Gulf Coast Florida Villa

Let's go to the beach!

Well - which one would you like to go to?
Lee Island Coast boasts some of Florida's most unspoiled beaches, where development is minimal, grooming is taboo, and shells and other beach-combing finds wash up by the bushel.

Best Family Beaches

All of the beaches along the Lee Island Coast get honour-roll grades from families because of the calm waters, easy access & gentle slope of the sea's bottom. Family Fun magazine's Family-Friendly Travel Awards recently ranked the Lee Island Coast beaches "#1 beach in the southeast U.S." With children, stick to areas mid-island, where sandbars provide swimming pool-like conditions.
Here are some picks for fun and safe family beaching:

Gulfside Park, Sanibel Island

Tucked away off the main Gulf Drive just off Casa Ybel Road, this park is great for families for reasons other than being uncrowded.It is centre of the island, thus protected from pass currents, and has wooden tables shaded by tall Australian pines for picnicking.The shell pickings are usually excellent here. Watch for beach access signage. Paid parking is available. A short hike off the beach along the bike path takes you to the historic pioneer cemetery, not reachable by car.

Tarpon Bay Beach, Sanibel Island

Also mid-island on Tarpon Bay Road (watch for beach access signs), this safe beach gets more beachers than Gulfside Park. It's the best beach if you're driving a recreational vehicle, because it has special oversized parking. In winter season, a concession stand provides refreshment and snacks.

South Fort Myers Beach, Estero Blvd.

Take San Carlos Blvd. to Estero Island to Fort Myers Beach, one of the most beautiful in the area. Take your choice of a variety of recreational activities ranging from parasailing to fishing. Parking is available at several locations including marked beach accesses with free parking.

Best Beaches for Couples

If you're really looking for seclusion, rent a boat and hop to Cayo Costa, North Captiva, Chino Island, or Big Hickory Island, where bridges can't reach. If your looking for something more convenient, then grab your beach blanket and picnic basket, and head to one of these

Lovers Key State Recreation Area, south of Fort Myers Beach

How can you miss with a name like Lover's Key?
Located between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach on SR 865, this is Florida's newest state park.To get to the sands, you ride a tram across estuaries of ospreys and roseate spoonbills. This place is so romantic; people get married here regularly at a turn-of-the-century-style gazebo built on the beach a few years ago for that express purpose. Lovers Key is as far from the crowds as you can get by car (well, and tram). For diversion, rent a kayak and paddle into Estero Bay's dolphin territory.

Captiva Beach, Captiva Island

When a guy nicknamed Dr. Beach pronounces a beach "most romantic," can you doubt it? Dr. Stephen "Beach" Leatherman did just that, two years in a row, when he compiled his annual national beach rating. Captiva Beach gets smooches from couples for its fabulous sunset view and its far-awayness. Just getting there is a romantic adventure, as you drive past story-tale houses, shops, and restaurants under a canopy of subtropical foliage with alternating glimpses of Gulf and bay. With remoteness comes a lack of restroom/bathhouse facilities, so be prepared.

Best Active Beaches

If you look for fun, and watersports in your beach day, look no farther than these lively fronts:

Lynn Hall Memorial Park, Fort Myers Beach

Centered around the vivacious town hub known as Times Square in the northern section of Estero Island, this park has all the restaurants, clubs, shops, hotels, picnic areas, playground, and watersports rentals to provide anything your beach day may require. That includes a funky fishing pier outfitted with a bait shop, where pelicans and anglers congregate. Parasail, boogie board, windsurf, and jet ski, or just watch the non-stop action. Paid parking is available.

Bonita Public Beach, south end of Bonita Beach

A tamer version of Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Beach offers a lot of the same watersports, plus a snack pavilion, volleyball, and a burger and beer restaurant next door.

Lighthouse Beach, southeast end of Sanibel Island

Bring your fishing rod and a pair of shoes, because this popular beach coaxes you along a wooded nature trail to the base of the historic Sanibel Lighthouse and to its T-shaped fishing pier. The beach wraps from gulfside to bayside, for alternate views of sea and land. The two waterfronts mean a diversity of birds. The neighborhood at this end of the island, easily accessible by bike path, is known as Old Town, one of the island's earliest settlements. Go explore, look for historic plaques, and stop for ice cream or a snack at the local establishments. (The Sanibel Historical Society distributes a walking/biking guide and tour maps of the area; call 941-472-4648.)

Sanibel Causeway

Along this strip of beach, windsurfing is some of the best around. With boat ramps at either end of the causeway, it's a good place to launch small boats and personal watercraft while the rest of the group sets up on the beach. Since you can park so close to the sand, you're not limited by how much you can carry. Bring all your favorite beach toys and picnic makings. Recreational vehicles often pull up to spend the day. Certain watersports concessionaires will deliver equipment to you at the beach. Fishermen cast into the surf or from bridge abutments.