We were in Fort Myers Beach from 1/12 to 1/14/2022 as part of our Florida in January trip.
Here’s a tip for planning an RV trip to Florida in the winter: book your campgrounds as soon as they start taking reservations for your dates. Many of the popular campgrounds fill up a year in advance! When we initially mapped out our trip, we had targeted cute little Matlacha for these two nights between Everglades NP and the Myakka River, our next stop. The campground we wanted didn’t work out, so we zoomed out the map looking for beachfront campgrounds in the same general vicinity, and landed in Fort Myers Beach.
We stayed at Red Coconut RV Park, which has a small section on the beach, and a larger section across the street. Our across-the-street site was so tight to the neighbor and a tree that campground staff made us unhook so they could hitch the Airstream to a tractor to wiggle it into place, and they tractored us out again when we left.
The park has all the facilities and seems to have an active social scene amongst the longer-term residents. There’s a 7-11 next door, a bar and a bistro across the street, and a farmers market a couple doors down on Wednesday and Friday (when we went it was mostly jewelry and pastries). A few more restaurants are within a 20-minute walk.
To access much else, though, you have to deal with Estero Blvd. The traffic on Estero was very slow stop-and-go heading into the little touristy downtown area of Ft Myers Beach seemingly at all times of the day. Estero was a huge pain in January–what’s it like during high season? Ugh.
Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach in Ft Myers Beach–a rarity in Florida! Hallelujah! Bugsy LOVES the beach, so we did a lot of beach walking, which was easy to do with the RV park’s private beach access just across the street. Our campground neighbor Theresa said the one thing we should not miss while in Ft Myers Beach is watching the sun set over the ocean, and we agree that it’s pretty special.
Bonita Beach, just south of Ft Myers Beach, has an off-leash dog beach that we planned to take Bugsy to, but never did. She got enough beach time closer to home without us having to drive on the dreaded Estero Blvd.
Hiking and biking
Lovers Key State Park, just a few minutes south of the campground, is known for its pristine beach, but we skipped the non-dog friendly beach and hit the hiking trails with Bugsy. The 2.5-mile loop trail was a shady, sandy delight and we saw all kinds of wacky plants, birds, and a big old gopher tortoise. Neighbor Theresa said we’d see manatees and dolphins while hiking along the canal, but we did not. Remember to keep your dog away from the alligator danger at the water’s edge!
Matanzas Pass Preserve is adjacent to the campground, although I think you have to go down the road a bit to actually enter the preserve. It’s 60 acres of mangrove and oak forest, with a 1.25-mile interpretive trail. We didn’t check it out because pets are not allowed.
From Ft Myers Beach you can cycle into Ft Myers and across the big Sanibel Causeway bridge (a hill in Florida!) to Sanibel Island. There are sidewalks and bikes lanes for most of the route, so we felt pretty safe despite the traffic–and once you get to Sanibel you can get anywhere you need to on bike paths. It’s about 13 miles from Red Coconut to Sanibel, but the total ride will be longer since once you get to Sanibel you’ll want to explore.
Eating and drinking
The best food we had in Ft Myers Beach was actually on Sanibel Island, at Sanibel Fresh. We stopped there for lunch on our bike ride, and fortunately had a backpack to take home leftovers, because the servings were HUGE. I had a curry bowl with fresh mahi-mahi and it was delicious!
The second best food was fish dip from Eaton Street Seafood Market in Key West. Now that I think about it, we (humans) didn’t actually eat any food from Ft Myers Beach. We struggled to find somewhere that excited us to get dinner from, and settled on ordering Grubhub from a poke/sushi place in Ft Myers. It was disappointing.
The only other restaurant food we bought in Ft Myers Beach was a burger for Bugsy! While we were in the Everglades with no access to burgers we quietly let Bugsy Day go by due to lack of burger access. Bugsy Day is the anniversary of when we adopted her seven years ago, and each year on Bugsy Day Bugsy gets a cheeseburger. Our first night in Ft Myers Beach was Bugsy Day Observed, and the only nearby burger we could find was from Hooters. Bugsy liked it, so take that recommendation as you will. We were also Airstreaming on Bugsy Day in 2017 and got her a burger in Austin!
The one thing I regret not doing in Ft Myers Beach is getting a biscuit from Heavenly Biscuit.
Ft Myers has a Whole Foods, and they’ll deliver to Ft Myers Beach, if you need to restock your trailer.
Our drinking priority in Ft Myers Beach was sunset viewing at a beach bar. J made a list of beach bars and we set off down the beach with Bugsy to find a good spot. The first on the list, The Beach Bar, was so great that we threw away the list, stayed for sunset, and returned again the next evening. The scene is fantastic: a big section of beach with dog-friendly tables, a walk-up window (no shoes required–this is a beach bar after all) serving drinks, friendly service, good live music, and a front-row seat to the sunset over the ocean.
The Beach Bar was the only place we drank in Ft Myers Beach, but we also considered Outrigger Beach Resort‘s tiki bar for sunset (we would have had to drive there though) and Junkanoo on the beach right across the street from the campground (neighbor Theresa said watch out, they make really stiff drinks). Ft Myers Beach has something called a brewery–Smokin Oyster Brewery–but they don’t actually brew beer there (??) so we didn’t bother checking it out.
There were things we liked about Fort Myers Beach, but too many things we didn’t like for us to want to return. We liked our next stop, Venice, much more!