It's been a good 15 years since I set foot on Fort Myers Beach. If you have been following my blog for even little while, you know I live on the southeast coast of Florida and spend plenty of time on my own beach. Fort Myers is only a two hour trip to the west coast. It has not made a lot of sense to actually book a room and stay there. That was until this past weekend. Now I feel like I have truly been missing out.
My motivation was to see a few of my friends performing in town and at the very last minute I decided book a room and turn a "quick there and back" into a weekend adventure. I learned right away about something they call "High Season" and this was the first big weekend tourist season. After three hours on the computer I found I could not book a room on the beach for under $250.00 and nothing I really wanted for any price. It's been a long time since the east coast had a definable season so I was totally unprepared for this level of disappointment.
The north end of Fort Myers beach is where all the action is. The south end is mostly condos and Lover's Key where I wanted to be. Dead center there was a Holiday Inn Fort Myers with one room available at $119.00. It was one day before the trip and I booked it with out hesitation. I wasn't really expecting much. Here's where the story gets interesting.
When I arrived, I was expected and greeted by name, the room was perfect, the band was cranking out the tunes on the patio, the booze was flowing, the dance floor was jammed, the party was in full swing, the average age was about 65. If this is retirement in Florida, I want me some. It was standing room only at the outside bar so I headed inside (sort of). With all the sliding glass doors open, the sea breeze pouring in along with the live music, it was still like being outside. In five minutes I was in conversation with the bartender, two couples to the left of me and a couple of folks to the right. All about my age and all world travelers. We had plenty to share. The north end of Fort Myers is still more of a 20 something vibe. Either end of the beach has a more Midwest crowd which is the complete polar opposite to the New York, Philly (my town), Boston and generally north east folks. Friendly, polite, happy people make for a much better vacation experience. I hung out till the band shut down at 10:00 then headed to the beach.
The water's edge was so far from the hotels and condos and the light so dim (so as to not confuse the turtles), I saw stars for the first time in years. Not only that, the sky was so crystal clear, I saw the space station pass over. (I used the free wifi to check the NASA site when I got back to the room to be sure).
I had stuff to do in the morning and a huge headache from the hours at the bar so I got up early, washed down some Tylenol with the morning coffee and hit the beach. In the daylight the beach is even more impressive. It's endless. You almost need to pack a sandwich to make the trek to the water's edge. The sand is pure white and cool but dense enough to build monumental structures that last for days. I saw several people riding bikes right on the sand. The water's edge is loaded with shells. Most of which had something still living in them. I've been all over Florida for 30 years and it's the first time I ever saw a live sand dollar.
The really nice thing about this particular hotel is that it's smack dab in the middle of condo row. People who live on the beach every day don't use it much. I walked about two miles south then two miles north and saw very few fellow walkers. A couple miles away, the beach is much smaller and beach umbrellas are so close you can practically walk on top of the. .
I hated to leave but on the way out of town I stopped at an iconic beach restaurant. Doc's Beach House near the south exit of the barrier island in Bonita Springs. Very old school, order and pick up type place but with a nice collection of tables right on the beach. It would be hard to find a more beautiful way to enjoy breakfast. I have a few more photos on my Flickr site for you to enjoy. My suggestion would be to go and get your own pictures and some lifelong memories. I found plenty of kayak areas and Fort Myers is far easier to get to than the Keys for me so I should have a few more posts from the other coast coming soon.