One of the best ways to get to know the island is to take a walk or rent a bike. Captiva’s beaches, like those on Sanibel Island, are known for having an abundance of beautiful seashells and the clear emerald-blue water is serene and calming. Explore the island and its beautiful, white, sandy beaches with public access from Alison Hagerup Beach Park, also known as Captiva Beach, and Turner Beach Park.
Learn About The Area
Getting Around Captiva is Charming and Captivating
What Are the Best Beaches on Captiva Island?
The island has a couple of different beach options. You’ll see one beach as soon as you reach Blind Pass. The other is located near the South Seas Island Resort. Pets are not allowed on Captiva beaches and alcohol is not allowed from November through May. You also cannot have any open fires and collecting live shells is prohibited. While some things are not allowed on Captiva beaches, a sunset on Captiva is a real gem. Catch one every night and you can turn a great trip into a perfect vacation.
Alison Hagerup Beach Park
If you are staying at South Seas, you will have access to the resort’s private beach. However, Alison Hagerup Beach Park is located at the end of Captiva Drive, behind South Seas. You’ll be able to park in the parking lot to access the beach; however there is a fee to do so. In addition to sparkling emerald-turquoise water, Alison Hagerup Beach Park has bathrooms and picnic tables.
Some refer to this as the least crowded beach on the island. For some spectacular views, you can walk to the very end of the island. If you want to see a breathtaking sunset, we recommend doing that. You can also walk to the Mucky Duck restaurant from here.
This is the beach you see after you cross over Blind Pass on the way to Captiva. Keep in mind that there is limited parking, so you may want to get here early. If you’re into fishing, this beach is known to have great fishing from the beach itself and the rock jetty. There are also toilets and a canoe and kayak launch area.
If you like swimming in the crystal clear Gulf waters, it’s a good rule of thumb to stay away from the bridge. The water there gets deep very fast and the area is known to have a strong undertow. The sand quality is better further down the beach, and the currents aren’t as strong.
Shelling Tips for Captiva Island Vacation Rentals
Sanibel and Captiva Islands are known as the “Shelling Capital of the World.” In fact, shelling is a way of life on Captiva and some people come here just for that reason. Compared to Sanibel, Captiva is known for its treasure trove of larger shells. Don’t forget to shuffle your feet to expose mollusks and scare away fish.
If you’re looking for some shelling tips, we’ve got you covered. We live here, too, and shelling is one of our favorite pastimes!
The best time to go looking for shells is during low tide when they are more likely to be brought to the surface. Another opportunity for prime shelling is just after the Gulf storms.
This is what you’ll need to bring with you:
- A net bag
Some shells you might find:
- A conch, lightning whelk, cockle shells and the renowned, Junonia.
No Live Shelling
It may be tempting to bring shells back to your vacation home, but some of these shells are home to live creatures and the shells are actually vital to the islands’ chain of life. It’s considered illegal to take shells away from their beach homes.
A “live shell” means there is an animal living inside, whether it looks alive or not. This could mean sand dollars, sea urchins or starfish.
Captiva Island Restaurants
Captiva has some of the most enchanting restaurants in the area. If you’re staying at South Seas, Doc Ford’s is nearby and well worth a visit. Other nearby restaurants include:
Locals and Captiva visitors rave about Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille. Located in front of South Seas, it has a variety of different types of rum and it’s known for the Yucatan Shrimp.
The Bubble Room is an experience. When you walk in, you’ll feel like it’s Christmas. The restaurant is full of old toys from the 1930s and 1940s so it truly is a trip back in time.
This is an English-style neighborhood pub that serves American cuisine. The Mucky Duck is known for its fresh seafood, sunsets and key lime pie. It is open for lunch and dinner and the bar is open all day.
The restaurant overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway, Pine Island Sound and Buck Key. Enjoy delicious seafood at one of the island’s most popular waterfront restaurants. Dogs are also welcome outside.
The Green Flash used to be known as Timmy’s Nook. Locals and tourists used to gather here day and night to enjoy a delicious meal, swap fishing stories and check up on each other. In 1994, Timmy’s got a new owner and it was rebuilt as The Green Flash.
Located in the heart of Captiva Village, Keylime Bistro is an island favorite. The restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner, and of course, an award-winning key lime pie for dessert.
The History Behind Captiva Island
You can only access North Captiva by boat. It was created in 1921 when a hurricane separated the north end of the island from the rest of Captiva. The impact created Redfish Pass.
North Captiva is off the beaten path living at its finest. Until 1983, homes were lit by lanterns, and ran on ice boxes and generators. Now North Captiva has power, but homes on its southern end are still not linked to the grid.
In 1926, a major hurricane struck Captiva and pushed the beach sand inland, causing the island to be blanketed with salty soil, creating hard-to-cultivate-farmland. This caused many locals to lose their citrus crops and, as a result, many people decided to leave the island.
The Captiva Historic Cemetery is also a big part of Captiva’s history. It sits adjacent to the Chapel and many important figures in the island’s history are buried here.
Look for William Herbert Binder. Rumor has it; Binder was shipwrecked and floated to Captiva on a piece of wood. He promised himself when he was rescued that he would one day return to Captiva. In 1888, he did.
