Captiva Island, Florida

Those looking for a unique Florida experience away from the screaming children and costumed cartoon characters in Central Florida should consider the state's most southwest tip, where several islands offer seclusion and pristine beaches away from the state's mainland. Captiva Island and Sanibel Islands, connected by Turner Beach are a popular vacation spot for those looking to get away from it all.

A local rumor says that pirates used to roam the sandy white beaches of Captiva Island, Florida. Now however, it's mostly families in search of adventure and treasure. The island is known for its colorful seashells, which litter the island and are coveted by collectors around the globe. The island runs east to west instead of north to south which is what allows it to collect so many shells from the Gulf of Mexico. Prime shelling season is May through September. If you come during a different time of year, or you just want to look at some shells without putting in the work, be sure to stop at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. It features the best shells found on the island over the years.

Sunset, Captiva Island, FloridaAfter you've had your fill of seashell collecting, you'll want to head over to Captiva's big sister, Sanibel Island. The easiest way to get there is through Turner Beach, which connects the two tropical paradises. Located on the most southern tip of Captiva, Turner Beach is the best spot on the islands to watch a gorgeous sunset or sunrise. Consider spending the day collecting shells on Captiva, watch the sunset on Turner Beach and then head over to the larger Sanibel Island which has the best options for entertainment and nightlife.

There are a number of exciting landmarks to check out on Sanibel Island before you even hit the beach. The Point Ybel lighthouse has guided ships to Sanibel's shores since 1884. The island also features a national wildlife and bird sanctuary and the island offers several theatrical productions to take the family to when you need a break from the sand. Sanibel also offers a large selection of restaurants that focus on the local fresh seafood and ethnic cuisine. Those looking for a romantic getaway will be pleased to know that Sanibel Island is a popular spot for both weddings and honeymoons. There are a number of caterers, florists, photographers and limousine companies on the island specifically for this purpose.


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