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Holiday Seashell Crafts

Looking to do some holiday decorating with seashells? You’re in the right place. We’ve been busy making ornaments this week from shells found on the beach right here at ‘Tween Waters. They’re so pretty, you can even gift them to family and friends (if you can part with them). Here’s what you’ll need:

 Craft Supplies:

  • Clear plastic ornaments
  • Sand
  • Krylon Glitter Shimmer spray
  • Acrylic paint (red, beige, black and white)
  • Ribbon or pipe cleaners

 

 Shells Used:

  • Giant Heart Cockle for Santa face
  • Scallops or clams for snowmen
  • Dosinias
  • Mini shells 

 

For the Santa face, you’ll find step-by-step photos below. We glued on googly eyes, but you can also just use paint. This is a kid favorite! 

For the snowman, start by painting the shell white. My buddy, Leo, (pictured) created his by using a worm shell for the carrot nose. So clever. 

For filled ornaments, use a small funnel to pour in sand. Then just drop in any shells that fit through the opening. You can leave the shells natural or spray them with Glitter Shimmer.

My sister made the dosinia ornaments by spraying them with Glitter Shimmer and hot-gluing a ribbon atop. They’re so elegant. In fact, the full name of the shell is “elegant dosinia.” You can do the same process with sand dollars. 

Need a really special gift? How about a shelling charter? You can leave right from the dock at ‘Tween Waters and head out to explore the outer islands. This is a fantastic adventure that any shell-hunter would love. 

I really hope you’ll create some seashell ornaments of your own. Please post your creations to our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram. We’d love to see them. Happy Holidays!

Step 1: Paint shell white
Step 2: paint a face area
Step 3: paint on Santa’s hat
Step 4: add eyes, nose and mouth
Leo and his snowman ornament
clear ornaments filled with sand & seashells
Leo and Jordan making seashells ornaments.
Snowman seashell ornament by Leo.
Elegant dosinia seashell ornament.

 

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Ride the Shark Boat

If you’re looking to make a splash on your next visit to ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, you’ve got to take a ride on the exhilarating Shark Boat! Talk about creating an unforgettable memory — the Shark Boat is the newest watersport activity offered right onsite at ‘Tween Waters through Captiva Watersports. Up to six riders can enjoy the Shark Boat at a time, each in her or his own seat, and the oversized pontoons on the sides make it very stable, and easy to get on and off. 

Ready to ride? Just step on and hold on! You’ll be skimming across the water in no time, with the wind in your hair, yelling for more. The Shark Boat ride is about 15 minutes in length and you don’t have to worry about steering as you’re towed behind a jet ski driven by a USCG certified captain. What a thrill! And it’s only $20 per rider. 

If you enjoy the water but don’t want to get wet, parasailing is another exhilarating option. No physical ability is required either. Just sit on the rear of the boat and be gently lifted to 800 feet in the air. Up to three people can soar at the same time. And those views of the island, the Gulf and Pine Island Sound!! You might even see dolphins or manatees.  

Whatever your level of activity or your budget, Captiva Watersports has something for you. Discount coupons can be found at their website along with any age, height or weight restrictions. You can also find coupons in your “Resort Rewards” coupon book you’ll be given upon check-in. 

Have fun out there!

 

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Searching for the right words (and music) at ‘Tween Waters

For some, it’s Bon Jovi. For others, it’s Lee Brice.

But regardless of the genre or haircut of choice, there’s at least a good chance you’ve spent some time behind your steering wheel, your shower head or your hairbrush playing the part of a singing star.

I’ll confess, my jam always leaned a little more toward Springsteen.

Still, while I can mimic the “Boss” on air guitar and grimace in time with every guttural “1-2-3-4” during “Born to Run,” I’ve never been able to master the poetic side of things with any success.

Oh sure, I bang out 600 words in my sleep about surfing with a kite, paddling with a board or drifting my way out of a rip current, but I’ve never progressed anywhere beyond “Do… Re… Mi…” when it comes to penning my own entry in the Great American Song Book.

And for a guy like me, that’s frustrating.

Which makes performance Saturdays at Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa particularly challenging.

Now, make no mistake, spending a weekend day hanging around the Oasis Pool Bar – or an evening in the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille – while listening to the song stylings of someone who can actually, well… sing, is far from a difficult chore.

After all, the resort is spectacular. The weather is gorgeous. The people are awesome.

And yes, the drinks are plentiful.

