So you’re ready to buy vacation rental property in Florida, but you’re undecided about where to find the perfect property. And who can blame you? Florida is home to plenty of beautiful cities that attract avid vacationers throughout the year. Short- and long-term renters crave unique experiences combined with incredible locations. While there are certainly many places that are good options, we feel that only 7 can be considered the best.
When you’re looking to buy vacation rental property in Florida, a few cities in Southwest Florida warrant strong consideration. From Fort Myers in the North to Naples in the South, these cities along with a few others in between have the perfect formula for what many vacationers want.
These cities, listed in no particular order, are the 7 best places to buy vacation rental property in Florida:
1. Cape Coral
Located just west of Fort Myers, Cape Coral offers a unique blend of family-friendly options for visitors.
Boating aficionados will appreciate what the area has to offer. With more than 400 miles of canals, Cape Coral is a dream come true for those who love to be on the water. There are freshwater canals as well as Gulf-access canals and Yacht Club Community Park features adds to this appeal with public access to the Gulf of Mexico via the Caloosahatchee River. Additional amenities include a tiki bar and grill, heated junior Olympic swimming pool, and tennis courts. Visit downtown Cape Coral for shops and restaurants. Popular eateries boast mouthwatering entrees, so you should be able to find something to make everyone happy. Slate’s is an excellent choice. It boasts Cajun-inspired fare in a cozy atmosphere with soothing and eclectic live jazz and blues almost every night. If you want to cool off and have some fun, head over to Sun Splash Family Waterpark. There are plenty of lounge areas, a lazy river and tons of water slides for the kids – or adults! It’s also the only water park between here and Tampa.
Golf enthusiasts can rejoice when they’re in Cape Coral. Traditionalists will appreciate being able to play at Palmetto-Pine Country Club. Palmetto-Pine was the first of over 20 Florida golf courses designed by renowned course architect, Arthur Hills. More casual golfers might enjoy the experience at Cape Royal Golf Club. Cape Royal boasts that it’s the only course in the area to offer Golfboard, a modern alternative to a golf cart, to its players. Even more great courses are available in Cape Coral and surrounding areas, giving golfers plenty of choices.
If you want to attract these types of renters, consider searching for homes for sale in Cape Coral on our site.
2. Captiva Island
In terms of exclusivity, Captiva Island is the leader on our list. At only 5 miles long, Captiva’s limited availability adds to its luxurious appeal. And what’s to be found on Captiva Island only further enhances the secluded atmosphere of luxury that entices many visitors. Time seems to slow down here and that makes it easy to get back to the simple things. Sunsets feel more exquisite, smiles are brighter, and it's easier to appreciate things like the sand between your toes. Visit Captiva Island and you’ll know what a vacation truly should be.
From delicious fare offered in island restaurants nestled among the island palms, to countless water activities and white sand beaches with crystal-clear water, buying a beach house on Captiva Island will undoubtedly be a good investment.
Listed below are some of the highlights and activities that make Captiva visitors rave:
Dolphin and wildlife cruises
Kayaking and paddleboarding
Both laid back and adventurous travelers alike will find what they’re looking for on Captiva Island.
Homes for sale on Captiva Island carry a higher price tag than any other location on this list. However, the rental rate is also the highest, which can balance out or increase the rental income gained from the property.
3. Sanibel Island
This is one of our top vacation destinations and Sanibel Island is a great place to retire if you're looking to purchase an investment property to use as an extra source of income during your golden years. Just like Fort Myers and others on this list, Sanibel Island can often be found on many “best beaches in Florida” lists. Sanibel and Captiva Islands are often discussed together because of their close proximity and similar characteristics. However, Sanibel Island has some important features that distinguish it from its neighbor island to the northwest. For one, it’s considered by many to be the shelling capital of the world.
Sanibel Island is home to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. The museum is proud to make known that it’s “the only museum in the United States devoted solely to shells and mollusks.” The island’s reputation as a world-renowned shelling destination furthers the appeals to shelling enthusiasts around the world. The museum has a lot of useful information available if you’d like to learn more about the shell treasures you find while you’re here. Just keep in mind that it’s illegal to take any live shells from the beach. That includes live sand dollars, sea urchins and other animals you may not realize are alive.
