After spending a few days in Fort Lauderdale, our Florida round trip took us to the state’s southwest coast to Fort Myers Beach. For several nights we were accommodated in the very well located beach hotel Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina and could wonderfully let our souls dangle here. We were already looking forward to exploring ‘The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel’ in advance, because finest pristine sandy beaches, national parks, mangrove forests, wildlife, numerous shells and fantastic sunsets were waiting for us here.
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Things to know about Fort Myers & Fort Myers Beach
Fort Myers is located on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, a few miles inland before it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The city was founded in 1850 as a fort in the fight against the Seminole Indian tribe and named after Colonel Abraham C. Myers. By the mid-1880s, Fort Myers began to develop a commercial core and gained national notoriety for its local recreational fishery. In 1885, Fort Myers was incorporated; Fort Myers has been an independent city since 1886. At the end of the 19th century, the first winter resort was built in the city, which attracted wealthy citizens from the northern states of the United States to the region. Among them were Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, who had their former winter residence here. Today, about 86,000 inhabitants live in the city.
We found it quite exciting that Fort Myers has been named one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. in 2020. Furthermore, the city landed in 2nd place in a ranking for “Best Place to Retire” in 2020/2021 – due to its affordable real estate, low taxes, and high scores on happiness and attractiveness. One can somehow well understand, because who would not want to spend his retirement on such a sunny piece of earth? 😉
Fort Myers Beach is located about 30 minutes south of Fort Myers and consists of an 11-kilometer stretch of coastline, fine sand beaches, hotels & lodging and a state park. This makes the city a popular vacation destination – also for many Germans, because here you can wonderfully switch off and relax.
Our hotel in Fort Myers Beach
For four nights we stayed at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina in Fort Myers Beach. The resort is located on the northern end of Estero Island adjacent to Bowditch Point Park and immediately borders the Gulf of Mexico.
The Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina
Already after arriving, we felt insanely comfortable at the Pink Shell. At check-in we were warmly greeted, provided with all the necessary information and our little daughter was given a cool pair of pink sunglasses, a cuddly toy and a shell collection bag. It is important to note that there is a resort fee at the hotel, which is $45 per room per night. This covers amenities like free Wi-Fi & valet parking, kayak and SUP rentals, use of the steam room, and unlimited local and long-distance calls.
After checking into our room, we took a closer look at the resort grounds and were really excited: the hotel offers its own beach access, marina, spa, gym, and three heated pools.
Our room “White Sand Villas
We had a room of the category‘White Sand Villas‘ and were accommodated directly in the main building. The apartment seems very bright & spacious and we immediately felt comfortable, although the furniture is a bit outdated. However, we did notice that extensive renovation work is taking place in the hotel and that a large part of the rooms will be equipped with modern furnishings in the future.
The highlight of our room was definitely the view of the Gulf of Mexico – whether from the bed, the balcony or the dinner table. In addition, the room offers a very well equipped kitchen with everything you need, a living room with pull-out sofa and separate dining area, a bedroom, a terrace with privacy screen, a bathroom with shower, bath and separate toilet and a washing machine with dryer. We have really lacked nothing here!
The breakfast buffet
Our room rate included a daily complimentary breakfast buffet at the hotel’s Jack’s Restaurant. We really liked the selection: from toast & bagels, to hot egg dishes & meals, to cereal & cornflakes, as well as sweet bites & fresh fruit, there was everything here. A certain selection of drinks such as coffee, water, juices, cola, sprite and lemonade is included – anything beyond that you have to pay for separately. Even if the breakfast buffet is included, you expect an appropriate tip here and are made aware of it by your waiter right at the beginning via a note on the table.
The pool facility
The resort has three heated pools, including a children’s pool, an adults-only pool, and a larger lagoon style pool with a waterfall. We spent most of our time in the lagoon pool because it had a super shallow drop off, so it was also perfect for our daughter.
The Pink Shell Resort has its own beach access and we found that quite ingenious, because so the paths were short and we could also “quickly” before breakfast on the beach to build a few sand castles. Appropriate sunbeds and umbrellas are included in the room rate and are available on the beach. Shell hunters get their money’s worth here – as on almost all sandy beaches in the region – and our daughter’s shell collecting bag was quickly filled 🙂
Fort Myers Fishing Pier & Times Square
The central gathering place in Fort Meyers Beach is Times Square with the Fishing Pier. Times Square is considered the heart of downtown Estero Island and offers many stores and restaurants. The Fort Myers Pier juts 170 feet into the Gulf of Mexico and offers a magnificent view of neighboring Sanibel Island or the sunsets that occur every evening. At the pier you will find many anglers and you can wonderfully watch pelicans flying around or diving into the water to get their daily lunch or dinner.
The Lovers Key State Park
The 712-acre Lovers Key State Park consists of four islands, Lovers Key, Black Island, Inner Key and Long Key, and forms a major barrier group to the Florida mainland. The park consists of tidal lagoons, channels and beautiful blue water beaches and is home to manatees, dolphins, shorebirds, turtles, bald eagles and other wildlife.
The land, originally intended for luxury condo construction, was donated to the people of Florida as Lovers Key State Park so that the beaches and mangrove forests could be preserved for all to enjoy. Once Lovers Key was only accessible by boat. Inevitably, this remote area became a popular place for lovers, and that’s how the beach and the island got their name. In 1965, a road (Highway 865) was finally built, allowing vehicular access to the island. Today, you can hike, boat, fish, picnic, lie on the 2.5-mile beach or swim at Lovers Key State Recreation Area.
