Captiva Island, located off the southern Gulf Coast of Florida, makes for the perfect long weekend getaway. Palm tree lined shores. White sandy beaches. Clear blue waters. And that island breeze! Discover this small, quaint island paradise—all while leaving your passport behind.
My husband and I first discovered Captiva Island several years ago when we took a vacation to the neighboring Sanibel Island. We were captivated by the beautiful homes, whimsical restaurants, breathtaking sunsets, and quiet beaches. We’ve since made our way back to Captiva several times and continue to enjoy it more with each visit. Captiva is all about the outdoors – biking, sailing, birding and water activities abound. It’s a great place to go with the family or as a romantic getaway for a long weekend. We especially love to travel there during the cold winter months as a quick getaway to soak up some sun and sand. Here are some of our favorite things to do and places to visit:
Where to Stay
1. Captiva Island Inn: Stay in a room, suite or your own cottage—each with it’s own themed decor—at this charming inn located in the heart of Captiva Village. All rooms are just a few steps to the beach and within walking distance to most of the restaurants and shops. Even though this inn is due for some cosmetic upgrades, we’ve loved both our stays here. (We also love that it includes breakfast at one of the neighboring restaurants each morning!)
2. South Seas Resort: Taking up almost 2/3 of the island, South Seas Resort is a 330-acre full service destination resort that offers hotel rooms, villas or entire houses for rent. South Seas offers an array of activities including kayaking, sailing, boating, bicycling, golf, and tennis. If you’d rather relax, this resort boasts a two-and-a-half mile stretch of private pristine beach. There are also several restaurants, pools and lounges throughout the complex.
3. Rental Homes: Planning a trip with the whole family or a large group of friends? There are several amazing and beautiful rental homes to choose from on the island. Since the island is so small, most homes are within easy walking distance to either the beach or the bay.
Where to Eat
1. Key Lime Bistro: An award-winning restaurant, the Key Lime Bistro is situated in the middle of the Historic Captiva Island Inn Village. I recommend stopping here for breakfast and trying either the crunchy french toast or the bistro benedict. (Note: if staying at the Captiva Island Inn, your breakfast here is included!). Stop back at the Bistro in the evening to grab some drinks and listen to some live local music.
2. Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill: Located at the entrance to South Seas Resort, this restaurant offers great outdoor deck seating and a relaxed atmosphere. Serving up meals with a Latin American or Caribbean flair and fresh seafood, I recommend stopping here for dinner—be sure to try the quinoa shrimp salad, it’s delish! Plus, Doc Ford’s serves up a mean mojito too!
3. The Bubble Room: You simply can’t visit Captiva without going to The Bubble Room. Decorated with a combination of old Hollywood memorabilia and Christmas decorations, you’ll never go to another restaurant like it! Stop by The Bubble Room for dinner and make sure to try their world-famous Bubble Bread!
4. The Mucky Duck: Located right off the beach, The Mucky Duck is a British-style sports bar offering cold beers and great meals. Take a break from the beach and stop by The Mucky Duck for a quick lunch and then stay for the amazing sunset views.
What to Do
1. Captiva Cruises: Choose from a variety of boat cruise and tours to nearby islands, waterways and sights. Captiva Cruises operates several tours including a Dolphin Watch & Wildlife Adventure Cruise, Sunset Sailing, Beach and Shelling Cruises, Out-Island Trips, and even private sailing cruises.
2. YOLO Watersports: Whether you’re looking to try out exciting watersports or simply make your beach lounging more relaxing, YOLO Watersports has rentals for everything you may need. Rent jetskies, paddle boards, boogie boards for you or the kids, and have hours (or days) of water fun! Or, rent bicycles, golf carts, or scooters for some land fun. Just want to relax oceanside? They’ve got beach chairs and umbrellas, GoPro camera rentals, beach wagons, and even the much-needed Yeti cooler!
3. J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge: Take a day to observe some of the amazing wildlife and sea bird migrations that go through Sanibel and Captiva Island. You can drive, walk, bicycle, paddleboard or take a guided tour through this 7,600 acre wildlife refuge. You’ll see many different birds and perhaps spot a manatee, alligator, loggerhead sea turtle, river otter or more. Be sure to bring your camera!
4. Watch the Sunset: Sunsets from Captiva are simply amazing. See the sun set over the gulf, with breathtaking and uninterrupted views. Grab a seat near The Mucky Duck, or park in the Captiva Island North Lot and walk to Alison Hagerup Beach Park for another great sunset viewing location. It’s customary to applaud after seeing a great sunset!
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing and quiet beach visit, or an energy-packed watersports thrill, Captiva has something for everyone!