+ 3 for Cayo Costa/Pelican Bay. One of our favorite places. Cayo Costa is a state park and a wonderful beach and state park. We also liked the Cape Haze anchorage just across from Don Pedro State Park, a bit further north on the ICW
If you want to tie up for a night at a marina and your draft
permits, my high school
aged son and friends loved Tween Waters Marina on Captiva. The pool is fabulous, the beach is right across the road, you can walk (if you don't mind a mile walk) to great restaurants - our favorite is the Mucky Duck, Ok, maybe not great, but lots of fun. Don't ask for a window seat.
We liked the 10,000 Islands and Little Shark River -- we dayhopped to Marathon/under the 7 Mile Bridge. First stop Ft. Myers Beach, next Marco, then Indian Key in the 10,000 Islands, we anchored further back because there wasn't enough protection out there. The Indian Key anchorage allows easy access to one of the Everglades ranger
stations at Everglades City -- they had ranger
programs and interesting stuff going on that we enjoyed. Then Little Shark, but we anchored just inside, kayaked for one afternoon/evening and left the next morning so I don't have much info on that.
Then on to Marathon. If we weren't in a hurry, we would have spent more time in the anchorages
behind Indian Key. Not sure what your draft
allows, ours is 5 1/2. The current
was wicked part of the time, but the dinghy
had no trouble.
Enjoy the West Coast
of FL, we haven't had a chance to really explore, but other than the fact there's no clear water
for snorkeling, we loved the area!