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The Complete Guide to Ft. Myers Boating and Popular Destinations

Boating is one of the favorite hobbies of Floridians, which is why it's often called the boating capital of the world. Hundreds of thousands of Florida residents are boaters, while many more come from out of state to go boating in the area.

One popular boating destination in Florida is Ft. Myers. Ft. Myers has some great fishing spots, gorgeous waterways, and fantastic dock and dines for visitors to check out.

If you're interested in learning more about Ft. Myers boating, this guide is for you. Let's take a look at everything you need to know about boating in Ft. Myers!

Ft. Myers Boating Geography

When it comes to boating in Ft. Myers, you've got plenty of waterways to choose from. Not only is the city located on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, but it's also home to the Caloosahatchee River. 

The Caloosahatchee River features several hundred tributaries, all of which you can explore by boat. The river is ideal for non-motorized watersports such as rowboats, kayaking, and canoeing. 

If you want to get out onto deeper waters, you can explore the Gulf of Mexico via Fort Myers Beach. These waters are less protected, making for a great way to get out into the open ocean. 

Other waterways to check out include Tarpon Bay, San Carlos Bay, and Pine Island Sound. All of these areas are unique in their own way and offer fantastic boating opportunities. 

Top Docks & Marinas in Ft. Myers

There are several great marinas that you can take advantage of in Fort Myers. Each one has its own benefits and advantages. Let's take a look at some of the Top Docks and Marinas in Fort Myers, Florida.

1. Fort Myers

In Fort Myers, you'll find two major launching points. Let's take a deeper look at them!

Marine Max

This MarineMax is located at Deep Lagoon off the Caloosahatchee River. It's the perfect place for you to go fishing, cruising, or enjoy any other number of activities!

Ready to book your boat trip? Call (239) 571-3485 to schedule a launch or reserve an FBC boat!

Salty Sam's Marina

Salty Sam's Marina is a centrally located boat launch in Fort Myers Beach. This boat launch features just one boat ramp but is open throughout daylight hours. Give them a call at (239) 218-8462 to book your reservation!

Fish-Tale Marina

Fish Tale Marina offers tons of different activities. Go dolphin watching, cruising, or fishing in this marina. Ready to book a trip? Call (239) 986-7080 to book.

2. Bonita Springs

If you venture a little way out of Fort Myer, you'll come across some beautiful marinas as well. Here are two gorgeous marinas in Bonita Springs.

Bonita Beach

This full-service marina is located along the Imperial River. If you want to explore this Estero Bay marina, call (239) 963-5329.

Bonita Shores

Another Bonita Springs marina is Bonita Shores. This marina is situated between Fort Myers and Naples. Call FBC at this marina by dialling (941) 468-1132.

3. Cape Coral

Cape Coral is another place many Fort Myers boaters like to visit. Here, you'll find the stunning Cape Harbour Marina.

Cape Harbour Marina

Cape Harbour Marina is one of the most beautiful in Southwest Florida. It's home to wet and dry docks and tons of boating options. Call (239) 841-1038 for more information.

4. Pine Island

One place in Fort Myers you can't miss is Pine Island. And, there's a stunning marina there for you to check out!

Pineland Marina

Pineland Marina is just a few minutes away from the Boca Grande Pass and is the ideal location for those who love fishing. Call (239) 322-0736 for more details.

5. Punta Gorda

Last but not least in the area is Punta Gorda. Punta Gorda is home to two beautiful marinas. 

Burnt Store

Burnt Store Marina is the perfect place for those who want to go sailing. A yachting hub, you'll be able to experience all the best of sailing in this spot. Call (239) 302-8010 for more information.

Laishley Park

The Laishley Marina is located near the Peace River, along the Charlotte Harbor shoreline. This marina is huge, so you'll have plenty to do. Call (239) 218-7653 to learn more. 

