Where to watch the sunset: 48 restaurants with sunset views in Fort Myers, Sanibel, beyond

From waterfront restaurants on the Gulf of Mexico to bars perched high in the sky, these 48 restaurants offer food, drinks and stunning sunsets.

Annabelle Tometich
Fort Myers News-Press

It's such a routine thing, the sunset

It happens daily, or evening-ly, as it were. It's as certain as death, as taxes, as traffic on U.S. 41. And yet it feels magical. Every single time. 

Those seeking a dose of that magic have an abundance of options in Southwest Florida. Head to almost any of our Gulf-front beaches. Head to a park, a pier, a parking lot — and face west. Easy enough. 

For sunsets with some extra magic, in the form of food and drinks, options still abound. These restaurants from Marco Island to Bokeelia are just 48 of them. Some are waterfront, some are perched high in the sky, all offer an evening-ly glimpse of sunset that's certain to enchant. 

MORE:Five tips to capture a perfect Florida sunset

Reporter’s note: Most of the restaurants listed offer outside seating and masked staff; be sure to call ahead to confirm these details and secure reservations.

Sunset restaurants Fort Myers

Beacon Social Drinkery: Perched on the 12th floor of the new Luminary Hotel in downtown Fort Myers, Beacon offers sweeping views of the Caloosahatchee. The indoor-outdoor dining areas face west, making for brilliant sunsets. Beacon's concise menu is heavy on cocktails and small, shareable plates for snacking — or stacking into a meal. (2200 Edwards Drive, Fort Myers; 239-314-3800; luminaryhotel.com)

REVIEW:Beacon Social Drinkery stuns, revives — JLB

ALSO:Open season: 26 new restaurants launch across SWFL

The Bimini Bait Shack at Punta Rassa opened Wednesday 5/30/2018. The building formerly housed SS Hookers and Summerlin Jakes.

Bimini Bait Shack: This palm-thatched open-air restaurant feels like a trip to the Bahamas. Grab a rum-stiffened cocktail, some conch ceviche, some smoked fish dip. Or have a more mainland experience with barbecue, burgers, wings and onion rings. Either way, the sweeping views of San Carlos Bay and Sanibel will be there to keep you company. (17501 Harbour Pointe Drive, south Fort Myers; 239-360-2248; biminibaitshack.com)

The Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grill: Part restaurant, part riverfront playground, The Boathouse is an experience. Lounge by the pool. Play cornhole in the sand. Sip craft beers while watching the game on massive televisions. Or just kick back in an Adirondack chair and soak in a sunset. (17101 State Road 31, Fort Myers Shores; 239-332-2628; theboathouseusa.com)

Deep Lagoon Seafood & Oyster House: Owned by the same family as the Pinchers chain, Deep Lagoon's south Fort Myers location offers sunset views framed by the boats of the nearby marina. (14040 McGregor Blvd., south Fort Myers; 239-689-5474; deeplagoon.com)

The Firestone Skybar & Martini Bar: The rooftop level of this multi-story restaurant features picturesque views of the Caloosahatchee and downtown Fort Myers. Sunset happy hour specials are available 4-8 p.m. daily with discounted appetizers and drinks. (2224 Bay St., Fort Myers; 239-334-3473; firestonefl.com)

ALSO:Restaurants find independents: Local concepts thrive in COVID-19 economy

Tony Phelan, left, and his son Grant Phelan at their Pinchers location in downtown Fort Myers.

Joe's Crab Shack: This seafood-driven chain sits on the Caloosahatchee, offering warm views of the setting sun to go with cold beers and baskets of crab legs. (2024 W. First St., Fort Myers; 239-332-1881; joescrabshack.com)

Lighthouse Waterfront Restaurant: Tucked at the end of an inlet on Punta Rassa cove, Lighthouse joins bracing cocktails with casual and upscale dishes and mangrove-lined views of the setting sun. (14301 Port Comfort Road, south Fort Myers; 239-489-0770; lighthousewaterfrontrestaurant.com)

Pinchers: Of all the Pinchers in all of Southwest Florida, the riverfront location in downtown Fort Myers offers the best sunsets according to owner Grant Phelan. This unit with its screened-in, wrap-around patio features west-facing views of North Fort Myers and Cape Coral, and of the glowing sun as it sets behind them. (2360 W. First St., Fort Myers; 239-245-7049; pinchersusa.com)

Tarpon House at Sanibel Harbour Marriott: Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Tarpon House's dining room and open-air veranda overlook San Carlos Bay. The restaurant offers seafood, steaks, wines, cocktails and more come evening, with desserts, ports and cordials for a post-sunset treat. (17260 Harbour Pointe Drive, south Fort Myers; 239-466-2128; marriott.com)

