There is a great deal of variety in the beaches located along the Gulf Coast of the State, but the choice of what to visit is even more interesting than on the Atlantic Coast. The Gulf Coast is in many ways less developed along long stretches, but it provides much more to explore, both in terms of topography and of activity. Beginning with the southern tip of Florida and working one's way north would provide dozens of interesting and exciting places to visit, with even more activities to occupy people of every age and interest.
NAPLES/MARCO ISLAND AREA
Naples area beaches are known as some of the most beautiful in the state. In fact the entire area is known as The Paradise Coast. Here you will find beaches such as Barefoot Beach Preserve with expectations for viewing sea turtles, ospreys, and bald eagles. Often sparkling which beaches are lines with mangroves and dunes. Many areas are rich in natural history. In spite of their beauty and accessibility, these beaches tend to be quieter than in some of the other parts of the State, but you can still find hot night action in spots where the locals gather.
Fort Myers Beach is perfect for those who enjoy shell collecting and island hopping. You can swim in the warm waters of the Gulf, enjoy snorkeling, scuba and swimming and wandering in beach towns that can only be described as rustic. Accommodations in this area can be gold star treatment, or you may choose to stay in one of the primitive cabins located on Cayo Costa Island. If you chose this option, make sure you plan your stay for overnight, since it's accessible by ferry only.
Fort Myers Beach itself is noted for its safety. Gently sloping sands lead temptingly into the Gulf's waters where you can enjoy para-sailing, swimming, water skiing and jet skiing. The village will entice anyone who loves to shop.
Miles of powdery sand here on the barrier islands protecting the harbor. Many are undeveloped, but there are also city managed stretches of developed facilities. These beaches have consistently captured awards for everything from the quality of the sand to the environmental efforts of the area.
Anclote Key has dozens of species of birds including the bald eagle to enjoy and observe. Four miles of beaches on the island. There are six different biological communities on the island so a variety of flora and fauna makes your stay in this area fascinating. In addition, there is a superb swimming beach located here. Historical interest is provided by the 1887 federal lighthouse located on the southern tip of the island
The character of the beaches begins to change in this area. There are shallow grassy flats coupled with a few stretches of sandy beaches. This area is known as Florida's Nature Coast. In addition to the expected wildlife, you can enjoy snorkeling, swimming and even the search for scallops in the months during the summer season.
Surrounding marshland proves to be a place where many vacationers choose to make a trek inland to view the wildlife which calls this area home.
Smaller communities, more quiet locations to enjoy nature and good food and accommodations are all characteristics of the stretch of Florida coast north of St Petersburg.
CEDAR KEY/STEINHATCHEE BEACHES
A definite change in scenery characterizes the coastline of Florida. These are almost all smaller communities with a rich history and more emphasis on fishing--both fresh and saltwater, boating, birding and plenty of other nature activities to enjoy. There are many secluded island beaches where you can choose your activities with an eye to quiet, peaceful stretches along with places for swimming, snorkeling and other water activities. There are even villages noted for the fishing trade which can best be classified as quaint.
This area has been called the best beach in the South. It's famous for miles of powdery white sand and warm Gulf waters that make you feel like you are swimming in an aquarium, thanks to the variety of underwater creatures you can view.
Favorite activities here include those which are beach and family oriented.