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I live for family vacations. There is something so peaceful and relaxing about going somewhere awesome with those you love.
One of my favorite family vacations ever was on a recent trip to Captiva Island, Florida.
This trip to Captiva was not our first as we had been to Sanibel Island the previous summer. While we were in Sanibel the summer before we had taken several day trips over to Captiva Island for the day.
Captiva Island is similar to Sanibel Island in lots of ways but one thing that Captiva has going in my opinion is that it feels a bit more private and secluded.
The beaches at Captiva never seem crowded because there is very limited public beach access areas.
This is a challenge if you aren’t staying on Captiva and want to go to the beach but if you are really wanting some solitude then this is heaven.
Where we stayed
I was able to find an awesome realtor in Captiva, Ryan at Dream Vacation Rentals, and we found the most adorable beach front cottage. It was a beautiful, yet modest, two bedroom beachfront bungalow.
Fast forward to a few days before our trip and I get a call from Ryan that made my heart stop. The house we were supposed to be renting in a few days pipes burst and they were going to have to do some work and therefore we would not be able to stay there. I swear I almost fainted in the driveway.
But bless Ryan’s sweet heart he said some of the most beautiful words I have ever heard in my life that went a little something like this, “But don’t worry, the owner also owns another house down the road that she is willing to rent you for the same price”.
Enter “New Latitude” aka the most amazing big house on the most amazing little island.
I asked him if he was sure it was comparable with little more than slight irritation in my voice. Ryan replied that this was a 6 bedroom ocean front estate with an indoor pool and that it usually rented for one night for the same cost we rented the other house for the entire week. He said that the owner felt bad and we could just pay the same price that the original house was.
I think I cried. I thought it was a joke. It was seriously so unbelievable I thought we were being punk’d. Besides my husband and the birth of our child, it is still one of the best surprises I think I have had to date.
When you go to Captiva Island you do not even feel like you are in the states anymore if you did not know otherwise.
The vegetation and landscape make you feel like you have been transported to some Bahamian oasis minus the VERY expensive airplane ticket and long flight.
The beaches of Captiva are very empty for the most part especially compared to the beaches of Fort Meyers.
Captiva makes you feel like you are hundreds of miles from the mainland and reality as soon as you cross the bridge that takes you from Sanibel to Captiva.
There are tons of exotic birds, dolphins, manatees and other marine life every where you look. Not to mention the insane amount of gorgeous seashells that I had never seen before coming to this part of Florida. I love the Gulf. All of it.
If you have read my blog or social media channels at all you know that I am obsessed with the blue water, powdery sand, and shells that she offers.
I think this stretch of coast and the dozen or more islands near here are probably Florida’s best kept “secret”.
Places to Eat
In addition to the beautiful surroundings, Captiva offers some spectacular culinary options and there is enough places to choose from that you have ample selection.
We ate at a few places again on this trip that we had discovered on the Sanibel trip and of course we had to try several new ones.
The food on Captiva does not disappoint and you really can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants there.
Some of my most favorites on the island include the Bubble room, Mucky Ducks, The Green Light, Mad Hatters, O.C. Otters, and Doc Fords.
There is too much to say on the food here for this post alone but check out this post on our favorite restaurants on Captiva.
We found one store on Captiva that carries beer, wine, and the grocery basics. We usually get our groceries from Jerry’s in Sanibel but it’s good to know that there is a store on the island with some great options in a pinch or just because you don’t feel like going “into town”.
It’s worth a trip to Jerry’s just to check it out as they have tons of tropical birds, great groceries, and several shops attached including beach shops, ice-cream parlor, liquor store, and a few specialty shops.
Best of all once you pay for your groceries you go get in your car and they send your groceries down to the parking garage via conveyer belt and someone loads them for you. Gosh I love Jerry’s!!!
The ride from Captiva to Sanibel is very short and only takes around 10-15 minutes by car. There are TONS of places to eat and things to do in Sanibel in and of itself including but not limited to Ding Darling, Bailey shell museum, CROW clinic, shops, shelling, and tons of good ice-cream places.
There are also quite a few charter outfits that offer pirate cruises, dolphin cruises, sunset cruises, fishing trips, shelling trips, the Sanibel thriller ( a fan fav of visitors), and SO much more.
Things to do
Captiva offers a lot to do and see though without ever having to leave the island. In fact, the only time we went to Sanibel on this trip was to get more groceries mid-week and then on the last night we drove to Sanibel and got take out from The Pecking Order (highly recommend the Peking order chicken and waffles)!!!!!
A few of my favorite things that we did on Captiva during our week there did not involve leaving the island or spending any money at all.
My absolute favorite was shelling and followed closely by fishing. Fortunately, Captiva is a fantastic place to do both. Shelling is fantastic here because there are such few people on the beach that there is not a lot of competition. This area is known for exceptional shelling due to the position of the islands in the ocean that essentially catches all of the shells like a net.
The men in my crew were very excited about the fishing that Captiva had to offer. We caught a ton of the saltwater catfish pictured above and Mr. MT even managed to catch one with his bare forearm. From the look of things I definitely think a rod is preferable to an appendage when trying to fish.
There are also many places in the area to rent boats or charter a trip if you or your group wants to have more serious fish fun offshore. Jensen’s Marina is a great rental option and another place on Captiva Island that we enjoy going to. You can walk out onto the dock and watch the manatees come right up to the dock. This is really fun and completely free. You can also put your boat in here or dock it here if you bring your own boat.
Another fun option on Captiva is to rent a golf cart for a few hours and explore the island more. YOLO watersports is a popular place to rent carts and in a great central location on the island.
The majority of the island is golf cart friendly. There are also other outfitters on the island that offer jet ski rentals, parasailing, and paddle boards ect. To make a long story shorter there is no shortage of things to do in Captiva and it will be a vacation you will not forget! As for me, I am counting down the days until I am back near my favorite part of Florida.
Make sure you follow Mommie Tourist on all of our social channels so you can come along too. I would always love to hear about your favorite vacation spots!!
With Love & Travel,