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August 2023
Ray Sarracino, Jackie Parker, Miriam Dotson 239-338-3500

What’s New from Fort Myers - Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods
Chris Janson headlines Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, openings, special fall events

LEE COUNTY, Florida (U.S.A.)
– This month brings updates and headliners for Island Hopper Songwriter Fest in September, new restaurants and special events. For more information, go to

Save the dates: Exciting Island Hopper Songwriter Fest news and performers
Multiple Academy of Country Music Award winner Chris Janson will perform Sunday, Oct. 1, at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina pool party on Fort Myers Beach. Janson made his mark as a songwriter, penning Tim McGraw’s 2012 hit “Truck Yeah.” In 2015, his album “Buy Me a Boat” had hits with “Power of Positive Drinkin’, ” “Holdin’ Her,” and the title track. 

A master collaborator, Janson recently brought Dolly Parton and Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash together for his new single “21 Forever.” The song appears on the new “The Outlaw Side of Me.” 

The four locations and dates for the 10-day, award-winning festival include: Captiva Island, Sept. 22-24; Cape Coral, Sept. 25-26; downtown Fort Myers, Sept. 27-28; and Fort Myers Beach, Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

Bringing Nashville songwriters to Southwest Florida to perform in intimate settings gives fans the opportunity to interact with the musicians up close and personal. 

Here’s a quick look at some of the performers, including:
Clint Daniels – With songs that have helped shape country music for almost 20 years, his work has been performed by George Strait, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Clay Walker, Brandy Clark and other country acts. 

Clare Cunningham – The Irish singer-songwriter made her Grand Ole Opry debut in March and performed “Galway Girl” on stage with Steve Earle. 

Essex County – British brothers Nate, Mark and Kiernan Bass return with their tight, family harmonies and sweeping country and rock influences. 

Coretta King – With music that speaks to your soul, King strives for her music not to solely “reflect the times,” as Nina Simone once said, but to transcend it. 

Frank Myers – Multi-award-winning artist wrote the No. 1 hit “You and I” for Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle and co-wrote the No. 1 hit “I Swear” for John Michael Montgomery. 

Ava Suppelsa won several songwriter competitions (including the Island Hopper Competition, landing a spot in 2016), moved to Nashville and in 2020 signed a worldwide publishing deal. She credits IHSF as launching her as a songwriter. Her songs have been recorded by Keith Urban, John Paul White, Avery Anna, Jamie O’Neal, Ryan Griffin and Flatland Cavalry.

Catie Offerman spent 2022 on the road opening shows for Parker McCollum, Ashley McBryde and Lee Ann Womack. Her first single “I Just Killed A Man” was recently released. 

While most shows are free, this year’s Island Hopper will offer more ways to enjoy unique, ticketed live performances: 

Chris Janson will perform at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina pool party on Fort Myers Beach, on Oct.1.
• Local favorites, Sheena Brook and Brian Sutherland, will play the Music on the Mound at the Mound House on Fort Myers Beach on Sept. 30.
• Grammy award-winning songwriter Tim James will perform on the Captiva Sunset Cruise on Sept. 24 along with Angie K who has shared the stage Big & Rich, Tanya Tucker, Sammy Kershaw, Trace Adkins, Melissa Etheridge and Jake Owen. 

For the full lineup and ticket information, visit or download the Island Hopper app. Island Hopper Songwriter Fest is presented by BMI, iHeart Radio’s Cat Country 107.1 FM, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods.

Dining, entertainment and brewery news 
With beachfront views and spectacular sunsets, the Crow’s Nest Steakhouse has opened at ’Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island. The new island dining venue is located on the second level above the recently opened, Shipyard Restaurant.

Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grill reopens in Cape Coral
Serving sunsets, music, food and good times under the tiki, the Boathouse has reopened in Cape Coral.

Tarpon Bay reopens at Hyatt
Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs reopened its Tarpon Bay restaurant after an extensive renovation, including an open-kitchen style with a bar and chef’s table, a modernized private dining area and an expanded total seating capacity of 219 guests. The renovation came after the resort’s multimillion-dollar guestroom renovation was unveiled earlier this year.

Airport news
Southwest Florida International (RSW) assists travelers with non-visible disabilities
The Sunflower Program, now in nearly 200 airports worldwide, allows travelers to discreetly let others know they have a non-visible disability. Along with Port Authority staff, the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau’s Visitor Services Tourism Ambassadors have been trained in this initiative and will help inform the traveling public at RSW about the Sunflower Program. 

Booths are located in the east and west atriums of baggage claim from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
The sunflower symbol, printed on a lanyard, badge, hat, bracelet or other branded item, indicates that a person may need more assistance and patience is appreciated. When airport personnel see someone wearing the symbol, they know they may need extra assistance, more time or help reading signage.

