Traffic to Fort Myers Beach on the weekends and almost anytime during the winter and spring tourist season can be backed up for miles. What might typically take fifteen minutes to travel balloons to an hour. So beat the traffic and ride your bike over the scenic Matanzas Pass Bridge.
Park your car at Summerlin Square, unhitch your two-wheeler and pedal about three miles to the beach. Summerlin Square is a fantastic biking base because of its beach trolley stop. If you don’t want to start or end your day with a ride over the tall bridge, the trolley has a bike rack and can transport you for a mere 50 cents.
Begin late morning or midday, and if you need extra sunscreen, towels, a bathing suit or any kind of beach accessory, stop in Winds Outlet before crossing the bridge to the beach. You may have to do some digging for bikini tops and bottoms that match, but the deals are fabulous.
The Fort Myers Beach Pier is visible from Matanzas Pass Bridge — Photo courtesy of Gina BIrch
Take a pause at the top of the bridge for photos of the shrimp boats and the colorful island laid out in front of you. Turn left at the bottom and ride about six miles to the southernmost tip of Fort Myers Beach for lunch at Flipper’s on the Bay at Lovers Key Resort. You'll have worked up an appetite after passing resorts, shops and beach bars.
Flipper’s is al fresco with a great view of Estero Bay, refreshing beverages and a chef that aims to please the palate. It's also across the street from the breathtaking beaches and nature trails of Lovers Key State Park. Take a leisurely ride through the tropical trails, a dip in the Gulf of Mexico or perhaps a beach nap and let your lunch digest.
Working your way back to the center of the island along the sidewalks, stop at Junkanoo, a popular beach bar where you can often find live music or join in a game of volleyball. This is also a good place for a cold beverage. From this point, ride the beach; the tightly packed sand close to the shoreline makes it easy.
Watch the party from the distance, on the rooftop of Lani Kai Island Resort — Photo courtesy of Gina BIrch
This stretch of the beach provides great people watching, as you pedal towards the pier. Lani Kai Island Resort is one of the most notorious places to party on the beach. Stop here for some reggae music, maybe a bikini contest or any number of festive activities.
If you want to see the action but not be in it, park your bike and take the lift to the roof, where you’ll find covered, swinging seats; more live music; cold drinks; and beach bar snacks.
Time Square is a popular pedestrian area with a trolley stop — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
Check out the tide before continuing the beach ride, as the sand narrows from here. Beach or sidewalk for a few more blocks leads you to an area known as “Time Square.” The pedestrian shopping and dining spot sits at the base of the landmark Fort Myers Beach Pier. Linger here and watch the sunset. On Friday and Saturday nights, live bands play in the square and local artists come out for a sunset celebration.
Best of all, there is a trolley stop at Time Square, where you can catch a ride back to your car if your legs are too tired to navigate the bridge. You’ll be home in plenty of time to shower and head back out for dinner, unless you decide to dine on the beach.
Just be sure to check the trolley schedule, as the last one typically leaves the square at 7:55 p.m.
Sunset at the beach — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch