Does the Zac Brown Band have it right or what?
We dream of days like this - sittin’ in our chair at the beach getting a little singed from the sun, smelling suntan lotion on the breeze, and a cold one in our hand. Add the right music, some happy people on island time and chances are you’re in a fun beach bar. You know the kind we’re talking about — fruity umbrella drinks with extra rum floaters, and the beach right there. Then you slowly exhale and take a nice long sip….ahh, paradise!
Over the years, we spent many afternoons looking for good "beach bars" only to discover that most of them didn’t have a grain of sand in sight once we got there. So we decided to compile this list of our favorite sandy beach bars in southwest Florida that are actually ON the beach! This list will come in handy when you're here looking for just the right beach bar vibe to match your tropical vacation so go ahead and bookmark it now. Here they are - the very best beach bars we’ve found in Sanibel & Captiva islands, Ft. Myers Beach, Bonita Beach, Naples, and Marco Island.
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But first, who says these are the best beach bars in southwest Florida? We do, and we live here! We head for these places on weekends and whenever friends and family come to visit, so we do plenty of research! There's no shortage of Florida beach bars but we like the outdoor tiki bar kind with an island feel. The kind where you can sip your drink in your bare feet if you want, or stick your toes in the sand and order another without putting your shoes back on.
Our criteria was simple:
- If it’s a bar, and it’s on a beach, it’s a Beach Bar
- We limited our selections to Sanibel, Captiva, Ft. Myers Beach, Bonita Beach, Naples, Isle of Capri, and Marco Island in southwest Florida. (Who knows, we may expand into Cape Coral, Ft. Myers, the Everglades, or Key West next year!)
These bars have all this in common and more. Several of them are located in resort settings and gladly welcome the public, not just their guests, so don't let that dissuade you from going. We checked them all out (tough job, we know) and if we didn't feel comfortable, they weren't included. Who needs that?
So here they are - listed from north (Captiva) to south (Marco Island). Enjoy, share, bookmark, but most of all...go!
The Best Beach Bars in Southwest Florida
1. The Mucky Duck, Captiva
If you’re looking for casual, laid back fun, head to The Mucky Duck, one of the best beach bars on Captiva Island. Located right on the beach, the Duck has an indoor English pub-style restaurant and bar. But the outside patio with tables and adirondack chairs just steps from the beach is why we love it. Parking during the high season can be challenging but it’s popular with locals and tourists for a reason — because it’s “deep in the heart of downtown Captiva where the sun sets nightly”! And indeed it does. Get here (for sunset) and you’ll understand!
2. Coconuts Poolside Bar & Grill at the Casa Ybel Resort, Sanibel
This is a fun place to have a cocktail, a bite to eat and catch the sunset just a few steps from the beach under shady palms. If you’re not a guest here, you may wonder if you’re in the right place, but anyone can enjoy the pool bar at Casa Ybel Resort. Parking is easy and a walkway to the bar is clearly marked. The poolside atmosphere is fun and the drinks are well-made.
3. Turtle’s Beach & Pool Bar at the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, Sanibel
An outdoor tiki bar on well-groomed beachside grounds — this is not your everyday beach bar. The menu is excellent at Sundial Beach Resort, with selections like Alligator Gumbo and their award-winning Ahi Tuna Burger. As Sanibel Island beaches go, the atmosphere is a bit more touristy than some others - it's a resort after all - but the food and drinks are yummy and sunset is just a few steps away.
4. The Cottage Beach Bar, Ft. Myers Beach
You'll find more Fort Myers beach bars than any other town in Southwest Florida, and The Cottage Beach Bar is a favorite. Located on the beach level of the Cottage Beach Bar & Gulfshore Grill on popular Ft. Myers Beach, this is a fun place to relax and enjoy a cold one from their extensive beer list. The menu is typical but done well. White sand beach, outside seating, good food and drinks -- just add the sunset and this is a great place to chill at the beach!
5. The Outrigger Beach Bar at the Outrigger Beach Resort, Ft. Myers Beach
This perfect little tiki bar is located on one of the nicest, widest beaches around. Plus it’s close to the southern end of Ft. Myers Beach so it doesn’t get the traffic congestion that can grind to a halt further up the beach. Grab a seat under the thatch roof bar or under a palm tree in the sand. If you didn’t know this was here you might miss it. Look for the Outrigger Resort sign and park across the street. It’s got a friendly laid-back atmosphere, cold drinks, and a great location - definitely a favorite!
6. Doc’s Beach House, Bonita Beach
Doc’s is the place to come in Bonita Beach, especially for sunset. So it gets crowded, and parking can be tough. But if you time it just right — say, mid-afternoon after the lunch crowd has gone and before sunset goers arrive — it’s a great place to hang out. Grab a seat at the tables on the sand, then go inside and order. The food is good, and there are beach rentals to enjoy the water. Be advised, the restaurant and outside bar are cash only. If you forget, don’t worry, there’s an ATM inside.
7. Gumbo Limbo and the Sand Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples Beach Resort
There are so many things to do in Naples, and one of them is chilling out on the beach with a scenic view and thirst-quenching cocktail. But you don’t have to be a guest at The Ritz Carlton to enjoy two of the best beach bars in Naples. They serve up well-crafted cocktails and a good selection of micro brews. If you’re hungry, the coconut shrimp at Gumbo Limbo are some of the best we’ve ever had! Walk up from the beach or valet park your car. If you drive, don’t let the $25 parking fee put you off — they’ll validate your parking when you leave! Just show your receipt from the bar.
8. Sunset Beach Bar & Grill at The Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club, Naples
If you prefer your beach bar with a place to lounge, the Sunset Beach Bar at the Naples Beach Club Hotel is your place. You can hang at the bar or stretch out with friends in a big group lounger waiting for your appetizers to come off the open-air grill. Grab a chair at the long rail that skirts the bar’s perimeter — it fits a cold drink and an order of conch fritters perfectly and faces one direction — toward the beach and those amazing SWFL sunsets.
9. Capri Fish House, Isle of Capri
The Isle of Capri isn’t as undiscovered as it used to be, but it’s still the sleepy neighbor of glitzy Marco Island, which should suit any rustic beach bar lover to a T! The restaurant/beach shack serves yummy island food and there’s a spit of beach with adirondack chairs to enjoy the quiet water view. Come in the late afternoon during the season to beat the early bird diners.
10. Kane Beachfront Grill & Tiki Bar at JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort
Kane tops all other Marco Island bars on the beach for fun and food. Located right on the wide, white sandy beach Marco is known for, Kane is a Balinese style outdoor tiki bar with a delicious Indo-inspired menu (try the bao buns) and superb rum collection to boot. It’s a fun place to relax with just the right amount of luxury. Park on-site for a modest fee or valet park.
There's a lot to love about southwest Florida...the natural beauty and small town charm of Sanibel and Captiva, the revitalized downtown scene of Fort Myers, the fabulous sunny weather (even when it rains), and the gorgeous beaches in Naples just to name a few. But we must admit, these quaint beach bars are among our favorite places!
Did We Miss Your Favorite Beach Bar?
Leave a comment below so we can include it next year's list!