With a total geographical area of a mere 10.5 square miles and a year-round population of only 379, you may wonder what makes Captiva Island such a special destination. I want to assure you that it is worth the airfare to RSW (Fort Myers airport), the rental car to drive an hour further and the $6.00 toll fee to access the impressive bridge connecting the land mass of the State of Florida with the sister islands of Sanibel and Captiva. Once you are on the islands, you will not want to leave.
- SUMMERTIME WHEN THE CALENDAR SAYS WINTER. Winter in Alabama has been brutal this year. Yet, on Captiva Island, we had 70-degree balmy breezes and blue skies. We arrived during a relatively quiet lull in activity, but locals assured us the place would be in high gear from the first week in February until Memorial Day. Snowbirds regularly spend six months of the year flocking to Captiva and Sanibel. About the only months of the year that are NOT suggested for visits are August and September. During those months, it is hot, hot, hot, the mosquitoes love it, and many businesses take a break.
- SERENITY. Bird-watchers, fishermen, and boaters will be thrilled with the environment. Nature abounds in the conditions found on the island. Nearby J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Sanctuary is a first-class educational facility for learning more about the wildlife and the many varieties of birds. It is SO peaceful. Golf carts and bicycles are more numerous than cars, so the noise pollution is practically non-existent.
- SEAFOOD. Oh, my. Don’t worry about finding wonderful food in such a small place. There are lots of delicious choices with wide menus. Steve and I wanted seafood, and we were able to find it for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast. But, you can also find steak, chicken and vegetarian choices if you’d prefer. One word for fellow Southerners who visit — don’t look for sweet tea or many items that are fried. This island will help you with your attempts to be more healthy. In addition to the fish, you’ll find lots of fruit/veggies and flat trails and streets for walking.
- SUNSETS. On a particularly beautiful late afternoon, we joined several dozen folks who gathered at the end of Captiva Road to watch the sun go down. The spectacle didn’t disappoint. In the last few minutes, the colors grew spectacular while seagulls and pelicans dove for their supper. When the sun finally disappeared below the horizon, the spectators broke out in spontaneous, respectful applause and then walked quietly away.
- SEASHELLS. Without a doubt, this is the lure that draws me to the area. The number and quantity of seashells are unmatched in any other place I’ve ever visited. I would particularly recommend Bowman’s Beach (slightly across the bridge into Sanibel) and Turner Beach (right past Blind Pass at the Sanibel end of Captiva). In both of these places, you have to pay $5.00 per hour to park. When (not if but when) I return, I will spend lots of time on Turner Beach with a shovel, a net and plenty of shell-capturing tools.
Here are some websites to begin your own research for a future visit (click on each name): Captiva Island Inn (where we stayed), Keylime Bistro, RC Otter’s Island Eats, Old Captiva House, The Bubble Room and Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille where we ate.