Cayo Costa State Park The best shelling beach in the U.S. is not Captiva or Sanibel, the twin islands just over the mainland from Ft. Myers. There's one much better, located two islands to the north of Sanibel as the seagull flies. Nine-mile-long Cayo Costa may lack a bridge and chic hotels, but this state-park isle makes up for it with a staggering array of hard-to-find seashells.
The Bulow Woods Trail runs a 6.8-mile path shaded by majestic oaks. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, barred owls and other native wildlife. The trail ends at Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, where the plantation was burned down by Seminole Indians in 1836 during the Second Seminole War. The buildings were made of coquina and included the largest sugar mill in Florida. The park has an outdoor museum to preserve the ruins and artifacts found at the site.