Over the Sanibel Causeway to Captiva Island with never-ending views of calm southwest Florida waters is an instant shot of island vibes. Sanibel is one of the state’s barrier islands, and although its powder soft beaches rank among the best in the U.S., its neighbor to the north presents an even more exclusive option. Just three hours from Miami and Tampa, Captiva feels like a world away.
South Seas Island Resort is the main option for travelers on Captiva. A prompt and friendly welcome at the resort gates cues a level of professionalism to expect throughout the stay. Check in, ditch your car and pick up a golf cart at Sunny Island Adventures – the preferred method of transportation – and keep your resort map handy. Though only 10 square miles, the island is nearly 90-percent water.
For me the highlight was golf. My golfing career, though brief, has taken me to some beautiful courses. Mountains are breathtaking and forests are inspiring, but for me, nothing beats an oceanside golf course. The sound of the waves crashing as you tee off or seeing boats in the distance as you line up a putt is as close to paradise as you can get on a green. South Seas’ Captiva Course, is a nine-hole stunner.
An early morning tee time is a daily must. With the par-3 nine-hole course taking less than two hours in a pair, it’s the perfect start to the day. A par-27 Chip Powell design, I was impressed with the quality of the greens, being in the heart of the Florida summer. A tip from the pro shop manager: the course plays longer than the scorecard, but it’s hard to fault the sweet ocean breeze that’s likely to blame.
Aside from golf, dining and activity options abound at South Seas. Follow up your round with breakfast at Captiva Provision Company, a gourmet deli with overloaded breakfast sandwiches. Kayak and fishing tours are a great way to spend the next part of the day or cool off at the resort’s pool. You are on island time after all, so stop by the Crooked Snook Tiki Bar for a fresh margarita and salad and say hello to Oscar, a local celebrity egret kept satisfied on a steady stream of shrimp from the bartenders, which he then pairs with the most recently spilled daiquiri.
Sunset is your time to do the Captiva Crouch — the name given to the maneuver beachgoers make while picking up shells – Sanibel and Captiva are among the world’s most famous shelling beaches, with more than 250 varieties to choose from.
For dinner, there are seafood boils and pig roasts on the beach on certain evenings or the most popular spot, the Harbourside Grill. Here, the wine list will impress any fan of bold California reds with options from Caymus, Stag’s Leap and more. Start with the Seafood Plateau for two — an oversized plate of oysters, tuna, shrimp and lobster, but do so at your own risk. The lobster was cooked to perfection and I just had to have more, adding an extra tail to my 7 oz. filet.
The rooms at South Seas offer water or harbor views and all the space you need with an extra seating area and balcony, and expansive bathrooms with separate sinks, a shower and tub.
If I return in the next life as an egret — I’ll spend all my days hanging at the Crooked Snook Tiki Bar eating shrimp and drinking daiquiris. What a life.