Even though I LOVE Miami, it is sometimes nice to get out of there, especially during a long weekend. During holiday craziness my beloved Miami turns into a bit of a touristy, too-crazy even for Miami standards spots. So I usually like to explore other places around South Florida.
For Labor Day weekend, we like to take a road trip to Captiva – one of the typical hippie small-town places about three hours away from Miami on the Western side of Florida, North of Sanibel island.
Things to do
I’d highly recommend staying at the South Seas Island Resort. The resort is HUGE and you have the option to either stay in a hotel room or one of the apartments. Our room category was called “Beach Villa.” It was a very spacious apartment with a bedroom, bathroom, large living room with a kitchen that includes a microwave, refrigerator, garbage disposal, oven, coffee maker, dishes, and utensils. So if you want to save a few bucks, you could bring and prepare your own food. There is also a balcony with mosquito screens which brings me to another topic: bring plenty of mosquito repellent and skin-so-soft. There are plenty of no-see-ums (tiny mosquitos) on Captiva Island. Don’t let these suckers ruin your vacation! We were on the South Beach site (see more under “Beaches”). One free option to get around is, you hop on the South Seas Island Trolley. They hit every stop and with your resort wristband, you ride for free. Of course, you could also take your car. But here is a so much cooler and much more fun version that I highly recommend: you rent a golf cart. You can either rent them at the place right next to the hotel or at Yolo – which is a bit of a ride/walk. Yolo tends to be cheaper. But the South Seas rental place gave us the off-season rate and a $60 voucher towards watersports so it came out to about the same and to be honest, we were too lazy to walk to Yolo (You only live once so you don’t want to spend it walking on your vacay).
If you forgot your bathing suit, convenience item or want to grab some snacks, go to Chadwick’s Square.
They have a Starbucks but they don’t have the full sandwich selection. For that, you should go to Captiva Provisions Company which is the only grocery/convenience store nearby and they have some pretty yummy sandwiches. I was also thrilled to find one of my favorite beachwear stores “Everything But Water.” They had a sale so I ended up buying two cover-ups, a fabulous pineapple beach bag, and some seashell sandals.
South Beach is located at the main entrance of the South Seas Island Resort. It is definitely quieter than Sunset Beach and doesn’t offer activities. If you’re a hotel guest, you’ll get beach chairs. This is for those that like to do their own program.
Sunset Beach is the more happening place with a bar and telescope from which you can watch the stars. They have a sundown ceremony every night. During Labor Day, they offered a bunch of activities and a concert on the adjacent lawn.
The Green Flash Waterfront Restaurant
The Green Flash is right at the beginning when you drive into the island so we decided to go there on our first night. It is located at the water but it was already pretty late and very dark when we arrived. Like most restaurants on the island, it is highly seafood-based. I had my all-time fav – coconut shrimp and the hubby loved his steak. Their key-lime pie had a very distinct taste – it was slightly frozen which I loved. Another fun feature is the bathrooms (don’t tell me I didn’t warn you) – there is a dummy leaning against the wall which makes it look like a man is standing inside there. The male bathroom has an equally funny setup but I don’t want to give away everything.
The Bubble Room
We didn’t have any food here because we weren’t too thrilled about the menu but we were told this place is a must-see because it’s so coo-coo. A lot of people also spoke highly of the bubble bread which we sadly never got to try but maybe you get lucky. We only went there to check the place out and it was pretty crazy. It reminded me of Christmas meets Alice in Wonderland meets magic show. But I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Keylime Bistro & RC Otters
Keylime Bistro and RC Otters are owned by the same people and pretty much have the same menu. However, Key Lime Bistro offers brunch items for a little bit longer. And who wants to get up early on vacation? We had tomato bisque, eggs Benedict, croissant sandwich with egg and waffles. The service was really nice and the food was delish. They had some enjoyable live music. All in all, the atmosphere was great and we enjoyed our experience.
The Mucky Duck
We heard so many good things about this restaurant so we made sure we stop by during our trip to Captiva. Most people recommended this place because of the sunset. Unfortunately, it was raining the day we went there. There was a bit of a wait. Note that they don’t have a liquor license so you can only order wine, beer, or wine-based vodka. Once seated, I ordered the crusted Mahi and my husband the pasta with chicken. I loved my dish. For dessert, we had a scrumptious tuxedo cheesecake. The restaurant has a very casual atmosphere with a lot of fun decorations and signs. Definitely worth checking out when in the area.
Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille
I like that this place is conveniently located at the South Seas Island Resort. We went here for lunch and decided to make dinner reservations the same day. We both ordered flatbreads – my hubby the Caprese one and I ordered the gluten-free shrimp flatbread. His was definitely better. The service was very attentive. Lunch was more enjoyable than dinner, one of the reasons being was a large number of mosquitoes. Remember what I told you earlier – come equipped with Skin-So-Soft.
The Island Cow
We were on our way back to Miami from our Labor Day weekend getaway in Captiva and were kind of in the mood of having lunch in Sanibel. We yelped and found The Island Cow. So happy we didn’t just pass this gem. It was a really funky place with colorful benches, seats where you sit in a shell, and a colorful waiting area slash backyard. It has the typical Florida hippie small-town vibe. After a short wait, we took a seat on a shell bench. They serve you these delicious muffins upfront. Fun fact: in the ladies’ room, there’s a German newspaper article about a German Bonnie and Clyde couple that stole the infamous muffin recipe that’s worth millions on the stock market. And I have to say: those muffins were so delish we ordered seconds (Disclaimer: since I was in vacation mode, I didn’t really check the bill so I’m not sure if they charged us for the seconds. So don’t just go there and assume you will get unlimited free muffins). The menu is humongous. We weren’t super hungry (for once) so the hubby ordered the Hawaiian roll pulled pork sliders with jalapeños and a side of fries and I had a salad with a coconut-crusted Mahi on top. There’s literally an option for everyone and the service is friendly. If you happen to be in the area, pass by. You won’t regret it.
Close to Sunset Beach, you’ll find all of the watersport activities the resort offers. We used our above-mentioned $60 discount to do a couple’s parasailing. It was definitely worth it and a great end to an awesome trip. You go out on a small boat and spend a good amount of time in the air overlooking the island. The staff was super-friendly, helping us with pictures and using funny props.