Every year tens thousands of families visit Florida for a summer vacation. Despite the heat Florida is a popular because of its theme parks, natural attractions and white sand beaches. Even after you decide you’d rather get a tan than visit Micky and Mini, you still have to figure out what tropical island you’d like to see. Three popular choices on the Gulf coast of Florida are Fort Myers Beach, Pine Island, and Captiva Island. Each island has a very distinct flavor.
Pine Island is the most rural of all three. It is the least densely populated, and doesn’t have much in the way of restaurants or entertainment. What you get instead is a very natural looking island with two or three fishing villages and some scattered mom and pop restaurants along a single main road that runs through the island. Some parts of pine island are still used as nurseries, and there are plenty of fishing charters. Otherwise, its mostly known as an artist community with a large number of painters and sculptors selling their works along the main thorough fare at the island’s entrance.If you’re looking for a quiet fishing trip, this is the island for you.
Fort Myers Beach is the most developed of the three, with multiple condo buildings, a nice Executive Golf Course at the south end, and a large number of Bars and dining at the North end. There is a small movie theater at mid island and many of the bars have live entertainment in the evenings. In Times Square there are often live street performances and magic shows as the sun sets over the fishing pier. Fort Myers Beach is great for families and has a very collegiate vibe during spring break.
Captiva Island is a very elite place with two major hotels, one of which is really more of a resort. It is by far the hardest to get to, but once there guests will enjoy the four-star Plantation resort at the far north end. The Plantation has its own shopping and dining on site, and is quite large. Popular for weddings and company retreats, Captiva is by far the most refined of the islands. Best for upper-class beach combers, the Captiva Island Hotels can be pricey.