A four-year-old named Ann Brainerd and her family moved to Buck Key from Canada in 1895.
Ann told Mr. Binder, the island’s first resident, that this part of the island was the most beautiful place she’d ever seen. Binder was charmed by the encounter and agreed to sell her that plot of land in exchange for a small gold coin Ann had gotten from her grandparents before she left Canada. However, not long after the deal was made, Ann stepped on a rusty nail and succumbed to tetanus.
Ann was buried on “her land,” which is the present-day Historic Cemetery. Look for her lamb-topped tombstone if you visit and remember to place a shell or two. Ann’s family is nearby, and so is Mr. Binder.
The Chapel-By-The Sea is next to the Cemetery and it was initially built in 1903 as a school. It is also a proud member of the National Register of Historic Places. Church services and weddings are held from early November through the month of April. Couples looking to have an intimate island wedding may consider exchanging vows there. The Chapel is open from the second Sunday in November through April. Worship services are 11 a.m. Sundays.
The Water Calls
Captiva Island is a great place to try water sports, like kayaking, paddle boarding and parasailing. Rent a boat and spend the day sailing on your own, soaking up the Southwest Florida sun. Or make some memories on a fishing excursion, eco tour or romantic sunset cruise.
Captiva Cruises is a great option for all members of the family. It offers shelling and beach cruises, dolphin adventures, spectacular sunsets, and island hopping. You could also spend a day exploring Cabbage Key, Boca Grande, Useppa, Pine Island and Cayo.
Go Island Hopping
There are a handful of islands near Captiva Island. Caya Costa is only accessible by boat. There you’ll find miles of untouched beaches, pine forests and six miles of trails. Make sure you look for shells while you’re there, too.
Consider bringing with you: food, coolers, drinks, chairs, towels, umbrellas, sunscreen and fishing rods. Reservations are required.
Catch a Sunset
Captiva Cruises offers a few different sunset cruise options. With the Sunset Serenade, guests will get to see the sunset accompanied by live music and cocktails. There is also a Wildlife Sunset where visitors can relax and see dolphins, birds and other wildlife while the sun goes down. Additionally, there is a Sunset Sail Cruise.
Captiva on the Wild Side
Get in a little nature watching while visiting Captiva. Visitors will find an array of wildlife such as an extended family of American bottlenose dolphins that call the area home. Manatees also can be spotted enjoying the lush vegetation in the warm waters of the estuary of Pine Island Sound. Be sure to look up! Captiva is a paradise for bird lovers who can find a variety of species including white pelicans that migrate from the Rocky Mountains to winter on Captiva. They are the original snowbirds visiting Florida every year. Eagles, osprey and roseate spoonbills also make the area their home.
Where Can I Stay on Captiva?
You have a few different options when you choose to stay in a Captiva Island vacation rental property. Some come with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, while others come with double or triple that amount. Whether you’re looking for a small bungalow or spacious family home, we have a variety of options in a few different areas you can choose from.
- Captiva Village
- Homes in the ’Tween Waters Stretch
- South Seas Island Resort
Captiva Village consists of Captiva Beach, the intersection of Andy Rosse Lane and Captiva Drive. It is also the pulse of the island. Most of the restaurants and shops are located here, too. The Royal Shell office and Coastal Outfitters are also part of Captiva Village. Our Captiva Island vacation rentals in Captiva Village range from spacious mansions that can house a large family to small bungalows perfect for a romantic getaway
‘Tween Waters Stretch
After you go down the first “S Curve,” on Captiva Drive, you’ll see the Gulf of Mexico on your left and you’ll be on what’s known as the ‘Tween Waters Stretch. These homes are some of the most breathtaking Captiva Island vacation rentals on the island. All of them are within walking distance to the beach and some have bayside access for various types of boating excursions. Homes consist of smaller to larger mansions and the beach across the street is known to be one of the quietest options on the island. This means you’ll have a lot of privacy and quiet to look for shells!
South Seas Island Resort
Royal Shell also has Captiva Island vacation rentals at the 330-acre South Seas Island Resort. However, because these are privately owned condos and are rented through Royal Shell Vacations, they are seen as being separate from the South Seas Island Resort. This means guests will have limited access to the resort’s amenities, including beach towels and chairs. However, Royal Shell guests may use the beach, community pool near the complex in which they are staying, barbecue grills, tennis courts, free parking and free Wi-Fi.
Featured Captiva Island Vacation Rentals
The island has world class accommodations to fit all your vacation lodging needs. The island is home to a number of spectacular Captiva Island vacation rentals offered by Royal Shell and appointed with stately amenities to ensure a luxurious stay. The northern tip of the island is home to the sprawling 330-acre South Seas Island Resort with exquisite views of the Gulf of Mexico, Redfish Pass and Pine Island Sound. Royal Shell has a number of vacation properties available at South Seas including several beach villas.
If Captiva has captured your heart, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many visitors fall in love with the Island and never want to leave. If you see yourself moving here for good, let us know. All of our Royal Shell agents are happy to show you homes and condos on the islands and help you make your final decision. After all, buying, renting or selling a property is a huge decision, one we don’t take lightly.
Helping people find their forever home to create lasting memories in is what we do best. Come for a week, a month or longer. But, be careful, you may end up staying for a lifetime.