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Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

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virginia
posts: 85
reviews: 464
Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

Okay, this is probably not a fair question.... For my 60th birthday next year, we plan to celebrate it with 2-3 other couples. We've traveled all around the Caribbean and Central America, but never to the Sanibel/Captiva Islands or Keys.

My desire is to have a relaxing, laid-back time staying at a house, condo or small hotel on or very close to the beach. I'm envisioning a lush courtyard. We like good, small, laid-back restautants.

Of course, Key West iand the quieter keys are prime candidates, someonre strongly recommended Sanibel or Captiva

I'm open to suggestions. Thanks for the information.

St Petersburg...
posts: 20
reviews: 1
1. Re: Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

Actually, the keys are not really known for their white sandy beaches. Key West is much more of a close,small city. Fun though, and much more quaint than most beach areas, with lots of architecture to see. The other keys do have some nice waterfronts but again, not much in the sand dept. If your visions include white sandy beaches perhaps Captiva or Sanibel is a better choice. An island with much more privacy. If you choose that area do visit "Ding" Darling for a view of some amazing birds and alligators in the wild. Sarasota also has some nice areas, especially Long Boat Key with it's great golf courses. Very lush foliage in Long Boat Key. Extremely well maintained area with great restaurants as well. World class Ringling Muesum is very near by. Siesta Key is also a fun area. Small but fun! Enjoy...

Summerland Key...
posts: 2,204
2. Re: Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

I forgot to ask when your birthday was.

How important is the beach? If being able to spend hours walking on sand is how you envision spending your birthday, I'd definitely go with Sanibel or Captiva. While we have a couple of good beaches, the Keys are not a beach destination.

If you're planning on spending a week, you could drive over to Fort Myers Beach and catch the ferry for a day trip (or even an overnight) to Key West.

The Bakery
posts: 9,580
3. Re: Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

The keys don't really have beaches, though they are beautiful and many are very lush. Sanibel/captiva (Captiva is my fav) have nice beaches, though they're 'shelly'. The shells wash up heavily so the sand is not nice and soft as it is on most Caribbean islands. Sanibel is 65% conservation land (Wildlife Refuge and local conservation) while Captiva is mostly private homes and both have building restictions, so there are no highrises lining the beaches and none of the usual crowds either.

If you'd like a near beach house for a week, check out American Captiva Reality at captiva-island.com I've rented from them and the properties are pretty much as pictured, but ask anyway. PMR has properties listed through Resortquest.com and rates the houses bronze to platinum. I think they're a bit more expensive, but that may just be me.

Many properties are available from the owners. Check out VRBO.com and greatrentals.com. Also go to the Chamber of Commerce website for links to owners and property agents at www.sanibel-captiva.org The hotels and resorts links have many smaller properties on Sanibel and there are also cottages, like the oldfashioned ones you used to see on Cape Cod. Sanibel houses have a minimum 28 rental period, so they are probably not an option. Tween Waters on captiva is good for a smaller property. South Seas, though still closed due to Charley damage, has the broadest range of accommodations, but I don't care for it and think it's very expensive. That's me.

Sanibel and captiva are still recovering from Charley, captiva a bit more so, but both remain quiet islands. Flat like Anguilla, but lush, like St martin or St John. No decent snorkeling to speak of and no reefs as you'll find in the keys.

One other word of advice. Condo and houses are setup more for families than mutiple couples as they are Caribbean. Three bedroom condos have one nice bedroom and 2 small ones. Houses vary more, but look around and you'll find something. I've seen a number on captiva that have 2-3 bedrooms suitable for couples, but you'll be looking mostly at 4-6 bedrooms houses for 3 adult bedrooms.

I've been renting on the islands for some 20 years and had a number of houses on captiva over the last 15 years, many of which are no longer in rental programs (rats!!!), so feel free to ask questions if you're interested. I'd say the rental rates are about the same as on St John, but you get the whole house on Captiva, so the extra folks are not an upcharge, which for 3 couples makes them less.

Look over the CofC website and you'll get a good feel for the islands. Even restaurant menus! Enjoy the hunt!

virginia
posts: 85
reviews: 464
4. Re: Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

I thank all three of you for taking the time to provide good, thorough infomation.

My birthday is June 20, but will probably do the weekend of the 25th since no of us want to be gone for Father's Day.

It will be a short weekend: Friday afternoon through Sunday. Taking long walks on a gorgeous beach is not a requirement for this weekend. To me, staying in a nicely landscaped house or small hotel with some type of beach or pool is what I'm looking for. We'll just hang out, relax on Saturday, our only full day. I envision going to a laid-back, fun place for dinner.

Since I have not been to either location the Keys or these Islands - just wondering which is better. However, it sounds like they both could work!

The Bakery
posts: 9,580
5. Re: Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

Islandkitty may disagree with me, but for a short weekend, i'd think Sanibel/captiva would be a better choice. Getting down the keys is a fair amount of driving time, or more flying time for Key west. Sanibel is about 45 minutes from RSW, so its just easier in and out.

Houses have mostly a 7 day min on captiva and 28 day min on Sanibel, so go with a small inn/hotel/cottage.

Checkout Mitchell's Sand Castles and Waterside Inn as well as Song of the Sea, Sanibel Inn on Sanibel, and Tween Waters on Captiva. All should meet your needs.

virginia
posts: 85
reviews: 464
6. Re: Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

You make a good point. Travel time is important.

Thanks for the good housing advice and suggestions; I'll check them out.

Lake St. Louis...
posts: 1,109
7. Re: Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

I think from reading everything that Tween Waters Inn would be the best choice on Captiva Island. Tween waters sits on a narrow part of Captiva & you will have access to the Gulf & Bay. Check it out on line. There is a place to dine there, but there are also many choices of quaint places very near. Also, easy to take a boat ride to a small island & have lunch etc.

I like Waterside Inn but not sure if it would be what your looking for on this trip

The drive is something to consider on a short weekend. I personally am not a fan of the Keys at all been there 2 times.....once while on a cruise and another a trip where we went through the different island and stayed on a couple differnt islands for 2 or 3 days each.

I'm a long time visitor of Sanibel/Captiva...so for me theres no comparision!

I'm not familiar with Song of the Sea but, I think that is recommended for short stays on Sanibel.

virginia
posts: 85
reviews: 464
8. Re: Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

Thanks for the input. I'll also check out the Waterside Inn.

Summerland Key...
posts: 2,204
9. Re: Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

I won't disagree with you at all, Tour!

I'm a HUGE fan of Tween Waters, too. They have a few three-bedroom, two-bath suites if you want to share space, and they have a variety of interesting cottages, some with Gulf views. (The downside is that the Gulfview ones are in front of the bar, but I doubt noise will be an issue in June since it's the slow season.) It's a 5-minute drive to some really good restaurants on Captiva, and there's a decent restaurant and bar on site. The beach is great there, although the lush vegetation took a huge hit from Charley and hasn't come back yet. (Something to think about, given your requests.)

You may also want to consider Castaways, which is just down the road and operated by the same folks. They have stilt cottages right on the beach and on the bayside.

virginia
posts: 85
reviews: 464
10. Re: Sanibel/Captiva Islands or the Keys?

Thanks for your input.

Decisions, decisions... There's a part of me that says, "Go to Key West since you've never been there and it sounds like a great place for a "big event," BUT then Captiva or Sanibel Is. also sound great.

Oh well, no decision has to be made today...