15 Fun and Exciting Dog Friendly Beaches in Fort Myers Beach FL

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Where else would you go when you want to play on the beach? Fort Myers Beach has about 100 different beaches, many of them dog-friendly. You just have to know which ones you can bring your pooch, which ones are leash-free, and which ones allow swimming. Some of the beaches do not allow pets of any kind, so it is important to do your homework before packing your picnic basket. The only official leash-free dog beach in the area is Bonita Beach Dog Park between New Pass and Lovers Key, but there are several that have a beach and a separate dog park. 

When bringing your fur baby to the beach, you need to remember some safety tips. First, no matter how well your dog swims, he needs a life jacket. The kind that are made specifically for dogs. Make sure it fits too. The ocean can have some serious currents. But not all the beach spots are on the ocean. 

You can go to Rotary Park, Wa-Ke Hatchee Park, or Estero Community Park, where they have ponds, lakes, and a river. 

We did some digging and found 15 of our favorite dog-friendly beaches in Fort Myers Beach where you and your canine companion can enjoy listed them below, along with some important details. 

Bonita Beach Dog Park

Located on Estero Boulevard between New Pass and Lovers Key State Recreation Area, Bonita Beach Dog Park is a beach made with canines in mind. The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico are calling you and your fur baby to play. Pack a picnic, and don’t forget the extra water and doggie waste bags. Bring your pup’s leash too. It is a leash-free park, but it is not fenced in, so if your dog is not voice-controlled, you will probably want him on a leash. 

It can get crowded here as it is one of the best dog beaches and the only off-leash dog beach in the city of Fort Myers Beach. But your pooch will love having so many furry friends to play with. 

To avoid the crowds, come in the early morning or later in the evening. Don’t worry about your pup getting too dirty. There is a dog showering station, so you can rinse him off before you get back in the car. 

Gulfside Beach (also known as Algiers Beach)

This is more than just a beach. Gulfside City Park Beach is a 30-acre park with 1,000 feet of beachfront space. You can find this fun place at the end of Algiers Lane on Sanibel Island between Sundial Beach Resort and Sanibel Beach. This is a nice place to spend the day with your canine companion where you can have a barbecue or picnic, enjoy some fishing, or to out on the water in a kayak or paddle board. 

Gulfside is a great place to collect shells. The sandy beach is full of shells, both whole and crushed, so it can be ruff on your fur baby’s feet as well as your own. Wear water shoes and keep your pup on the sandy spots to prevent walking on broken shells. There is no lifeguard on duty, but there are a restroom and water fountains. However, you should bring your own water and doggie waste bags, just in case. 

Bowman’s Beach Park

Between Captiva and Sanibel Island, Bowman’s Beach is a 50-acre stretch of waterfront with picnic tables, barbecue grills, and fitness stations. The beach is perfect for launching a kayak or paddle board or just jumping in the water with your pup and play. You can also go fishing if you have a saltwater fishing license or dig for clams. The shells are abundant here as they are on Gulfside Beach, which is just down the coast. 

Whether you have a water dog that loves swimming or a new pup that has never swam, it is important to put a live vest on your pooch. The ocean is unpredictable. This beach is a leashed-only beach, so you will have to keep your fur buddy on a leash. Get one that is 20 or 30 feet long, and he can still run and play as much as he wants. Also, bring doggie bags and water as well as snacks. 

Causeway Islands Park

Between Sanibel Island and the mainland, Causeway Islands Park is a long strip of beach on both sides of the Sanibel Causeway. This is a long stretch of beach on two sides, so there is plenty of room for everyone to run and play. Unfortunately, you have to keep your pup on a leash, but it can be as long as you want. There are a lot of activities going on here, including windsurfing, kiteboarding, paddle boarding, and kayaking, as well as swimming. 

You will find several restrooms, drinking fountains, and picnic tables for public use, and you can even barbecue on one of the grills. 

You will need a saltwater fishing license if you plan on doing any fishing, and there is a $6 toll, so bring some cash. Although there are no concessions at the beach, there are often food trucks and pop-up eateries, and there is a small shop there at Angler’s Choice Outfitters. 

Lover’s Key State Park

A two-mile-long beach with clean white sand and crystal clear waters is exactly where you and your pup should spend the day in Fort Myers Beach. It is located in Lover’s Key State Park on Estero Boulevard, only reachable by tram or boardwalk. Your dog will need to stay on a leash, but he can still play if the leash is long enough. Watch for shorebirds and other marine creatures while you are there. 

