Estero Island: Travel Guide and Tips for First-time Visitors
Estero Island sits on the southwest coast of Florida in between Naples and Fort Myers. Once a citrus community, the island now welcomes visitors to escape to a beach-lovers destination packed full of natural beauty and family-friendly activities. If you’ve never visited Estero Island, it may be time to learn more about this popular spot and plan you trip.
Estero Island Travel Guide for First-timers
The island is located less than 8 miles from the Southwest Florida International Airport and 20 miles from Naples Municipal Airport. From the airport, guests can rent a car or take a taxi or shuttle to the area. Once in the area, the Fort Myers Trolley offers service throughout the area and stops at many area attractions. For those who prefer to drive, the island is located less than a five-hour drive from top metros including Orlando, Tampa and Miami.
Where to Stay
Estero Island houses both vacation rentals, condos and hotels. Its proximity allows guests to relax and escape in paradise while having access to all the amenities in surrounding communities. Many of these accommodations offer easy beach access and stunning views of Estero Bay and other natural attractions. View vacation rentals near Estero Island.
Things to Do: Estero Outdoors Scene
Due to its island location, Estero Island offers several attractions where guests can play, relax and reconnect with nature. One top spot for outdoor activities is Estero Bay, the first aquatic preserve in Florida. Visitors can kayak, paddleboard, fish and hike down the Estero River and even head into the bay. Open year-round, the Koreshan State Historic Site showcases pioneers, history and seasonal beauty. Hikers and campers are welcome to take guide tours or hit the nature trail down Estero River. Other amenities at the park include a boat ramp, canoe and kayak launches, picnic areas and full-service campgrounds.
Further south at the tip of Estero Island, don’t miss Lovers Key State Park. As one of four barrier islands that make up the state park, Lovers Key offers opportunities for marine and wildlife-watching, shelling, swimming and picnicking. Visitors can also rent canoes and kayaks, bikes, and beach gear for a fun day along the 2-mile beach.
Another favorite park in Estero is Mound Key Archaeological State Park. This outdoors hot spot features mangrove tree forests, shell mounds and ridges that extend more than 30 feet above the waters. Mound Key was once home to the Calusa Native American tribe and Spanish explorers. Visitors can only access the area by boat, and keep an eye-out for interactive exhibits that showcase history and culture.
Estero Island Golf
If golf is more your swing, Estero Island offers two top-rated golf clubs. Old Corkscrew Golf Club, a public course designed by Jack Nicklaus, features 7,400 yards with trees, water hazards and rolling greens. Another top spot for a day on the greens is Stoneybrook Golf Club, a par-72 course designed by Jed Azinger and Gordy Lewis. This course not only caters to experts but has also earned accolades among the best beginner-friendly courses by National Golf Course Owners Association.
Estero Island Dining, Shopping, Entertainment
In addition to exploring the great outdoors, families vacationing in Estero Island also have abundant shopping options. Miromar Outlets houses more than 140 designer and brand-name shops with big discounts. Popular retailers located in this open-air mall include Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Nike, to name a few. Those who want to spend the full day shopping have more than a dozen restaurants where they can rest and fill up on their favorites. Miromar Outlets also hosts several family-friendly events, live entertainment and fitness classes throughout the year.
Coconut Point Mall offers more than 140 stores in an outdoor setting surrounded by lakes and a boardwalk. Anchor stores include Target, Dillard’s, Apple Store, and Barnes and Noble. Guests will also find dozens of smaller and specialty stores. When it’s time to recharge, Coconut Point has several sit-down restaurants serving American, Brazilian, seafood and pizza. Other activities to try at the mall include concerts, outdoor movies, a farmers market and charity events.
Germain Arena serves as one of the area’s top spots for entertainment. The venue hosts dozens of events throughout the year including concerts, Florida Everblades hockey, expos and display shows, and family events. Visitors also have access to an on-site restaurant as well as options for private parties. Germain Arena seats more than 8,500 people and houses 26 luxury suites. Check out the full schedule of events.