SOUTH SEAS ISLAND RESORT, CAPTIVA ISLAND, FLORIDA BEYOND THE THEME PARKS

 

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.

WILDLIFE

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.

Pine Island Sound boat trip, Captiva Island, Florida

South Seas Resort, Captiva, Florida

South Seas Resort from the water

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!

SUNSETS

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.

Sunset Beach, South Seas Resort, Captiva Island

Sunset Beach – escape the crowds!

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.

 

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50 Comments

  1. February 23, 2017 / 10:21 am

    OH MY GOSH! Manatees! Sooo cool. I love the idea of taking the boat to Pine Island Sound and seeing dolphins – so special. This is beautiful Jo. Thank you for sharing with #FarawayFiles.

  2. February 23, 2017 / 10:35 am

    Looks vaguely familiar like perhaps I was there back in 04! #FarawayFiles

  3. February 23, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    Manatees, dolphins and beaches covered in shells. How perfect! I saw manatees on a boat trip in Belize so I can completely understand your daughter’s fascination. Captiva sounds enchanting. Thanks for sharing it with us on #FarawayFiles

  4. February 24, 2017 / 5:45 pm

    What a lovely island! I have family in Bradenton so it would be great to visit this place on our next trip down there. I agree that it would be a nice retreat after visiting theme parks (one of our favorite activities).

    • February 24, 2017 / 6:37 pm

      Oh lucky you to have family not too far away! Thanks for reading!

  5. February 25, 2017 / 8:17 am

    Now this is embarrassing.. I had to look up what a manatee is! This looks like the perfect family escape. There is nothing like a gentle boat ride being accompanied by a pod of dolphins. Bliss! Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

    • February 25, 2017 / 9:27 am

      Manatees are so lovely, they just float about in the water with their pals! I’ll be one in a future life. Thanks for hosting #farawayfiles

  6. March 8, 2017 / 3:43 pm

    I just visited Captiva last weekend with some friends of mine! we loved it for all the same reasons you did!

    • March 8, 2017 / 4:46 pm

      We would really love to return it was such a fabulous place. I’d like to spend time on Sanibel as well. Thanks for reading.

  7. March 8, 2017 / 4:40 pm

    Manatees, ahh so cute! Love that you are sharing the “other side” of Florida! #wanderfulwednesday

    • March 8, 2017 / 4:46 pm

      Thanks for reading. My daughter really loved the manatees she did a school project on them when we got back.

  8. March 8, 2017 / 6:16 pm

    Awww manatees and dolphins? Sign me up please!! Seriously, I’ve always wanted to see dolphins!!

    • March 8, 2017 / 8:36 pm

      You get to see whales in Norway right?

  9. March 9, 2017 / 12:32 pm

    What an amazing place! I love that you had the chance to see manatees and dolphins there, and it looks so relaxing – I can imagine it was a wonderful break after the busy theme parks. #WanderfulWednesday

  10. March 9, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    Looks like a lovely getaway! I’ve not spent much time on the gulf side, so this was a very entertaining and educational read. The manatees are great, aren’t they? I swam with them 3 years in Crystal River. What an unforgettable experience.

  11. March 10, 2017 / 11:22 pm

    I LOVE Captiva Island! I used to go every year when I would visit my grandparents in Fort Myers. A few years we even stayed on Sanibel. When I was younger I loved all the dolphins and manatees too! You really got some great shots of them! 😀

    • March 11, 2017 / 12:13 am

      Lauren I am so envious of you what a wonderful place to go every summer!

  12. March 11, 2017 / 4:57 pm

    Those manatees would freak me out!

    • March 11, 2017 / 7:13 pm

      Manatees are lovely! They are vegetarians so you are safe!

  13. March 11, 2017 / 6:01 pm

    I’ve missed this when I’ve been in Florida, but because I’ll get back for more, I’ll definitely return to this article!

  14. March 11, 2017 / 6:13 pm

    What a lovely island and I so want to check this out now. Manatees…now I know where to find them ! 😀

  15. March 12, 2017 / 12:55 am

    We visited both islands a few years back and had no idea it was a hotspot for manatees! I fell in love with those gentle giants too just like your daughter. We went snorkeling in Crystal River with them… what an experience! Great post, I would love to get back there soon!

  16. March 12, 2017 / 3:47 am

    Omg, I would LOVE to see wild manatees just in the marina! That’s so amazing. And so many dolphins too! This sounds like such a nice little island for a mini getaway. I’ve been seeing so many posts on Florida recently, and it makes me feel like you need to be there for a long time to cover everywhere (besides just the theme parks) and discover the hidden gems!