In the water, you will likely see some larger marine animals like manatees and dolphins, but please keep your pup away from them. Take your pup for a walk on the two trails that are each about two miles long. You should not attempt to get too close, either. You will have to park on Black Island and take the tram or walk across the boardwalk. There is a fee of $8 per vehicle to park there. 

Blind Pass Beach

You and your fur buddy will have a blast at this beach on Sanibel Island at Manasota Key. Between Bowman’s Beach and Turner Beach, this 1.5-acres spot is more secluded than others due to its lack of attractions. But if you are there just to play in the water or dig in the sand, this is the spot for you and your pup. Especially if he is not a fan of crowds. 

You will have unlimited access to the Gulf of Mexico here so you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and shelling. 

The beach is part of Blind Pass Park, which features 67 acres of space with a large stretch of beach. You can find several picnic tables and a beach house with showers and restrooms, as well as water fountains for your convenience. Also, the parking is free, and so is the park so keep your money to buy you and Fido a snack after you work up an appetite playing on the beach. However, you will have to bring these with you because there are no shops or restaurants here. 

Tarpon Bay Road Beach Park

On the other end of Sanibel Island in what the locals call Tarpon Bay, this stretch of sand at the end of Tarpon Bay Road is almost one acre and has several amenities like outside showers, drinking fountains, restrooms, and picnic areas. Like Blind Pass Beach, you will not see any crowds here because they are all on the more popular beaches. It is small, but the water is clear and calm, and the sand is soft and white. 

This is the perfect swimming beach due to its lack of current and waves, so you and your pooch can cool off without worry. Also, being a more secluded space, you will see more wildlife, such as manatees and dolphins. But please do not approach them, and do not let your pup harass them. You will not find any shops or eateries, so bring your own and make sure Fido stays on a leash. Parking is $5 per hour so bring some cash too. 

Lighthouse Beach Park

With 45 acres and a stunning view of the lighthouse, this beach is a more popular one on the eastern tip of Sanibel Island. The water here is calm on one side and has lots of surfing waves on the other. If your pooch likes to surf, head to the sand out by the lighthouse. But if you and your canine companion want to swim and play catch, stay on the beach in front of the parking lot. Speaking of parking, it costs $5 per hour, just like all the other Sanibel public beaches.

This is one of the more popular beaches so expect a crowd, especially on the weekends. There is plenty of space on the mile-long beach, but if your pooch does not like crowds, you will want to come early on a weekday. Besides digging in the sand, swimming, and shelling, you and your pup can also have a picnic or barbecue at one of the picnic areas or walk along one of the trails. There are outside showers, drinking fountains, and restrooms as well. 

Crescent Family Beach 

With 400 feet of beach to enjoy at the end of the Matanzas Bridge, this family park has more than just an ocean to play in and sand to dig in. There are picnic areas so beautiful you can spend all day taking pics with your pooch and two volleyball courts to see how good your fur baby is at playing ball. He will find all sorts of good places to sniff in the grassy fields and wooded areas too. Just make sure he stays on a leash at all times. 

The 2.25-acre park is located on Estero Boulevard, right between the Royal Beach Club and Lani Kai Island Resort. You are in luck if you get hungry, too, because there are three places to grab a bite, including the Salty Crab Bar & Grill, Sunset Beach Tropical Grill, and Dairy Queen Grill & Chill. The beach has public restrooms with running water, but you should pack some extra water for you and Fido, just in case. And don’t forget those doggie bags!

Fort Myers Beach

Just down the coast from Crescent Family Beach, you can find 36 different access points to the longest stretch of beach in the area. Fort Myers Beach begins right after the Crescent Family Beach starting at Canal Street and running all the way to Carlos Point at the end of the island, which is about seven miles. Along this huge coast are over 20 different eateries, including Liki Tiki BBQ, Fresh Catch Bistro, and Junkanoo Beach. 

All of these beaches have white sands, and gentle waters for the most part, with no big waves or dangerous drop-offs, making it a safe place for you and your pooch to swim. Many of the beach access areas are crowded during the summer season, but you can find a few that are less popular where you and your canine companion can enjoy some peace. Some of these include Connecticut Street, Coconut Drive, and Aberdeen Avenue. Dogs have to be on a leash the whole time you are there, and you should bring your own baggies to clean up after him. 

