That’s toward, but not on the beach, because man, these days, no longer is stupid enough to destroy the mangroves, nature’s best beachfront protectors from the furious storms of the Gulf. Instead, vacation buildings near water’s edge sit behind the mangroves, which are low twisting trees with amazing root structures that live comfortably in and around the seawater.
One of my favorite activities on a Southwest Florida vacation is to play in the waters between the mangroves and the mainland, kayaking, for instance, near Fort Myers on ancient Native American paths now mapped out as the Great Calusa Blueway.
Farther south, in the Naples area, where private development sometimes makes beach reaching difficult, you’ll find easy access to the sands and a nice boardwalk for strolling through the mangroves off U.S. 41, near the venerable Naples Grande resort, which is part of the Waldorf Astoria group.
Naples Grande is a beach resort, facing the Gulf, but the sand is .6 miles away, reached on a modern boardwalk that curves through the mangroves to a popular beach spot for watching the sunset. The resort would be happy to take your room reservation (and book kayaks and other beach gear).
If you want to look around first, you can get to the boardwalk and the beach by turning off U.S. 41 where Pine Ridge (from the east) meets Seagate (to the west). Turn west on Seagate, keep going straight until you see the parking lot for Clam Pass Public Beach. It will cost you $5 to park (Naples residents park for free).
Most resort guests and day visitors seem to choose to ride, above left, through the mangroves on a free tram that traverses the .6 mile boardwalk to the beach.
I recommend the walk, above right.