Date of Trip: April 2008
-Review – Fort Myers Beach – Beacon Motel Submitted Shawnee1@aol.com April 3, 2008
We left on April 2, 2008 for a 4-night Adventure at Fort Myers Beach. We stayed at the Columbus Airport (CMH) at the Hilton Garden Inn for $208 which included parking our car for 5 nights. My wife appreciated the nice comforter on the bed. Very thin walls were between the rooms, as we listened to our next-door neighbor talk on his phone from about 12-1:30 AM.
Next morning, we took the shuttle to airport to fly Southwest Air from Columbus, Ohio to Orlando (1 hour 15 minute layover) then Orlando to Fort Myers (50 minutes). Our experience on Southwest was very good.
We traveled light with carry-ons. We left Ohio at 34 degrees and arrived in Fort Myers at 79 degrees. We quickly found the Checker Cab (1-800-831-3520) and the 4 of us proceeded quickly to the Beacon Motel (239-463-5265). The cab was $62 for 4 of us plus tip. The trip can take 25 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the time of day (bridge traffic). At drop off, we prearranged our return trip to the airport for Monday morning at 9A.M. The cab company called on Sunday to confirm the pickup time and arrangements.
The rates range from $69 to $209 depending on season and room. These units are non-smoking, and no pets are allowed. We were in room #12 with a queen bed and small kitchen which cost $149.00 a night (in season rate). The room was situated toward the front of the motel and had a small covered sitting area outside our front door. The big negative with a lower room is that you can hear people/kids walking around in the room above us. We did not spend a lot of time in the room.
The things you need to remember. The Beacon has no beach towels. We walked down to the Winds and found some nice beach towels for $14 each and suntan lotion spray for $11. The desk clerk did have some beach chairs available on first come, first serve. We kept them for 4 days. You will notice a crew placing two chairs and an umbrella every morning. After you sit down in them, soon you will have a visit from a very tan young man/woman asking for a rental fee of $10 a umbrella and $7 a chair for a total of $24 dollars for all day until 5PM. They keep a chart with your first name on it.
The Beach Bar is very close and a beer is about $4 depending on brand. There is a 7-11 right across the street from the hotel, if you would like to buy beer and a cooler…however you need to learn the beech restrictions for using coolers. Yes, the police do walk the beach and check ID’s, enforce restrictions, and write tickets.
You can easily walk anywhere in 10-15 minutes or take the trolley for 25 cents.
We had a late lunch at S.O.B. (Smokie’s Oyster Brewery). It quickly became a return favorite for us. We had steamed oysters, crab-stuffed flounder and pan-fried grouper just to name a few of our favorites. Kelley (ey) and John our servers laughed, teased, and made our experience a memorable event. The next day, Kelley remembered all four of our names as we entered S.O.B.
Later, we were on a quest to find the Ohio State Basketball Game in a bar. Yes, a short walk from the Beacon towards the Bridge hides a Cleveland Browns “Backer” Sports Bar. We sat at the bar and had a wonderful time watching Ohio State win the N.I.T. game.
Soon travel, sun, and beer got the best of us.
Another lesson – the little stones in the parking lot to the beach are tough on bare feet. A very flexible pair of rubber flip-flops (West Coast at Beach Square -$12) and tennis shoes to walk/run the beach are necessary items.
Breakfast is included for every morning. You receive 2-$7 dollar vouchers at check-in. Breakfast begins at 8 AM at the Cottage Grill next door. Great food and, even with the vouchers, our breakfast usually cost an additional $22 for 4 people with tip. Make sure – you lay your coupons out and count them in front of waiter, as one got lost between our table and cash register. They still gave us the discount, but it was an uncomfortable situation.
Our day was spent at beach and the beach bar. I quickly met “Bald Chris” a bartender who incidentally had worked at the Beer Barrel at Put-in-Bay (an Island in Ohio). He quickly introduced me to other Ohio “Snow Birds” who make the beach bar a routine stop.
We had talked about taking the “The Big Cat Express” (866-593-3779) to Key West for a day. We would have needed to take a short 5 minute cab ride to the other side of the bridge, as the trolley did not run that early. The boat was $129 per person round trip, discounts for children and seniors. The boat left at 8:30 AM, takes three hours, and departs from Key West at 6PM arriving Ft. Myers Beach 9:45 P.M. Three dollar discount coupons are online. Our trip was too short to take the trip.
We returned to S.O.B. for dinner and bought souvenir SOB baseball hats. We were on a quest to see the sunset, and a few doors down from the beacon is a four story hotel (Lanai Kai) which has a restaurant and bar on top of it. It was too cloudy but a nice place to watch sunset. We ventured to the Cottage bar for an after dinner drink. The Cottage Bar is next to the morning restaurant. Sun, beer, and food caught up to us by 10 PM.
Day 3 – 4 and observations
Forecast for all three days was for rain…. and rain came every evening. Mornings were in 60-70 range; afternoons in 80-85 range. As we ate breakfast, we watched all kinds of beach exercise routines.
We ventured up both directions on the beach. Towards the pier is a slimmer beach with many beach chairs. Away from pier seems to be the direction most teenagers travel towards Lanai Kai and Diamond Head Resort for beach volleyball and other group gatherings. On calm days, the boats of every size anchor just off shore.
If you bring teenagers, bring at least one of their friends. Kids of all ages and ethnicity travel in groups. They meet in “Times Square” in front of the pier at night and seem to endlessly walk the beach all day long. There were not as many college Spring Breakers the week we were there. We were warned that the third week in April is not a good time to visit, as all three county High Schools are on Spring Break that week. It is safe to say I have been out of High School for some time.
I want to clarify my “bring a friend” suggestion. The number of teenage to twenty something young adults is significant. I felt as if Fort Myers beach had a visual number of police present, but, with so many young people, it would be good to have someone you know hanging with you as a safety factor.
I realize some young people believe a cell phone is enough…. I had a different feeling here – too many kids. I saw groups of boys looking and talking to girls and groups of girls checking out boys. They all seemed to be having a good time.
On an aside, the water can get fairly rough (wind) with a current. I did not see life guards on the beaches. I did see cell phones on the beach either tucked in swimming suits or in use.
We had a great long weekend of just hanging out on the beach. We met people who have returned year after year, along with others who spend 3-6 months escaping the cold winters. The cab was waiting on us after breakfast the next day – early. Our return flights were on time. We are back in the “work to play mode” and will definitely return to Fort Myers Beach and the Beacon Motel in the future.
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