On first sight Cape Coral, or Cape Coma, as it is sometimes called because of its large population of pensioners who spend their retirement in the sun of Florida, does not seem to fulfil our expectations as an ideal vacation destination. Cape Coral is a quite new city that has been formed on a drawing board. In the fifties, countless drainage canals were built and the land was made buildable. The many canals earned the city the byname Venice of Florida. But this comparison is not quite true because Cape Coral is not that beautiful.
On our first trip to Florida a few years ago we by chance ended up in Cape Coral. Compared to Fort Myers, the rents for beautiful villas with pool are still moderate. Yet Cape Coral is easy to reach via Fort Myers airport.
Villa Sunrise in Cape Coral
During my research I found a holiday villa on one of the canals which I rented spontaneously. There are countless holiday villas to choose from, but for us the booking of a private villa was a real stroke of luck. Since we felt so comfortable in the Villa Sunrise at that time, we rented it – as it was a wish of our children – also for our second holiday in Florida.
After a one week roadtrip through Florida we wanted to relax and do day trips in the region. The Villa Sunrise is ideal for this. It also offers more than enough space for a family of five and the friendly German owners have lots of tips for excursions and restaurants in the region. They spend a large part of the year in Cape Coral themselves and know their way around perfectly.
More information about Villa Sunrise: House in Cape Coral
Even though we really appreciate the pool and the cozy house, our urge to explore usually prevails and so we set off again this time to explore the region. After a long day we enjoyed the evenings at and in the pool at home. What a dream! That’s how we love to spend our holidays!
These are our highlights in and around Cape Coral:
Nice beaches around Cape Coral
Unfortunately in Cape Coral, like almost everywhere in the USA, you can’t avoid driving by car. There is a small beach with a playground within walking distance at the marina, but if you are willing to drive, you will find realy stunning beaches.
Our favorite beach is the beach in of Lover’s Key State Park. A perfect beach for beach lovers. Fine white sand, turquoise, crystal clear water and pelicans that plunge into the sea like arrows to catch fish. A real spectacle. With a bit of luck you can also spot one of the rare horseshoe crabs in the water and on a kayak tour through the park’s mangroves you might see manatees and alligators.
On the beach there is a small kiosk where you can buy food and drinks at reasonable prices. Sunshades and sunbeds can also be rented here. However, these are only set up in the immediate vicinity of the kiosk. Therefore, I recommend to bring your own beach stuff and to walk a bit along the seashore. After a few meters you will have the beach almost all to yourself.
On Sanibel Island there are several beautiful beaches. If you plan to go to Sanibel and Captiva, you must cross the toll bridge and you have to be patient. During Easter holidays the streets of Cape Coral were quite crowded and we were often stuck in traffic jams.
Blind Pass Beach
We decided to visit Blind Pass Beach on Sanibel Island. It is located next to the bridge to Captiva and it is quite narrow.
Mussel seekers will love this beach. If you are lucky you can find quite large specimens of queen conches. But be careful, often the snail shells are still inhabited! Fossil shark teeth can also be found here.
Also here it is worthwhile to walk a few meters along the beach to have the beach for yourself.
My tip: The island has an awkward parking situation. Therefore I recommend to start very early, otherwise the search for a parking space may be quite a challenge.
A day on the beach makes you hungry – and I have a very special tip for you:
The Bubble Room Restaurant on Captiva Island
Here it is Christmas time all year round and eating becomes an real experience. The restaurant is real American style and – hard to believe, but true – the food was the best I got during our stay in Florida.
My tip: The pineapple with prawns and rice is a real treat! And the selection of cakes is great!
Further information can be found here: The Bubble Room Restaurant
Trip to Cayo Costa
Beach and island lovers will love Cayo Costa. I booked the tickets for the ferry online in advance. The excursion boats depart from Punta Gorda, a nice holiday resort with a small covered promenade about an hour’s drive north of Cape Coral.
The boat trip to Cayo Costa takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes and the whole day trip about 7 1/2 hours. The excursion boat is often accompanied by dolphins playing in the waves. An incredibly moving experience.
My tip: Take an ice box with drinks and food with you. There is nothing on the uninhabited island – except a lot of stunning nature and a beautiful beach. Homever, you can buy drinks and snacks on the boat.
Further informations can be found here: Day trip to Cayo Costa
While we had made a excursion to the Everglades with an airboat during our last stay, we didn’t want to do this again. It makes no sense trying to observe wild animals using a noisy, smelly boat.
We ended up in the Fakahatchee Strand Perserve Park. A wooden boardwalk leads into the marshland from where you can observe a lot of animals: Alligators, snakes and water birds. A great day out for the whole family!
More info: Fakahatchee Strand Perserve State Park
Shopping in Cape Coral
Of course the region around Cape Coral also has a lot to offer for shopoholics.
Food and much more is available in supermarkets like Walmart and Public. A lot of things like clothes and medicine cost a lot less than at home. What also struck our children, however, is the sad pricing system for food. Everything that is healthy, fresh and untreated is quite expensive, while industrially processed food is super cheap. Moreover, it is not easy to find food without preservatives. You have to look very closely.
If you want to buy branded clothing at really fair prices, you will definitely find it in one of the outlet villages.
Miromar Outlet in Estero
We bought cltohes for our kids in the Miromar Outlet. The prices are more than fair here. My tip: If you want to save even more money, you can register online in advance to get a special discount. The first thing to do on site is go to the information desk. Here you will find brochures and discount coupons. It’s worth it. The outlet is quite large and many well-known brands can be found here.
Further information can be found here: Miromar Outlet
Restaurant tips in Cape Coral
There are countless restaurants in Cape Coral. After our excursions we spent our evenings mostly relaxing at the pool. But of course we also visited some restaurants. a very good and very cool one we found here:
It’s a nice place to sit, like in an old garage, surrounded by old Ford cars. You have the Choice of many tasty burgers and good beer. The charming innkeeper we talked to is married to a Swiss lady. (Thanks at this point for the delicious Key Lime Pie!)
Especially those who travel with children and teenagers will love this restaurant. Even the wash basins in the toilets fit in.
Further information can be found here: Ford’s Garage
We also had a very good meal in the
Outback Steak House
You can eat tasty steaks here. My tip: Try the fried onion flower as a starter!
The prices are not quite cheap, but you get good quality.
The most beautiful sunset in Cape Coral
A stunning sunset can be experienced at The Boathouse at the yacht club. The Boathouse is a nice bar at the small sandy beach, which is very well frequented especially during sunset. It is advisable to be there early in order to get a place.
The bar is only a few minutes walk from our holiday home. Not quite unimportant if you want to enjoy a sundowner during sunset. The Boathouse is a very nice location, but unfortunately, like so many other places in the USA, they produce an immense amount of plastic waste every day. Food and drink is served in disposable plastic dishes. That’s why we only went there once.
My summary of Cape Coral as a holiday destination with children and teenagers:
Also our second stay in Cape Coral as a family was perfect and we would choose this place again as a base for excursions in the region. We haven’t seen everything yet. Cape Coral is an ideal base to explore the area.
On the advice of our landlords we did not rent a motorboat. None of us has a boat license and we find it negligent to navigate without real knowledge of the area and of the countless, constantly changing sandbanks. During our last stay we hired a boat with a skipper for one day. That was very nice, but very expensive. The region offers numerous beautiful and exciting places to visit that can be reached easily without a boat.
With sunny greetings,