Fort Myers Beach Pier has great white soft sand.It is wonderful family beach. There is shopping, restaurants and even street performers in Times Square. Good family food option = Citrola's Times Square Grill & Pizzeria
Sanibel Island is world renowned for shelling and the secluded beaches. There are no mega resorts here and no huge beach crowds. Parking is sometimes tricky and you do have to pay $6 to go over the Sanibel Causeway but it is well worth it! One of the most beautiful is Bowman's Beach. There are a lot of shells in the sand here, bring your watershoes to protect your feet when walking on the beaches.
Sanibel is a wonderful quaint island with great restaurants (no fast food), shopping, and no traffic lights. Speaking of traffic, it can get really backed up. Get on the island early in the morning and don't leave the island between 4-6pm, stay and enjoy the sunsets!
Our favorite family restaurant on the island is Cheeburger Cheeburger. Our favorite place to shop (no young kids or you will need to keep a close eye on them) is She Sells Sea Shells. Must go through the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge - spectacular birds in the refuge. There are a few alligator lookouts but we didn't see any.
For more travel tips to Fort Myers and Sanibel, click the link below.