By Donna Carter

Sandwiched between Sarasota in the north and Naples in the south, the Fort Myers area, often described as an “unspoiled island sanctuary”, has been attracting tourists since the early 1900s. The city of Fort Myers, along with eight neighbouring communities and several idyllic islands, including Sanibel and Captiva, offer up a return to days gone by with a relaxed ambiance and some of the best shell collecting on the planet.

The guaranteed sub-tropical weather, award-winning beaches and an international airport that is the gateway to Florida’s southwest coast could easily have been turned this family vacation destination into a theme park bonanza and concrete jungle with wall to wall development. That hasn’t happened. Instead, there is an Old Florida charm mixed with an extensive inventory of eco-tourism opportunities, nature-based activities and a rich historical heritage.

rotecting its remarkable natural assets is a high priority and visitors are encouraged to become partners in helping preserve the area’s pristine environment and abundant wildlife.

Apparently, this is exactly the kind of vacation destination many people love – more than two million visitors were recorded last year alone. Moreover, no place in the state can precisely duplicate what The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel has to offer. The treasure trove of attributes begins with miles and miles of sugary sand beaches the colour of marshmallow cream, where there’s everything from family-oriented beaches to some so serene it’s like being alone on an undiscovered shore. With beaches come watersports that include everything from some of the best fishing grounds in Florida to diving, kayaking, sailing parasailing, houseboating and jetskiing.

54363_FMS-BookAdKayakSpreadEco-tourism is a huge attraction with plenty to offer including dolphin tours, awesome wildlife viewing, several nature preserves and a profusion of ecosystems to explore. There are bald cypress forests, virgin wetlands, meandering rivers, oak groves, pine woodlands and, of course, 80 kilometres of white sand beaches where there are literally millions of shells and fossils. Among a number of park preserves, Manatee Park is one of the top spots in the nation to observe manatees in their natural habitat and the JN “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island has been recognized among the best bird-watching locations in North America.

Golf_in_the_GulfThe region’s well-rounded character includes outstanding dining opportunities not just in the communities of Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel and Captiva, but throughout the entire area. Likewise, there are scores of excellent golf courses and Fort Myers is the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins.

There is also a host of engaging historical attractions including the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. A bonus: a trip to Orlando and its theme parks is less than three hours’ drive from Fort Myers.

Edison_Fort_Estates_EditorsFor more information:
Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau
The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
2201 Second Street, Suite 600
Fort Myers, FL 33901
Telephone: 800-237-6444
Website: www.fortmyers-sanibel.com