The Florida of days long past, with unspoiled white sand beaches, exotic wildlife, and lush subtropical foliage, still can be found in the Fort Myers and Sanibel Island area in the southwestern portion of the state.

This subtropical paradise is a favorite vacation spot for visitors from around the world. Here, visitors escape the more congested areas of the state for a feel of old Florida that no longer exists. This area is proving to be the perfect sanctuary for families to reconnect with loved ones in a quiet, natural setting with wide-open spaces. Visitors are finding a sense of serenity as they submerge themselves in nature – biking, kayaking, fishing, swimming, birdwatching, boating, beach-going, shelling, and more.

There’s a variety of accommodations to fit any budget and perfect year-round weather for an abundance of recreational activities and adventures for every member of the family, including unique nature- and history-based tours and activities.

1. ) What is your destination most known for? 

The area is most known for its shelling treasures. Visitors come from all over the world to find shells with names such as angel wings, kittens’ paw, and alphabet cone. This area is home to 50 miles of sandy-white beaches that shelter some of the best shelling in the United States. The Fort Myers area – including Sanibel and Captiva Islands – yield about 400 species of multi-colored seashells. Considered a “once in a lifetime” find, spotting an elusive Junonia shell may get your photo in the local Sanibel newspaper.

The ideal geography of the area has everything to do with its bounty of shells. Shells from the Gulf of Mexico eventually roll up the slightly sloping undersea shelf. The gentle waves keep a majority of shells intact. Laws prevent anyone from taking home live shells but if it’s empty – it can be yours.

2.) During this time, how can we enjoy your destination?

Most visitors come here this time of year to warm up and step into the sun. There are all sorts of events happening including art and food festivals, theatre performances, and spring training with The Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. To see all of the events during these colder months visit –

3.) What hidden gem should not be missed when visiting your destination?

It’s not exactly hidden but I encourage visitors to get on the water in a boat or kayak. One of our boat captains – who takes visitors island hopping or fishing – says his favorite moment on the water is watching people’s shoulders drop. This is an area where you can relax and enjoy its natural surroundings. You can see dolphins jump, manatees glide and birds soar and migrate. It’s the best kind of vacation when you need to hear yourself think.

As for attractions – Mark your calendars for Island Hopper 2022! Returning for its eighth year, this 10-day music festival features performances by some of the country’s greatest singer-songwriters. The festival takes place in three areas, with the first weekend kicking off on Captiva Island, Sept. 16-18, then moving to downtown Fort Myers, Sept. 19- 22, and ending with a weekend on Fort Myers Beach, Sept. 23-25. Most shows are free except for a few ticketed experiences (headliner shows).

4.) What’s one feature that can’t be missed when visiting your website?

The fact that it is new! Our new name Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches, and Neighborhoods replaces The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel.

Our brand messaging is built on our commitment to nature, connection to water, sense of community, and an active lifestyle

Both the website and the new visitor guide have been revamped to feature the new branding. Along with the new logo, a new color palette using bright pinks and yellows, cool blues, and greens to connect with nature and the landscape of Lee County has been utilized.

5.) How did you hear about NATJA, why did you join?

I first heard about NATJA through some journalists who were visiting our area. Once I met some of its amazing members and understood its mission, I was very interested in participating. I appreciated how DMOs and journalists were on equal footing and there were so many opportunities to get to know each other. It’s a wonderful organization and I am so happy to be a part of it. I have developed real friendships as well in this group.

6.) Is there anything else you feel travel media should know about your destination?

The best time to visit us is off-season, which is after Easter and before Thanksgiving. We have visitors and people with second homes who all visit during the cold months, which makes for more people taking advantage of the sun and sand. It’s also much easier for us to host you off-season as well.

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