Captiva Island lies in the Gulf of Mexico, reached by bridges and a causeway from Fort Myers, Florida. Drive off the causeway and you arrive at two beautiful islands, Sanibel and Captiva. Both are famous for wildlife, sunsets and shell collecting. The shells here are so plentiful that Sanibel has a museum dedicated to them and the phrase ‘Sanibel Stoop’ is a shell-based phenomenon – it’s the hunched over stance adopted by the shell collectors. As you drive through Sanibel, pretty beachside cottages and tropical gardens abound.
After days of theme park fun in Orlando, we wanted something completely different. A paradise island to unwind, kick back, chill out and admire the view. Captiva was a five hour drive from Orlando and worth every minute.
At the tip of Captiva lies the South Seas Island Resort. The resort is spread over a large area with over 2 miles of beach and 330 acres of wildlife reserves. South Seas has a variety of accommodation from hotel rooms to private homes to condominium and villa rentals. Many people arrive by yacht to enjoy all the facilities of the resort as it has both a marina and yacht harbour. Popular with Floridians as a weekend getaway, the resort has an exclusive feel, surrounded by wildlife and beaches and a focus on nature. If you don’t want to use your car here, or arrive on your yacht and so don’t have a car, its no problem, you can stroll, rent a golf cart or catch the resort trolley bus.
We stayed in a family hotel room at North Pointe end of the resort, overlooking Pine Island Sound and the South Seas Marina. This was the view from our hotel room – wow factor alert, I could have sat on the balcony and watched the boats go by all day.
VIEW FROM OUR ROOM
Also at North Pointe is the resort’s swimming pool and, very popular with my kids, the H2Whoa water slides which
we must have flown down a hundred times. The pool area looks out to sea with great vantage points of the ocean and Pine Island Sound.
You don’t have to look too far to find wildlife on Captiva. As you sit by the pool you can watch the birds, including herons and pelicans fishing off the dock. Manatees live in the marina, dolphins play off shore and turtles hatch at the right time of year. My daughters loved watching the baby manatee cuddling its mum #toocute. Seeing wild manatees literally right outside your room was an awesome experience.
MY DAUGHTER FELL IN LOVE WITH THE MANATEES
We took a boat trip from the marina out to Pine Island Sound. This was a really interesting trip as they had a conservation expert on board who pointed out all the wildlife, birdlife, dolphins and manatees as well as the history of the island and the Ding Darling Nature Reserve.
A small pod of dolphins accompanied the boat, enjoying playing in the wake. So lovely to see them in the wild.
The shell beaches are of course world renowned and we did spend a lot of time collecting shells, snorkelling for shells and generally becoming shell-addicted. Its a habit you pick up on Captiva and Sanibel.
The resort also has watersports, fishing and Sanibel Sea School, where you can go out with marine biologists and discover the sea, shells, birdlife and marine life . A not for profit organisation, their aim is to make people fall in love with the ocean and to teach kids, and adults, all about the sea and how to protect it. I’ve never seen seen this in any resort or at any beach before – it’s fantastic so do stop by if you are visiting.
South Seas Resort also has a Scoutabout Challenge – clues take you to points around the resort and wildlife reserve where you collect different coloured bands and learn about nature. This was popular with my kids, although we didn’t quite manage them all. The call of the pool, beach and waterslides proved very strong!
The legendary sunsets can be watched from Sunset Beach with a cocktail in hand as you participate in the daily shell ceremony that takes place.
EATING AND DRINKING
South Seas Resort has a range of restaurants. We generally had breakfast from the marina provisions store where they do hot drinks and breakfast items as well as a whole range of foods for yachting folk. Sitting at the marina having a breakfast cup of coffee whilst the sun shone is a lovely holiday memory. You can barbecue at the marina – there are plenty of tables and chairs and bbq points, so if you want to cook your fishing catch you can.
We generally had lunch at The Crooked Snook Tiki Bar with the beach on one side and sea on the other, watching the birds fishing or the kids in the pool and occasionally a dolphin would swim past. Brilliant bartenders look after you and they do good drinks here too!
For dinner we visited the Harbourside Grill and Bar for fresh fish and steaks, The Pointe was great for cocktails and the Caribbean inspired Doc Ford’s Rum Bar, named after famous fictional detective Doc Ford, has an extensive rum menu. You will not go thirsty on Captiva! The resort also has a Starbucks so if you have a latte addiction don’t worry, you are catered for!
Our favourite though was Scoops and Slices, a 50s themed diner selling pizzas, sliders, ice cream and candy. Perfect for families.
There was so much to do on Captiva Island that we really only scratched the surface and didn’t make it to the tennis, golf, fishing or other activities. We were there to relax, spend family chill time after the hectic theme parks and see some of the wildlife and nature of the real Florida. Captiva and Sanibel islands are stunningly beautiful, relaxed places where you can do as much or as little as you like. If you are looking for noisy nightlife you won’t find it here. If you want to have time to yourself and watch the world go by, I can’t think of a better place.
PIN FOR LATER
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