A summer guide to Southwest Florida’s hidden beaches
Easily the best perk of living in Florida — apart from the year-round warmth and Publix Subs — is the easy access to the state’s endless beaches and shores. Southwest Florida has especially illustrious beaches and waterways loaded with sand, waves and — for the nature fans — abundant wildlife.
These are a few of the beaches you’ll find off the beaten path, rated based on functionality, beauty and a certain je ne sais quoi that hits you in your surfer soul and makes you want to be a marine biologist or some kind of sea sage.
Causeway Beaches, Sanibel
Stretching across the channel between the Sanibel Causeway toll and the island itself, the causeway beaches are underrated for not being a real beach due to its size. Causeway beach is wildly popular among kite boarders and jet skiers on weekends and holidays; the wide-open spaces of the waterway nestled between the island and the mainland offer great conditions for exploring on the back of a jet ski or tethered to the wind via kite.
Dog Beach, Bonita Springs
Not only is it a pristine beach located at the base of the bigger overpass on Bonita Beach Road, roughly four miles north of Bonita Beach. It’s the perfect location for a day trip with family, friends or that someone special (e.g. the dog).
Lovers Key, Bonita Springs
This coastal preserve boasts some of the most natural habitats that Southwest Florida has to offer; the main beach is set far back into a mangrove forest and requires a toll for cars, but it’s completely worth it because of the secluded atmosphere and the relatively untouched natural landscapes. The park also offers event venues and kayak rentals, with access to beautiful mangrove canopies.
Bunche Beach, Fort Myers Beach
Off the trail, as you’re headed to the Sanibel Causeway, Bunche Beach is, at its lowest tide, an abundance of clear wading pools with exotic-looking shells and foraging sea birds. It also has a civil rights role, in which it was the only “colored people only” beach in Lee County during the 1950s. Paddle boards and kayaks can also be rented at the beach via Parks and Rec services.
Bowditch Point, Fort Myers Beach
Easily paradise lost, Bowditch Point is a hidden gem set at the very northern tip of Estero Island. Originally a salvage pile for sailors of early Southwest Florida, It’s home to an abundance of gopher tortoises. The park flaunts nature trails, a dock for boats and kayaks, bathrooms and wide stretches of pristine, often uninhabited beaches.