The 5 Best Experiences On The Water In Fort Myers

Fort Myers, Florida, is one of the Gulf Coast’s less-inhabited historical beach towns and serves as the gateway to charming islands, including Captiva Island and Sanibel Island. Ft. Myers is full of rich history, preserved particularly through its architecture and estates. However, one doesn’t usually visit Florida in hopes of exploring inland for too long — the main draws are the uncrowded beaches full of shells and the welcoming, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

To truly experience Fort Myers, you need to get out on the water via a boat, kayak, or paddle board rental — or even on a fishing charter. These are the best things to do on the water in Ft. Myers.

dolphins gliding through the Peace River
Scott Hay /

Take A Dolphin Tour

Fort Myers is full of aquatic wildlife, as long as you know the right places to look. The surrounding waters are full of both manatees and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Spotting a pod of dolphins gliding through the waves and cheerfully leaping out of the water is a charming experience that often leaves one giddy with childlike excitement.

These friendly animals seem almost as enchanted by humans as we are by them and may even approach the boat with a smile. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind dolphins are still indeed wild animals, not a family pet. As a child, while boating in the Gulf, a dolphin came up to the side and my younger brother reached out to pet it. Long story short, he’s lucky to still have all of his fingers. However, from a safe distance, dolphin viewing will leave you with a lifetime of memories.

Fort Myers has many dolphin tours available, promising to take guests to known inhabited waters to see these sleek mammals up close and personal. The Beach Buddy charter promises a thrilling experience for guests and ample opportunities to see both dolphins and manatees in their natural habitat. Capt. John is included in the boat rental and offers 3-, 4-, and 6-hour tours.

overhead view kayaking in Florida with manatees
Alex Couto /

Go Kayaking

While on the subject of wildlife viewing, another fabulous way to see these animals is by renting a kayak. The manatees around Fort Myers are endangered, and therefore very closely protected. Since these large mammals move slowly and tend to swim near the “top of the water,” one of the most common injuries occurs from boat propellers. To combat this, many areas with larger manatee populations are No Wake Zones for boats, but the safest way to get up close is on a kayak.

This guided kayak tour group offers many different types of tours, as well as kayaks, to satisfy all types of adventurers. Their tour options include sunset tours, eco-tours to explore the nature that abounds, manatee tours, and even nighttime moonlight tours. Their experienced guides know the best secrets to safely give their guides a memorable day on the water.

man and woman paddle boarding in the Gulf of Mexico
Mark Winfrey /

Try Paddleboarding

Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, is a newer trend allowing both exercise enthusiasts and adventure-seekers to experience the water in a whole new way. Since you’re effectively standing on water, it provides a unique vantage point to see both the underwater world and horizon stretching across the ocean at the same time. While not extremely strenuous, paddleboarders enjoy a full-body workout while balancing and plunging their long oars into water to guide the board while taking in the sights.

Fort Myers is an excellent place for those looking to try SUP for their first time. Many rental paddle boards are available, as well as full stand-up paddleboarding tours. This group has an abundance of paddle boards available for rental, including half-day rentals starting at only $35 through weeklong rentals for only $210. If you’d prefer a guide, tours can be arranged as well.

Explore Nearby Islands And State Parks

North Captiva Island is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from from Fort Myers, but since no cars are allowed on the island, it is only accessible by water or small plane. North Captiva was originally connected to Captiva Island, but a devastating hurricane in 1921 separated the northern portion from the main island. Residents have worked hard to preserve their quaint island feel, and in addition to no cars, no hotel properties are allowed. Nature and wildlife flourish in their uninterrupted habitat and the island makes for a lovely and relaxing day trip from Fort Myers.

Ferry options are available to visit North Captiva Island, but it is so much more exciting to take your own boat to this charming rural island. This powerboat, available for rent through GetMyBoat, has all the amenities for a full day of fun on the water, including your own blender to make necessary fruity beach cocktails. The rental includes an experienced captain to transport guests to the must-see remote spots around Fort Myers, including North Captiva and Cayo Costa State Park, which is also only accessible by water. You’ll forget you are in Florida while enjoying the uncrowded beaches and stunning natural beauty.

Michael Rolands /

Catch A Fishing Charter

If you’re the type that prefers to enjoy fish as a meal rather than swimming with them, Fort Myers is full of deep-sea fishing charter options. The Gulf of Mexico is rich with a wide variety of seafood delicacies, including snapper, grouper, sheepshead, redfish, and even the occasional shark. Deep-sea fishing is a bucket list item for many, and Fort Myers is a great location to check this off the list.

This captain-included fishing charter offers options for everyone from those who have never baited a hook to serious fisherman, making it an excellent option for a multigenerational outing. The affordable inshore half-day experience starts at only $500 and you get to keep your catches to prepare a fabulous fresh dinner post-excursion. For those looking to get into the deep ocean waters, they also offer a 10-hour offshore outing for $900. Don’t forget to snap an iconic photo with your Catch Of The Day!

For all your water adventures in Fort Myers, turn to GetMyBoat, the largest peer-to-peer boat and watercraft rental agency.

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