Sunset restaurants Fort Myers Beach

Bonita Bill's Waterfront Cafe: While most waterfront restaurants charge a premium for their location, Bonita Bill's has fiercely opposed this tradition. Owned by islander Bill Semmer since 1991, this under-the-bridge "cafe" is open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. daily offering $3.50 breakfast sandwiches, $6 burgers and $7.50 pitchers of Bud Light. Bonita Bill's slogan, "No shirt, no shoes — can we get you a beer?" sums this place up. (702 Fishermans Wharf, Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-6119; bonitabills.com)

FROM JLB:7 must-eat restaurants (and one dive bar) on Fort Myers Beach

Visitors enjoy a sunset on the Fort Myers Beach pier on Monday, October 12, 2020.

Coste Island Cuisine: Through the main lobby of DiamondHead Beach Resort, this at-times-casual, at-times-upscale restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows framing dazzling views of the Gulf. The lounge side of Coste serves confit chicken wings, pizzas and burgers. The main dining room levels up with seafood towers, snapper Oscar and filet medallions. Both sides feature craft cocktails and enchanting sunsets. (2000 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 855-892-2905; costeislandcuisine.com)

REVIEW:Coste Island Cuisine is a rare waterfront gem — JLB

AND:11 outstanding seafood restaurants from Matlacha to Naples — JLB Picks

Dixie Fish Co.: This clapboard, cream-and-black structure dates to 1937, when it served as a humble fish market. It opened in its current iteration in January 2015, captivating diners with views of Matanzas Pass and a simple, well-honed menu heavy with local seafood. Those wanting to see the actual sun actually set won't get that at Dixie. The open-air dining areas face south and east, not west. Instead, you get water that shimmers orange and peach as the sky fades to purple — not a bad consolation prize. (714 Fishermans Wharf, Fort Myers Beach; 239-233-8837; dixiefishfmb.com)

Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grill: A sister restaurant to neighboring Dixie, this Doc Ford's location offers more space, a larger menu and the same stunning views of these glowing sunset waters. (708 Fishermans Wharf, Fort Myers Beach; 239-765-9660; docfords.com)

Fresh Catch Bistro: Trimmed in wood with panoramic windows looking out onto the sand and waves of the Gulf, Fresh Catch has a timeless feel. The menu features seafood almost any way imaginable, as well as steaks, burgers, duck and a full bar. (3040 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-2600; freshcatchbistro.com)

Waterfront views captivate diners from every seat at Fresh Catch Bistro on Fort Myers beach.

Island View Restaurant at Lani Kai Island Resort: Situated on the sixth floor of the Lani Kai, Island View features a wood-fired menu of charred seafood and pizzas, as well as pastas, steaks and chops, and a full bar. All can be had while gazing at the Gulf during sunset. (1400 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-5550; islandviewfmb.com)

Junkanoo: With a beach-side deck and picnic tables in the sand, this casual restaurant and bar sits next to Fresh Catch Bistro, offering a more laid-back menu filled with sliders, nachos, wings and more. (3040 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-6139; junkanoobeachfmb.com)

Parrot Key Caribbean Grill: Overlooking the waters of Matanzas Pass, this sprawling, mostly open-air restaurant features fruity cocktails, tropical takes on seafood, and pub classics. (2500 Main St., Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-3257; myparrotkey.com)

PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar: Since 1996, this Gulf-front restaurant has been a place for sandy feet to relax while sipping frozen cocktails and noshing on PierSide's famous beach bread. (1000 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-765-7800; piersidegrill.com)

Pinchers: This Bonita Springs-born chain has two locations on Fort Myers Beach. The San Carlos Boulevard restaurant offers sunset views through Estero Pass trimmed with leafy mangroves. The Pinchers Tiki Bar at 6890 Estero Blvd. flows onto the sandy shores of Estero Island. More at pinchersusa.com

Rae's on the Beach: Located inside Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina, Rae's serves a mix of Italian and coastal favorites, along with panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico and its spectacular sunsets. (275 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-8791; pinkshell.com)

Bairdi crab legs are served steamed or grilled at The Salty Crab.

