Captivated by Captiva Island!

by Jenn Bodnar | October 29, 2021 2:51 am

Whether you are an adventure and nature enthusiast, or looking for a romantic getaway, or seeking a perfect vacation spot with family and friends for the holidays or special occasion, Captiva Island is sure to delight the most discerning traveler. Nestled off the west coast of South Florida, this little gem packs a big punch of natural beauty, recreation, and relaxation.  Known for its pristine beaches and world-class shelling, Captiva Island also boasts a rich heritage while offering modern conveniences which provide a balance of charm, mystery, and exhilaration.

How To Get There

Captiva Island is located directly north of its sister island, Sanibel, and west of Fort Myers[1]. The closest airport is Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW).  I was surprised by how many direct flights there were from Dallas.  From the airport, it’s about an hour’s drive.  The island is not extremely far from the airport, but once you get into the islands the speed limit is pretty low.  I was lucky enough to have a car service and enjoyed the scenic ride and long bridges over the Gulf of Mexico.

Where To Stay

South Seas Island Resort[2], hands-down, has all you need to experience a tropical paradise that’s just as laid back as it is luxurious. Originally a Key Lime Plantation, South Seas opened to guests in 1946 as a fishing resort. Certain parts of the destination carry that classic vibe. After checking in, it’s an almost 2-mile drive through the resort to my building where land meets the sea.

Accommodations include everything from waterfront guest rooms, spacious villas,  and condos to private homes with up to six bedrooms and full kitchens.   My room, which overlooked the ocean, had an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling windows with a sliding glass door opening out to a generous-sized balcony with two large comfortable chairs.  The crisp and clean decor blends with the Captiva Island scenery of white sandy beaches and clear blue water.   The views of boats, people fishing, frolicking dolphins, and the sunrise were mesmerizing and surreal.

As much as I want to stay on my balcony and take in the sights, sounds, and fresh air, I’m curious to get the lay of the land. South Seas Island Resort is ideal for the active guest who wants to wind down, but also enjoys sightseeing, good food, exercise, and activity.  It’s very walkable, there are golf cart and bike rentals available.  There is a great energy and buzz as you move around the 330-acre property which is a protected wildlife sanctuary.  The marina is home to Ships Store for your last-minute needs and also several manatees who are more than happy to come out and say hello as you casually pass by.

What To Do

If you’re a “toes in the sand” type, South Seas Island Resort has plenty of lounge chairs, pool cabanas, and sandy beaches.  If you are looking for some history and culture, I recommend taking one of their guided tours. From kayaks and back bay fishing tours to trips to Cayo Costa for an island shelling experience [3]with Captiva Cruises,[4] dolphin & wildlife adventure, sailing, group boat tour, private charter, or romantic sunset cruise, South Seas has it all right from the property.  The surrounding islands are full of beauty, charm, and historical facts.  You might find several sand dollars and colorful, playful crabs.

Sporty types will appreciate rentals and services through Sunny Island Adventures[5] with multiple locations throughout the resort.  Parasailing, Ujet Electric Surfboards, Waverunners and Stand Up Paddleboards are a few of their offerings.  You can also enjoy bikes and golf carts.  Recreational offerings for competitive sports are just as abundant with a “Top five” ranked 9-hole, par-3 golf course that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and a full-on Tennis Academy and Pickleball courts.

You need not worry about falling off the fitness and wellness wagon while visiting South Seas. There are miles of running and bike paths, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a full-service spa and salon and a brand new yoga studio.  Ambu Yoga[6] offers outdoor classes on the ocean lawn led by their founder and gifted yoga teacher Yali Zawady.

Manatee at crystal river in Florida

What to Eat

Foodies will delight in the array of fresh fish offerings, salads, vegetarian options, grab-and-go deli sandwiches, burgers, tacos, steaks, pasta, and an ice cream and candy store all on the resort property.  At the resort entrance, you will find the Captiva Provision Company gourmet market, the notorious Doc Fords restaurant which is a staple in the community, and even a Starbucks!