Newton Beach Park

Named after Jim Newton, a longtime resident, and author, Newton Beach Park is a nice place to spend the day with your fur baby. The place is picture-perfect with its Chickee huts and a historic cottage, which was the beach home of Jim Newton at one time. In case you don’t know, Chickee huts are structures the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes in the 1800s used for cover. Today, people use them for the same basic reason, to keep them out of the harsh sun. 

The park has restrooms and running water, as well as picnic areas, showers, and drinking fountains. You will have to keep your pooch leashed while you are there, but that does not have to spoil the fun. There is no leash length law, so you can stretch it out 20 to 30 feet so he can play in the surf and dig sand traps. Just do not let him bother other beachgoers or wildlife. Parking is $5 per hour here, so keep that in mind. 

Wa-Ke Hatchee Park and Recreation Center

This park may not be on the coast, but it has several ponds, and other water features your pooch can play in. And what makes Wa-Ke Hatchee Park so special is that it has an off-leash dog park. The park itself is 25 acres of space with a variety of activities, such as paved trails, ball fields, and tennis courts. You and Fido will find a lot of tennis balls in this area for him to play with. In addition, there are two ponds and shaded benches to relax and watch for wildlife. 

Speaking of wildlife, you will need to keep your pup secured on a short leash when not in the dog park because, like other places in Florida, there are sometimes alligators roaming around. The dog park has two separate fenced spaces for small and large dogs, as well as poo bags, water fountains, and a dog washing station. That is an important feature for those dogs that like to dig and roll around in the dirt. 

Rotary Park

Another park off the beaten path where you and your pooch can play in the water is Rotary Park. There are two ponds here as well as access to the Caloosahatchee River, so you have your pick of water features to enjoy. Why not try them all? The park is almost 100 acres and consists of a large grassy prairie with wooded areas, playgrounds, trails, kayaking areas with boat rentals, and even a butterfly house. However, dogs are not allowed indoors or on the playgrounds.

Besides all that, this fun park also has an off-leash dog park where your fur baby can run free and play with other canine companions. It is 1.3 acres of fully fenced area with plenty of space to romp around in and shaded benches for the pup parents to socialize while their dogs get acquainted. You will have to register with the park before entering, so check the website for more information on that. 

Estero Community Park

What’s better than playing in the ocean? Having four different ponds to choose from! Estero Community Park is a family park that loves fur babies so much. They included a leashless dog park that is fully fenced and safe for all breeds and sizes. The community park boasts volleyball courts, ballfields, a walking path, fishing access, and picnic areas, as well as disc golf, a pavilion, charcoal grills, and concession stands. You will have to check with the park about the pet restrictions. 

But K-9 Corral Dog Park is a full-on dog city with separated areas. One side is for small or shy dogs and puppies, and the other is for large pooches that are friendly and energetic. You’ll find an endless supply of tennis balls (thanks to the tennis courts), several dog water fountains, shaded seating, and a dog-washing shower to clean your canine companion before getting back in the car. Dogs can get quite dirty playing all day at the park. 

Galt Preserve

On Pine Island, at the 265-acre Galt Nature Preserve, this park has a huge lake, 2.5 miles of walking trails, picnic pavilions, and a fishing pier. There are four trails ranging from ½ mile to 1.8 miles. Two of them take you around the lake, one takes you around the perimeter of the park, and another lets you meander along in the woods and prairies. This is another park with a lot of wildlife (due to the nature preserve) where it is important to keep your pooch on a short leash. 

Besides over 100 species of birds, you and Fido may see a gopher tortoise, several types of frogs and toads, and two kinds of snakes, both harmless to humans and fur babies. Alligators live here too but do not often come out near people. However, if you are on one of the wooded trails, keep your eyes open and your canine companion on a short leash. The lake is used mainly for fishing but nobody will mind if your pooch cools off in the water. 

The Final Woof

There are many other activities you can enjoy with your pooch in Fort Myers Beach. You two could hop on a boat for a cruise with Beach Buddy Tours that includes swimming at the Bonita Dog Beach, rent your own boat at Top Knot Boat Rentals, or go shopping for dog toys and treats at Miromar Outlets

While you are out and about, you will probably work up an appetite. Stop at one of the many dog-friendly eateries in the area, including Nervous Nellies where they have waterfront seating, Bonita Bills Waterfront Cafe on Ostego Bay with covered patio seating, and the Truly Scrumptious + Ice Cream Cafe on Estero by the Fish Tale Marina.

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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