You don’t need a passport for a family-friendly island vacation — just a car to take you over the Causeway Bridge in Ft. Myers to Sanibel and Captiva islands in Florida. South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island offers sugar white-sand beaches, 20 swimming pools, watersports, golf and more than a dozen dining options.
Originally a Key lime plantation, this 330-acre property stretches from its gatehouse across the street from Chadwick’s Square past the main lobby to North Pointe Village. A trolley connects the entrance and lobby to the main pool area, marina and several dining options, stopping along the way so guests can easily access their accommodations.
If you want to be close to the three main pools and Skully’s Family Center with its kids’ activities and Camp Skullywags, you may want to stay in the 475-square-foot Harborside guestrooms, but I recommend opting for a condominium instead. With sizes ranging 850–3,400 square feet, the condos have bedrooms, living rooms and full kitchens, including range tops, ovens and full-sized refrigerators.
South Seas also offers Homes of Distinction, private homes and specialty condominiums ranging from two- to six-bedrooms. All come complete with a full kitchen, daily housekeeping service and other amenities. Some even have private pools. Consider renting one if you are traveling with another family or for multigenerational vacations.
Things to Do
Collecting seashells is one of the most popular activities on Captiva Island, right up there with lounging on the beach or by the pool. The resort’s 2.5 miles of white-sand beaches are dotted with more than 250 types of seashells, and while you can’t find as many as you would on neighboring Sanibel Island, you’ll still get an impressive haul. Download the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum app to identify what you find.
On-site provider Sunny Island Adventures offers watersport adventures including sailing, parasailing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and wave runner excursions while Sanibel Sea School provides sea-based programs for kids, teens and adults, including Guided Birdwatching and Discover Shelling. The resort also boasts a tennis academy, nine-hole golf course and spa.
South Seas Island Resort makes a great base for exploring Sanibel Island and other nearby islands. Captiva Cruises sail to Cayo Costa State Park for world-class shelling and Cabbage Key for the ultimate “cheeseburger in paradise.” On Sanibel Island, don’t miss Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, which pays tribute not only to seashells but sea creatures at its new aquarium. Nearby, J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 245 bird species.
Where to Eat
The resort offers several dining options. For a breakfast or an upscale meal, head to Harbourside Bar & Grill, which overlooks the marina. Poolside, The Pointe serves sandwiches, burgers and vegetarian-friendly options for lunch while Scoops & Slices caters to pizza and ice cream lovers. Head to Crooked Snook Tiki Bar for a frozen tropical drink or Starbucks at Chadwick’s Square for a coffee.
For a taste of Southwest Florida’s best, don’t miss Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill. A local favorite chain, Doc Ford’s is known for dishes like Yucatan Shrimp — steamed peel-and-eat shrimp dripping with butter, spices and Key lime juice — and, of course, its rum drinks.
Half a mile from the resort, downtown Captiva is home to the Bubble Room, a local icon known for its kitsch and mammoth cake slices — try the orange crunch cake! Just around the corner, Keylime Bistro is known for its Key lime pie.
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit now offers a new, 90-minute Mexican Doll Workshop perfect for families. Children are invited to design their own Mexican rag doll using colored ribbons and fabrics. Offering a unique bonding experience for families, the workshop also supports the local community and honors the indigenous women who started the craft.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Card recently launched BoldFamilyTravel.Chase.com, an interactive, online resource allowing families to plan future travel together. The launch followed the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Card Survey of parents and grandparents that revealed most parents believe children are important resources for planning family vacations and that one-third of parents don’t currently involve their children in planning but would like to.
Valley Forge National Historical Park is a great place to bring your history-loving family. Located in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the park is the site of the 1777–1778 winter encampment of the Continental army during the American Revolutionary War. Today, the 3,500-acre park boasts trails, replicas and other historical markers perfect for learning more about Valley Forge’s place in our nation’s history.
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, amplifies the family vacation with a new partnership with KidsDreamFactory to provide themed glamping experiences customized for children at the resort.