Vacation Guide to Southwest Florida

What to Do on the Water in Fort Myers

When you’re planning out your vacation to Southwest Florida, you’re likely trying to incorporate some activities out on the water. After all, it’s not every day that you find yourself in a tropical beach oasis!

After you start searching around for “dolphin tours near me” and “what to do on the water in Fort Myers,” you might feel overwhelmed by options. There are so many incredible ways to spend time on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and only so many hours in the day.

For that reason, we’ve put together a guide to help you understand the wealth of choices available for spending time on the water in Fort Myers.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic boat tour or an exhilarating water sport, you’ll find what you’re looking for here. Let’s dive in to help you plan the ultimate beach vacation.


One of the unique things about Southwest Florida is that many of the most beautiful locations can only be accessed by boat. While the beaches of Fort Myers might feel crowded, a quick boat ride can easily bring you to laid-back, undeveloped stretches of coastline. Here you can witness the true beauty of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

There are hundreds of islands speckled through the Gulf, most of which aren’t connected to the mainland by bridges. You can either choose to charter a boat or, as we’ll explore in the next section, book a boat tour.

Boat Tours

Taking a boat tour is an awesome way to see some sights and unwind. There are tons of options when it comes to boat tours, but some of our favorites include experiencing the breathtaking sunset over the Gulf of Mexico and the opportunity to witness the region’s abundant wildlife.

Take a Sunset Sailing Cruise

There are few things as romantic as a beautiful sunset, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more gorgeous sunset than those occurring in Southwest Florida. Experiencing a vibrant sunset can create a sense of peace and calm that is missing in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

When you’re in the presence of the spectacular colors of Florida’s tropical sunsets, it feels like time slows down. In contrast to our hectic lives, this is a moment when you feel present and alive. Photographs could never do justice to the feeling you experience when you’re watching the sunset over the pristine ocean.

The benefits of experiencing sunsets isn’t just in your head, either.

In fact, research has found that there are countless positive psychological effects to watching the sun set. A study from the University of California at Berkley found that people’s emotional wellbeing can be improved by being attuned to the natural beauty of sunsets. Another study found that spending time watching the sun setting can make people more generous.

When you’re on vacation in Southwest Florida, it’s a time for you to relax and unwind. It’s a time to hang out on the beach, feel the sun on your skin, and experience the colorful culture of Florida’s Gulf Coast. One activity that you most certainly won’t want to miss on your vacation is sailing across the ocean while a brilliant sunset is revealed overtime.

Are you looking for a sunset sailing cruise in Fort Myers? Consider booking a cruise on the 36 ft. sailing catamaran named Copacetic. While it’s nice to watch the sunset from the beach, standing on the deck of a spacious catamaran with a tropical drink your hand takes it to an entirely different level.

Is it time for you to add a sunset sailing tour in Florida to your vacation itinerary? If so, you can book your sunset sailing cruise today.

Take a Dolphin Cruise

When you’re planning a vacation, sometimes it can be difficult to find activities that everyone will enjoy. If you’re looking for unique things to do in Fort Myers Beach that will please a whole crowd, look no further than taking a dolphin tour.

You can even take a private cruise with your family and friends while exploring the gorgeous beaches and fascinating wildlife of Southwest Florida.

We recommend this dolphin tiki cruise where you will have a great chance to see dolphins, birds, and maybe even some manatees. You can play your own music using the stereo system on board and you can bring your own drinks to enjoy while out on the water. Along the way, you’ll get to witness both the more populated areas of Fort Myers Beach in addition to quiet, mangrove-laden coasts. 

At Big Carlos Pass, you’ll be able to witness dolphins in their natural habitat. This is a popular spot that dolphins hunt for fish. On the return trip, you’ll pass by Matanzas Pass Preserve where you’ll have the opportunity to witness the abundant wildlife of Southwest Florida.

Another great option for dolphin tours in Fort Myers is this cruise where you can explore the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay in search of dolphins, turtles, and manatees. Taking this tour affords you the opportunity to witness dolphins in their natural, playful state, as they often jump in the wake less than ten feet from the boat.

There are few activities that are suitable for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, and a week of fun in the sun with your friends. However, this one truly fits the bill! Whether you’re bringing a nice bottle of wine, a case of beer, or some sodas for the provided cooler, you can make this experience whatever you want it to be.

Take a Sunset Dolphin Cruise

Are you having a hard time deciding whether you should take a sunset cruise or a dolphin cruise? Well, in Southwest Florida, you can have the best of both at one time!

Can you imagine anything more incredible than witnessing the dolphins, turtles, osprey, and bald eagles in their natural habitat as the sun is brilliantly setting over the ocean? When you choose this dolphin sunset cruise, you’ll conveniently leave from Fort Myers before discovering an island that is only accessible by boat.

Canoeing, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding

Are you looking for an adventure that’s more, well, self-propelled? There is something so special about floating on the water with only your own muscles to power your vessel. There are plentiful rental and launch facilities all along the coast as well as guided tours that can bring you to some of the best spots in the region.

One opportunity you won’t want to miss if you’re an outdoor sports enthusiast is paddling the Great Calusa Blueway. This is thought to be one of the best paddling trails in the entire country. As you travel down the 190-mile water trail that weaves through the gorgeous landscape of Southwest Florida, you’ll be able to see fascinating sea creatures and hundreds of birds in their natural habitat.


Fishing is one of those activities that supports your mind, body, and soul. It’s a great way to get some physical exercise, breathe in the fresh air, and get some sun on your skin. Research has also found that fishing can have a significantly positive effect on your mental wellbeing, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving patience and concentration, and increasing self-esteem.

On top of that, fishing can be a great way to strengthen the bond you have with others. Lastly, it also rewards you with delicious, nutritious, fresh-caught fish!

There is fishing to be done in all seasons in Southwest Florida. In the spring you can fish for large game like grouper and tarpon, while in both the spring and fall you can catch amberjack, Spanish mackerel, cobia, and more. During the heat of the summer, you can head out early in the morning before the water heats up.

In the winter, fishing in Southwest Florida tends to move inshore. This is the time to do your flat fishing, particularly for big trout and snook.

Southwest Florida has some of the best spots for saltwater fly-fishing and light-tackle fishing in the whole state. There have even been a number of world-record fish caught in the Fort Myers/Sanibel area.

The list of fish and seafood you can catch in Southwest Florida is simply too long to list. Whether you’re an amateur or an old pro, consider spending some time while in the area “out fishing.”

Jet Skiing

Are you looking for something a little more up-tempo than kayaking and fishing? No worries: Southwest Florida has you covered there, too.

There are lots of places where you can rent jet skis for an hour, for half a day, or for the whole day. If you’re looking for an adventurous activity that lets you zoom across the incredible Gulf waters, this is the one for you.


Are you hoping to enjoy the water of Southwest Florida from a bird’s eye view? If you’ve never gone parasailing before, you’re in for a treat. This is a way to literally see things from a different perspective, where you can float above the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico and see Florida’s lush beaches from a whole new angle.

Things to Do in Fort Myers: These Ocean Excursions Will Leave You Feeling Exhilarated and Refreshed

There will be plenty of time for shopping, lying on the beach, and eating at delicious restaurants while you’re in Fort Myers. For now, it’s time to plan out the perfect water activities for your vacation. The whole point of taking a vacation is to get away from it all and reset, after all, and there’s no better way to do that than out on the gorgeous waters of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Are you looking for more resources to help plan out your Southwest Florida vacation? Be sure to check out our library of articles and maps for everything you need to know about this incredible region!

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