Monday Musings: Travel Guide for Captiva, Florida
For years, we've been traveling to Captiva Island, Florida. In fact, my husband has been going on and off since he was three! It's a family favorite, and our children are now the third generation enjoying this destination.
Captiva is the quintessential beach vacation. There's really not much to do there if you don't like the beach! Most of the rental units are beachfront, there is no nightlife to speak of, and the restaurants are predominately seafood--even the golf course is beachside!
Planning a Visit
Depending on where you live, you can fly or drive. We like to save our airline points throughout the year and fly down. We fly into Ft. Myers, and then rent a minivan or SUV. On our way out to the islands, we stop at a Ft. Myer's Walmart and load up with groceries for the week. While there is a General Store on Captiva and a grocery store on Sanibel (just before Captiva), groceries are more plentiful and inexpensive if you pick them up on the Florida mainland. It's worth making a pretty comprehensive plan for meals before shopping. We always pick up extra fruit, fish and ice cream throughout the week on Captiva, but we fill our rental car with bags and bags and bags of groceries. Don't forget wine and beer, and coffee too (if that's your sort of thing)!
Then, we enjoy a beautiful drive out to the island. There's a nice toll road and you'll start to see boats and fishing, and maybe even dolphins, in the beautiful water all around. Depending on when we arrive, we love to grab a late lunch at one of the fun restaurants on Sanibel Island--the Island Cow or Doc Fords are favorites. (You may want a cooler with ice in the back of your car if you plan to stop and need to keep some of the groceries cold). It's not uncommon to have a really grumpy child traveler by this point in the adventure, but we make it work. It helps to be surrounded by the salt air!
Most of the rentals are available by 4 p.m. for check-in. We have always stayed at South Seas Island Resort, but there are a few other properties on Captiva Island, including Sunset Captiva, Jensen's Cottages, and a bunch of private homes. Over the years, we have rented through the resort itself, Royal Shell, VRBO, Airbnb and private owners. We've never been disappointed--the upkeep on these units is usually really nice and they all offer full kitchens and amenities. Keep in mind, though, that you are on an island, and everything is and will be covered in sand and salt!
Usually our first day is a quick hour on the beach or in the pool, and then dinner. There is another Doc Fords on Captiva, right near the resort, and it's a perfect dining option for a first night. I'd also recommend RC Otter's. The Bubble Room is known for the desserts and decor, and The Mucky Duck has the best view on the island. Hopefully you also stocked up on groceries, so you could whip up an easy salad or pasta for the first night, or order in a pizza. The best way to end that first night is to sit on your lanai and watch the beautiful gulf sunsets that Captiva offers.
Throughout the week, we typically eat out a few times, cook in a few times, and maybe even do a carryout dinner on our lanai. We spend our days on the beach, and I fully recommend umbrellas and beach chairs for the intense sun. Sometimes these are available with your rental unit, or you can rent them from YOLO Watersports on Andy Rosse Lane--known as "downtown Captiva."
As I mentioned initially, there is not much nightlife. There are few cute shops, a Starbucks (yes!), and some art galleries. If you like to fish, you can do so right off the beach, or book a charter guide to take you out for the morning. If you catch something, your guide will fillet your fish and dinner is taken care of! There is a 9-hole golf course on the resort, and tennis courts aplenty. Most units come with access to a standard pool, but if you're interested in the big resort pool and cabanas at lands end, you'll need to sign up for resort access through South Seas. The gulf is pretty mellow, so paddle boarding or kayaking is pretty fun. There's a neat old lighthouse and J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, offering a day of exploring.
The wildlife is plentiful--you'll see manatees, dolphin, lizards and maybe (just maybe) a shark or alligator...
So, come with swimsuits, flip flops and lots of sunscreen. Captiva is a magical place.
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