Looking for a low-key vacation with an ‘Old Florida’ vibe? Skip the high-rise hotels and congested beaches. Unwind and get away from it all on Captiva Island, Florida.
This quaint island is a quick drive from Fort Myers. It’s a beloved vacation spot for visitors looking to ditch the winter blues for beach hues.
Here’s our list of the top 10 things to do on Captiva Island:
1. The Beach
It might be obvious but you can’t visit this tropical island and not hit the beach. One reason Captiva’s beaches are so special is the sand. It’s powder-soft and fluffy as a cloud. Grab that beach read you’ve been saving and stick your toes in the sand. Emerald-colored sea oats and sparkling, aquamarine waters make this idyllic island the epitome of relaxation.
When you finish reading, grab a bucket and go shelling. There’s a reason Captiva (and Sanibel) are consistently ranked as top shelling beaches in the United States. You’ll find more than 250 types of shells along the island’s shore.
2. Lunch at The Green Flash
Captiva’s beaches are a big draw but the bayside of the island is just as spectacular. For panoramic views of the bay, grab lunch at The Green Flash. Feast on fish tacos while enjoying views of Pine Island Sound as birds and boats skim by.
Why do we insist you head here for lunch, and not dinner? Because you’ll miss the sweeping bayside views if you get here after sunset. Reserve a table on the patio and you’ll feel like you’re dining on the water.
3. Sunset at The Mucky Duck
On Captiva Island, sunset isn’t just a time of day, it’s an event. Stop what you’re doing and head to the sand for that magic hour. Our favorite spot for sunset is The Mucky Duck patio, mere steps from the sand. Grab a drink from their outdoor bar, enjoy live music and soak up some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see. Take advantage of the gorgeous backdrop and snap a few pictures of your group under cotton candy skies!
4. Dolphin Cruise
Dolphin watching is a popular sport on the island if you catch them at the right time. The best way to get up-close views of these beautiful creatures is to take a dolphin cruise with Captiva Cruises. The waves from the double-decker boat draw them close. So close, they jump through the air about an arm’s length away. Dolphins are attracted to noise; the louder the better. Make some cheers, throw in a little applause and you’re guaranteed to get an impressive show.
5. Bike the Island
Explore the island our favorite way: on two wheels. Grab a beach cruiser and bike your way around the island. There’s no end to the lush greenery and impressive homes you can gawk at along the way. Fair warning: Captiva only has paths on South Seas Island Resort property. But the speed limit is low and the pace is slow, making it easy for a joyride.
6. Keylime Pie at the Keylime Bistro
It’s in the name and featured in Bon Appetit magazine. The key lime pie at the Keylime Bistro is a standout on the menu and the closest you’ll come to a vacation for your tastebuds.
Enormous pie slices the size of your head deliver a burst of tart and tangy sweetness. A true treat for your tongue, it’s as pretty as it is tasty.
Linger on the brightly decorated patio to enjoy your dessert al fresco. An outdoor stage features live music throughout the day and into the night.
7. Cake at Boop’s by The Bubble Room
Calories don’t count when you’re on vacation so let them eat cake! The Bubble Room is famous for its gigantic slices of made-from-scratch cake. You can order by the slice all day long at their new sweet shop, Boop’s by The Bubble Room. Do yourself a favor and get a slice of orange crunch cake, which can only be described as a Caribbean party in your mouth. Inside the bright yellow shop you’ll even find a charming, old-fashioned soda fountain.
8. Cayo Costa State Park
If you’ve ever wanted to visit a deserted island, this is it. The half-day excursion departs from Captiva Island.
Enjoy the stunning waters as you boat a few islands over to this little paradise. A big draw for Cayo Costa visitors is shelling. The shoreline is a treasure chest of seashells and sand dollars. There’s such an abundance, you can’t collect them fast enough.
Time spent on this pristine beach passes quickly but you’ll leave with handfuls of sand dollars and memories to last a lifetime.
9. Molly Malone Seafood
It’s as fresh as fresh seafood gets; Molly Malone Seafood is a must for seafood lovers. Molly’s customers can’t stop raving about the lump crab cakes. Their coconut shrimp bursts with flavor. They’ve perfected not only the coconut texture but the ratio of coconut to shrimp. The lobster salad is so good it will stop you in your tracks. If you don’t see the seafood you want, they can get you almost anything; just ask. They can likely get it for you the next day.
10. Dinner at Old Captiva House
Take a bite out of Captiva Island history and eat at the Old Captiva House. Nestled on the grounds of the Tween Waters Island Resort and Spa, this fine dining restaurant is known for its classic “Old Florida” charm. The crisp white interior, with subtle beach tones and nods to the resort’s history, affirms you’re eating somewhere special.
Lisa Erickson manages CapturingCaptiva.com, a website dedicated to connecting vacation goers to Captiva Island vacation information. She first led her family to Captiva Island in 2016 and they’ve been coming back every since. Prior to launching Capturing Captiva, Lisa worked as an emmy-nominated broadcast journalist, spokesperson, and corporate communications professional. While on Captiva, she enjoys the sunshine, freshest seafood around and making memories with her children.