Sanibel and Captiva Islands together comprise a half-dozen miles of Florida shoreline. The islands are just under six hours away from the River City. The route is simple enough, consisting mainly of long stretches of Interstates 95 South, 4 West, and 75 South. The area looks like the old Florida captured in vintage postcards: the islands are dotted with exotic foliage and brightly colored buildings in hues of flamingo pink, lime green, lemon yellow and coral.
One of the area’s most popular destinations, the South Seas Resort, can be found on the northern tip of Captiva Island. Following the hard-hitting hurricanes of 2004, the resort underwent an extensive renovation process that lasted two years. The end result is a warm and welcoming lodge that boasts a variety of amenities. In addition to the usual poolside attractions that lure most visitors, guests may choose to take advantage of the resort’s enviable shelling grounds. Seafaring guests may prefer sailboat cruises to North Captiva, sunset cruises, a nighttime astronomy cruise, or an afternoon on a rented kayak or jet ski. Of course, no Florida resort is complete without a golf course, and South Seas offers a newly renovated nine-hole, par-three layout that hugs the northern and western shores of the island.
The resort (and, actually, the island itself) is a sanctuary of wildlife and tropical plants. Be sure to catch the sunrise over the water in the morning. Pelicans, manatees, and dolphins are all visible at the islands in February, when the warm waters teem with fish. Speaking of fish—February visitors can learn how to utilize fresh seafood to create homemade sushi with Chef Aung Zin Oo, sushi chef of the Sanibel Fish House. The popular seafood restaurant hosts sushi classes each Wednesday. For a more romantic excursion, a Valentine’s Day sunset cruise offered by Adventures in Paradise fits the bill. The cruise sets sail from Port Sanibel Marina and continues through San Carlos Bay. Guests will be able to watch dolphins splash before a backdrop of hundreds of birds flocking to Bird Island for their nightly roost.