An update on curfews, beaches, attractions, restaurants in St. Petersburg, Cape Coral, Fort Myers City and Fort Myers Beach
What’s Open In Fort Myers Beach and The Surrounding Area Post Hurricane Ian
Updated on 1/18/2023.
It’s been several months since Hurricane Ian hit Florida’s southwest coast, and many of our customers have been asking what’s open in this region after Hurricane Ian made landfall on Sept. 28, 2022.
Hurricane Ian, the strongest hurricane to hit Florida since Michael in 2018 and tied for fifth-strongest hurricane on record to strike the United States, was a large, destructive and deadly Category 4 storm.
The Fort Myers Beach area was significantly impacted, with many residents losing their homes and businesses. The community has begun the rebuilding process on homes, businesses, attractions and favorite visitor activities.
Other towns along the west coast, like St. Petersburg, and even nearby Fort Myers City, fared much better and are already welcoming vacationers.
Read on to find out what’s open in Fort Myers and surrounding areas now, whether the beach is open to the public and up-to-date information that will help you better understand how these towns are recovering after Hurricane Ian.
Was St. Petersburg Damaged From Hurricane Ian?Up until just a few hours before Hurricane Ian hit, its path was projected to make landfall just north of Tampa Bay. Fortunately for the Bay Area, most damage was in the form of fallen trees and power lines, and homes and businesses did not see significant damage.
The Tampa Bay area, including downtown St. Petersburg and the barrier island of St. Pete Beach, are low-lying areas prone to flooding. You may have seen the viral images of the reverse storm surge that left Tampa’s famous Bayshore Boulevard with views of mud instead of water. Residents were warned that the water could come rushing back and that disastrous flooding could occur. But instead, Hurricane Ian brought floods to the south and to the east, with Orlando getting the worst of the flash floods.
Since Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg were spared from Hurricane Ian, the downtown areas are still completely intact, and the beaches are still in pristine condition. You’ll find St. Pete Beach and Madeira Beach to be bustling with visitors, and the northern barrier islands of Redington and Indian Shores dotted with sunbathers and people fishing.
If you’re looking for a beach vacation in Florida, we recommend exploring our vacation homes in and around St. Petersburg. The beaches are some of the best in the United States (St. Pete Beach was ranked #1 by TripAdvisor last year) and the communities are vibrant, offering tourists the chance to settle in and relax on the white sand.
What’s Open In Cape Coral?While Cape Coral suffered flooding, structural damage and high winds, local residents have come together to get the town back up and running.
Restoration of Cape Coral is ongoing but is proceeding much faster than expected. Most of the area’s restaurants and shops have reopened, as well as most of its beautiful parks. (For a full list of open parks and recreation areas, check out the city’s updated list.) The town’s 90+ miles of interconnected bike routes have been cleared of hurricane debris, and Cape Coral’s popular “Tour de Cape” cycling event is even being held at the end of January.
You’ll find that the roads have been completely cleared of hurricane debris, but the 400 miles of fresh water canals are still in the process of being restored to their former glory. As of Dec. 22, contractors had reportedly already removed 3,118 truckloads of hurricane debris from Cape Coral’s canals, after first clearing the streets.
The Yacht Club Community Park and public beach unfortunately suffered a lot of damage from Hurricane Ian and are still closed, without a predicted reopening date. The city’s Parks and Recreation site will continue to post updates, but as of now, hurricane damage evaluation and assessment are pending.
If you’re looking to vacation in Cape Coral, it’s definitely possible, and you can enjoy many of the same boating and cycling opportunities as before Hurricane Ian. Explore our Cape Coral vacation homes.
View Distinctive Beach Rentals properties in Cape Coral.
How Did Fort Myers City Do In The Hurricane?While the city of Fort Myers experienced damage from flood and wind, the downtown area is quickly rebounding. Most restaurants have reopened and people are returning to stroll the streets and dine at outdoor cafes. Even the trolley is running again.
The Fort Myers Boat Show, which usually takes place in November, was able to resume in January, taking over Fort Myers’ historic downtown riverfront. The area, including Centennial Park, is in good condition, but the City Yacht Basin remains closed. Some of the area’s most popular golf courses have been renovated, including Eastwood, which was reopened Dec. 14, 2022.
It is important to know that many residents and business owners are still rebuilding, and it will take time before the city of Fort Myers is back to a pre-Ian paradise. Many local businesses are expected to open their doors in 2023 (like the iconic doughnut shop Bennett's Fresh Roast), and residents and visitors are hopeful Fort Myers will soon regain its vibrant downtown. For a list of the open downtown businesses, check out the River District Alliance’s website.
If you’re wondering if Fort Myers is still a vacation option, downtown and areas northeast of Fort Myers Beach are ready for visitors. You can find some of our Fort Myers City properties here.
Is Fort Myers Beach Open Yet?Fort Myers Beach was one of the hardest hit areas, with high winds and storm surges destroying homes, beloved restaurants and resorts. Similarly, nearby Sanibel Island and Pine Island were devastated, with residents unable to return home until the causeway and bridge were reconstructed.
Fort Myers Beach has always been one of our favorite places on earth, with its white sand beaches, emerald green Gulf waters, and beautiful nature reserves. Local residents, who obviously feel the same way, have rallied together, along with government agencies and volunteer groups, to rebuild the community. (To watch some inspiring Live Facebook posts, check out Beach Baptist Church’s videos.)
Contractors have been hard at work clearing hurricane debris from the waterways, beaches and streets, and on Jan. 1, NBC2 news reporter Gage Goulding posted this video, with the caption “Fort Myers Beach is starting 2023 on a strong note. This is the busiest I’ve seen it since pre-Hurricane Ian. There’s no question, this island is coming back - stronger than before!”
It’s encouraging to see this, but we know it will take time for Fort Myers Beach to rebuild. We will continue to update you on the progress, but here’s what we know now:
- Beaches & State Parks: Most of the public beaches are currently closed, but Gasparilla Island State Park is open. Lovers Key State Park is closed until further notice. For updates on Lee County beach openings, including the islands and state parks, visit this page for updates.
- Businesses & Restaurants: Most small businesses on Fort Myers Beach are still closed, but many are working to reopen. Some restaurants have found new ways to continue serving the community, like Mom’s Restaurant, which is now serving homemade cinnamon buns and breakfast from a food truck where its old restaurant once stood. Here’s a working list of the businesses that are open within the greater Fort Myers area.
- Times Square: The area’s famous “Times Square,” full of popular restaurants and bars, was destroyed. But that hasn’t stopped locals from gathering in this popular entertainment space. In December, locals began putting on live music shows in the cleared out area, and there was even a Christmas lights show.
- Accommodations: Some condos and vacation homes are available for rent, but amenities might not yet be operational. Below you will find properties available for bookings now.
- Services: Water activities are slowly picking back up, with Paradise Parasail reopening in December and Snook Bight Marina resuming boating operations on Feb. 1.
- Curfew: Beginning Jan. 9, curfew hours were reduced to midnight to 6 a.m., since debris is still preventing access to Matanzas Pass Preserve and all street lights are not yet operational.
- Nearby Islands: While Sanibel Island Causeway has reopened, the City of Sanibel is asking people not to visit until beaches and parks are recovered and curfew (currently in effect from 9 p.m.-6 a.m.) is lifted. This is also true for Captiva. A curfew is no longer in effect in Pine Island, and some restaurants and services are now available.