Sanibel Island is just 12 miles long, and also maintains an intimate atmosphere. This is partly thanks to a large portion of the sanctuary island being occupied by a national wildlife refuge. More than 6,000 acres of Sanibel island is undeveloped and is a habitat for protected wildlife, making it a great spot for nature lovers.
Home prices in Sanibel Island, on average, are lower than those on Captiva Island. This gives investors an opportunity to reach a similar vacationing audience at a lower cost. When you’re ready to take a look at homes for sale on Sanibel Island, reach out to us and we’ll guide you through the best options that fit your needs.
4. Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach
While Fort Myers isn’t necessarily considered city living, it offers most of what you’d find in a big city. From a lively and historic riverfront downtown to countless standout restaurants, shops, and more, Fort Myers has something for everyone. It’s not far from Sanibel and Captiva Islands and the Caloosahatchee River offers watersports and a beautiful backdrop.
Baseball lovers flock to Fort Myers during the Spring. The Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins’ Spring Training facilities are based in Fort Myers. Diehard and casual fans alike take the opportunity to enjoy some Spring Training baseball and Fort Myers’ lush atmosphere.
Geographically, Fort Myers is within 30 to 45 minutes of most other destinations on this list, making it an ideal location if you want to be in the middle of everything. For travelers looking to experience multiple destinations, Fort Myers makes this possible.
Fort Myers Beach is located approximately 15 miles southwest of Fort Myers, and we have vacation rentals here, too. Much smaller than the City of Fort Myers, the Town of Fort Myers Beach offers a beach town feel similar to Sanibel and Captiva Islands, thanks to its separation from mainland Florida. Situated on Estero Island, it has a laidback and tropical vibe, perfect to help get you in vacation mode.
Take a look at our homes for sale in Fort Myers to find the ideal vacation rental property in Fort Myers.
No other place on the list strikes a balance between city living and peaceful solitude, like Estero. A small, 20-square-mile village, Estero is ideally located approximately halfway between Fort Myers and Naples. In the eyes of many, Estero is a relatively new entity. It didn’t become an official government municipality until 2014. Although the community itself had a significant history before 2014. Once it became officially recognized, growth and development began to take off.
One of the cornerstone pieces attracting visitors to Estero is the Hertz Arena. Opened in 1998 as Everblades Arena, this building primarily served as home of the Florida Everblades, a minor league hockey team, which remains a popular draw to locals. Over time major entertainment acts began to perform at the arena, which attracted many new visitors. Performers in 2019 included ZZ Top, Cirque De Soleil, Jim Gaffigan, Kelsea Ballerini, and more. The arena also hosts expos such as bridal and home and garden shows that pull in thousands of visitors each year.
Estero isn’t limited to entertainment. Avid shoppers will have plenty to find at the Miromar Outlets and Coconut Point open air shopping centers. Dozens of name brand shops including Apple store, Dillard’s, Sephora, Tommy Bahama, J. Crew, Calvin Klein, and Kate Spade will keep shoppers busy for hours on end. Coconut Point also has Regal Cinemas and countless restaurants. Nature enthusiasts can opt to enjoy one or both of Esteros’ unique outdoor locales. Estero Bay Preserve State Park and Koreshan State Historic Site offer an exceptional nature experience for adventurers to enjoy. Koreshan State Historic Site also offers canoe rentals, hiking trails and camping. It has quite an interesting history as well.
Ready to find the perfect rental property in Estero? Search for homes for sale in Estero on our Estero destination page.
6. Bonita Springs
Beautiful Bonita Springs is often a popular destination for nature-lovers and vacationers who enjoy luxury amenities. Bonita Springs’ ability to attract these visitors is thanks largely in part to its multiple environmental attractions, sophisticated amenities, and easy access to white sand beaches. If you decide to stay here, one of our most desirable luxury rental communities is Bonita Bay. Located between Naples and Fort Myers, the gated community itself has several restaurants located within its gates and there is a handful of unique options in the Promenade at Bonita Bay open air shopping center, just outside the gates. In addition to 12 miles of walking and biking trails, Bonita Bay vacation rentals have access to five golf courses. For boaters and water lovers, the full-service Bonita Bay Marina offers direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. When you want to take it easy and relax, head to Bonita Bay’s private beach. Catch the shuttle if you don’t feel like driving. Whether you decide to stay here on vacation or move here for a lifetime, there are perks available for everyone.
