Hidden Florida: Discover the Secluded Islands of the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel - Family Traveller (USA)

The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel is filled with little-known experiences and secluded accommodations for visitors who'd prefer a relaxing family vacation to crowded beaches and theme-park lines. See what you're missing and consider a trip to this Gulf Coast family vacation destination.

Well-Kept Secrets

  • With an eco-history dating back 2,000 years, the recently renovated Mound House on Estero island is an active archaeological dig site and the oldest museum in the area, built on the former home of the ancient Calusa Indians. Known as “The Shell Indians,” the Calusa built massive mounds using the 250 shell varieties that litter Sanibel's beaches, and visitors to the underground site can see the mound first hand alongside a mural of the Calusa village as it may have stood many centuries ago.
  • Spend the day island-hopping between over 100 barrier islands, like the remote Cayo Costa. A dedicated state park, the island’s complete lack of development affords visitors wide, unspoiled white-sand beaches, with rustic cabin accommodations for overnight camping.
  • At the historic Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs, the Yoga with Flamingos class offers visitors the chance to strike a pose alongside native Florida flamingos. The $10 class begins before the park opens to the public, creating a peaceful setting for both students and the garden's exotic wildlife. The flamboyance of flamingo's have been longtime residents of the park, and now provide yogis with balancing-inspiration as they lay down their mats besides the park's Flamingo Lagoon.
  • The renowned Sanibel Sea School offers families interactive lessons on the region’s vibrant aquatic ecosystems. Structured around experiential learning, the school encourages students to touch, feel, and interact with their natural surroundings through activities like boating, fishing, shelling, paddle boarding, and more.

Secluded Stays

  • The four-star, family-friendly Pink Shell Beach Resort boasts studio, one and two-bedroom villas all with guaranteed beach views. These luxury accommodations on Estero Island come with added savings, including daily breakfast for two and complimentary beach chair and umbrella rentals. Families can take advantage of the on-site kids' camp, or book the resort's Sailing School Package for a 5-day course at America's No. 1 Sailing School, included with your stay. Weekend visitors can try the 2-Day Accelerated Learn to Sail package, and both packages including a daily breakfast, welcome cocktails, and complimentary paddle-board usage.
  • Offering spacious island retreats with extensive amenities, Tween Waters Island Vacation Rentals provides guests luxurious private homes on the secluded Captiva Island, in addition to valuable access to the many services offered at its namesake resort. Guest’s get added perks with “renters rewards,” providing visitors  discounts on spa services, entertainment and dining including Old Captiva House, the resorts award-winning restaurant overlooking the Gulf of Mexico
  • Visitors who can't bare to leave their furry friends behind can bring them along to the aptly named Dog Beach inside Lovers Key State Park. This wide-strip of beachfront allows pets to go unleashed, so dogs and their owners can enjoy a day in the sun with no leash attached. As for accommodations, the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs offers guests and pups their Paws & Palms Program which includes a doggie bed, treats, food and water bowls – even a doggie room service menu available and a special walking area

Discover more in Fort Myers and Sanibel in our Family Vacations to Sanibel Island guide.