Captiva Island wasn’t our first choice when planning a family vacation! In fact, after an exhaustive search, we originally planned to head Club Tryall in Jamaica to celebrate a few milestone birthdays.
Well, fate and circumstances beyond our control put a major kink in our plans. It became clear that we needed to cancel Jamaica, regroup, and replan in mid-January.
With only a month’s lead time and a goal of staying in the US, we landed on Captiva Island, Florida. We’d never heard much about Captiva – but decided to give it a try! Through VRBO, we rented a house close to the beach and arrived together with hopeful yet guarded expectations.
And, guess what? We loved Captiva Island! Here are some things that stood out to me:
1. The walkability of Captiva Island is pretty fantastic.
From the airport, we rented a large SUV intending to drive our family around from place to place during our stay. Yet, within the first hour of arriving, it became clear that the island was entirely walkable.
We walked everywhere. The beach, restaurants, spa down the way and path to the northern part of Captiva are all a pleasant, walkable distance from the center of town.
Gratefully, all our SUV did was sit in our driveway and collect dust over the week. We didn’t use it even once.
We were hoping for a laid-back, family bonding vacation in planning our trip. The walkability factor added to the relaxed island vibe of Captiva.
2. The exotic birds on Captiva are a standout.
Do you enjoy the sound of chirping birds in the morning? If so, Captiva Island is for you.
On Captiva, you feel like you’re a visiting guest of a large and gorgeous bird habitat. Beautiful and exotic birds are everywhere.
Side note: You don’t need a book to read while lounging at the beach all day. Just sit back, relax, and watch great egrets dive for food in the water all day. It’s very entertaining!
3. Captiva Island’s trees and flowers make you feel like you’re on a tropical island in the Caribbean.
Gazing out from the second-floor balcony of our rental, I was amazed by the density of palm trees in our view. The pure green lushness of Captiva Island makes it feel more like a Caribbean island.
Many types of palm trees abound, and I especially noticed an abundance of coconut palm trees.
In late February, colorful flowers bloom everywhere, too. Vibrant and robust shrubs line pathways as you walk through town.
4. The beach on Captiva Island feels private and isn’t crowded.
We rented a house just south of the “public town beach.” Even though we traveled during a popular spring break week, we never found the beach to feel crowded.
Dotted along the shore were groups of beachgoers, but each had an open view of the Gulf with plenty of space to spread out.
In addition, the sand is not super soft (think Turks and Caicos) but still is very lovely. A steady breeze coming off the Gulf made the beach days even more enjoyable.
Special note – shell collecting is an event on Captiva. Captiva needs to be on your bucket list if you have family members who enjoy exploring and collecting shells!
5. The restaurants on Captiva exceeded our expectations.
The restaurant scene way exceeded our expectations.
Boops by The Bubble Room is an epic, out of a dream ice cream cafe on Captiva island. We were impressed by the selection of ice cream (including soft serve)and toppings.
Boops also serves cake from next door at The Bubble Room, including Key Lime pie, Coconut cake, and (my personal favorite) Orange Crunch cake.
Some of our other favorites include:
First, The Mucky Duck is a riot! It’s the only restaurant on the beach and people race for a coveted seat for evening cocktails and a front-row view of the sunset. We went for lunch twice and loved the vibe and the food.
Next, we found our favorite meal experience at RC Otters. Inventive, delicious choices abound, along with the best key lime pie on the island. (And, believe me, we searched and tried them all!)
Also, I have to mention Old Captiva House. I can honestly say this was the best breakfast I can remember. Truly amazing! Try the cheesy grits, vegetarian omelet, and banana bread french toast, and tell me I’m wrong.
6. The farmer’s market is surprisingly excellent for small islands.
The farmer’s market was a delightful surprise. Filling a shopping center’s parking lot on the edge of town, it’s packed full of things to explore. From fresh fruit (hello mangos!)and vegetables, to fish, and many different types of regional cuisine, you won’t be disappointed. This farmer’s market has it all.
The next time I head to Captiva, I plan to buy all of my groceries here.
7. Sunsets on Captiva Island were the highlight of our visit.
I can’t talk about Captiva without mentioning the glorious sunsets we got to witness every night- wow! They are magnificent.
Although our days varied mildly, one thing that we had permanently built into our schedule was heading down to the beach to watch the sunset. And we enjoyed them all!
Our sunset photos provide lasting memories of a relaxing, fun, and perfect family vacation week.
So, if you’re looking for an ideal warm-weather vacation spot in the US to spend low-key, high-quality time with family – give Captiva Island a try!
I hope you enjoyed this story! Please share with someone you know searching for a place to take the family this year.