Davis Boat Ramp

If you're okay with a no-frills boat launch, the Davis Boat Ramp will do well. This boat launch has no facilities but features a small paved area where you can get your boat out into the water. 

It's free to use the boat ramp itself, but you'll need to pay a small fee to get into the park and leave your vehicle there while you're on the water. 

Judd Park Hand Launch

Boaters wanting to spend the day exploring Hancock Creek can use the Judd Park boat launch. This boat launch is located in the middle of Judd Park, a 14-acre park along the banks of the creek. 

This boat launch is quite small but is ideal for kayaks and canoes. Apart from the paved launch, you'll also find a playground, restrooms, tennis courts, and two picnic pavilions. 

 

Top Points of Interest in the Fort Myers Area

Fort Myers is an area that has tons of unique things to do. No matter what your hobbies are, you'll find plenty of places to check out and explore.

Let's take a look at a couple of the top points of interest in the area.

Fort Myers Beach

We can't talk about Fort Myers without mentioning the beach! This seven-mile beach features warm water and great places to go fishing.

You can enjoy boating in the waters here, watching dolphins swim and play, or dining at one of the waterfront restaurants. 

Edison and Ford Winter Estates

The Edison and Ford Winter Estates are a National Historic Landmark and open museum along the Fort Myers Waterfront. These homes, botanic gardens, and museums span a whopping 21 acres and are a beautiful part of Fort Myers's history dating back nearly 100 years. 

The Pier at Fort Myers Beach

There's no better way to spend an afternoon than strolling along the Fort Myers Pier. This pier juts out into the Gulf of Mexico and is a great place to go fishing, watch pelicans dive for prey, or grab a bite to eat.

You can also rent out a boat for the day or take a parasailing trip at this spot.

Lovers Key State Park

This park is a quiet beach that's a great place to get you out of the city for the day. It's the ideal place to go SUP paddleboarding, canoeing, or kayaking as well as to hunt for shells. The area is fairly protected, which means you'll be safe from high waves and rough tides, too.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

When in Fort Myers you should take a bit of time to check out the boardwalk and birding opportunities at the beautiful cypress preserve. This is a great place to watch some wildlife and take in the natural beauty of Fort Myers.  

Lakes Regional Park

Lakes regional park is a family-friendly park that was once a gravel quarry. Today, it features a man-made lake where you can go boating or fishing as well as a small train museum for you to check out.

Dock & Dines for a Ft. Myers Day Trip

One of the best activities you can participate in if you're spending a day in a boat in Fort Myers is to go for a dock and dine. Dock and eating is an activity where you drive your boat up to the dock and then eat at a restaurant right there on the pier!

If the idea of this family boating activity sounds fun, you'll need to know which restaurants to check out. Here are our favorite dock and dine restaurants in the area.

Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille

First up on our list is Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grill, which sits in Estero Bay. The bay is located on San Carlos Island, making it the ideal place to head out for a day trip from Fort Myers. 

The reason this restaurant is such a great place to visit is that it features a huge shrimp boat fleet as well as live music. You'll adore the sweeping views of the Matanzas pass and the delectable seafood at this restaurant. 

Pinchers The Marina at Edison Ford

If you want a cost-effective dock and dining experience then you should head to Pinchers The Marina at Edison Ford. This seafood shack has fried fish, crab dishes, and other delicious fast-food-style seafood.

Original Shrimp Dock Bar & Grill

If you adore shrimp, then you'll want to head over to the Original Shrimp Dock Bar & Grill. The restaurant's pub menu makes for casual yet delicious dining, while the live music will set the mood during your meal.  

Three Fishermen Seafood Restaurant

If you're wanting some yummy frozen cocktails to cool down after a day of boating in the hot sun, you've got to check out Three Fishermen Seafood Restaurant. This restaurant has fantastic bar beverages as well as phenomenal fresh seafood on the menu.