Some of the more popular green tourist destinations in Bonita Springs are:
Barefoot Beach Preserve Park
For visitors that want the beach experience without the crowding and commercialized feel that many have, this is the place to be. It remains one of the few undeveloped and untouched beaches on Florida’s west coast. Renters that include this as part of their to-do list while on vacation appreciate the beach atmosphere without the sound of cars driving by or the sight of countless high-rises. There is a short walking trail that has an abundance of shade, but it’s still a good idea to bring sunscreen and bug spray, because you will find the gorgeous, white-sand beach irresistible. You may see critters like lizards, gopher tortoises and native birds.
Bonita Nature Place
A unique spot that many locals consider a hidden gem, Bonita Nature Place is a hodgepodge of various elements parts of nature located along the Imperial River. The area consists of multiple types of wildlife including more than 20 gopher tortoises, oak hammocks, pine flatwoods trees, two butterfly gardens, and more. A multi-route walking and biking trail is also available to give adventurers of all levels an opportunity to take in the scenery.
Everglades Wonder Gardens
Since 1936, this museum and botanical jungle hybrid has been a tourist staple of Bonita Springs. Everglades Wonder Gardens has changed hands a few times throughout the years, but the owners have all stayed true to its original mission. Located in downtown Bonita Springs, this attraction features wildlife including flamingos, tropical birds, alligators, a butterfly garden, an art gallery, and more. An ever-changing calendar of events gives visitors a reason to come back.
Bonita Springs isn’t just a nature-lovers destination. There are plenty of visitor attractions including unique restaurants and one-of-a-kind shops. Many events held at Riverside Park attract a large of number of visitors as well.
These events include:
Taste of Bonita
Bonita Blues Festival
To see what properties are available in Bonita Springs, check out our homes for sale in Bonita Springs page.
There’s certainly no shortage of best beaches in Florida lists to browse. And while these lists vary from one to the next, Naples is a common fixture on most of them. Each Naples beach offers something different for beachgoers, whether it’s the snow white sand of Naples Beach or the amenities available at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, which boasts grills and picnic tables, along with canoe and kayak rentals.
Naples is home to some of the area’s top golf courses. Some of the courses are regular hosts of LPGA and PGA tour events.
Popular golf destinations include:
Tiburon Golf Club
La Playa Beach & Golf Resort
Arrowhead Golf Club
Naples Grande Beach & Golf Resort
Naples also features a picturesque downtown. Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South are home to some of the best restaurants in Southwest Florida and boast a good mix of unique luxury shops and boutiques. Beaches and the Naples Pier are just a quick walk or drive from downtown, and the Everglades are about a 30-minute drive. It’s a treat to see what Southwest Florida used to look like before it was developed. Kids and adults alike will appreciate the area’s natural beauty.
There are thousands of homes for sale in Naples, FL. We’ll work with you to find the right investment property that meets your needs.
Vacation Rental Property Management Through Royal Shell Real Estate
Buying vacation rental property in Florida is a large undertaking. Managing your property can be labor-intensive and challenging as well. Should you decide you’d like to sell your rental property, you’ll have more work that needs to be done. Luckily, we can take care of ALL of this for you. If this is your first time considering a vacation rental property, here are some tips for investing in rental property for beginners.
Our team of knowledgeable agents and staff at Royal Shell Real Estate understand the work that needs to be done. We understand the housing market and the vacation rental market, which puts us in the best position to serve you. From start to finish, we do what’s necessary to provide you with the maximum return on investment for your vacation rental property.
Our vacation rental property management services include:
Online booking and 24/7 professional Vacation Planning Center
Professional maintenance and cleaning
24/7 maintenance and housekeeping
All communication with renters – you don’t need to be involved
On-call service technicians
23 years of experience helping our owners maximize the return on their assets
Whatever stage of the process, we’re here to help you. Contact us today to get started. Book directly and save money.