When planning a vacation in Southwest Florida, two destinations that come to mind are Cape Coral and Fort Myers.
Both cities offer beautiful beaches, great shopping and dining options, and family-friendly attractions.
But which one is the best for you?
In this post, we will provide an honest comparison between Cape Coral and Fort Myers, so you can choose the perfect destination for your next vacation.
Cape Coral vs Fort Myers
Cape Coral is located on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, with access to the Gulf of Mexico, while Fort Myers is located inland, with the Caloosahatchee River flowing nearby.
Cape Coral is a quieter and less developed city compared to Fort Myers, which is busier and has a larger downtown area.
If you are looking for a more laid-back vacation with plenty of water activities and nature experiences, Cape Coral is the way to go. On the other hand, if you are interested in a bustling city atmosphere with trendy bars and restaurants, then Fort Myers would be a better fit for you.
Both cities have a wide range of accommodation options to choose from.
Cape Coral has many waterfront homes and villas available for rent, while Fort Myers has more traditional hotels and resorts.
Prices for accommodation in both cities vary, with Cape Coral being slightly more affordable in general.
If you’re looking for a luxurious vacation with ocean views, Cape Coral has many beautiful waterfront properties that can be rented at affordable prices.
One thing Southwest Florida is known for is its beautiful beaches. Both Cape Coral and Fort Myers have an excellent coastline.
Cape Coral has over 400 miles of navigable waterways and canals, and some of its beaches are accessible only by boat. On the other hand, Fort Myers provides more public beach options like Lovers Key State Park or the Fort Myers Beach Pier.
However, if you are looking for a more secluded and quieter beach, we recommend going to Cape Coral. You might even spot some dolphins or manatees swimming in the bay.
Fort Myers, on the other hand, is known for its nightlife and beachside activities like parasailing and jet skiing.
While both areas have great facilities and amenities, Cape Coral beaches often have more natural surroundings and less commercialization.
Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference- if you’re willing to brave the crowds and want all the bells and whistles of a classic beach day, Fort Myers may be your spot. But if you prefer a more secluded and natural experience, Cape Coral is the way to go.
5 Best Beaches in Cape Coral You Must Visit This Summer!
Yacht Club Community Park Beach
Located on the Caloosahatchee River, this beach is perfect for families.
It offers plenty of amenities, such as picnic tables, grills, a fishing pier, and a playground.
The water is shallow, making it safe for kids to swim. You can also rent a bike or a boat at Yacht Club Community Park. The beach is free to the public and open every day from dawn to dusk.
Cape Coral Four Freedoms Park Beach
This beach is situated on the Bimini Basin and offers a stunning view of the water. It is a popular spot for kayaking and fishing.
The park has a playground, grills, and picnic tables. The beach is open daily from 8 AM to sunset. Entrance fees are free.
Tarpon Point Marina Beach
Tarpon Point Marina Beach is a hidden gem in Cape Coral. It is located in the Tarpon Point community and offers a great view of the Caloosahatchee River.
The beach is open to the public and offers amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. There is also a pool and hot tub area for guests to use.
Sanibel Causeway Beach
While not technically in Cape Coral, Sanibel Causeway Beach is just a short drive away. This beach offers beautiful views of Sanibel Island and is a great spot for shelling and swimming.
There are restrooms, showers, and picnic tables available for use. The beach is open daily from 6 AM to 7 PM, and there is a $6 toll to access the causeway.
Bowditch Point Regional Park Beach
Located on the northern end of Fort Myers Beach, Bowditch Point Regional Park Beach is a must-visit for nature lovers.
The beach offers stunning views of Estero Bay and is home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins and manatees.
There are restrooms, showers, and picnic tables available for use. The beach is open daily from 7 AM to sunset, and entrance fees are $2 per hour or $8 per day.
5 Best Beaches in Fort Myers You Must Visit This Summer!
Fort Myers Beach
The most popular and happening beach in the area is Fort Myers Beach, where white sand meets the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
It has something for everyone- swimming, fishing, dolphin-watching, water sports, and more.
