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Cape Coral

Covering 115 square miles and surrounded by water, many homebuyers are drawn to “The Cape” because it offers so many options at a variety of prices for living near water.  Family-friendly neighborhoods are found along the river, gulf, freshwater lakes, and an extensive canal system.  Many of the 150,000 residents live along one of the canals connecting to The Gulf of Mexico via The Caloosahatchee River, Pine Island Sound or Charlotte Harbor.  In fact, Cape Coral has more canals than anywhere in the world except Venice!  From elegant, high-rise living to sprawling ranchettes each Florida lifestyle is well represented in Cape Coral

Connected by bridges to Fort Myers, it’s an easy commute to nearby Southwest Florida cities.  Cape Coral is the gateway to Matlacha a quirky fishing village known for art galleries and waterfront restaurants, and Pine Island where the laid-back, genteel pace of Old Florida lives on. The Southern tip of Cape Coral is the most concentrated with homes and businesses while the Northwest offers a more rural way of life. 

Cape Coral’s two public beaches, boat ramps and several waterfront parks get ample use.  Most popular is the Yacht Club Community Park with a sandy beach, pier, covered playground, BBQ grills and free parking. Adjacent to the beach is a heated Olympic sized pool and kiddie pool with interactive fountains and underwater bubblers.  Kayaks are for rent at Four Mile Cove/”Eco Park” where boardwalks wind through protected lands and visitors glimpse native birds and other wildlife. The Visitor’s Center provides trail guides and programming information.  But, the coolest place to be in summer is Sunsplash waterpark, where folks grab a lounge chair and spend the day.  There are water slides for all ages and a lazy river to float ones cares away.  It’s clean, safe, and affordable family fun with special discounts for residents.

The site of Cape Coral’s first tourist attraction is now an established neighborhood forever known as Rose Garden.  Built by early developers to entice home buyers, in its hey-day the Rose Garden had over 40,000 rose bushes!   A freshwater creek meanders through the community.  Large lots with mature landscaping, sidewalks and underground power lines add to its appeal. Royal Tee is another stand-out Cape Coral community; the city’s only gated golf course neighborhood surrounded by classic homes overlooking a lush 27-hole championship, shimmering lakes, and natural wetlands.  To the North is Coral Oaks Golf Course the city’s challenging public course created around an oak hammock.  Homes on Coral Oaks offer golf-course living without maintenance fees or membership dues.

Deep water docks and sweeping water views make Tarpon Point the preferred locale of the yachting community.  Graceful living is enjoyed here in single family luxury homes, coach homes, or a mid-rise condo with marina views.  In the heart of Cape Coral is the tropical oasis, Sandoval, where everyday living feels like a resort vacation.  Vibrantly colored homes add to the ambience as do award winning pools and parks.

Cape Coral schools are part of the Lee County School District where families can opt for public, charter, or private schools. Parents can search and find information for each school on the Lee County Schools website where student-teacher ratios, percentage of gifted students and state grades are provided.


Fort Myers Beach

Located on Lee County’s Estero Island to the west of the city of Fort Myers is the eponymous beach.  The West side of the island is on The Gulf of Mexico while the east side connects to canals and seawalls of Estero Bay. 

Yesterday’s pirate ships, Spanish forts and squatters making land claims have given way to a modern tourist beach destination drawing 1.8 million visitors each year!  Easily accessible to Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Sanibel Island and Naples, Fort Myers Beach is the center of recreation. Activities like golf, tennis, swimming, para-gliding, kayaking, boating, sunning and swimming are enjoyed year-round.  While tourism is its’ predominate industry, The Beach is also the home-base of shrimpers, with their fleet of boats moving in and out of San Carlos Island between Fort Myers Beach and the mainland.

The Matanzas Pass wildlife Preserve at the southern tip of the island is made up of 42 acres of wilderness, providing sanctuary for native birds and other wildlife.   There’s a historical beach cottage restored to its; original beauty along with boardwalks and bridges forming a serpentine trail for visitors to closely observe giant ospreys, pelicans and elegant herons fishing for their supper. On the North end adjacent to the public Fort Myers Beach pier, is the bustling area known as Times Square.  This is the center of action; restaurants, shops, and entertainment including street performers conjuring up images of Key West.

The Beach is known for several popular annual events.  The International Sand Sculpting Contest takes place each November.  The shrimp festival in March draws thousands for the 5-k run and Blessing of the Fleet. Offshore powerboat races and an old-fashioned July 4th celebration are highlights of the summer months.


Bonita Springs

The lovely beach community of Bonita Springs is located in the southernmost area of Lee County between Fort Myers and Naples.  The Imperial River flows through the downtown area into Estero Bay. Old Route 41 swings through the center of town.  A variety of housing in more established neighborhoods are found here, in this eastern part of the city.