So, throw in some music and you’ve officially elevated a climate-friendly good time into a tropical party.

(Editor’s Note: If you’ve never been, do yourself a favor. Book a seat on the next available flight. Now.)

That said, amid all the carousing and carrying on, the entertainer in me still stands by a bit stifled.

Of course, it’s not as if I don’t have ideas.

In fact, for nearly every moment of a recent early-morning Captiva trip I bombarded my wife (Danielle) and son (Ryan) with pithy lyrical ideas, hoping to gain some semblance of traction.

With a caffeinated Tween Beans beverage in one hand and a pen/paper in the other, I strolled across Captiva Drive, plopped down in my lounge chair and waited for the Gulf-side inspiration to arrive.

First, I needed a title.

Given the surroundings, how about “Coffee. Beach. Repeat.”?

I know what you’re thinking… “That’s brilliant, why didn’t I think of it first?!?”

Sorry, it’s mine.

Next, every song has a few evocative turns of phrase… let’s get ours.

Ryan looked up and said he saw “a money bag on a cloud.” There’s one, I thought.

Danielle spied a dive-bombing pelican who “knocked himself silly looking for lunch.” That’s two.

I giggled at a phone-obsessed woman “about 10,000 selfies from a supermodel’s life.”

And we have three.

Just a few la-las, you-knows and oh-yeahs as fillers and we draft a speech at the Grammys, right?

OK, maybe not.

Turns out, no matter how good your initial 30 seconds might be – and unless you resemble a male model/female starlet holding a microphone – you still have to fill in another three minutes (or another nine if we’re talking “Jungleland”) with something other than dead air and static.

Sheesh.

Problem was, even after three more cups of coffee, I remained stuck.

And given that Ryan’s only about 30 days into middle school training on the tuba, there’s no iron-lunged “Big Man” ready to swoop to my imminent rescue with a prolonged and soulful solo.

I suppose we’ll wait for eighth grade for that one.

In the meantime, I’ll be the guy at the side of the bar, pining for a chance at a singalong.

And hey, if anyone’s got Kenny G’s number… have him shoot me a text.

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Taking Advantage of Offseason at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa for a Girls Getaway

Yes, “Captiva Island” are those two magical words that make winter go away.

Yes, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa is the perfect antidote for snow blindness and frostbite.

YAS! In the offseason, Captiva and ‘Tweenies is the place my gal pals and I head for a getaway without the seasonal crowds (and rates!).

We spent an off-weekend (Sunday and Monday nights) in offseason (end of September) and barely paid anything for our gulfview rooms. But even better, we happened upon Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, a region-wide event that spends its first few days on Captiva Island.

Picture this: Hanging at ‘Tweenies pool, mojito in hand, while artists who have written songs for the likes of Garth Brooks and Eddie Rabbit, sing their hits, crack jokes, and take you on a journey through their Nashville careers.

Just us and the birds on the morning beach

Island Hopper happens at almost a dozen venues on Captiva, but you can’t beat ‘Tweenies’ pool and Oasis Pool Bar scene. So start making plans now for next September.

Trolleys and shuttles take you free-of-charge to other Island Hopper venues on Captiva, and after the show ended at ‘Tweenies, we hopped aboard to discover “downtown Captiva” at its offseason liveliest.

We wound up back at the Crow’s Nest, where the popular Gatlin Show act paid tribute to Island Hopper’s country music theme with a cowboy hat hall-of-fame presentation and repartee that had us laughing out loud. And vocals that had us dancing like no one was looking. Watch for the entirely entertaining male-female duo every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night starting at 8:30 p.m. through October.

The rest of the “unweekend” we spent on a morning beach walk, lazing by the Serenity Pool, getting a pedicure (orange nails for fall) at the spa, dining at the marvelously remastered Old Captiva House, and kayaking.

We learned a little offseason secret about the latter. The ‘Tween Waters marina has a small fleet of single and double kayaks for guests’ complimentary use. Another good reason to go in the offseason, when you have a better chance of scoring one, or, in our case, three. That physical exertion called for cocktails at the Serenity Pool bar, where we posted selfies of our fivesome on the swings at one end. Another new discovery!

 

 

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Drinks All Around at the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille

Martini on CaptivaThe secret to a great bar and grille is whether or not the locals hang out there. What’s better than a place that isn’t hiking up prices for tourists and that a local can trust to grab a pint (or a glass or a high ball) after a day in the sun? That’s why the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille is my favorite place to grab a drink on the Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

Not only do the locals hang out there, but it’s a great place to meet new people that may be staying at the resort on property, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa. Not everyone is looking for friendly conversation, but most guests, and of course the bartenders, are ready to tell their “fish story” and share a drink with you.

