Although the island is only about 10.5 square miles, 9.2 of it consists of water. Captiva has tremendous character and uniqueness to it, from multi theme restaurant like the bubble room, to 15 miles of beautiful beaches, you are sure to have a magical time in Captiva Island.
All the way at the end of the island you'll find Alison Hagerup beach which features bathrooms and public parking that costs $5 per hour or $20 from dawn to dusk. Do not skip the parking payment, city inspectors often stop by to check on the premises and non payment may result in a fine of up to $80
(I would know, it happened to me before but at the time is was $50).
Be sure to bring your own beach umbrella, chairs and towels as the ones on the beach are for resort guests only. You are also allowed to bring your own cooler and in fact it is totally recommended as there is no restaurants or local merchants except for Joey's Hot Dog that comes in a boat by the island selling hot dogs, water and ice cream.
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As you enter the beach, just like any other beach, you'll have two options; go right or go left. If you choose to go left you'll be going closer to Sanibel Island but if you go right, North Captiva is just around the corner, although this part if the island can only be reached by ferry, boat or a small airplane. Considering North Captiva is more remote as far as population goes, hence, more possibilities for wild life action, we went north.
We found that the further away we went from where the resorts and people were, the bigger and less damaged shells we found, so further we went as we are always on the hunt for beautiful unbroken shells.
Believe it or not, as we left the beach, almost approaching the parking lot, we were stopped by a non local woman who asked where we had found all of our shells as she too had been on the search for them but wasn't able to find as many and as complete as we did. So, there's a tip for you when shelling; go where the people are not and in the case of Captiva Island, go north!
As you go further away from the conglomerate of people you may also spy a turtle's nest, crab holes and even a crab itself. We found a calico also known as leopard crab just hanging out by the beach shore. You can watch the video of the little critter on our youtube channel.
Fishing is also very common on the island and you are more than welcome to bring your fishing gear but keep in mind that if you are over the age of 16 you will need a fishing permit, which can be obtained at any Lee County Tax collector or you can also get it from a local Wal-Mart.
After a whole day of fun at the beach and many shells later, we took off to Sanibel Island to grab some food. We always heard great things about Doc Fords but never had the chance to eat there before so we were very excited about trying it out.
First off, the restaurant is beautiful inside and out, the landscape is designed in such way that it made us feel like we were in paradise island. Although, Doc Fords is not directly located on the beach, you can certainly feel the breeze and still get the beach vibes while there.
Now, as for food we ordered fish sticks for the kids, I got the panko crusted grouper which is a grouper pan seared, served on a bed of brown rice, julienne vegetables, wilted spinach and mushrooms, topped with honey papaya rum drizzle and my husband got the Deep water mahi-mahi which is served in a sweet soy sauce, placed on a jasmine rice stir fry with tropical vinaigrette.
Everything tasted absolutely delicious but hats off to the panko crusted grouper dish as it was simply full of flavor and the fish was tender but the top layer was a little crunchy and delicious. I was also skeptical about how the rice which came mixed with all the veggies but it took me one bite to completely change my mind. The mix of the two totally creates a wonderful and flavorful blend, and honestly, I cleaned up my plate.
All in all, Captiva island is always like going on a mini vacation for our family because even though it's only about 45 minutes from Fort Myers where we live, it feels like we are in a completely different country.
Are you spending more than a day in Captiva Island? Check out all of the wonderful things you can do on the island and surrounding areas:
Dolphin & Sunset Excursions
Snorkeling or scuba diving