I was told I must visit Captiva. By more than one person. A long time and dear friend of mine said that while I am newly located to his area, it is a must to visit Captiva and eat at the Bubble Room. And, by a less long time, and just as dear friend. I was informed that the water was so blue it would make me think that I am in Hawaii. I have never been to Hawaii. I have additionally never been to the Mediterranean or the Caribbean either. Therefore, I really have no idea what Hawaii would be like, other than seeing it in pictures. But I would like to know what it is like. The irony of my landing in southwest Florida as a place of residence is that my son and daughter in law moved here last summer. I moved here to be close to them and to be close to my beautiful granddaughters. My daughter in law’s parents moved down here as well. It was my son’s mother in law who informed me that I had to go see Captiva just as she was readying to make the move back north. We had all migrated from small town north Georgia, and southwest Florida was a culture shock to everyone, to say the least. Three months after I moved here, they all decided their heart was in north Georgia, and there they went. My husband and I were not able to move back to Georgia, so we determined that we really wanted to see what all south Florida had to offer. And, off exploring places, we went.
In all honesty, crossing the causeway to get to Sanibel Island was hard to accomplish. Mainly, because I was driving, and it was difficult to not want to stare in awe of how incredibly gorgeous the drive was. For anyone planning to go to the island, there is a six-dollar toll. The highest toll we have found in all our travels, thus far, but worth every penny of that six dollars. Once on the island, the scenery got only more beautiful with each turn of the wheels on my Lancer. We used the GPS on my phone to meander our way through hordes of people along the island to find our intended destination- Captiva.
I had wondered, and we debated about what island life would be like. There were incredulous groups of people out, walking, riding bicycles, and such. Many of there were in groups, and we wondered if they were tourists out exploring all that Sanibel had to offer. We finally made our way to Captiva. It was utterly unreal. The homes were beyond what I had imagined finding, many of them mansion-like, rather than traditional pastel colored beach house sitting up on stilts. The vegetation, lush and deep green mixed with some of the most vibrant colored blooms, was among some of the most stunning landscapes I had ever seen. We also noticed, as we made our way along Captiva, toward the beach parking area, that all the homes had signs placed at their entrance. The signs were of various designs, but all had catchy island themed names, such as, On Island Time, Sea esta, Isle-B-Back, Aquamarine, Anchors Aweigh, and Sea Oats, to name a few. We found these catchy and personalized driveway markers to be very charming and add greatly to the appeal of the place.
We finally made out way to the beach parking at the far end of the island. However, much to our dismay, the parking lot was full. There were a limited number of parking spaces and there were already cars lined up waiting for one, and many of them turning around in line and driving away. After a considerable amount of time, we accepted the fact that we would not be able to secure one of the highly sought-after spaces, and we turned around as well. Determined not to leave Captive without seeing the incredulous blue water that had been the sole mission of our trip there, we made a point to locate alternate parking. On the way back toward Sanibel, we located a beach parking lot. As luck would have it, to our right, so I just pulled in. The lot, only containing what seemed like roughly about ten spaces as well. Although this time, there was only one car ahead of us, ironically, one of the cars that had also turned around from the previous lot. We decided to try our luck and wait it out. Luckily, it was only about a twenty minute or so wait, and then we were able to secure a parking spot for the beach. The parking fee on the island is five dollars an hour, which is a little more than what we are used to paying at Fort Myers. But, our mission for the day was to see the waters of Captiva. Being that the island was abuzz with droves of people and we had already encountered many people turning away out of frustration from not being able to get a spot to enjoy the beaches, we did not wish to rob anyone of the chance to see the beaches as well, since we figured many of them were tourists and we live close by, so we only paid for two hours of parking.
Once we had cleared the parking lot and stepped out on to that beach, it was worth every minute of the hour or so it had taken us to find a parking space. As I have said, I have never seen Hawaii, so I cannot say that Captiva looks anything like it. But I can say with absolute certainty that the waters of Captiva were the most breathtaking that I have ever seen at this point in my life. It was, in the same instance, both the most soothing and the most exciting teal blue water I could have ever imagined. In fact, it was beyond my expectations. We were in an area that was posted for no swimming due to the current. However, there were people in the water, fishing and wading, and yes, even swimming. We were not looking to disregard the signs but felt safe enough to at least wade in and get our feet wet. The floor did seem to drop off much more quickly than does the beach as Fort Myers, so we stayed right up close to the edge where the sea kissed the shore just before turning away. There was a dolphin nearby making unexpected leaps out of the water just often enough to get everyone excited and then would move to a different location and have his audience following him all around the beach area. It was truly a sight to behold. As for the beach itself, the sand was much coarser than the sugar sand of Fort Myers. Yet, it is a shell collectors dream. As far as the eye could see, there were millions of shells in varying shapes, sizes, and pigments. It was, in essence, a floor made of shells. They were beautiful. Everything we saw that day was beautiful, and we look forward to going back and spend more time getting to know the area.
However stunning, the beach and scenery are not the only things that warrant a trip to Captiva. I have also been advised by a dear friend, as well as read in a Top 5 Things to do on Captiva article that I found online, to enjoy a meal, and especially, a slice of cake at the Bubble Room. Unfortunately for us, we did not get the chance to try it out that day. But have definite plans to get back to the island soon and enjoy the highly recommended eatery. Also, after our trip there, I decided to look up some history surrounding Captiva. Often times, we learn a little bit about a place, maybe from videos or word of mouth, but then when we go, we like to experience it for ourselves as though we were opening a treasure box yet to be discovered. Then I go back and look into the history or the selling points of tourism surrounding the locale, just to see if I can discover any of those places of interest on my own without prior knowledge of them. In looking up some history of Captiva, there is lots of talk of the “folklore” surrounding a pirate, by the name of Jose Gasper, who went by the nickname of Gasparilla, who held his female prisoners on the island for ransom. Which, I had heard that story, however, I learned that the Jose Gaspar story may likely be a story fabricated for an advertising brochure. I also learned that the artists Roy Lichenstein (1923-1997) as well as Robert Rauschenber (1925-2008) were both residents of Captiva. And, that it was also the set in which the 1997 movie, G.I. Jane was filmed.
So, whether it be history, or folklore, or fine island dining, or scenery and natural wildlife, or shelling, or just to see some of the most memorable coastal waters, a trip to Captiva, Florida should be a definite on anyone’s must-do list.
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