Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach was the first place that came to mind when we thought of a road trip to somepace warm to replace our planned trip to Spain. We were here in 2007 and stayed at The Outrigger Beach Resort. That trip was an experiment to see if we could kind of replicate the all-inclusive experience without actually going to an all-inclusive, and to see what the cost difference was. It worked really well! The Outrigger is right on the beach and has an onsite bar and restaurant. It’s very unfussy, which suits us just fine. 

Day 1: Lake City to Fort Myers Beach

We drove from our home in mid-Michigan to Ft Myers Beach with overnight stops in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and Lake City, Florida. We used to be able to do this drive straight through. Not any more!

Normally I wouldn’t expect to be able to get a room here at the last minute, but given the pandemic I thought it would be worth a try. After diligent searching of their website and thanks to some cancellations, I was able to get a room for six nights. 

We really like the Outrigger’s location. Fort Myers Beach can be congested in areas; the Outrigger is not in one of those areas, and the beach is super wide there, with plenty of room to spread out. The photos above were taken on our morning walk. While it gets busier during the day, it never gets crowded. 

By the time we arrived the bars had been closed due to the pandemic, and there were rumors of the beaches closing. We could still get a beer with our grouper sandwiches though, which we fondly remembered from our previous visit, so we were happy.  

Day 2: At the Beach

We did get one full day with the beaches open so we could walk on the beach and sit in the shade and read. And enjoy the local birdlife! They were already removing tables and sun loungers from the beach, since they’d closed any beach activity vendors. 

Day 3: At Least a Walk on the Beach

The following morning there were still rumors that the beaches were closed, but no signs, so we took a chance and went for a walk in the morning. It was even more empty than the previous day. (It was amazing to us throughout this whole adventure how difficult it was to get good, consistent information on what was happening. The Outrigger did an excellent job of keeping guests informed.)

Later that day the offical “beach closed” sign came out and the beach emptied. We went into downtown Fort Myers to have lunch with Steve’s brother, who works down there. He said the empty streets would normally have been packed. 

We ended the day with a lovely sunset and brat burgers. Since we weren’t sure what would be open we brought lots of food and beer with us. And a portable grill that we didn’t need to use since the resort had gas grills available. 

Day 4: Beach Closed

We spent the day visiting family and altering our travel plans. With beaches closed we cut short our stay in Ft Myers Beach, canceled Cocoa Beach, and cut St Augustine to one night. We also canceled Charleston since Ft Sumter is closed. It was easy to cancel our bookings through Booking.com!

The last time we stayed here we had a more expensive room with a sea view. This time we had a peekaboo sea view, but we did have some local ospreys that provided entertainment. You can see more of their antics here

By the time we left — two days earlier than planned — the resort was eerily quiet. By that point, restaurants had been moved to takeout only, which wasn’t an issue since we wanted to eat on the deck anyway. We were feeling conflicted about staying and supporting a business that was obviously in pain, versus potentially risking peoples’ health. We did get to experience one last sunset before we left and some minor excitement when local police showed up. We never did find out exactly why. Some thought it was to keep people off the beach at sunset. Some thought it was because a local resident refused to follow the beach closure. In any case it felt like it was time to leave.

Essentials​

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Lodging

The Outrigger offers rooms in different configurations and locations within the resort at different prices. You don’t have to get a beachfront room to get a great sea view. Check out both the room descriptions on their site and the map of the resort.

Dining

The onsite bar and restaurant aren’t cutting edge but offer solid takes on common bar food options. It’s not cheap but it is good value for money on the beach if you don’t need fancy.

Transportation

Getting across to Fort Myers Beach via the bridge from the mainland can be frustrating. If you come in from the south via Bonita Beach it’s less annoying and more scenic, if maybe a bit slower. ​We had our own car; there’s also a trolley that runs up and down the beach.

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