The area around Fort Myers has “something for everyone,” says the Crazy Tourist. “Those that love the outdoors have a wild playground on their doorstep, with huge reserves of biodiverse ecosystems unique to southern Florida … there are swamps and waterways to explore by boat, crocodiles and alligators to spot along the rivers -- even the rare and endangered Florida Panther can be seen in some places -- while out in the Gulf of Mexico reefs and marine life are just a short journey away.”
You don’t have to go far around Fort Myers and Sanibel “to find places that are incredibly wild,” says the Matador Network. “Strap on a pair of boots, grab a walking stick, and head out for a ‘swamp walk’ in the Corkscrew Swamp, just a few miles inland of Estero … as you leave the blazed path, you could be stepping in places that haven’t had a human foot touch them for years -- or even decades.”
Southwest Florida is “a treasure chest of natural wonders,” says Lonely Planet -- “coastal wetland preserves, forest-lined rivers and an ocean teeming with marine life set the stage for a wide range of activities that explore Florida's wild side.” There are “frolicking dolphins, massive manatees and prehistoric-looking alligators,” not to mention the 250 species that make it a “bird lover's paradise.” And there are “many easy ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the islands,” recommends Les Thomas at Southern Living. One way is to explore the diverse wildlife habitat that includes the interior wetlands ecosystem on four miles of walking trails around the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Nature Center -- “it’s part of nearly 2,000 acres that the group preserves on the barrier islands.”
The sister islands of Sanibel and Captiva “seduce visitors without even trying.” That’s because of their “fertile unspoiled habitats,” observes Katie Kelly Bell at Forbes. The islanders, she notes, like to think the appeal is in the numbers: “15 miles of beaches, 25 miles of bike paths, 50 kinds of fish, 230 kinds of birds, 250 kinds of shells and their favorite number of all -- zero traffic lights.” Sanibel is home to “6,400 acres of mangrove wilderness, which is almost half of the total island and it’s “threaded with bike trails ... I prefer biking through the wildlife refuge to driving -- one always sees more when you slow down -- and see you will,” adds Kelly Bell.