“Welcome to Fort Myers, where the beer flows and the morals stay loose. The name of the game when it comes to true spring break partying in Fort Myers is and shall remain Lana Kai [beach]. It’s an older, semi run-down area of the beach that is perfect for hosting the daily “booty-shaking contests” that happen during high-season. In addition to the coeds on the beach shaking their thangs to Sisqo, the Cincinnati firemen have a deal with the hotel to throw their own little “revue.” Cincy’s Bravest have only been doing it for 10 years, but now that the event is sponsored it’s become “tradition.” So, ladies and gents are both going to be equally satisfied with the eye candy in this amazing town.” –Co-ed.com
This description of Fort Myers, Fl., is not exactly what I would describe it as. After living there for 10 years, I would say that I rarely see this part of the town. The website Co-Ed rates the trashiest spring break locations every year, and I’m not too proud to say that Fort Myers is usually on it; the detail they forget to mention is that the part they rated is limited to just one section of just one beach.
Fort Myers Beach, specifically in front of the Lana Kai, is anything but a representation of the area. Just down the road from the main beach, there is another called Bowditch Beach. The scenery is beautiful and it is occupied by locals who are usually quieter, and merely trying to relax on a Sunday as a family.
While this is true, Fort Myers Beach is usually avoided during this time in total; the bridge takes hours to get over during the winter, and it’s not worth it. Luckily, there is also Sanibel Island nearby, which was rated 24th most appealing island by National Geographic. To put it in perspective, that is the same rating as Santorini, Greece, and it’s only 25 minutes from Fort Myers Beach.
On that same beach near the pier or “Town Square” as it’s called, there are other tourists, though not the “Spring Breakers” you see from the movie. Picture: banana hammocks, bright yellow, on someone older than 60. As you could image, the site isn’t pretty, but there are always at least one of those in sight on a beach day.
These spring breakers hale from usually the midwest and take over the town for either a few weeks of the year, or sometimes the entire season. Living in Florida, or other tropical regions, there is a phrase you hear often when someone is complaining: “snow birds.”
DISCLAIMER: I have family who are snowbirds and don’t fit into the description I am about to say, and chances are, some of your grandparents are too. That doesn’t mean they are the people we complain about… There are many of them in this group, and only a handful give them a bad name.
Snowbirds, as described by Urban Dictionary, are “irritating old people who come down to Florida from Northern states, drive like maniacs, and should be illegal.” These snowbirds seek warmth in Florida during the winter months and cause pain to locals like me. During this time, we have to leave our houses 15 minutes earlier because of traffic, go at different times to the grocery store to avoid snowbirds stocking up, and we can NEVER go to Costco on a Saturday morning for the samples. Locals can never go to an early dinner because snowbirds usually make reservations weeks in advance at their 5:30-6pm window.
While to a local the tourists are annoying, they do have their reasons for coming. Fort Myers, has other attractions outside of the “trashy beaches.” Though it isn’t really a small town, there are unique shops that are family owned that make it seem like it. Loveboat Ice Cream is as adorable as its outside artwork. The homemade ice cream is the best, and clearly tourists know it. During season Loveboat is always crowded.
Some of the history of the town contrasts with the “trashy” image portrayed as well. Edison and Ford both have winter homes towards the older side of town that run tours, especially popular during season. Their winter estates bring more traffic as it runs to downtown on McGregor. Downtown, or Fort Myers River District is where there is more classy night life. Attractions like Art Walk happen once a month, and Music Walk show the true culture of the town.
So, tourists can annoy locals and there are those who are trashier towards the beach, but there is a lot to offer in Fort Myers that Co-Ed doesn’t tell about. There is culture, and history and I don’t think Edison and Ford would have liked that their Winter Estates are being clouded by the image of Fort Myers Beach during spring break.