Lovers Key State Park opens daily at 8 a.m. and closes at sunset. The newly constructed Lovers Key State Park Welcome & Discovery Center opened May 15, 2021, and features 2,100 square feet of exhibits about the barrier islands, habitats, wildlife and plants of the region.
We spent a couple of hours in the afternoon at Lovers Key State Park. Admission to the park is $8 per vehicle and ample parking is available. Right at the beginning we also ran across a small turtle, which we of course were happy to show our little daughter. There is a free shuttle transfer from the parking lot to the beach; of course, you can also walk the distance (about 15 to 20 minutes). But we didn’t really have time for the 4 kilometer long beach with its many shells, because unfortunately some thunderstorms came up in the afternoon and we quickly walked back to the car.
Dinner at Dixie Fish Company
If you want to eat authentic fish in Fort Myers Beach, we recommend the restaurant Dixie Fish Company. Dixie Fish Co. is a covered, windowless open-air waterfront restaurant with fantastic views of Matanzas Harbor and the Fort Myers Beach crab fleet.
Built in 1937, the warehouse was originally a fish market. It was operated by the Guthrie family as a wholesale fish store for nearly half a century and witnessed many changes as Fort Myers Beach evolved from a crab boat outpost to a popular seaside resort. Fresh fish and local seafood can be found in many forms on the delicious menu. Seafood focuses on local “fruits of the sea” such as crab, scallops and shrimp.
The restaurant is also known for its dessert, the famous Key Lime Pie… which by the way tastes incredibly delicious 🙂
Fort Myers Beach to Hurricane Ian
Writing this travelogue was really incredibly hard for us! We were in Fort Myers Beach at the end of August 2022 and had a wonderful time here. Just 4 weeks later came Hurricane Ian, one of the strongest hurricanes the west coast of Florida has ever experienced. And the region around Fort Myers Beach was hit particularly hard. When we saw the pictures on the news and the drone footage on YouTube, we couldn’t believe it. Just a paradise and now there is almost nothing left of it. All destroyed by the natural force of wind & water. From minute 10:15 you can see well the Pink Shell Resort, from 16:30 the totally destroyed Fishing Pier 🙁
We had taken some nice drone shots of the pier and Times Square in Fort Meyers Beach during our stay – and it’s all completely destroyed now. It will likely take months if not years for the coastal region to recover from the destruction. We can only hope that everyone is well and that we can support the beautiful region at the Gulf of Mexico a little bit with our travel report…
Fort Myers Downtown Attractions
If you are in Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral or Sanibal Island, we also recommend a trip to Fort Myers Downtown. The city on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River has about 86,000 residents and is often referred to as the “City of Palms“. This nickname can be traced in particular to the former resident and inventor Thomas Edison. He is said to have planted 200 palm trees in the area in the early 20th century, lining the path from downtown to his estate on the Caloosahatchee River. What started with a few hundred palm trees has grown considerably over the years and decades. Today, nearly 2,000 royal palms and other trees line McGregor Boulevard. The former homes of Thomas Edison and automobile manufacturer Henry Ford are located on this street, are now a museum and are among the most famous tourist attractions in the city.
Downtown, we took a little tour of the River District. The downtown area consists of a variety of buildings constructed in the early 1900s and during Florida’s building boom of the 1920s. Thanks to a large-scale redevelopment concept, the historic center has been renewed and revitalized in recent decades. The goal was to create a pedestrian-friendly downtown and a place to live, work, shop, enjoy and relax. The concept worked perfectly and today you can find more and more cafes, bars, restaurants, boutiques as well as galleries and theaters in the small picturesque city center.
We always watch the german tv show “Goodbye Germany”. And one emigrant family is the Lehmann family of the Schnitzel House. Even though in the beginning no one would have really thought that the family would be able to realize their emigrant dream in Florida, today they run a very successful German restaurant in Fort Myers. And there, of course, we took the opportunity to pay a short visit to the family and eat a delicious Schnitzel 🙂
We found it very interesting that Fort Myers is the fastest growing city in America in 2020, also received first place in the “Jobs and Economy” category, in addition to being voted the second best place to retire in the United States due to affordable housing prices, low taxes and high ratings for happiness and attractiveness.
All travelogues of our Florida round trip (2022)Sun, beaches, palm trees, sightseeing, beautiful hotels, pools and the fun of Sea World, Walt Disney & Co.... we were really looking forward to this vacation in Florida. We planed a beautiful itinerary for our almost 3 week trip through the Sunshine State, with places we mostly didn't know yet. In the following travel reports we will tell you about our experiences in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Tampa and Orlando.
➥ Miami Beach » Arrival, Route, Rental Car & Hotel in Miami Beach
➥ Miami » Our Top 10 Sights & Attractions
➥ Fort Lauderdale » Sights, Beach & Attractions
➥ Fort Myers » Fort Myers Beach, Downtown & Lovers Key State Park
➥ Sanibel Island » Sanibel Island, Captiva Island & Cayo Costa State Park
➥ Tampa » Top Sights & the best Attractions
➥ Tampa » Theme Park Busch Gardens & Adventure Island
➥ Orlando » Theme Park SeaWorld & Water Park Aquatica
➥ Orlando » Magic Kingdom Theme Park (Disney) with toddler