Captiva Island is a postcard-perfect, sleepy little island connected to Sanibel on the Gulf side of Florida, just outside of Ft. Myers. There’s a $6 toll bridge to get onto the island, which makes me wonder if it’s to keep the riff-raff off the exclusive island. Driving through Sanibel’s narrow roads, along side hundreds of bicyclists, past dozens of tiny shops, reminds me of parts of N.C.’s Outer Banks.
The foliage and critters here seems to be on steroids. Houseplant-type greens tower over me. Azaleas grow two stories high. I see familiar looking weeds I’ve plucked from my garden, only these are 10 feet tall. I spot a few shells almost the size of newborn babies. While walking on a path to the beach, I’m surprised by a crab scurrying out of his hole. He’s the size of my foot. My screams, so loud, I even surprise myself.
Hotels are pricey. I stay at the South Seas Inn resort, one of the only places with availability during Spring Break. At $275 a night, it was actually a decent deal for the island. My condo is fully stocked with everything a family needs and is overlooking the bay. The resort requires you to pay for everything with a room keycard. *Note There’s an added $15/ day resort fee and another $25/ night in sales tax
Restaurants and shops on the property don’t take credit cards or even cash, only keycards and the real kicker is everyone over the age of 6 is required to carry one. Imagine giving a family of teenagers credit cards to use anywhere.
We have dinner at the Resort’s Bbq place- Holy Smokes. The meal is pretty good and not terribly overpriced. The overflow seating area looks like a giant pool hall. Smoked Sandwiches and Ribs range from $9- $18.
I have a late lunch at Key Lime Bistro, not on the resort. Also decent food typical of an outdoor beach bar/restaurant. There is plenty of outdoor seating beneath misting fans with a one-man band playing. It reminds me of Key West.
Narrow strips of white-sand beaches are littered with millions of shells. If you take the time to hunt, you will find dozens of tiny conchs, bright pink, and scalloped shells so white they look to be bleached. I quickly realize why the majority of people on the beaches are collecting shells. Both days of my stay, I find myself out running the beach in the early morning, both hands clutching shells too beautiful to pass up.
Captiva Island is a nice place for a relaxed family or quiet couples vacation. The entire island has a resort feel to it and gets pretty quiet after dark. There’s plenty of water activity options like kayaking, parasailing, and fishing. Sailing lessons are also offered. Other than that, hanging out at the beach or biking seem to be the most popular things to do, aside from eating and drinking.