Fort Myers Beach, Florida
(posted March, 2019)
Fort Myers Beach, Florida
If you have
a hankering to go photograph birds at Estero Lagoon in Fort
Myers Beach, Florida, you will likely find it bewildering trying
to reach the actual lagoon for the first time with your camera
gear. All the obvious paths are posted "Private Property, No
Trespassing", so you will have to go a little bit 'round about
to get there... unless you get a room at one of the swanky "Private
Property" locations blocking your path. Or, you could get a
room at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, 6890 Estero Blvd., located
at the north end of the lagoon.
just coming for the day, then here's how to park and reach the
|An Osprey at Estero
(1) Reach Fort Myers Beach. I went in March of 2019, arriving
from the south end and had no issues. But when I left I made
the mistake of going north. The only road through the island
(Estero Blvd.) was torn up/under construction north of the lagoon.
It took me 50 minutes just for the 5 mile drive to get off the
island instead of the 10 minutes it should have taken. The lagoon
is at the south end of the island anyway, so save yourself the
traffic issues by coming and going via the south end through
Bonita Springs on Rd. 865/Bonita Beach Road SW.
(2) Park your car in the Santini Marina Plaza Shops strip mall
parking lot at 7205 Estero Blvd. (GPS coordinates N 26.414383°
W 81.899992°). It's public and free, and there is a handy Subway
Restaurant at the north end of the parking lot if you need a
restroom, or a bite to eat. This parking lot is directly across
the road from the lagoon, but you cannot get there from here.
Everything between you and the lagoon is private property, and
(3) Grab your gear, then walk north on the sidewalk along the
east side of the road (same side as the parking lot) for 800
feet to the cross walk in front of the Wyndham Garden Hotel
at 6890 Estero Blvd. (GPS coordinates N 26.416499° W 81.901302°).
Cross at the cross walk with the pedestrian light - traffic
can be unkind otherwise. Then walk through the Wyndham's parking
lot westward to the lagoon and beach behind the hotel. At this
point you are at the north end of the lagoon and can start exploring
from here. To reach the beach side go on to step #4 or #5.
(4) Turn south and follow the obvious foot path that runs between
the lagoon and the buildings for about three tenths of a mile
to the far south end of the lagoon where you can cross over
to the beach front.
(5) Alternately, you can go from the hotel around the north
end of the lagoon out to the beach front and then walk south
along the beach toward the southern end of the lagoon. I did
not go this way, but I see no reason you can't choose that route.
looking things over on Google Earth to familiarize yourself
with the location before you go. I have drawn a path overlay
for Google Earth showing you exactly the path to walk from the
parking lot to the lagoon to avoid the "Private Property" issues.
The ".kmz" file only works for the desktop/laptop version of
Google Earth. The portable device version of Google Earth doesn't
have this feature.
for .jpg image of location
link ( http://www.fredhurteau.com/downloads/Path_to_Estero_Lagoon.kmz
) for the ".kmz" file. That should automatically open Google
Earth and take you directly to the location. If it doesn't open
automatically, just save the file temporarily to your computer.
Then click on the saved file. (Obviously, Google Earth must
first be installed on your computer. If you don't have Google
Earth, its free. Go to https://www.google.com/earth/
to download it and install.) Alternately, you can opt to use
image map directions at left, but it's not zoomable for details like Google Earth. Click the thumbnail for a
(The map is oriented with North at the top.)
south end of the lagoon where the water is shallower there are
a couple of places where you can wade across (barefoot or with
suitable water footwear of course) to shorten the walk. You
will spot these shortcuts where the vegetation along the lagoon
edge has an obvious break with a worn footpath. Otherwise go
all the way to the end as shown in the Google Earth path file
to reach the beach side of the lagoon.
To be honest,
I didn't have much luck finding birds at the lagoon, but I was
there in the mid-afternoon. Early morning or late afternoon
is best according to all the references/reports I've read from
other photographers. The water level in the lagoon may have
an effect as well. All I found were three White Pelicans, three
Brown Pelicans, one Osprey, a couple of Cormorants and a lonely
female Mallard - nothing I couldn't have found in North Carolina.
No Spoonbills, or Wood Storks, or Reddish Egrets - very disappointing.