by Janet Malin
Ever since the Matanzas Pass Bridge opened in 1921 and connected Fort Myers Beach to the mainland, visitors have been coming in droves to the island’s beautiful beaches. Packed with seafood restaurants, kitschy beach shops and the not-so-occasional tattoo parlor, the area is popular with traveling families and spring breakers alike. Word is definitely out about the shallow coastline and gentle waters, as much of the island is congested with traffic and crowds. The northernmost end of the beach seems to be an exception, with fewer tourist traps and Bowditch Point Regional Park, instead, taking up the majority of real estate. Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina has managed to snag a prime spot here, too, making it a great place to enjoy the island while keeping a pleasant distance from the crowds.
Our Editor Loves
- Beach-entry pool with waterfalls
- Gulf-front location
- Daily poolside activities
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The resort offers a variety of accommodations with studios and one- and two-bedroom condos spread among five buildings. The studios can accommodate up to four people and provide a small kitchenette that's handy for preparing snacks and microwaveable items. The granite countertops throughout the studio are nice, but the two-burner cook top seems like more trouble than it's worth.
The one- and two-bedroom condos have separate living and dining areas, full kitchens and bathrooms with soaking tubs -- perfect for bathing sandy kids after a day on the beach. Many of the condos have in-unit washers and dryers (don't forget laundry detergent -- it's not provided) and some have sleeper sofas, too. Pack 'N Plays can be provided free of charge and rollaway beds are available for $20 per night.
The studios and condos are decorated in yellow and blue tropical patterns and have white wicker furniture that's comfy, but dated. What the rooms lack in modern furnishings, however, they more than make up for in the views they offer -- all 213 studios and condos face the beach with sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico.
This is a very nice resort all the staff are very friendly and you have a great view of the beach and ocean. The Rooms we stayed in a one bedroom suite which was very nice. They even have an adult only pool with pool services.
Decided to give this place a try due to all the positive reviews on TripAdvisor.this hotel consisted of three buildings. The main building, Captiva building, and Sanibel building. We stayed in the Sanibel view building. Check-in was super easy in the front staff was very polite. You received wristbands instead of a traditional room key. you can use the wristbands for your room, purchasing items, and getting out of the gates to go onto the beach. The rooms were very spacious and clean. The balcony had mesh on it so you couldn't lean over the edge.also all three hotel areas had their own pool but they were all connected via offense which you can use any pool. The breakfast buffet was a little on the pricey side but to be completely honest I thought it was worth the money.this trip was for me my wife and two daughters. They all loved the location and the facilities. Check out of the hotel was also super easy. You can either call in the front desk and let them know you're checking out and leave your wrist band in a box next to the elevator or you can physically go down to the front desk and do it the old-fashioned way. I will definitely come back here again. Three nights with taxes and fees cost me $719.
Fort Myers Beach is famous for shelling and the beach is certainly the main attraction at this resort. With a quarter mile of private coastline, guests of the resort have plenty of opportunity to claim a place in the sand. Towels and plastic chairs with cushions are provided, and umbrellas and wooden chairs are available to rent for $25 a day. The consensus is that this beach has the softest sand in the world and it is no wonder -- each morning the entire beach is manicured and every grain of sand is fluffed to perfection.
Holiday Water Sports operates on the beach and has sailboats, wave runners and ocean kayaks for rent. Families often opt for an hour of fun with the Aquacycle paddle bikes -- large floating tricycles that are a blast for kids of all ages.
Get a break from the sand and salt water and hit one of the resort's three heated pools, all of which are very child friendly. The kiddie pool near Captiva Villas has water spray features and is no more than 1-foot deep, making it perfect for the toddlers who can't swim, but still want to get in on the action. The small pool near the Sanibel Studios building is a great place to escape the excitement and occasional chaos of the main pool -- the Octopool -- where all the action happens. Named for the giant octopus that sits on top of its waterfalls, the Octopool is buzzing with activity and joyfully shrieking children all day long. Kids love the pool's water features and parents appreciate the zero-entry side of the pool that's great for smaller children. The pool gets a little crowded mid-day and the Sumo Slam Jam -- where guests wear huge padded sumo suits and knock into each other -- isn't for everyone. Daily craft activities (tie dying T-shirts, sand art and more) are offered on the Octopool deck at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. for a small fee. A highlight for many children who visit this resort is the sundae-making bar set up at 2:30 p.m. daily on the pool deck ($6.50 per person) -- it's an effective bribery tool for good behavior, too.