The Salty Crab Bar & Grill: Colorful umbrellas and picnic tables line the sand outside this clapboard beachfront cottage. The dinner menu features a little something for everyone, ranging from burgers and salads to crab legs and seafood combos. (1154 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-233-8224; saltycrabbarandgrill.com)

Shucker's at the Gulfshore & The Cottage Bar: This 100-year-old cottage underwent a serious renovation in 2017, thanks to the same families that have owned this restaurant and bar since 1972. The Shucker's side offers seafood, steaks, wings and cocktails. The Cottage Bar is more casual, as are a series of other onsite venues offering live music, dancing and seaside drinks. (1250 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-765-5440; shuckersfmb.com)

Sunset Beach Tropical Grill and The Playmore Tiki Bar: Known for its tropical cocktails and beachfront views, this venue also offers a complete dinner menu filled with steaks, seafood, salads and sandwiches. (1028 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-1028; sunsetbeachtropicalgrill.com)

The Whale on Fort Myers Beach

The Whale: While not located directly on the beach, The Whale's second-floor, open-air dining area, aka the Lookout Lounge, offers pretty sunset views. It also serves up cocktails, live music and The Whale's tried-and-true classics, such as Yucatan shrimp and brisket sandwiches. (1249 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-5505; thewhalefmb.com)

Sunset restaurants Bonita Springs

Coconut Jack's Waterfront Grille: Tucked on an inlet of Fish Trap Bay, Jack's offers sunsets framed by mangrove trees and glimmering water. The menu is filled with casual seafood options, fruity cocktails, as well as burgers, steaks and chicken. (5370 Bonita Beach Road SW, Bonita Springs; 239-676-7777; coconutjacks.com)

FROM 2019:The 10 best (and 4 funnest) restaurants in Bonita Springs — JLB

The view from the upstairs dining room at Doc's Beach House on Bonita Beach.

Doc's Beach House: Opened in 1987, the Gulf-front Doc's has become a Bonita Beach landmark. Its menu is filled with Midwest and Northeast favorites, including Chicago-style pizzas and Philly cheesesteaks. Doc's balances those northern offerings with shrimp tacos, mahi baskets and Key lime pie. (27908 Hickory Blvd., Bonita Springs; 239-992-6444; docsbeachhouse.com)

Sunset restaurants Cape Coral

Gather: Named one of the best new restaurants of 2020 by The News-Press food critic Jean Le Boeuf, Gather pairs stunning plates with equally stunning views of Glover Bight and Tarpon Point Marina. (5971 Silver King Blvd. No. 116, Cape Coral; 239-673-9939; gathercape.com)

Marker 92 Waterfront Bar & Bistro: Also at Tarpon Point Marina, Marker 92 and its sister eatery, The Nauti Mermaid, are situated inside The Westin Cape Coral Resort. The bar features local beers and crafty cocktails, while the menu brims with seafood and steaks. (5961 Silver King Blvd., Cape Coral; 239-541-5011; marriott.com)

FROM 2019:The 26 best restaurants in Cape Coral: JLB picks city's top eats

Marker 92 overlooks Tarpon Point Marina in Cape Coral.

Pinchers: Another Tarpon Point Marina dining option, this Pinchers offers breezy views and this casual, time-tested menu of local seafood. (5991 Silver King Blvd. No. 101, Cape Coral; 239-540-7939; pinchersusa.com)

Rumrunners: While these aren't always direct sunset views — the dining areas face south and slightly west — they are still captivating. Rumrunners sits on a mangrove-lined canal that glows orange come sunset. The crafty, chef-driven menu and full bar are equally impressive. (5848 Cape Harbour Drive, Cape Coral; 239-542-0200; rumrunnersrestaurant.com)

Sunset restaurants Sanibel, Captiva, Pine Island

The Mad Hatter: The restaurant bills itself as a "wonderland" of American cuisine, offering, among other dishes, scallops seared in panko and black truffles, black grouper soused in Key-lime butter, and butter-poached Gulf shrimp over coconut risotto. The colorful dining room and sandy views are pretty wonderful, too. (6467 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel; 239-472-0033; madhatterrestaurant.com)

FROM JLB:How to eat your way through Sanibel's restaurants — in a pandemic

Guests watch the sunset at The Mucky Duck on Captiva.

The Mucky Duck: Sunset at this Gulf-front restaurant is practically a Captiva rite of passage. Grab a cocktail from the outside bar, snag a picnic table or Adirondack chair, sink your toes in the sand and watch for the elusive green flash. If you're hungry after, head inside for traditional classics. (11546 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva; 239-472-3434; muckyduck.com)

Tarpon Lodge: This Pine Island fishing lodge oozes Old Florida charm. It's in the brick-lined fireplace and the stuffed tarpons mounted on the walls. It's in the seafood-laden menu, the screened-in patio and, all importantly, the glowing sunsets that paint this waterfront property in rainbow colors each evening. (13771 Waterfront Drive, Bokeelia; 239-283-3999; tarponlodge.com)

Sunset restaurants Naples

Baleen at La Playa Beach & Golf Resort: Trimmed with tiki torches and lush foliage, Baleen's views of the Gulf of Mexico are second to none. Tack on a craft-cocktail bar and an innovative restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and sunset dinners, and you get an experience that's also tops. (9891 Gulf Shore Drive, Naples; 239-598-5707; laplayaresort.com)

Coast at Edgewater Beach Hotel: This menu takes its inspiration from coastal cuisines around the globe. Think ahi-tuna poke, seared salmon, grilled grouper and more. Then, think of this stunning Gulf-front patio decked with palm trees wrapped in twinkling lights. Then, go see for yourself. (1901 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples; 239-403-2000; edgewaternaples.com)

MORE:The 17 best restaurants in North Naples: JLB selects top eats for 2020

Sunset at Baleen in LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, North Naples.

