Let’s put it this way: It’s nearly impossible not to find romance on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, home of sunset beach scenes straight out of a love story and outdoor adventures that are bound to bond. Base your couples’ getaway at one of the area’s many awesome beach resorts, and from there, explore the nearby sweet spots. Here are some suggestions.
Beach Cottages of Sanibel: Barefoot on the beach
Step one: Open the door. Step two: Step onto the sand. It’s that ridiculously easy at Beach Cottages of Sanibel, part of the Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts group. No footwear required. Sand between the toes encouraged.
At Blind Pass, which separates Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Castaways Beach & Bay Cottages gives access to both the Gulf of Mexico and the sheltered waters of the pass. It also has its own marina, meaning kayak and paddleboard rentals and fishing charters are available for the adventurous. Farther down the Sanibel coast, Beachview Cottages says it all in the name — the draw here is a stretch of sand of unparalleled beauty. And both properties offer the simple pleasure of a cottage you share together.
Do this: Rent a bike at either resort and explore Sanibel Island’s 20 miles of shared-use paths for shopping, lunching, and museum-hopping.
Casa Ybel Resort: A hint of Victorian
The centerpiece of Casa Ybel Resort, near Sanibel Island’s southernmost shoulder, is Thistle Lodge. It resurrects the historic property’s early-1900s legacy and hosts an intimate, fine-dining restaurant that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and the beach blanket that hugs it. The bar whips up craft cocktails and pours local craft beers and, on weekends, stays open late with DJ music.
When the sun’s out, hang at Coconuts Poolside Bar and Grill for live music and tropical cocktails. Your suite, too, has a view of the gulf, plus the convenience of a full kitchen. Book a spa treatment at the beach or ensuite and catch sunrise or sunset yoga on the resort’s gulfside lawn.
Do this: Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were guests at Casa Ybel’s predecessor. Discover more about the island’s past pioneers and celebs at the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village.
GullWing Beach Resort: Sand-side retreat
Plan on spending a lot of time on your screened-in, super comfy balcony — especially at sunset, when Fort Myers Beach puts on its best show. GullWing Beach Resort, a condo-style property, makes you feel at home with a full kitchen, a bed you won’t want to leave, and a spacious living area that includes a breakfast bar and wet bar. A pool with a view, beach chair and umbrella rentals, and water activities are compelling reasons to bounce to and from the sand.
Do this: Fort Myers Beach is famous for its beach bars and party scene. Walk the stretch to happening Times Square, bar-hopping and dancing along the way. Don’t miss sunset at the pier.
Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina: Beach to bay and back
Rent a gulfside fire pit, book dinner on the beach, and commission a complimentary couples’ portrait at sunset. The gulf-fronting beach is the place to be at Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina, near the skinny northern tip of Fort Myers Beach, though bayside has it going on, too. Rent everything from a WaveRunner to kayaks, paddleboats, a pontoon, or a sailboat. Or you can try a tandem parasail for a new perspective on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. And life in general.
The resort’s very cool Octopool is often filled with families, but there are plenty of other, quieter pools to find some seclusion. And if you really want to get away, book a sunset dolphin cruise, which leaves right from the marina.
Do this: From a two-hour lesson to multi-day packages with Offshore Sailing School — which launches from multiple area resorts, including Pink Shell — the two of you can learn the art of sailing into the sunset together. Cue Buffett.
Pointe Estero Beach Resort: Cocooning and exploring
When your “bae and me” escape calls for privacy and serious together time, a fully self-catering beach suite above it all fits the bill. Pointe Estero Beach Resort, on Fort Myers Beach, draws you away from the Times Square hubbub. Cook seafood dinners together, stream some rom-coms, and go old-school romantic with a barefoot beach walk in the moonlight.
Do this: When it’s time to break out of your cocoon, grab a bike or jump aboard the beach trolley to discover Fort Myers Beach’s uncomplicated brand of beach culture. Check out the Mound House built on an ancient Calusa shell mound — part historical, part recreational.
Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts: Back to nature at West Wind Inn
Sanibel Island is off the hook when it comes to keeping it natural and low-key — no traffic lights, high-rises, or billboards. West Wind Inn, another member of the Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts group, reflects that energy with a quiet beachfront and poolside beach bar. Keep the mellow going by renting a bicycle onsite and exploring the area on a leisurely ride.
Do this: The closest resort to the island’s famed J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, West Wind Inn makes it super easy to get into nature. Try a tandem kayak tour into the rookeries and mangrove estuaries to see wildlife in its element.
Sundial Beach Resort & Spa: Shellacious
Sanibel Island’s other fame-claim is that it’s the shelling capital of the US — if not the world. And Sundial Beach Resort & Spa is prime territory for “Sanibel stooping” (the posture the two of you will adopt as you start your lifetime collection of shells together). Or, you know, just to use as an excuse to hang at the beach.
The resort is also pickleball central on the island. Work out those shell-stoop and racket-swing kinks with a couples’ massage, and end the day with a sushi and teppanyaki dining experience.
Do this: Learn more about the shells you find and everything you ever wanted to know about their historical and cultural context at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.
‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa: Marina lifestyles
On Captiva Island, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa features a marina that adds a new salty dimension to your beach vacation. Book one of the historic cottages named for Charles Lindbergh, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “Ding” Darling, and other guests from the past. Split your days between the new Serenity Pool and Oasis bar, spa-ing, beaching, kayaking, and jet-skiing. Dine in the circa-1930s Old Captiva House, then hit the Crow’s Nest party.
Do this: Captiva lies at the threshold of an off-the-chain chain of islands you can hop to for lunch, drinks, shell hunting, and beaching. Hire a charter or rent a boat from the marina. Just get out there, because the beaches are calling.