For a beach trip that’s a little more rustic, Lovers Key State Park (8700 Estero Blvd., Ft. Myers Beach, 239/463-4588, www.floridastateparks.org/loverskey , 8 a.m.–sunset daily, $5 per vehicle) is a fantastic option. Lovers Key initially gained its reputation and name because it was only accessible by boat, making the beach, uh, extra-private.
Even though you can now pull into a parking lot and walk a few hundred yards to the beach, the park still has the feel of an isolated and secret location; even during peak seasons, when there are concessionaires right at the boardwalk, you’ll be happy that it’s not any more crowded than it is.
The beach is two miles long, and even though the sand isn’t quite as gorgeously sugary as on Fort Myers Beach , the natural barrier-island setting and calm gulf waters are instantly relaxing. Renting a canoe or kayak from the concessionaire (kayaks from $32 per half-day, canoes from $47 per half-day) allows you to traverse the intimate backwaters, while a bike rental (from $18 per half-day) makes the nature trails more easily accessible.