Gumbo Limbo at The Ritz-Carlton: With breathtaking views of the Gulf, this beachfront restaurant is a fishing shack done The Ritz-Carlton way. That means impeccable service, thick burgers, grouper sandwiches on house-made buns, stiff cocktails — and stiff prices, too. (280 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples; 239-598-3300; ritzcarlton.com)

HB's on the Gulf at Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club:  Trimmed with seagrass and dotted with leafy palm trees, this glowing Gulf-front patio beckons warmly. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, HB's specializes in regional American cuisine from sea and land. (851 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples; 239-435-4347; naplesbeachhotel.com)

Rhode's End at Naples Grande Beach Resort: Tucked at the end of a boardwalk that winds through lush mangroves, Rhode's End feels like a secluded Greek isle. The short and casual menu continues that theme, offering falafel, wraps and an assortment of cocktails perfect for sunset sipping. (475 Seagate Drive, Naples; 239-597-3232; naplesgrande.com)

The Turtle Club at The Vanderbilt Beach Resort: With tables plunked in the white sands of Vanderbilt Beach, The Turtle Club specializes in innovative coastal cuisine. Think lobster frites with Bearnaise or roasted Gulf grouper in a hoisin-ginger glaze. (9225 Gulf Shore Drive, Naples; 239-592-6557; turtleclubnaples.com)

HB’s on the Gulf at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club

Sunset restaurants Marco Island

CJ's on the Bay: Watch the sun sink past Smokehouse Bay through CJ's floor-to-ceiling windows and open-air patio. Open since 2008, CJ's offers a full bar, plant-based selections and a wide-ranging menu filled with options from sea and land. (740 N. Collier Blvd. No. 105, Marco Island; 239-389-4511; cjsonthebay.com)

The Deck at 560: Located within the Hilton Marco Island, The Deck "boasts over 200 Gulf view seats," according to its website. The menu features seafood and land-lover selections, as well as sandwiches, salads and flatbreads. (560 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island; 239-394-2511; hiltonmarcoisland.com)

Guests mingle and watch the sunset at the launch of Kane Tiki Bar at the Marco Island Marriott.

Kane Tiki Bar & Grill: Named for the Polynesian god of creation and growth, the beachfront restaurant offers rum-fueled drinks and bites inspired by Indonesian street fare. (at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort; 400 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island; 239-394-2511; marriott.com)

Mango's Dockside Bistro: Also overlooking Smokehouse Bay, Mango's is a family friendly restaurant serving cocktails and a casual menu ranging from nachos, to grouper and sushi. (760 N. Collier Blvd. No. 109, Marco Island; 239-393-2433; mangosdocksidebistro.com)

Quinn's on the Beach: Another eatery within the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort's property, Quinn's features overstuffed bloody marys and an array of seafood dishes. As of Jan. 28, 2021 the restaurant is only open to resort guests. (400 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island; 239-394-2511; marriott.com)

Sale e Pepe: Since 2002, Sale e Pepe has been a bastion of scratch-made Italian cuisine — think cantaloupe served with 24-month dry-aged prosciutto, saffron-infused risotto, hand-made ravioli filled with butternut squash. Wines, cocktails and mesmerizing views of the Gulf complete the experience. (480 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island; 239-393-1600; sale-e-pepe.com)

The main dining room of Tesoro at JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.

Stilts Bar & Grill: Stilts sits at roughly palm-tree height, overlooking Marco's white sand beaches. Located in Marriott's Crystal Shores, the restaurant offers cocktails and casual plates in an open-air setting. (600 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island; 239-393-6790; marriott.com)

Sunset Grille: This Gulf-front sports bar offers dozens of TVs and a wide-ranging menu — from naan and tzatziki, to sandwiches, wings and stuffed flounder. As its name implies, it features enchanting sunsets, too. (900 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island; 239-389-0509; sunsetgrilleonmarcoisland.com)

Tesoro: The newest restaurant at JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is reserved exclusively for adults and promises a "Mediterranean-inspired dining experience," per its website, as well as beautiful Gulf views in a polished and modern setting. (400 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island; 239-394-2511; marriott.com)

We know we may have missed some. If so, send your favorite sunset restaurant to atometich@news-press.com to be added to the list. 

Naples Pier at sunset.