But what I love most of all is the variety a seriously delicious drinks to choose from. The wine selection alone is something no connoisseur would laugh at — from Raymond, California Merlot to a great Cab, If you See Kay, from Italy, you’ll enjoy the a great selection if you love wine.

Many go for a stronger drink to end the day, enjoying the specialty drinks and martinis at the Crow’s Nest. Named for local traditions and flavors, patrons enjoy the Key Lime Pie Martini, High Tide Margarita, Pink Dolphin, Captiva Chiller and Tipsy Mermaid. The local favorite of course is the Rum Runner, which you can see ordered here or at the Oasis Pool Bar.

If you’re feeling especially adventurous, the bartenders at the Crow’s Nest have been mixing and making drinks for years, and are always up for a challenge to impress you with a new flavor. “Surprise me” might get you a new concoction or a drink they’ve been making for yours.

Whatever you’re drinking, pairing it with an appetizer or plate from the Crow’s Nest dining menu is a no-brainer. You’ll find unique options like Mahi Fingers and Shrimp and Sausage Quesadillas, plus traditional apps like loaded nachos, mozzarella sticks and chicken wings. Yum! View the full menu, with drinks, here.

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Enjoying paradise means staying water safe

We’ll concede, it’s not particularly pleasant to ponder.

Though nearly everyone who’s spent time at the Tween Waters Inn has strolled the beach alongside the Gulf of Mexico, there’s an excellent chance that water safety wasn’t their primary thought.

But, given some tragedies within range of the resort this summer, it’s a necessary one.

A 39-year-old man drowned about 15 yards off shore in the water off Blind Pass Beach – just 2.1 miles down Captiva Drive from TWI – in late July, only days after a 46-year-old man had died not far from the same spot after rescuing his young daughter from the water.

Another man succumbed in July at Turner Beach, just across the channel from Blind Pass.

In their aftermath, it’s high time for a refresher course on waterside threats.

Though we typically envision Gulf waves as bringing shells, seaweed and other debris onto the beach, sometimes those waves hit the beach in a way that creates a current flowing in the opposite direction.

These are rip currents.

Rip currents can be created when waves move from deep to shallow water, break near the shoreline and are influenced by the shape of the Gulf floor. Short-lived rip currents can also develop when waves interact with one another.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says about 100 people drown in rip currents annually, while lifeguards rescue another 30,000 or so swimmers from them each year.

Rip currents form at low spots near the shoreline, in breaks between sandbars or around jetties and piers, and can range from 50 to 300 feet wide. And while the size numbers may not dazzle you, the velocity rates might. Rip currents typically flow at 1 to 2 feet per second but can go as fast as 8 feet per second – about 5 miles per hour – which is faster than an Olympian can swim.

The current speed is influenced by the size of the waves, but waves only 2 feet high can still produce hazards. And, perhaps surprisingly, rip currents are strongest at low tide. Also worth noting, the shape of the ocean bottom sometimes changes during storms or when waves are particularly big – meaning it may suddenly have an ideal shape for creating unpredictable currents where there were none.

Also, many people incorrectly use the phrases “rip current” and “undertow” interchangeably.

Rip currents, however, are much more dangerous because they flow on the surface of the water, can be very strong and can extend some distance from the shore. Meanwhile, an undertow occurs when water sinks back downhill into the sea after a wave has carried it uphill onto the beach. Undertows are typically not powerful unless there’s a steep incline, but if the tide is high, the wave is large, and the beach slopes sharply downhill, the undertow could be strong enough to knock you down.

The good news, it won’t carry you far — perhaps just enough to get smacked by the next big wave.

Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon on the whole ocean. Rip currents, on the other hand, are a purely local effect. You can usually see the signs of a rip current. Often there is an area on the beach where the waves are not breaking, but instead you see sandy water or the white foam of a current headed back out to sea.

The best way to survive a rip current is to stay afloat and yell for help. Don’t panic. Continue to breathe, keep your head above water, and don’t exhaust yourself fighting the current.

You can also swim parallel to the shore to escape it. This allows more time for you to be rescued or to swim back to shore. Rip currents usually break up just beyond the line of breaking waves, but occasionally someone can be pushed hundreds of yards offshore.

The scenery is mesmerizing, yet the dangers are real.

