Driving over the causeway to Sanibel-Captiva my husband and I were captivated by the sparkling blue water around us and the vibrant green of the island ahead of us. Once over the bridge, we rolled down our windows and took a deep breath and let our cares just roll off our shoulders. (A lot like the feeling we have when we cross over the bridge leading into the Florida Keys – pure relaxation) We found ourselves traveling on what seemed to be a country road with small shops and just a few houses on either side, where pedestrians and bikes have the right of way, with the definite vibe of a small beach town.
Our first stop was for lunch at Grandma Dots, located on a small marina, and that turned out to be a good choice. It was housed in a low-slung building perched between gently rocking boats, with a casual, island atmosphere, a friendly wait staff and a menu full of fresh fish, salads and some landlubber grub. If you go, try their fish sandwich special, in this case it was swordfish with a black bean salsa and, I would highly recommend, their very popular coconut shrimp. The portions were huge and the food delicious. It was a great way to start our vacation.
On the road again we stopped by the rental agency in Sanibel to pick up the key to our beach house rental and proceeded on to Captiva, located to the north of Sanibel, which to our surprise took us about 20-30 minutes! Guess no one is in a hurry here and it did give us plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful scenery. We passed huge mansions with immaculate landscaping, seas of grasses and palmetto fronting the road beyond which was the calm blue waters of the Gulf as well as the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, an undeveloped mangrove ecosystem that supports birds, manatees, dolphin and gopher tortoises. Upon reaching the beach house, located on a shady little lane, we found it delightful. The house was huge and perfect for our family reunion and within easy walking distance of the main part of town as well as the beach.
It was rather late by the time everyone arrived so we decided to just order pizza so we could get the kids to bed on time. No way anyone wants cranky kids on vacation! The pizzas from Captiva Pizza (located on Andy Rosse Lane, the main street on Captiva), a hidden gem that doesn’t even look like a pizza parlor but more of a gift emporium, were great – plenty of cheese, a tasty tomato sauce and an abundance of toppings – all in all very enjoyable.
After putting the kids to bed, the adults got to relax in the living room and catch up on all the news. Plans were made for the following day with the hope we would wake up early enough to catch the sunrise in the morning.
More on the local scene, beach and restaurants tomorrow!