When people hear I am from Florida, they often assume that I’m on a perpetual vacation at the beach. I wish that was true! Unfortunately, I often end up so busy with life that I don’t take advantage of all the beautiful places close by. I have been trying to challenge myself to be more intentional and actually vacation in my home state. Finding hidden or local spots on trips is one of my favorite things to do. My recent Sanibel and Captiva vacation was full of hidden gems and so much fun!
Sanibel and Captiva Islands are located just offshore of the Gulf of Mexico. They feature teal blue waters, white sandy beaches and romantic sunsets. I was so in taken with this trip that afterwords I created a list for friends and family of my favorite parts of it. I’ve decided to start keeping these lists and sharing them through blog posts with y’all so that hopefully other couples or individuals can have the same amazing experience! So here are some of my favorite places to stay, places to eat, and things to do on a Sanibel and Captiva vacation:
Places to Stay
South Seas Island Resort
Located at the most western part of Captiva, South Seas Island Resort has it all. Two and a half miles of pristine beaches, a marina where you are more likely to spot manatees than not, 20 pools, and 5 restaurants. It is perfect for families and couples alike, and its proximity to Captiva cannot be beat!
The Island Inn
If you’re looking for a slightly slower pace, or simply something a little more quaint, check out the Island Inn. Located on Sanibel Island, the Island Inn offers both ocean-view rooms and beachfront cottages on its 500 feet of white sand beach.
If you are not familiar with Sanibel or Captiva and are worried about choosing one over the other, not to worry! It takes at most 20 minutes to get from one side of Sanibel to the other side of Captiva going the Islands 35 MPH speed limit. So you will be able to get around and see it all – in a rental car or on bikes! And if not, you’ll just have to take another trip out there!
Places to Eat
Head to the Eastern side of Sanibel Island and stop at Gramma Dot’s for dinner, but expect a wait in the busy season (Mar-Aug) as it gets very popular! They have the yummiest homemade chips and a grouper sandwich that even people who don’t like seafood will agree is delicious. Although adorned with white table cloths, casual cool is more the theme on this Island. Gramma Dot’s is located on a Marina, so while you wait you can walk around and admire many of the boats and the occasional sea plane that dock there.
If you’re looking for a more casual spot, stop by the Lazy Flamingo! There are two locations on the Island, one of the Eastern side and one on the Western. Both have a sports bar feel but seafood worthy of a much fancier atmosphere. They also have a BYOF policy… that is bring your own fish! If you want to try your hand at fishing on the island, bring your catch to the Lazy Flamingo and they will cook it up with a side of fries for under $10!
Things to Do on Your Sanibel and Captiva Vacation
Sea and Shells
One of the most popular things to do on the island is shelling! Sanibel and Captiva are known for their natural supply of shells and sea life. While relaxing on the beach, expect to see people walking along hunching over – they’re scoping out all the pretty shells! It’s known locally as the “Sanibel Stoop.” As someone who had never spent a lot of time looking for shells, I was surprised at how fun it was. I was so excited when I found my first sand dollar!
Head over to YOLO sports on Captiva Island – they offer any activity you could want. They have kayaks, stand up paddle boards, jet skiis, and parasailing. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for there, they are more than willing to point you in the right direction.
There is also the famed Sanibel Thriller – a power boat that gives you a speed tour of both islands while dolphins jump through the wake! We loved getting to see the beautiful houses that are beachfront from the boat and get some local gossip as well!
If fishing is more your speed, head over to Bait Box. They can walk you through the do’s and dont’s of island fishing as well as providing you with the supplies you need. Take a risk and try something new. Research heavily supports the idea that couples who travel and try new and exciting activities feel more connected.
If you are located outside of Florida, this does not exclude Sanibel and Captiva as a place for you! Only a 45 minute drive from Ft. Meyers International Airport, this quick getaway could be a great spot for people from all over!
Looking for a longer and even more romantic getaway? Ignite more romance, passion and spice things up with fun and adventure at the Luxe Couple’s Retreat. I’d love to have you join me next June or September in Paradise.