Fort Myers Beach may be only celebrating 18 years since its incorporation, but the rich history of this little town extends much further back than the date the legislation passed.  More than 2,000 years of history exists within this beautiful area and it all started with the Calusa Indians.

The 2016 Annual Visitor Profile by the Lee VCB reports that more than 4.8 million people visited Lee County, which comprises of the Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Boca Grande and the Outer Islands, North Fort Myers, and Lehigh Acres.  This area is prime luxury Florida real estate for anyone wanting warm weather, a peaceful/relaxing atmosphere, and white sandy beaches, which were the top three reasons listed from visitors in the report.  However before our area became the popular vacation and luxury living spot for part-time and full-time residents, it was the home of the Calusa Indians, the ruling chiefdom in South Florida up until the mid-seventeenth century.

The Calusa Indians assembled in small villages throughout the area, constructing shell mounds along the bayside of Estero Island.  These shell mounds were exactly what the name suggests, huge heaps of shells that the Calusa would then use for tools, utensils, jewelry, ornaments, and spears.  From 1513 to 1521, the Calusa Indians fought against Spanish colonization to retain their home and mortally wounded conquistador Ponce de Leon.  About 150 years after their continued resistance towards Spanish colonization, the Calusa Indians lost their home.  From the late-seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century, Estero Island changed hands from Spanish control and British control, but throughout that time, Cuban fisherman began establishing small seasonal fishing villages throughout Southwest Florida, including Estero Island.  These fishing villages created trading opportunities between Cuba and the Creek Indians, who displaced the majority of the Calusa.  Some families stayed behind and blended with the American culture once Florida became the 27th state in 1845.  Estero Island in Fort Myers Beach still celebrate the Calusa Indians as the first inhabitants of our barrier islands and offer many opportunities for residents and guests to learn about their culture.

The Mound House is one establishment that provides a variety of programs for local residents, visitors, and school groups.  This unique archaeological and historical site on Fort Myers Beach is Estero Island’s oldest standing structure and actually sits atop a 2,000 year old Calusa Indian Shell Mound, the highest point on Fort Myers Beach.   The Mound House in Fort Myers Beach.jpg

After the first American settlements in Fort Myers Beach in 1862, development began on our small island paradise.  However, it wasn’t until the 1920’s when Florida gained popularity as a vacation spot and in 1921, a toll bridge was constructed to create a passageway from the mainland to the island.  After that, tourism began to grow with hotels, casinos, and other tourist accommodations and attractions contracted to attract visitors.  From 1940 to 1950, the population of Fort Myers Beach grew by 50 percent with the discovery of “pink gold” in the waters, jumpstarting the shrimp industry and the mainland businesses that facilitated it.

By 1935, Fort Myers Beach residents were discussing the possibility of the island’s incorporation due to the high tourism rates and booming businesses.  However, it wasn’t until 1995, when multiple high rises had been constructed throughout the shores, that Fort Myers Beach became its own incorporated small town.  Now, Fort Myers Beach enjoys part-time and full-time residents, as well as thousands of visitors every year, that revel in the town’s unique island culture.  Residents and visitors alike can enjoy everything Fort Myers Beach has to offer, including casual and fine dining, shopping, beaches, and cultural attractions.  The island town is also conveniently located between Sarasota and Naples, allowing residents and visitors to take a short drive in either direction to experience even more options in arts, culture, fine dining, and premium shopping.

After the first American settlements in Fort Myers Beach in 1862, development began on our small island paradise.  However, it wasn’t until the 1920’s when Florida gained popularity as a vacation spot and in 1921, a toll bridge was constructed to create a passageway from the mainland to the island.  After that, tourism began to grow with hotels, casinos, and other tourist accommodations and attractions contracted to attract visitors.  From 1940 to 1950, the population of Fort Myers Beach grew by 50 percent with the discovery of “pink gold” in the waters, jumpstarting the shrimp industry and the mainland businesses that facilitated it.

By 1935, Fort Myers Beach residents were discussing the possibility of the island’s incorporation due to the high tourism rates and booming businesses.  However, it wasn’t until 1995, when multiple high rises had been constructed throughout the shores, that Fort Myers Beach became its own incorporated small town.  Now, Fort Myers Beach enjoys part-time and full-time residents, as well as thousands of visitors every year, that revel in the town’s unique island culture.  Residents and visitors alike can enjoy everything Fort Myers Beach has to offer, including casual and fine dining, shopping, beaches, and cultural attractions.  The island town is also conveniently located between Sarasota and Naples, allowing residents and visitors to take a short drive in either direction to experience even more options in arts, culture, fine dining, and premium shopping.

Those high-rises that facilitated the incorporation of Fort Myers Beach are still there, as are new developments for prospective homeowners seeking the Florida lifestyle on our unique island.  Grandview at Bay Beach is the first condominium tower built in South Fort Myers Beach since 2008 and the final tower in the gated condominium community at Waterside.  Named for the panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay, this island-contemporary condominium offers luxury waterfront condos with resort-style amenities, and London Bay Homes is currently offering pre-release pricing opportunities so you can secure your spot in paradise.