bicycle Friendly Community of the Year” by the Florida Cycling Association years ago, Cape Coral is one of the most popular bike towns in southwest Florida. Along the waters, past idyllic canals and the impressive Caloosahatchee River, more than 144 kilometers of bike paths draw nature lovers to the province’s largest city. If you want to take a break in between, you can relax in one of the many restaurants and cafes, take a tour through the mangrove forests or visit the nearby Cape Coral Rotary Park, including the butterfly house and birdwatching tower. There are bus and bike rental stations along the bike routes. But Sanibel Island is also an oasis for active cyclists, known for its beaches and unique oyster deposits. Countless bike paths allow guests to discover the island directly from the hotel. Most accommodations offer bikes for rent, but there are also many bike rental providers.

5. Edison & Ford Winter Estates: Follow in the Footsteps of Great Explorers
In the late nineteenth century, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, two of the most famous American inventors, decided to spend the winter in Florida, thus creating the conditions for a hundred-year-old tradition of tourism in this small corner of the Sunshine State. Edison built the Seminole Lodge on the Caloosahatchee River and often invited friends from the North to visit. Among them was automobile magnate Henry Ford, and in 1916, Ford bought the house next door, which he called The Mangoes. Guests at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates can visit historic homes, lush gardens, and the Edison Laboratory and Museum. The latter shows the lives and legacy of both men. There are guided tours in German on an area of ​​4.5 square kilometres.

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6. ‘Rose Gold’: Enjoy the best freshly caught shrimp in all shapes and sizes
The native shrimp variety “Gulf of Mexico Penaeus duorarum” is the sweetest crop in the Gulf of Mexico for gourmets, which is why seafood there has been called “rose gold” since the 1950s. According to a study by the University of Florida, the shrimp fleet on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach unloaded more shrimp than anywhere else in Florida at the turn of the millennium. In restaurants in Fort Myers and the islands, nearly every restaurant serves the specialty, such as Yucatan shrimp, in tacos, on salads or simply cooked as a peel-and-eat dish. Fresh seafood and fish can be found in almost all restaurants, and you can dine right on the water with a view of the sea, in the harbor, or at small and unusual rustic restaurants, such as Original Florida Fishhouse Dixie Fish & Co. Or directly at the fishing port at Parrot Key Caribbean Grill.

7. Cheeseburger in Paradise – Take a boat to the island for lunch
Little Cabbage Key is just one of hundreds of partially uninhabited islands around Fort Myers that can only be reached by boat. The trip there is worthwhile, especially because of Cabbage Key Restaurant, here guests can enjoy Florida’s most famous cheeseburger. The restaurant serves a selection of shrimp and seafood dishes; The ceilings and walls are particularly impressive, as they are decorated with countless dollar bills and thus create a distinct ambiance. If you catch your fish yourself on the way, you can make it fresh at Cabbage Key Restaurant.

8. See the wildlife at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
This nature park in north Fort Myers is a highlight of sustainable nature experiences. Visitors can hike through the swamps on an approximately 2.25-kilometer-long shingled trail and discover a variety of plants and animals. These aquatic animals such as turtles, otters, crocodiles and above water include a wide variety of bird species, squirrels, lizards, butterflies and many other species, including some endangered species. Additionally, the reserve serves as a safe passage for wild animals on the go. Stroll the park on your own or as part of a guided tour. Submission is free.

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9. Stroll and enjoy downtown Fort Myers
This is where the heart of Fort Myers beats! The small town center of the “Palm City” has blossomed into a beautiful gem of historic homes, old brick streets, trendy bars, innovative restaurants, bistros, unique shops and numerous art galleries in the past 10 years. The streets and squares invite you to stroll and stay, here guests are guaranteed to find a souvenir that cannot be bought in any store or outlet. Art lovers will also want to add the Sidney & Berne Davis Arts Center to their to-do list. Also worth seeing is the Art Walk, Music Walk, or Downtown Car Cruise-in, which takes place regularly on Fridays or Saturdays. There you can marvel at the craftsmanship, experience the live music and on the cruise by car, the dreamy old-fashioned lay individuals against a gorgeous backdrop.

10. Get real deals while shopping
Extensive shopping tours are also a part of every Fort Myers vacation, after all, the city has a lot to offer visitors. Here, glittering malls and various outlets invite you to take a stroll, stroll and sometimes to save money too. For example, Miromar stores with 140 designer stores put a smile on the face of every shopaholic, as they not only offer a large selection, but also offer discounts of up to 70 percent. Finally, a food court and typical Florida architecture complete the port. But there’s more: Fort Myers’ largest shopping mall is the Edison Mall, which has 160 stores and offers everything a fashionista’s heart could desire. After all, Sanibel outlets are small but cute. Many well-known brand manufacturers have settled in 40 stores, where you can get some bargains.