Captivated by Captiva Island


Kick back on Captiva Island’s shell-strewn beaches, explore its quirky town, and discover natural wonders, including dolphins.

Traffic lights. Chain restaurants and stores. High rises. Captiva Island doesn’t have any of them, and that’s the way folks here like it.

Nestled on the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida, the island is a quiet, laid-back escape, with pleasant surprises around every corner.

The beach is a must-do. You can relax and swim here, and you can treasure hunt, too.

Captiva and her sister island, Sanibel, are considered the best shelling spots in North America according to Travel & Leisure Magazine. Assume a bent-at-the-waist stance and and keep your eyes peeled for conchs, whelks, coquinas and false angel wings. Learn more about shelling on Sanibel and Captiva Island here.

The area waters are a favorite with dolphins, too. Take a Captiva Island ecotour on a kayak, boat or a jet ski to watch the beloved mammals frolic and play.

You can ditch the car keys to explore the walkable village, complete with tropical foliage and hand-painted directional signs.

When you see a garden adorned with a giant’s chair and a larger-than-life frog, you’ll know you’ve arrived at Jungle Drums Gallery, which promises an unforgettable collection of wildlife art, from life-size bronze sculptures to stunning hand-crafted jewelry.

2 Islands Gallery is a study in whimsical fun, offering painted clothing and handbags as well as jewelry, pottery and decorative baskets created by local artists.

When you need to refuel, you’ll find places to eat like RC Otters, where you can nosh on a grouper sandwich at a picnic table listening to live music.

The beer is always cold and the seafood is always fresh at The Mucky Duck, which overlooks the beach, making for epic sunset views.

And then there’s The Bubble Room, where it’s Christmas all year long.  This offbeat establishment is world famous, serving up big portions and mind-blowing memorabilia.

You can even enjoy racing on Captiva – crab racing, that is. The Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, located at ‘Tween Waters Resort, hosts two show races most Monday and Thursday evenings from October to mid-August. The family friendly performance begins at 6 p.m. and the adult-version begins at 9 p.m. How does it work? Go to the Crab Commissioner before the race, pick a crab, name it, and bet on it. You’ll pay a small price for the naming rights of the crab, but half the proceeds go to The United Way. The sound of the mighty sea conch will signal the start of the race, a mad scramble for glory marked by cheers and laughter. Occasionally the racing schedule will change due to holidays or other concerns, so make sure to check with the resort before you go.

Places to stay include Tween Waters Resort and Spa, situated between the sugar-sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and the bay – hence the name. Its accommodations include historic seaside cottages to suites, studios and guest rooms, and it features a generous pool, a marina, fitness center, tennis, kayaking and much more.

South Seas Island Resort encompasses the northern end of the island, with a 330-acre wildlife preserve, two and a half miles of private beaches, and endless activities for your whole gang.

Vacations rentals also are a popular option, with properties to suit all kinds of visitors.

Wherever you choose to stay or whatever you do here, Captiva Island is sure to deliver a soul-soothing Florida getaway.