There are plenty of dining options available, from seafood shacks to waterfront dining. The place is crowded, but its happening atmosphere is what makes it a must-visit!
🏖 Relevant reading: Clearwater Vs. Fort Myers: Which is BETTER for Vacation?
Sanibel is known for its shelling opportunities, emerald waters, and its laid-back vibe. Many travelers choose this spot for its natural beauty and peaceful tranquility.
It is an ideal choice for those who want to unwind and rejuvenate. You can stroll along the beach, have a picnic, or simply relax under an umbrella.
There is a vast expanse of sand to lounge on or go boating in its beautiful waters.
🏖 Relevant reading: Sanibel Island Vs. Fort Myers: Which is BETTER for Vacation?
Lovers Key State Park
Lovers Key is accessible only by boat and is a perfect spot for romance and tranquility. It has everything that makes it a memorable experience- white sand, breathtaking sunsets, and picturesque views.
Apart from this, it also serves as a wildlife refuge for dolphins and manatees. You can have a picnic, go shelling or have a secluded getaway.
🏖 Relevant reading: Sarasota Vs. Fort Myers: Which is BETTER for Vacation?
Known for its tranquility, Bowman’s Beach is a perfect spot if you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The beach is quieter than other beaches on this list and provides an opportunity to relax under the sun, go fishing, or shelling.
The backdrop of Bowman’s Beach is beautiful and unspoiled.
Captiva Island is known for its sunsets, shelling, and captivating coastal views. It is a haven for photography enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, and those who love nature and adventure.
It is ideal for water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, and jet-skiing. The village square itself is also vibrant, with art galleries, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
🏖 Relevant reading: 10 Best Secluded White Sand Beaches in Florida
Both cities have an excellent range of cuisines available, with fresh seafood being a highlight in both locations.
Cape Coral has a lively restaurant scene and is known for its fresh seafood and waterfront dining options. Many restaurants in Cape Coral offer outdoor seating with views of the canals.
Fort Myers, on the other hand, has many trendy bars and restaurants located in its downtown area. It also hosts several food and drink festivals throughout the year.
Cape Coral and Fort Myers are two booming cities that offer a great shopping experience for locals and tourists alike.
Both cities are home to a variety of shopping centers and malls where shoppers can find everything from high-end fashion boutiques to discount chains.
While Cape Coral boasts modern and sleek plazas with ample parking, Fort Myers is known for its charming downtown area and historic district shops. Furthermore, Cape Coral has seen recent growth in specialty stores and boutiques, while Fort Myers has a wide variety of unique shops offering one-of-a-kind finds.
Regardless of where you choose to shop, these two cities offer their visitors a delightful blend of modern and traditional options, making for a memorable shopping experience.
Nightlife and Entertainment 🥳
Are you a party animal looking for nightlife and entertainment?
When it comes to the nightlife options in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, there are plenty of choices to keep you entertained well into the wee hours of the morning.
Fort Myers offers a thriving downtown scene, with a variety of bars, restaurants, and clubs to suit every taste. From trendy rooftop bars to laid-back pubs, you’ll find an atmosphere that fits your mood.
Meanwhile, Cape Coral has a more relaxed and casual vibe, with waterfront bars and restaurants that offer stunning views of the Caloosahatchee River.
Whether you’re in the mood for a night out on the town or a quiet evening sipping a cocktail by the water, you’ll find plenty of options in both of these vibrant Florida cities.
Outdoor Activities 🏄🏼♂️
Are you an outdoor enthusiast?
Both Cape Coral and Fort Myers offer endless opportunities for outdoor activities. Cape Coral is ideal for boating, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.
You can explore the Calusa Blueway – a 190-mile kayak route through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caloosahatchee River. If you are a golfer, Cape Coral offers nine golf courses across the city.
Fort Myers, on the other hand, offers some of the best bird-watching opportunities in the country, with the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge offering an array of migratory birds. The city also offers river cruises, hiking in the nearby parks, and bike tours.
Top 5 Things to Do in Cape Coral
Visit the Yacht Club Community Park
The Yacht Club Community Park is a must-visit destination in Cape Coral. This 10-acre park offers a lot of amenities for families, including a beach, a playground, and a fishing pier.
You can also rent a boat or a kayak to explore the surrounding waters, or just take a relaxing walk while enjoying the views of the marina.
Explore the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve
The Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve is a must-visit for nature lovers.
Here you can observe a wide variety of marine life, such as dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles.
You can choose to go on a guided boat tour to explore the area, or rent a kayak and paddle on your own.
Make sure to bring your camera, as you’ll surely want to capture the beauty of this place.
Relax at the Cape Coral Farmers’ Market
Every Saturday, the Cape Coral Farmers’ Market gathers farmers, artisans, and vendors from all over Southwest Florida.
Here you can find fresh produce, artisanal crafts, and homemade baked goodies.
It’s a great opportunity to taste local specialties, chat with locals, and enjoy some live music.
The market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m, so make sure to wake up early if you want to have the best selection.
Hit the Waters
Cape Coral has some of the best water sports activities on offer, so make sure to try out a few. From paddleboarding, kayaking to jet skiing, there’s something for everybody.
You can also go on a sunset or dolphin-watching cruise, or take a fishing charter to catch some of the best fish the waters have to offer.
Go Beach Hopping
Cape Coral is renowned for its stunning, sandy beaches, which is another reason why you should visit the city.
You can visit popular destinations such as Sanibel Island or Captiva Island, which are known for their beautiful beaches and clear turquoise waters.
If you prefer a secluded, off-the-beaten-path experience, make sure to check out Little Hickory Island, which is known for its tranquility, lush vegetation, and stunning sunsets.
Top 5 Things to Do in Fort Myers
Visit the Beaches
Fort Myers is known for its beautiful beaches, and one of the most popular ones is Fort Myers Beach. This beach is a long, wide sandy stretch that’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying water sports.
There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops along the beach, so you can easily spend a whole day here.
Another popular beach in Fort Myers is Bowditch Point Park, which is a family-friendly beach with lots of amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic areas.
Explore the Edison and Ford Winter Estates
The Edison and Ford Winter Estates is a must-visit attraction in Fort Myers. This historic site was once the winter home of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, and today it’s a museum and botanical garden.
You can take a guided tour of the estate, visit the laboratory, and see the collection of antique cars. The botanical garden is also a highlight, with over 20 acres of beautiful plants and trees.
Go on a Dolphin Cruise
Dolphin cruises are a fun way to experience the water and see these playful creatures in their natural habitat.
There are numerous companies in Fort Myers that offer dolphin-watching tours, and some of them even offer sunset cruises.
You’ll be able to see dolphins swimming and jumping in the water, and you may even see other marine life such as manatees and sea turtles.
Visit the Manatee Park
Manatee Park is a unique park that’s dedicated to the conservation of Florida’s gentle giants. This park is located near the Orange River, which is a popular spot for manatees to gather in the winter months.
You’ll be able to see manatees up close and learn about their habitat and behavior. There’s also a butterfly garden and a playground for kids.
Take a Brewery Tour
Fort Myers has a growing craft beer scene, and there are several breweries in the city that offer tours and tastings.
Some of the most popular ones include Fort Myers Brewing Company, Palm City Brewing, and Millennial Brewing Company.
During the tour, you’ll get to learn about the beer-making process and sample some of the brews.
In conclusion, the decision between Cape Coral and Fort Myers depends on your preference. Both cities offer fantastic opportunities for your dream vacation.
If you are looking for a more relaxed, secluded experience with plenty of water activities and beautiful scenery, Cape Coral should be your choice. On the other hand, if you prefer vibrant nightlife with endless fun activities, Fort Myers will not disappoint.
Whatever you desire, Southwest Florida is the perfect vacation destination.