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Captiva vs. Sanibel ?

Reading, PA
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Captiva vs. Sanibel ?

Expert help needed here.......

I've travelled to Sanibel 4-5 times now (before the hurricane) and have a trip planned for the end of August this year. Am considering staying at South Seas resort for the first time. This trip will include my family (husband, 2 sons, ages 12 and 14 and my parents). Looking at either a 3 bedroom beach villa at SSR or staying at the Sundial (Sanibel) in their 2 bedroom plus den. We stayed at the Sundial before and it's fine for us. My kids don't do the kid's club activites but enjoy some poolside activity with other kids. Lots of shells is very important to my older son (he will spend hours looking for them!) Tennis clinics and a fitness center are important too.

Here's the concerns: Are the shells just as plentiful on Captiva (near SSR) as they are on Sanibel? Is red algae LESS of a concern on Captiva than Sanibel? Are there enough choices for children friendly dinners on Captiva as Sanibel? How does SSR compare to the Sundial Resort? Thanks for all advice and info!! Love tripadvisor!

The Bakery
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1. Re: Captiva vs. Sanibel ?

OK. I've stayed both places myself. No question in my mind that South Seas has the BEST location. Both are now managed by LXR, which is good and bad. SSR has more things to do, but Sundial is much more compact and easier to get around. Not much of an issue with red drift algae at SSR and the rest of Captiva but Sundial has had MAJOR problems with it off and on for several months. New main pool complex is open, but the pool heater keeps breaking down. The facilities can only be accessed thru the resort, so don't rent thru and agency or owner or you won't be able to use them. Sundial is going the same way - it will matter to you there as well.

Food - SSR has more choices, but the food isn't great - but it is pricey. Captiva village has only a handful of restaurants and 2 are only so-so, but the best places are all a drive from either resort. All are family friendly. Old Captiva House is probably the best quality food. All are relaxed. Bubble Room is more famous than good. Mucky Duck - stick with fish [not shrimp] and maybe pork, but nothing fancy - they do that badly. Key Lime Bistro and RC Otters are ok but KLB can vary a lot. Green Flash is usually reliable. Captiva Cantina is now and I haven't tried it yet. Down at Blind pass are two excellent places, Mad Hatter [small and rather gourmet and not the best spot with kids], Sunset Grill [really good food and slightly more family friendly] and Lazy Flamingo, a family bar sort of place that's really good with extended families and has ok food. Two coffee shops, a Starbucks and Latte Da. Queenies ice cream at Mc Carthy's. Mama Rose's pizza is closed [that's where Starbuck's is].

More shells at Sundial - red drift algae permitting. Shells have been less plentiful on Sanibel than they were pre-Charley. Tennis at both and as for fitness, check. I believe the fitness center at Sundial is up and running, but I'm not sure about SSR.

SSR has a more 'remote' feel, rather like you're off somewhere well away from Florida. Sundial feels like its in the center of things. NO BIKE PATHS on Captiva and bike riding can be dangerous off the grounds of SSR. Fishing is available on SSR both surf and bay. Few shops.

Hope this helps.

The Bakery
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2. Re: Captiva vs. Sanibel ?

Oh yes, and like the condos at Sundial, the cottages and condos at SSR are privately owned and decor varies a LOT as does the quality and newness of the unit. And you will need to rent thru the resort both places to get access to all facilities.

And management both places is so-so and staff is often confused and will give contradictory information. SSR staff is all new and mostly Bahamian.

Reading, PA
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3. Re: Captiva vs. Sanibel ?

Thanks Tourmaline! Lots of helpful info ! I'm leaning towards SSR right now. The kids will be excited to walk to the dock area at SSR and look for dolphins and manatees. Does Captiva have other wildlife as well.......alligators and iguanas? Someone told me there are a lot of iguanas around the Casa Ybel road area on Sanibel. And I've read in this forum about the raccoon show, too.

Thanks for all the restaurant info, too! I'm making a list and looking forward to a super vacation!

The Bakery
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4. Re: Captiva vs. Sanibel ?

There are no gators on Captiva. Gators require fresh water and Captiva has no lakes, 'rivers' or even bayous really, so any gator that shows up - and on rare occasion one does, they go back to Sanibel or the mainland.

You might see otters bayside. They can look sort of like really short, fat snakes in the water. Plenty of racoons and birds of all sorts. Manatee are common around docks and even the marina area. You'll see dolphins in both Gulf and bay as Pine Island Sound is home to thousands of them. I haven't heard of iguanas on SSR. They are not a native species. I understand there are a couple of big ones on Sanibel. Probably pets some thoughtless person released into the wild. That sort of thing can be very hazardous to eco-systems, especially those with ground breeding birds like Sanibel. Reptiles often eat eggs. You do get plenty of geckos all over the place. They eat the bugs so I have no problem with them.

Please remember, NEVER, EVER feed wild animals or approach them. It's against the law on Sanibel [but not on Captiva] for good reason and always risky. If you see an injured animal or bird, PLEASE contact CROW on Sanibel. They do an excellent job of rehabbing and nursing all manner of creatures back to health. I tend to see a much great variety of wildlife on Sanibel, but more dolphin and manatee up on Captiva.

Protected species live or visit both island and sea turtles nest on the beaches, so if you do take a beach front spot, remember to keep off outside lights between May and October.

And have a GREAT trip!

5. Re: Captiva vs. Sanibel ?

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