Nervous Nellie's

Nervous Nellie's is situated in the Back Bay and is a restaurant that's won a few different awards for their meals. You can opt for healthy salads and sandwiches or treat yourself to fresh steaks and seafood at this restaurant.  

Nauti Parrot Dock Bar

This waterfront restaurant has a laid-back atmosphere and a family-friendly vibe. The restaurant has an amazing happy hour accompanied by live music, which makes it an attractive place to dock your boat for an evening of fun. 

Parrot Key Caribbean Grill

Parrot Key Caribbean Grill has held the title of Best Waterfront Dining for several years running, and it's no wonder. Their Florida favorites, seafood dishes, and tropical cocktails are served in an open-air dining experience on the beach that leaves nothing to be desired. 

Dixie Fish Co.

Head down to Fishermans Wharf in Fort Myers to try the award-winning food at the Dixie Fish Co. This restaurant specializes in fresh fish deals, thanks to their waterfront locations.

They also have some fantastic happy hour specials if you're wanting to get the party started. 

Lighthouse Restaurant & Bar

Another gorgeous place to go for a dock and dine is Lighthouse Restaurant & Bar. This beautiful restaurant sits on the Fort Myers Beach waterfront and has great views of the ocean as well as scrumptious surf and turf dining options.

Where to Go Boat Fishing in Ft. Myers

While there are tons of things to do on a boat, one of the main activities that boaters enjoy is fishing. Fishing is a relaxing hobby that can land you a delicious dinner if you play your cards right!

If you're planning to go boat fishing in Ft. Myers, you'll want to know where to go. Here are some of the best fishing spots in the area that you should check out if you want to angle in the area.

Riverside Park

Riverside Park is a stunning park located along the shores of the Caloosahatchee River. Not only is it easy to access, but it's also ideal for boaters who want to go fishing out of a kayak or a canoe. 

North Shore Park

Another riverside park along the Caloosahatchee to check out is North Shore Park. This park has a pier for you to fish off of, or you can fish off the bridge. However, we recommend taking a boat out into the deeper waters to catch some great fish. 

Tarpon Bay

Tarpon Bay is one of the most popular fishing spots in Fort Myer. This pier stretches out of the main city of Ft. Myer and into the Caloosahatchee River. You'll be able to catch trout, snook, and of course, tarpon while at this spot. 

Lakes Park

If you want to take a kayak out and catch some bass, you should head over to Lakes Park. This park is located on the south side of Ft. Myers and features some of the best bass fishing in the area. 

Billy Creek

Billy Creek is one of the many tributaries flowing out of the Caloosahatchee River and is one that has great fishing opportunities. You'll find lots of bass biting here if you spend the day out on the water. 

7 Boating Day Trip Ideas in Ft. Myers

If you're planning a Florida boating trip, it helps to have an itinerary to jump off of. This boating in Florida itinerary takes you all around Ft. Myers and makes for the perfect boating adventure. 

Day 1: Fort Myers to Cayo Costa

Your first day on the water will be spent exploring the nine miles of beaches along the coast of Fort Myers. You'll head along the coast and make your way to Cayo Costa, a barrier island park. 

You can only get to the park by ferry or by private boat, making it feel like a secluded Florida paradise. Be prepared to see dolphin pods and manatees sharing the water with you on your journey. 

Once you arrive, you'll have tons of adventures to check out. You can enjoy fishing, jet skiing, shelling, and so much more. Or, you can simply take in the beautiful wildlife and forests in the area before settling down for the evening. 

Day 2: Cayo Costa to Boca Grande

Start your day early and head out to Boca Grande. You'll want to get out on the water as quickly as possible because there's a ton to do in this area!

Once you arrive in Boca Grande, rent a golf cart and check out what the area has to offer. Then, when you're done, head over to one of the many fresh seafood restaurants in the area. 

Afterward, hit up the beach to work up an appetite again before heading over to the Pink Elephant. This premier dining spot has some of the best cocktails in town!

