Following the most intense red tide outbreak in nearly half a century along Southwest Florida’s coastlines, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel have been in the clear for the past two months.
Red tide, which appears unpredictably on a nearly annual basis, is caused by a naturally occurring algae bloom that discolors the waters and causes wildlife to perish. In 2018, the unusually strong bloom lingered far longer than normal, but now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has officially determined that the region’s coastlines are free of red tide.
“Last year’s bloom prevented visitors from enjoying our beautiful beaches and took a major toll on our tourism industry,” said Tamara Pigott, executive director of the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, in press materials. “I hope we never see what we experienced again. Our local hotels, restaurants and attractions are excited to welcome new and returning visitors during one of the best times of year to visit.”
With the red tide completely cleared out, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel are beckoning guests with a wealth of outdoor activities, natural adventures, and educational tours. For example, with over 10,000 acres of dedicated nature preserves, many travelers enjoy boating and cruising to nearby islands, like the remote Cayo Costa, which boasts unspoiled stretches of white sand and a completely undeveloped coastline. Given the destination’s unique geography, the islands of Sanibel and Captiva are also known as the “Shelling Capital of the World,” with over 250 shell varieties spread across their shores. In addition, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge features winding kayak trails and scenic paths that stretch across more than half of Sanibel.
Accommodations found across the destination range from private cottages, condos and Gulf-front homes to full-service resorts. Safe beaches and family-friendly resorts are plentiful on Estero Island, the 7-mile stretch of coastline that defines Fort Myers Beach. From small inns to grand waterfront properties, accommodations suitable for travelers with a variety of vacation styles can also be found on nearby Sanibel and Captiva islands.