Just to the west along route 41 are several affluent gated and golf communities including Pelican Landing and Bonita Bay. Further West is the desirable area known as Bonita Beach, between the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay on a stretch of land (road –accessible) named Little Hickory Island. Grand single-family gulf front homes and fashionable condo developments are found on this barrier island. There are also ten beach accesses with public parking up and down Bonita Beach.

Fishing, shelling and other nature related activities are enjoyed throughout Bonita Spring’s parks and beaches.  Lover’s Key State Park epitomizes the best of Bonita Springs. One no longer needs a boat to get to Lovers Key. But it is still considered more remote than most state parks. The 1600 acre park stretches over four barrier islands. Unspoiled mangroves add to the privacy of the park and provide excellent habitat for sea life.  Visitors can explore the island on trails for hiking and biking or by renting a canoe or kayak.


Between both barrier islands Sanibel and its’ smaller sister island to the North, Captiva, there are 15 miles of beaches, 22 miles of bike paths,  50 kinds of fish, 230 kinds of birds, 250 shells and ZERO traffic lights. 

The only automobile access from Sanibel to Captiva is over a small bridge along Turner Beach on Sanibel-Captiva Road.   The road, now called Captiva Drive, provides a scenic journey past magnificent gulf-front estates surrounded by giant cacti, bright bougainvillea, and other plantings busting with tropical colors.

The road ends a few miles North in the alluring village of Captiva.  Residents and visitors enjoy casual beachside restaurants like The Mucky Duck, and other dining spots including the famous Bubble Room along with places to rent bikes and boats and trendy boutiques. 

South Seas Island Resort of Captiva occupies the Northern end of the island.  Popular with families, this private retreat is also a 330 acre wildlife preserve. There is an assortment of accommodations; charming villas and cottages, private homes and comfortable hotel rooms.

Like Sanibel there is a wide inventory of homes, condos, and cottages on Captiva.  Each property comes with the special solitude and gracious beauty of tropical island living.


North Fort Myers

Connected to downtown Fort Myers by two bridges over the Caloosahatchee River, bordered on the west by Cape Coral and Charlotte County farmland to the South, North Fort Myers is a community boasting a blend of town and country.  Some cross the river to North Fort Myers to get off the beaten path and to seek amenities more modest in price as well.  There are several affordable lodging and restaurant options found here.   And housing is more affordable as well.

The Shell Factory and Nature Park in North Fort Myers is a longtime area attraction, containing the single largest collection of shells and coral in the world! It’s also the site of a well-attended weekly flea market where avid shoppers browse aisles of kitschy wares.

For the more urban-minded there are modestly priced older condos for sale along the river as well as a few more private, newer river communities like Moody River Estates. Gracious Southern living is epitomized in North Fort Myer’s horse farms surrounding homes with   wrap-around porches and ancient moss-draped oaks. North of the river are several gated 55+ retirement communities some including fountained entrances and golf courses.


Nestled between South Fort Myers and Bonita Springs is the Lee County community of Estero.  In early years, Estero was a sleepy citrus farming community.  Today, the city has re-invented itself as a major Southwest Florida shopping, tourism, and commercial hub.  


There are several styles and price points for residences throughout Estero.  Each reflects specific location and amenities.  Today, young families and professionals can still purchase a single family home or maintenance free villa for around $150,000.  Estero’s core communities are. Residents of Estero’s core communities, clustered on both sides of US 41, are granted easy access to a first-class university, top-rated medical facilities, pristine beaches and marinas, even an old canoe outpost.  The area closest to I-75, just fifteen minutes from Southwest Florida International Airport, is growing and poised for commercial development.


The I-75, Corkscrew Road exit is known as the retail capitol of Southwest Florida, Estero supports three major shopping developments; Gulf Coast Town Center, Miromar Outlets, and Coconut Point Mall.  Across the street from Miromar Outlets is the Miromar Design Center, a first-class collection of designer showrooms and the centerpiece of a 38-acre campus that will eventually include the Miromar Professional Office Park.  Several outstanding gated residential developments were built around these landmarks.  Wrapped around Coconut Point Mall on U.S. 41 is Rapolla, a Mediterranean-inspired community offering a resort lifestyle in a variety of price-points.  Between Gulf Coast Center and Miromar Outlets just east of I-75 is Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.  The award winning community offers more than 700 acres of freshwater lakes, three miles of private, sandy beaches, and championship golf.


One of Southwest Florida’s premier entertainment venues, Estero’s Germain Arena, is home to the Florida Everblades professional hockey team.  The facility seats 8,200 for top-name musical performers, family shows and a host of events.


