Junkanoo is slightly removed from the hub of Fort Myers Beach activity, but still in walking distance. This section of the beach is slightly wider with lots of room for volleyball nets, corn hole toss, and space to keep popular water sports equipment such as jet skis. The bars serve both outdoor and indoors when you need a place to get out of the sun and enjoy a cold beverage. Happy Hour drink specials are popular the kitchen offers a menu that is a step above the usual "pub grub" found at many competitors. Patron's rave about the pizza which are half-off on Sundays.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Fronting a wide section of the beach with water sport rentals and a kitchen that cranks out lots of good, casual food and cold drinks.
Gina's expert tip: This is a good place for a game of pickup volleyball.
It's downright impossible to miss the turn for this time-tested establishment – after all, how many times have you run across signage that boasts a pink-skinned beachcomber, frothy ale held aloof, sitting atop a purple whale? Such good-natured quirkiness is what has so endeared this bastion of barbecue and seafood to regulars over the years. The wings are some of the best on the beach. The Whale is known for its live music and Lookout Lounge on the rooftop. Here you'll find great views of the sunset and action on the strip. For those who like a good story, rumor has it The Whale is often visited by the spirits of Jim and Mary Galloway (and their dog), who perished in 1955 when a fire destroyed their Mermaid Club.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: A long-time favorite spot for food and fun, including lots of live music, The Whale has cool indoor dining and a hot rooftop lounge.
Gina's expert tip: Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 2pm-5pm and it gets packed with patrons enjoying food and drink specials
Pincher's Tiki Bar provides the best chance for finding excitement on the southern part of Fort Myers Beach. Located at the Wyndham Garden Beach Hotel, this tiki bar is operated by a popular, local seafood establishment. Not only will you be able to dine on a good selection of fried fish favorites and fresh crab, but you'll also enjoy fantastic drink specials; two for one all night. In addition, the tiki bar has shaded picnic tables on the beach if you want to keep your toes in the sand but still take a break from the sun. The beach here is wide so the hotel hosts a number of special events including the world-famous American Sand Sculpting Championship.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: The best place on the south end of Fort Myers Beach to get umbrella drinks on the sand and fried fish baskets.
Gina's expert tip: Be sure to stop here during the American Sand Sculpting Championship, it's the closest local watering hole
The Lani Kai is a legendary party spot on Fort Myers Beach. People come by car and boat to see what is going on, and there is always something. It's not fancy but it's fun, at times downright raucous, with live music, games, lots of skin and lots of drinking...lots. Especially during spring break season which begins as early as February and lasts through the beginning of April. At times, it's standing room only. It can get loud, silly and there is never a shortage of great people watching. The rooftop bar offers a great vantage point and a break from the frenzy below. You can pay to park here for the day but the lots often fill up fast.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: It's a mecca for Spring Breakers, the most famous (and infamous) place to party on Fort Myers Beach.
Gina's expert tip: During Spring Break, be sure to catch the famed variety shows by the "Ohio Firefighters"
PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar has been serving locals and tourists alike for more than twenty years. Offering some of the best views of the beach, you can't see PierSide from the road or even the pedestrian-friendly Times Square, but if you walk onto the Fort Myers Beach Pier, you can't help but notice the beachside deck packed with people enjoying food, drink and entertainment--and you'll want to join them. In the heart of the action, this friendly bar not only offers creative tropical drinks and cold beer but also serves up some of the best burgers on the beach.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Found at the base of the famous Fort Myers Beach Pier, it's got more than 'location.' The drinks are made well; food as well.
Gina's expert tip: Excellent spot to grab a table for sunset happy hour.
The iconic beachfront bar at Tween Water's Resort on Captiva Island has a little bit of everything. The menu has a Southern flare and the cocktails are beachy with names such as Murky Water Dirty Martini, High Tide Margarita, and Shark Attack Manhattan. However, one of the biggest draws to this spot is the infamous hermit crab races. Patrons pick a crustacean in its polished and painted shell, name it, then cheer it across the finish line when let loose on the table; winners receive prizes. Live music is found most every weekend and Karaoke is featured on Wednesdays. If you're here for sunset, bartenders may just save your seat and give you a to-go cup so you can put your feet in the sand for an even better view.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Found at Tween Waters Resort, this bar is a longtime favorite with both locals and visitors for food, drink, and crab races.
Gina's expert tip: Family friendly crab races are also offered. Check the website for updated schedules.
Dixie is on the so-called 'back bay' rather than the Gulf of Mexico. Undercover, yet all open air, this rustic spot has an expansive, circular bar as well as a dining bar facing the water, offering great views of the fishing charters and gambling boats headed out for the day or night. This bar offers a lot more than 'bar food' with things like a low land seafood boil, oysters, shrimp burger, and killer B.L.TAE: bacon, fried green tomatoes, fried egg and avocado sandwich. The music is often gritty but always good and the crowd is quite diverse as arrival is welcomed by both land and sea.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: This laid back, open air beach bar is on the back bay, serving a variety of food and cold drinks over the water.
Gina's expert tip: It's under, not over the so-called "big bridge" to Fort Myers Beach.
Situated between the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay on Fort Myers Beach, the Smokin' Oyster Brewery, or S.O.B., has been shucking oysters since 1997. The beach cottage has live entertainment on the open, front deck with a good sized bar to belly-up to. Besides fresh oysters, the S.O.B. is known for its variety of seafood steamer pots and the messy yet so delicious garlic crab claws. Get a side of potatoes and let them soak in the juices that pool in the bottom. Paid parking options are plentiful on the street but there are a few free spots on the east side of the building. Be sure to ask for a signature S.O.B. drink coozie to keep your beer cold.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Just a couple of blocks from both the beach and the bay, the S.O.B. is famous for cold beer, hot steamer pots and live music.
Gina's expert tip: Pick up S.O.B. shirts and coozies for fun souvenirs.
A Bonita Springs legend if ever there was one, Doc's has been an immensely popular place to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner for longer than most locals can recall. The location helps; right on the water and right beside the public beach. Doc's is not only a fantastic spot for folks who plan to spend their day having fun in the sun but also visitors who want food with a view. The kitchen works from sunrise to well after sunset, serving diners under umbrellas on the sand, and in the upstairs restaurant that turns into a lively sports bar. You'll love every aspect of this landmark beach spot.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: This Bonita Beach favorite has drinking and dining on the sand as well as an upstairs sports bar, a haven for Chicago Bears fans.
Gina's expert tip: Use the free valet parking if you're coming to party.
This beach bar has been a favorite spot for locals for years, and year round. There are three bars, the most popular being The Cottage at the Gulfshore located on the upstairs deck. Most of the tables offer some type of shade and the view of the beach along with the sometimes raucous parties at the neighboring Lani Kai Resort, are unparalleled. The Beach Bar is fund underneath the restaurant, a low roof and almost always packed bar. There are tables in the sand and a new cabana area that can be reserved. It's a popular place for locals to anchor their boats and wade in for a rum cocktail, local seafood and famous, cheesy Beach Bread. You'll find live music just about every day. from solo to mellow to full rock-n-roll bands.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: The Cottage is perhaps the best-known place on the beach for quality entertainment, cold cocktails, hot food and big fun.
Gina's expert tip: Take advantage of the free valet parking as the spots are extremely limited.