Sparky's Kidds Kamp is a great place for children 4 to 12 years old to go while their parents get some alone time. A typical day here includes arts and crafts, games and collecting shells on the beach. Morning sessions are held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the cost is $35 per child. Another bonus is the Saturday evening program offered at Sparky's, where, for $35 per child, kids can get their game on with Wii, Xbox, Guitar Hero and more at the ready. Dinner is included and the fun begins at 5:30 p.m. with pick-up at 8:30 p.m.
The two onsite restaurants are Jack's and Bongo's Bar and Grill.
Jack's is located in the Captiva Villas building and serves a daily breakfast buffet that includes all the basics, plus a great view of the ocean. Included with your reservation are two breakfast vouchers per day and children under 5 are free. Children 5 to 12 years old are $10.95 and adults eat for $15.95.
Bongo's Bar and Grill serves lunch and dinner daily on the pool deck and sometimes features a live band. For lunch, flatbread pizzas, salads, burgers and grouper sandwiches are offered and most items on the menu are between $8.95 and $12.95. After 5 p.m., the dinner menu is also available and features seafood dishes and steaks ranging from $15.95 to $30.95. The kids menu has the typical offerings (chicken tenders, pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches) available for about $6.
Some families avoid the restaurants altogether and take advantage of the full kitchen in their condo for preparing meals. To keep the whole gang happy, stop by Publix (the closest one is located on Estero Boulevard, about 3.5 miles south of the resort) and stock up on beverages, snacks, lunchmeat and macaroni and cheese for your stay.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Holiday Water Sports operates on property and offers a great Dolphin Adventure Boat Tour. Kids love cruising through the mangroves looking for manatees and they scream with excitement when they see dolphins playing in the boat's wake.
Crabtona 500 Hermit Crab Races take place somewhat sporadically at Bongo's Bar and Grill. Participation is free and contestants are invited to choose a hermit crab, name it and cheer it on to glory. Kids can win ultimate bragging rights and a coupon for a free sundae, too.
Bike rentals are available at the marina for $15 for two hours, $20 for four hours and $25 for 24 hours. Each additional 24-hour period is $10.
The resort has a large, fully equipped fitness center with treadmills, elliptical machines and free weights. It's open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is located in the Captiva Villas building.
The Lee County Trolley stops on property and provides transportation to Times Square. One-way rides are $0.25.
Audrey's market is located on property and sells grocery items, beach toys, sunscreen and beer and wine; it's open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The $29 per-day resort fee includes a daily newspaper, access to the fitness center, Wi-Fi throughout the property, overnight parking, towels at the pool and beach and access to the steam room. It also includes use of beach kayaks and standup paddleboards, too.
Dive-in movies (and free popcorn) are shown on an inflatable screen on the Octopool deck several nights a week, weather permitting.
The Art of Smart Timing
The resort is family-centric year-round and quickly reaches capacity during peak spring break travel -- from late-February through April. Weekday stays from May to November are when you're likely to find less traffic on the island's only main road and can score the lowest room rates, too.
Here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, temperatures are generally warm all year with the occasional cool night in the winter months. The summer is hot and sticky and you'll want to bring mosquito repellent if you plan to take in the sunset on the beach.
Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) is 17 miles from the hotel and the resort does not provide shuttle services. One-way taxi fare is approximately $60, but renting a car will come in handy for store runs and taking in the local attractions during your visit. Most major rental car companies have kiosks at the airport.
For Mom and Dad
If you can sneak away from the kids and don't mind the crowds, check out the street performers and stellar people-watching at Times Square. Take the trolley or walk less than a mile south of the resort and you'll be in the heart of the action. There are lots of shops and restaurants here, and it's worth a stroll down Fort Myers Beach Pier (watch out for roaming magicians!) for a cocktail at sunset. Once you've taken it all in, grab an ice cream cone at Kilwin's and head back to rest up for another day on the beach.