With little time left in our summer between the kid's swimming and volleyball hobbies, we determined the best way to spend our last family vacation before our son headed to college was to find a beach as far away as we could without leaving the continental U.S. Florida's southwest coast in the Gulf of Mexico was just the ticket.
Best time to visit? Not July! Since that was the only time we could really get away, we "soaked" it up and planned for a sweaty and memorable 4th of July in between afternoon gulf storms and morning bike rides. We chose South Seas Island Resort in Captiva which is really the northern tip of the larger Sanibel Island complex. These islands are across the bridge from mainland Florida, and once there, you don't find it necessary to leave.
While traversing the island for groceries is a good hour adventure, staying at this resort resort provides plenty of activities-from chartered view and fishing boat trips to on-site bike rentals and multiple pools to explore, It's as close to an all-inclusive resort as you can get without leaving the U.S. (outside of the country's only all-inclusive resort, Club Med Sandpiper).
During our one week stay, we joined the Sanibel Recreation Center so we didn't miss swim workouts, we biked all over the resort and into town, and we took advantage of the Sanibel Island Wildlife refuge where we saw wild manatees, lots of shellfish, and beautiful mangrove forests that took the edge off the heat and brought us back to nature. Since we flew into Tampa, we drove 3 hours to get to Captiva, allowing us to head back via Clearwater Beach and check out the nightly sunset festivities.
For families looking for a great beach getaway who may not be Florida-Disney fanatics, this is a great destination for an annual family trip!
Deirdre Oss is a veteran city planner, mother of two awesome teenagers, and wife to an amazing husband and travel partner. A city girl for generations, her home and heart are in Denver, Colorado with family and friends across the country and the pond. Over two decades working in city planning provided the foundation for her to explore different cities through the lens of community planning to create places for people to thrive in daily life and beyond. This perspective allows her to travel with an eye toward local economy, transit, and special neighborhoods that appeal to both residents and tourists.