    • March 12, 2017 / 9:38 am

      We did 9 days theme parks, 1 day cocoa beach and 5 nights Captiva. Thanks for reading.

  17. March 12, 2017 / 7:18 am

    This is a wonderful place to stay and indulge in the pleasures of Captiva Island. The view from the room is definitely something one could die for. The Manatees are really so endearing, could spend hours just watching them. And finally the sunset, it is really hypnotic!

  18. March 13, 2017 / 7:23 am

    This sounds like a great destination. So much to fill one’s days with. What is the daily shell ceremony? It sounds so fascinating.

    • March 13, 2017 / 7:39 am

      It’s a sunset ceremony where you all take a shell, throw it into the sea and they read out a poem. It’s accompanied by sundowners!

  19. March 13, 2017 / 11:00 am

    OH I love Manatees they are just the sweetest things! This resort looks like a wonderful place and the wildlife and scenery are awesome! Somewhere I would want to visit for sure!

  20. March 13, 2017 / 11:28 am

    What a beautiful place to spend some relaxing days with kids. It seems to have all what families need to keep them entertained. I was scared to see the pool water temperatures on your pic, it would be better to precise its Fahrenheit degrees for Europeans, ha haa

  21. March 14, 2017 / 1:17 am

    What a great spot you found! I love that the pool has great views and that diner looks like such a fun spot to eat. Looks like you had a fabulous trip.

  22. Carol Colborn
    March 14, 2017 / 6:18 pm

    Finally, see close-up photos of those orange-ish manatees. Thanks!

    • March 14, 2017 / 6:52 pm

      We love manatees, hoping to see some in Mexico in a few weeks.

  23. March 25, 2017 / 12:55 am

    This area of Florida has fond memories for me. I married hubby on Sanibel Island 20 years ago. I don’t remember seeing any manatees there back then but I was a little preoccupied 🙂

    • March 25, 2017 / 6:45 am

      Oh wow that’s amazing! Such a beautiful place to get married, how special.

  24. March 25, 2017 / 2:53 pm

    Manatees and dolphins! Awesome! We need to spend some time in Florida. Thanks for the inspiration; see you next week! #wkendtravelinspiration

  25. March 25, 2017 / 10:24 pm

    sanibel and captiva are high on my to do list for Florida. They seem more about the outdoors and a low key relaxing experience, rather than big resorts, amusement parks, loud cities, etc. you make them look alluring for sure. #wkendtravelinspiration

  26. April 1, 2017 / 1:52 pm

    Looks beautiful – I would love to see a manatee! #fearlessfamtrav

    • April 1, 2017 / 2:45 pm

      My daughter really fell in love with them, we spent hours watching them!

  27. April 3, 2017 / 6:04 am

    I love how you mention ‘a 5 hours drive’ so casually. Like no biggie, it’s just a 5 hour drive from Disneyland, easy peasy. When most Singaporeans’ jaws would drop at the mention of a 5 hours drive. Hahaha… I never heard of Captiva before this honestly. The idea of spotting wild manatees is just crazy! I would gladly do that 5 hours drive to see the wild manatees. #FearlessFamTrav

  28. April 7, 2017 / 3:21 am

    I absolutely love Captiva. My family has a place in Naples so we’ve been many times. I just love the vibe there – so chill and relaxed, and cool, funky bungalows. I can imagine it was the perfect spot to go to after the Orlando craziness! #fearlessfamtravv

    • April 7, 2017 / 9:09 am

      I need family with a place in Naples!

  29. May 8, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    This looks wonderful. We did Disney and Universal a few years ago, and the kids are keen to go back, but this time to experience some of the less obvious attractions. Will add this one to our list.

  30. May 8, 2017 / 6:23 pm

    90 degrees!! Oh, I don’t think I’d be able to even move in those temperatures, let alone explore all those sights!

  31. May 8, 2017 / 10:12 pm

    What an wonderful place to get up close with the wildlife. Those manatees are adorable. I want to get in pin that hug! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

  32. May 9, 2017 / 10:35 pm

    We go to Florida every year, and I’ve been trying to make it over to Sanibel/Captiva. Will have to bookmark this for later!

  33. May 11, 2017 / 3:14 pm

    What a wonderful contrast to the theme park fun – no wonder you enjoyed relaxing here. It looks beautiful.

  34. July 1, 2017 / 9:24 am

    This looks amazing. And seeing the manatees – how wondeful that must have been!

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