Top 5 beach bars on Fort Myers and Bonita beaches

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Real Estate

Here are our top five (in alphabetical order):

Bonita Bill’s
When traffic is backed up across Matanzas Pass bridge, we gladly take a right on Main Street and wrap our way around to this bar and converted 1926 fish house on San Carlos Island. With a “No shirt? No shoes? Can we get you a beer?” motto, it doesn’t get much more laid back than this. Beers start at $4 and are even cheaper from 2-5 p.m. for happy hour, which also features BOGO frozen drinks and $1 off wine. Order breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks at the counter and grab a table. Snap a photo next to the boat still perched on the dock from Hurricane Ian (hurry, it’ll be gone soon) and watch the water and traffic slowly ebb and flow by as you relax. (702 Fishermans Wharf, Fort Myers Beach; open 8 a.m. to 9(ish) p.m.; 239-463-6119, and on Facebook)

Doc’s Beach House
While Hurricane Ian raged through the first floor of this Bonita Beach landmark, the upstairs was completely untouched. As soon as it reopened 14 months later, we were seated at a corner table in that bustling second-floor sports-themed bar area, enjoying cold drinks, Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches and a clear view of the beach. The downstairs, meanwhile, is all new, but with the same style. For a complete feet-in-the-sand experience, customers can order their tacos, wings, burgers, Chicago tavern-style pizza and more to-go and eat at one of the first-come, first-served beachside tables. Wherever you choose, Doc’s is one beach bar you don’t want to miss. (27908 Hickory Blvd., Bonita Springs; open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily with breakfast served until 11 a.m.; cash only; limited valet parking is free; 239-992-6444;

La Ola Fort Myers Beach
As soon as you cross the bridge onto Fort Myers Beach, you’re in fun beach-bar land with Yucatan Beach Stand, Nervous Nellie’s and Wahoo Willie’s to name a few. It’s hard to pick a favorite but we will go with La Ola. This on-the-beach and in-the-sand venue may look vastly different than it did before Hurricane Ian, but the vibe is fully intact. After the original Times Square restaurant was washed away, owner Tom Houghton wasted no time in getting La Ola running again a month later with a food truck, shipping containers and decks. If you’re looking for classic beach bar eats (like wraps, tacos, burritos, burgers) and drinks (think margaritas, beer, shots), plus live music, look no further than this cool stop on the beach, just over the bridge. (1035 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; 239-765-2222;

Lah De Dah at Margaritaville
The new resort has (at least) six dining and drinking venues, including this beachiest beachside and beach-access one. It’s the perfect mix of beachy-meets-resorty. Grab a spot at the impressive first-come-first-served bar or have someone guide you to a table inside or to an umbrella-covered one right on the sand. Drink prices begin at $7 for drafts (16 ounces) and domestic cans. Order one of the dozen-plus margaritas (starting at $13), sit back, chillax and watch all the action from one of the busiest spots on the beach. (251 Crescent St., Fort Myers Beach; open noon to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday to Sunday; 239-899-4001;

Parrot Key
Home to the Sunday breakfast Monster Mary (32-ounce Bloody Marys adorned with whole fried snapper, cheeseburger sliders, bacon grilled cheese or traditional), this Caribbean grill is a fun and waterfront getaway any day of the week. Nestled in Salty Sam’s Marina just before the Matanzas Pass bridge, settle along the new (thanks to Hurricane Ian) open-air bar decked out with bamboo and parrots everywhere. Island drinks (averaging $10 each) add to the tropical ambiance. Dockside tables and booths are other perfectly breezy options. (2500 Main St., Fort Myers Beach; open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 239-463-7333;; follow on Facebook and Instagram)