Known as Florida’s tropical island getaway, this subtropical paradise is a favorite vacation spot for Floridians as well as visitors from across the United States and abroad. Here, Floridians living in more congested areas of the state can visit for a feel of old Florida that no longer exists in many areas. In addition to the beautiful natural environment, active travelers are pleased to find an abundance of golf, tennis and watersports as well as some unusual attractions.
Traveling off the coast of Sanibel and Captiva islands, the boater will discover more than 100 outer coastal islands. Many are uninhabited mangrove clusters while others take visitors' breath away with their beautiful beaches.
Both North Captiva and Cayo Costa Island Preserve are known for their virtually deserted yet alluring coastlines and excellent shelling potential. In fact, local shelling guides offer excursions to these islands, where competition for prize specimens is less fierce than on the more accessible islands. Cayo Costa was purchased by the state in 1985, and the Florida Department of Natural Resources maintains primitive cabins on the northern portion of the island, near Johnson Shoals.
A short boat ride north from Captiva or Pine Island, an hour-and-a-half drive by car, Boca Grande is a charming turn-of-the-century harbor town on Gasparilla Island and another safe port for the rich and famous. Founded by the wealthy DuPont family in the late 1800s, this sleepy little southern town comes replete with small shops, cozy restaurants, waterside accommodations and beautiful beaches. Members of the Boca Grande Tarpon Guides Association, largely composed of local third and fourth generation fishing captains, provide anglers all that is necessary for a successful day on the water.
To the west, Cape Coral, literally surrounded by water, boasts more miles of canals than Venice, Italy. Many of the Cape's deepwater canals lead to the Gulf of Mexico. This fast-growing community boasts many marinas, a first-rate water park, challenging championship golf courses, tennis courts and freshwater fishing.