New air service at RSW:
Breeze will start nonstop service to the following cities in November:
Akron-Canton, Ohio (CAK) – three times weekly
New Orleans (MSY) – twice weekly
Norfolk, Virginia (ORF) – twice weekly
Richmond, Virginia (RIC) – twice weekly
Syracuse, New York (SYR) – twice weekly
Pittsburgh (PIT) – four times weekly
Louisville, Kentucky (SDF) – twice weekly
Columbus, Ohio (CMH) – three times weekly
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina (RDU) – twice weekly

JetBlue Airways: Worcester (ORH), weekly starting Jan. 4, 2024.

Tours return to CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) on Sanibel Island
The popular guided campus tours are back at 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The tours give visitors an in-depth look into what patients experience from intake to release, including the inner workings of the hospital and the treatment process. Visitors will also get a look into rebuilding efforts post-hurricane. Advanced registration and payment is required. Tours are $25 per person. Call 239-472-3644 ext. 229 or email to reserve a spot. Tours are limited to 12 individuals and participates must be 10 years of age or older to attend.

Check details for other programs at the Visitor & Education Center that include free story and snack time as well as daily presentations that cover a variety of wildlife topics and patient care at CROW.

Lovers Key State Park reopens
The park has opened from 8 a.m. until sunset with limited day-use activities and amenities.

Offshore Sailing School introduces ultimate cruising course 
Offshore Sailing School introduces its first combination catamaran and monohull cruising course that offers students a chance to experience the best of both worlds. The new Ultimate Monohull and Catamaran Cruising Course, is offered at ’Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island. For details, email and visit

Check favorite spots on webcams
It’s not as much fun as being here but it’s the next best thing! Check in on some favorite spots with our webcams. They include Fort Myers, Pine Island, Boca Grande, Cape Coral and Manatee Park. Find directions and locations at

In the news
Sanibel Island’s Turner Beach has been named one of the 14 best beaches in the U.S. for shelling by “Of all the places for shelling in the U.S., Sanibel Island may beat them all. There are over 250 different types of seashells from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean that can be found here, with Turner Beach often named the very best.”

Sun Saver Passport: Dine, Play, Shop, Sip
This popular, digital savings pass provides instant access to a variety of deals and experiences from area attractions, restaurants and more across four categories – Dine, Play, Shop and Sip. Sign-up is simple and free. Passports are instantly delivered to phones via text and email. And there is an option for users to save the pass on their home screen for one-tap access. Sign up now to start saving.

Cape Coral Quest: Win prizes and explore 
Download the Cape Coral Quest app for a fun way to explore the area and a chance to win prizes through Nov. 30. Follow the directions at to collect a Cape Coral Quest Pass to participate on any mobile device. 

Annual festivals and events

Island Hopper Songwriter Fest 
Sept. 22-Oct. 1

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge “Art in the Wild”
Oct. 21-22

Cape Coral Oktoberfest
Oct. 20-22 and 27-29

Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off/Beach Division Matchups
Nov. 20 
6 p.m.: Wisconsin/Virginia
8:30 p.m.: West Virginia/SMU
Third-place and championship contests are set for the same times on Nov. 22.
Suncoast Credit Union Arena at Florida SouthWestern State College

Elevance Health Women’s Fort Myers Tip-Off/Island and Shell Divisions
Island Division: Nov. 23 and 25. Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma and Princeton. 
Shell Division: Nov. 24 and 25. Wisconsin, Marquette, Boston College and Arkansas.

Sanibel Island Writers Conference
November TBD

“Ding” Darling Lecture Series
Jan.18-March 28, 2024

39th Annual Cape Coral Festival of the Arts, Cape Coral
Jan. 13-14, 2024

Niki Butcher Exhibition
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
January-February TBD

ArtFest Fort Myers, Downtown River District
Feb. 2-4, 2024

21st annual Burrowing Owl Festival, Cape Coral
February TBD
Rotary Park

Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade, Fort Myers
February TBD

“Ding” Wild Days of Wellness
March 23-24, 2024 

Spring training 2024, February and March
Boston Red Sox 
JetBlue Park, Fort Myers

25th Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival, Fort Myers
March 2, 2024

ECHO Global Food and Farm Festival, North Fort Myers 
March TBD

34th Annual “Ding” Darling Day Conservation Carnival
April 20, 2024

14th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival

12th Annual “Ding” Darling and Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournament
May 10, 2024

Captiva Pride Weekend
June TBD

National Seashell Day
June 21, 2024

July TBD
Pine Island


EDITOR’S NOTE: Fort Myers - Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods include: Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Matlacha, Boca Grande & Outer Islands, North Fort Myers, Alva, Buckingham and Lehigh Acres. For more information, go to



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