Day 3: Boca Grande to North Captiva and Cabbage Key

North Captiva Island is a relatively remote area in Florida. In fact, the island is only accessible by small plane, ferry, or, you guessed it, private boat. 

On the island, you'll be transported back in time to the early days of Florida. And, you'll get to check out the Lee Island Coast barrier island chain, which is situated just offshore. 

After you've experienced swimming, fishing, and so much more on the island, head over to the nearby Cabbage Key. There are some stunning dining opportunities there, including an open-air restaurant situated right by the beach.

Day 4: Cabbage Key to Captiva Island

On day four, make your way to the Tween Waters Inn situated on Captiva Island. This is the perfect spot for you to get some rest and relaxation. 

While staying on the island, be sure to try out the fishing opportunities. Near-shore fishing and deep-sea fishing are both popular activities in the area, and you're likely to catch some great fish!

Or, you can go on an eco-kayaking trip to see some of the beautiful mangrove keys and grab some seashells along the beach.

Day 5: Captiva Island to Sanibel Island

Today you'll be in for a real treat when you cruise to Sanibel Island and dock your boat at the gorgeous South Seas Resort. This resort village is also a wildlife sanctuary where you can see some of Florida's native animals

While at the resort, you'll have the chance to enjoy tons of amazing adventure activities including snorkeling and jet skiing. Plus, don't forget to treat yourself to a meal in the famous Bubble Room restaurant. 

Day 6: Sanibel Island to Fort Myers Beach

After spending time at Sanibel Island, it's time to head back home to Fort Myers Beach. You can make your way from the island back to the beach and dock on the gently sloping, sugar-sand beach. 

Just because it's your last day on your journey doesn't mean there's not plenty to do, however. Try your hand at jet skiing or go on a dolphin excursion in the area. 

Bonus (Day 7): Caloosahatchee River

If you had a fantastic time on your trip and don't want the fun to end, you can make the forty-minute drive from Fort Myers Beach out to the Caloosahatchee River

This gorgeous river features several stunning tributaries and is an incredible place for new and experienced boaters alike. On your cruise up the river, you'll see stunning ferns, beautiful oaks, and other vegetation lining the shore.

Other Useful Information About Ft. Myers Boating

If you're planning to go boating in Florida and Ft. Myers specifically, there are a few things you'll need to know. This will help you stay safe on the water as well as legally compliant. 

Freedom Boat Club Training

It's important to be well versed in boating safety when going boating in Ft. Myers. Luckily, with FBC you can take advantage of an unlimited training program!

Unlimited training is a service that's completely free with your FBC membership. During the program, you'll get the chance to experience one on one training with licensed Coast Guard instructors. 

To start off your training, you'll take a classroom module where you go over basic boat rules and protocols. Then, you'll get to get out on the water and experience Fort Myers boating for yourself!

Better yet, you can participate in New Boater Day Experiences. These are open to the public as well as to boat club members, meaning you can bring friends and family along. 

Florida Fishing Regulations

Aside from boating regulations, there are also a few regulations that are specific to fishing. These regulations apply regardless of whether you're fishing from a boat or the shore.

If you want to go fishing in Florida, you must have a fishing license. You can either get an annual license, which has to be renewed each year, or a multi-annual license that lasts for several years at a time. 

Regardless of which type of fishing license you get, they're available to both Florida residents and visitors to the state. These licenses allow you to legally remove native and non-native fish from Florida waters. 

Apart from the fishing license requirement, there are also several regulations that govern how much and what type of fish you can catch while in Florida. These restrictions exist to help protect species native to the area. 

Plan a Ft. Myers Boating Trip Today!

Are you ready to plan the perfect Ft. Myers boating trip? With this helpful guide, you'll have no problem concocting day trips from Ft. Myers as well as multi-day excursions out of the area!

Do you need a vessel to get your Ft. Myers boating show on the road? Get in touch with Freedom Boat Club to start a membership in the Ft. Myers area!