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Gulf Coast Travels Part II: Captiva & Boca Grande

Ahoy, and welcome back to our journey! To recap, we have started in Fort Meyers, Florida and hopped on the boat at Salty Sam's Marina. From there, we've visited Naples and Marco Island. It's time to untie the lines and make our way back North. We aren't traveling far, though, just a short cruise to Captiva Island. I've heard so many great stories about the South Seas Resort on Captiva, and that's exactly where we will be staying for two nights.

Captiva Island, Florida

Here's a little background on South Seas Resort. The 300 (or so) acres that encompass South Seas today tell a fascinating tale of development on a once-remote and isolated mangrove island. The resort sits on land first occupied by Calusa Indians thousands of years ago, perhaps followed by a pirate or two (as legend has it), and at the turn of the century by hardy homesteaders who planted crops and citrus groves.

The original resort, South Seas Plantation, was opened in 1946 as a fishing resort. In 2004 South Seas was seriously damaged by Hurricane Charley, and was renovated and reconstructed into what now stands today. There are several restaurants, a marina, golf course, and one of the nicest white sand beaches in South Florida. Here's a glimpse at what you can do while you visit:

Captiva Travel Guide

Where to Stay:

Things to Do:

  • Beach day- spend the day on one of the most beautiful beaches in South Florida.

  • Shelling- walk the beach and pick out your favorite shells, there are tons!

  • Farmers Market- this adorable island market is held in the South Seas parking lot in front of Doc Ford's.

  • Biking- the island is bike friendly, and it's the best mode of transportation during high-season.

  • Golf- you can't ask for a more beautiful setting on the South Seas par-3 course...plenty of gulf views to keep you happy.

  • Fishing- South Seas offers fishing guides that will go out with you for the day and help you find some fresh catch.

  • Private cruise- enjoy a 2-hour private sailing charter from the South Seas on their 40 foot catamaran.

Eat and Drink This:

It's that time to say farewell to Captiva, and go grab some lines on the boat. Our next stop is just a short run up north. I've been anticipating this place for quite awhile, and am floating on a cloud that we get to visit. Boca Grande is located on Gasparilla Island, and has formed into one of the most charming and quaint communities on Florida's Gulf Coast. We will be staying at the only marina that can accommodate our boat, so I suggest making reservations well in advance (especially during high-season).

One of the most well-known spots in Boca Grande is the historic Gasparilla Inn. The Gasparilla Inn is one of the largest surviving resort hotels in Florida, constructed originally for wealthy northerners in the early 20th century, during the time when the state became a travel and vacation destination. If you're a lover of classic, whimsical and enchanting architecture and design you will be obsessed with all the grand Gasparilla Inn (and the town of Boca Grande) has to offer during your visit.

Boca Grande Travel Guide

Where to Stay:

Things to Do:

  • Biking- Boca Grande has a great bike path that spans almost the entire island!

  • Visit the Lighthouses- there are 2, and the one at the south end has a museum in it *highly recommend* visiting, it's short and very fascinating.

  • Shopping- so many cute boutiques, shops and art galleries in town :)

  • Golf/Tennis/Croquet- all provided for Gasparilla Inn guests

  • Kayak/Paddleboarding- rentals also available at the Gasparilla Inn

  • Snorkeling- bring your snorkeling gear along to the beach for an underwater adventure.

Eat and Drink This:

It's not hard to say that Boca Grande has landed itself on my page of "extra special" places -- especially the Gasparilla Inn. Next week, we will be traveling north again. Our next port of call is Sarasota, with a little side trip to Longboat Key! You won't want to miss the boat... see you then.

-Golden Girl

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