Fort Myers

Fort Myers is the commercial hub and county seat of Lee County Florida.  The highest concentration of people in Southwest Florida is found in the Fort Myers-Cape Coral metro area with a 2010 census population of 618,000 residents.  Fort Myers is a vibrant Florida city with tourist attractions that run the spectrum from ecological to high-end outlet shopping.  Most Americans recognize the city as the place where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford chose to build winter homes.  More recently, the city was back in the spotlight for one of the local university’s basketball teams, the FGCU Eagles, who in 2013 were the first 15th seeded NCAA team to earn a spot in the “Sweet Sixteen,” the annual March Madness basketball tournament.   

The historic downtown laid out on the southern shore of The Caloosahatchee River is the nucleus of Fort Myers, a city covering 40 square miles.   “The River District” as it’s known, is the site of several recent re-development projects.  In late 2012, The River Basin project was completed, a 5.3 million dollar endeavor transforming a parking lot into an elegant water feature.  Vintage style lighting, original brick walkways, courtyards and fountains add to downtown’s old-world character. When the sun sets over the Caloosahatchee River, the tempo rises with plenty of action at the area’s theme restaurants, live music venues and rooftop cocktail scenes.  The first Friday of each month is reserved for Art Walk.  Art galleries line up special shows and many downtown businesses join in the fun with special events of their own. Walking tours of downtown are offered by the nearby Southwest Florida Museum of History twice a week from December through April.  

Just minutes from downtown Fort Myers is the McGregor corridor.  Lined by majestic Royal Palms McGregor Boulevard is the Queen of Fort Myers roadways.  The Boulevard runs from US 41 (Cleveland Road on the north to the Sanibel Causeway in the south.) Flanking McGregor Boulevard are the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.  Several McGregor Boulevard neighborhoods were formed in the early part of the twentieth century around these legendary manors.  Old Florida-style cottages and Mediterranean revival architecture meld, creating several charming communities.  Another landmark on McGregor Boulevard is the Fort Myers Country Club. Designed in 1916 by architect Donald Ross, the club is one of the oldest in Florida.  The corridor offers several housing options from the prominent communities of The Palms of McGregor, Palmetto Point and Gulf Harbour to the more eclectic Edison Park, Allen Park and Valencia Terrace.

South of downtown and east of The McGregor Corridor is the Daniels Parkway Corridor.  More recently developed this is an area of newer gated and master planned communities. Convenient to the airport and major retail sites with easy access to I-75 this is a popular place to live.  Gateway is a 3,000 acre master planned community between Daniels Parkway and Colonial Boulevard just east of I-75.  Plenty of parks, a soccer field, community pools, and the site of the Boston Red Sox spring training facility along with an extensive business park here allow residents to echo the communities slogan, “Live, work, and play in Gateway.”  From exclusive golfing communities like Fiddlesticks to the carriage and courtyard homes of Bell Tower Park, real estate runs the gamut in the Daniels Parkway Corridor.


The tiny village of Matlacha- (MAT-luh-shay) is actually an islet connected by bridges and causeways to Pine Island on the west and Cape Coral to the east.  What it lacks in size it makes up for in character.  Look for the handmade “Welcome to Island Time” on the mile long straightaway through town.  Residents (population: 750) are known to have an easy-going, free-spirited attitude.   Matclacha pops with colorful art galleries, seafood restaurants, boutiques and traditional Florida cottages.   Shopkeepers attract customers with whimsical signs and displays.  Its’ reputation as both an artists’ haven and fishing mecca keep Matlacha bustling throughout the year.

Matlacha could only be accessed by boat until 1927 when a wooden swing bridge was constructed over the shallow waters of Matlacha Pass.  Dozens of small isles surrounding “The Pass” are excellent habitat for snook, red fish, group, tiger tale, and tarpon.  As the story goes, when during World War l, soldiers stationed in nearby Fort Myers discovered they could reel in some pretty big fish from the bridge, they came in droves, and dubbed it “the Fishingest Bridge in America.”  Replaced long ago with a modern concrete draw variety, anglers still cast their lines from the famous bridge.  Shrimp, crab and clams are also plentiful in the waters of Matlacha.  These delicacies can also be purchased from the communities’ roadside stands or seafood shops.  

The shallow water, mangrove islands and dozens of inlets make Matlacha Pass ideal for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding where it’s common to see osprey, pelican, tarpon, manatee, ray, turtle, and dolphin.  A popular place to put in your watercraft is the Community Park boat launch at the center of the island.   The nine acre park is home to The Pine Island Arts Center and also has pavilions, picnic tables, a fishing pier, and kids playground.  Charters and boat rentals can be found throughout the village.