The resort boasts a variety of dining experiences on the premises.  For casual bites on the beach, Attitudes Beach Bar and Latitudes Food Shack[7] specializes in tacos, tequila, lime, and sunshine! Craving the rays without the sand or just looking for a delicious bite and refreshing cocktails, The Pointe[8] has burgers, seafood, and salads that can be enjoyed poolside or in their restaurant.  And whether you are dressed up or down, you can enjoy a full service menu at the Harbourside Bar & Grill[9].

A Family Affair

South Seas Island is a quaint vacation destination suitable for the whole family.  It truly feels like a tropical paradise with something for everyone and no passport or customs required.  They have the Sanibel Sea School,  which offers experiential sea-based education programs and exploration of Captiva Island. And did we mention pizza and ice cream at Scoop’s & Slices[10]?

Captiva Island is truly a playground for all ages.  It’s accessible, safe, clean, and versatile.   Ages, stages and activity levels are all supported.

It’s a great destination for the holidays.  Check out some of these upcoming holiday festivities!

Thanksgiving

Tiki and Turkeys Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunset Beach, Thursday, Nov. 25th, 4-6:30 pm – For a Toes-in-the-Sand Thanksgiving dinner like no other, Sunset Beach offers up a laid-back, island vibe with plenty of satisfying culinary options, promising to become a favorite annual tradition ($75 adults, $30 children 5-12 and complimentary for children under 5).

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at Harbourside Restaurant, Thursday, Nov. 25th, seatings at 4, 6 & 8 pm – Let South Seas Island Resort do the dishes while you sit back and relax, indulging in Turkey Day classics and coastally-inspired cuisine ($75 adults, $30 children 5-12 and complimentary for children under 5).
Turkey on the Run – guests looking for a bit more distance can pick up their traditional turkey dinner and enjoy in their private accommodations at the resort. Turkey on the Run dinner includes Chophouse Salad, Roasted Turkey Breast and Pulled Dark Meat, Garlic & Herb Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Sage Sausage Stuffing, Orange Cranberry Relish, Dinner Rolls and Pumpkin Pie ($175, serves six)

December Holiday Happenings

Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony – a festive tradition with music, holiday cookie decorating, the reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and holiday refreshments, all designed to get guests in the spirit.
Captiva Holiday Village at Yacht Harbour – guests stroll through with hot cocoa and s’mores in-hand, enjoying skating, music, arts & crafts and entertainment from stilt walking and juggling to balloon artists and face painting; outdoor movies serve up holiday classics and the big man himself, Santa, pops by to make note of Christmas wishes and capture priceless photos. Complimentary for resort guests and available for the public for $20 per person, proceeds of the event benefit Captains for Clean Water.
Captiva Holiday Village Golf Cart Parade – a favorite of loyal guests, golf carts adorned with holiday finery roll by while attendees select the winner of the coveted “People’s Choice Award.” Entry fee is $20, benefitting the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation.

Endnotes:
  1. sister island, Sanibel, and west of Fort Myers: https://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com
  2. South Seas Island Resort: https://www.southseas.com
  3. Cayo Costa for an island shelling experience : https://www.floridastateparks.org/CayoCosta
  4. Captiva Cruises,: https://captivacruises.com
  5. Sunny Island Adventures: https://www.sunnyislandadventures.com
  6. Ambu Yoga: https://www.ambuyoga.com
  7. Attitudes Beach Bar and Latitudes Food Shack: https://www.southseas.com/dining/attitudes-latitudes/
  8. The Pointe: https://www.southseas.com/dining/the-pointe/
  9. Harbourside Bar & Grill: https://www.southseas.com/dining/harbourside-bar-grill/
  10. Scoop’s & Slices: https://www.southseas.com/dining/scoops-slices/

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