During the 1950’s and 60’s a canal system was dug in Matlacha increasing the number of waterfront properties.  Due to its’ small acreage, location on the water, and easy access to Cape Coral and Fort Myers, land and property is at a premium on Matlacha.  As its’ popularity increases so do the price of homes and businesses for sale here.   Yet, when one considers the big picture, Matlacha still contains some of the lowest priced gulf-access homes in Florida.

Pine Island

Although it’s the largest island on Florida’s West Coast, one can’t help but get that small-town feeling on Pine Island.  Despite being just 15 miles from Cape Coral and only 30 miles from Fort Myers, casual island living makes one feel a world away from the rush of the city.  The island is free of concrete, high-rises and traffic jams, and residents want to keep it this way.  Current legislation prohibits high density, high-rise development.  Don’t look for any traffic lights here either. In fact, there’s only one four-way stop located at the entrance to the island, in the area called Pineland Center.  This is the hub of the island with the largest concentration of retail stores. From Pineland Center, turn right (north) to get to Bokeelia or left (south) to find St. James City, the island’s two main communities.  In between are several eclectic neighborhoods and small and prosperous fruit groves, organic farms and acres of palm trees, mangos, avocado, and lychee nut.

Dozens of mangrove islets mark the waters off Pine Island creating unmatched fishing conditions.  Many prize shark, snapper, and grouper are pulled from these waters.  From Bokeelia, it’s a short boat ride to the renowned Boca Grande Pass, the world’s premier tarpon fishing locale. Fishing guides are found at any of the Island’s several marinas.  Bokeelia’s Jug Creek Marina is home port to the Tropic Star, carrying beach-goers daily to the pristine sands of nearby Cayo Costa.  Kayaks can be rented at several locations for those who wish to plot their own water course. There are no sand beaches.  Instead the island is ringed with mangroves making it more popular with wildlife than with tourists. 

The island’s hub for social activities is the grand Tarpon Lodge in the Pineland community. This historic destination offers first-rate accommodations and four-star dining overlooking sweeping lawns to the water’s edge.  Just down the road from the lodge is the Randell Research Center.    The site was once a Calusa Indian village.  Today it’s an important archaeological site.  Visitors taking the half-mile walkway find interpretive signs pointing to shell mounds, burial sites and canals dug by the Calusa.  The “Museum of the Islands” showcases the island’s rich history.  The museum, run entirely by volunteers is found just north of the four-way stop next door to the island’s only library.

There are a variety of homes for sale on the Island.  Whatever your preferences are in terms of style, community, and price point you are bound to find it on the island.  There are just three gated communities here.  Calusa Ridge offers single family homes for around 300,000 dollars.  Four Winds is a condo/marina community in Bokeelia and Sandpiper Point is a waterfront community of high-end single family homes in St James City.  Eagle Lake Estates is also in St. James City, where construction is underway on Old-Florida style homes.   Buyers can still choose lots, with a few lakefront remaining.  Turn-key new homes at Eagle Lake Estates start at $249,999.


One of Southwest Florida’s barrier islands, Sanibel is located on the leeward side of Pine Island.  The island is easily accessible from Fort Myers via a four lane causeway.  The main thoroughfare, Periwinkle Way, is where the majority of stores and restaurants are located, while the Gulf Drives (East, Middle and West) play host to most of the accommodations.  The lighthouse and adjacent beach is located at the eastern end of the island next to the fishing pier.

For well over a century, Sanibel’s Point Ybel Lighthouse has guided seafarers to its’ captivating shores. Today the lure of Sanibel is as strong as ever.   It’s not uncommon for visitors to the charming island to put down roots, buying a home or business.  Sanibel has it all; excellent dining, shopping, accommodations, bike paths, golfing, fishing, tennis and white sand beaches covered with multi-colored shells.  Sanibel is known the world-over for its’ prime shelling.  The beaches are well-traveled by many performing what’s known as the “Sanibel Stoop.” 

The modern causeway replaced the ferry in 1963, residents asserted control over development. They created the Sanibel Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 1974 to maintain a balance between development and preservation of the island's ecology.  A spirit of preservation is evident on the island. More than half of the island is made up of wildlife refuges.   The largest is J. N. “Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations.

In 2010, The Wall Street Journal named Sanibel and her sister island, Captiva one of the “Ten Best Places to Buy a Second Home.” With its’ world-wide appeal as a prime Florida beach destination, homeowners have confidence property values will remain stable or appreciate.  Home buyers can select from a wide inventory of beachfront, gulf-front, waterfront homes, condos and cottages.

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