So the advice is pertinent.

Enjoy our beautiful resort… but let’s be careful out there.

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Sea Turtle Nesting Season – An Exciting Time at ‘Tween Waters!

sea turtle captiva

It’s sea turtle hatching season, and one of the most exciting times to be a visitor at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort and Spa. If you love nature, baby animals or simply one-of-a-kind experiences, then now is the time to visit.

Baby sea turtles hatch late at night when the moon is bright. And when they are ready, they follow the moonlight and head back to the Gulf of Mexico to join their relatives. This season begins in May and ends in October, but you’ll notice especially right now, the peak of that season and those hatchlings. The SCCF on Sanibel monitors sea turtle nests and so many of these hatchings are controlled and assisted. Over 100 volunteers help with the daily search for tracks that the sea turtle left behind when she emerged from the sea the night before. Not only do they monitor for successful hatchings, but the assist in the protection of these nests to ensure this happens. If you visit our beach, you may see flagged square areas, usually indicating a turtle nest awaiting a hatching.

While it may be difficult to spot loggerhead turtles, you can usually see their tracks, especially in the early morning on the beaches, so keep your eyes open when you are taking that morning walk or out shelling, and you’ll probably encounter some of the tiny turtle tracks heading back to the Gulf.

Common tips to ensuring the best for turtles include:

  • Turn off or shield all lights that are visible from the beach. Do not use flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach. This is why ‘Tween Waters asks that you shut off porch lights visible from the beach when not using.
  • Do not disturb the screens covering nests. They prevent predators from eating the eggs and the hatchlings emerge through the holes without assistance.
  • Dispose of fishing line properly to avoid wildlife entanglement.
  • Fill in large holes that can trap hatchlings and nesting sea turtles. Did you build a mote around your sandcastle? Be sure to fill it in!
  • Do not disturb nesting turtles – please do not to get too close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles.
    Pick up litter.
  • Notify us, or please call the Sea Turtle Hotline: 978-728-3663 if you notice any nest that has not been identified or a hatching in progress.

 

In 2018, a record number of nests were laid on Sanibel and Captiva for the fifth year in a row.  Of the 721 nests laid, it is estimated that over 38,000 sea turtle hatchlings successfully emerged from their nests!  Our beaches welcomed 718 loggerhead nests, two green turtle nests, and one famous Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nest. We look forward to another successful sea turtle nesting season and hope to uphold Sanibel’s reputation as having one of the darkest and most “turtle friendly” beaches in the state. Remember, after 9, it’s turtle time!

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Finding Sand Dollars on Captiva

If you love sand dollars, you’ll be pleased to hear that beach goers have been finding lots of them washed up on the shores of Captiva and Sanibel lately. I’ve been blessed to find a few, nearly white from being faded by the sun. I’ve also found lots of live sand dollars, which are illegal to keep, in Lee County. Do you know how to tell the difference?

How to Tell if a Sand Dollar is Alive:

Movement: Put the sand dollar in your palm. If its little hairs are moving, it’s alive. Those hairs or spines are called cilia.

Yellowing: Hold the sand dollar in your palm for a minute. If it leaves a yellow mark, it’s alive. (That substance is called echinochrome and it’s harmless to humans.)

Color: Sand dollars turn gray or white when they die.  When alive, they can be dark brown to purplish-reddish.

Smooth or Hairy: If it’s smooth, it’s ok to keep. Sand dollars shed their spines/hairs when they die. If it’s hairy, place it back in the water.

Here are few more fun facts to share with your kids:

  • Sand dollars move by using their spines/hairs (cilia).
  • They live from 6 to 10 years.
  • Sand dollars have teeth, five to be exact. (Have you ever shaken a sand dollar and heard it rattle? Those are the teeth!
  • In the Legend of the Sand Dollar poem, the five doves are actually the sand dollar’s teeth.
  • The mouth of the sand dollar is called “Aristotle’s Lantern.”

If you find sand dollars and want to pack them safely to bring home, wrap each one with paper towels, toilet paper or tissue and place inside a Tupperware-style container about the same size.

Also, a shelling charter to the out-islands may be just the ticket to finding a secret stash of sand dollars.

Happy hunting!

Live Sand Dollar.
Full moon and a perfect sand dollar.
Fingers stained yellow from live sand dollar.
seashells and sand dollar on Captiva.
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Finding Your Inner Beach Bum on a Cottage Vacation

Beachview Cottages

A beach cottage is not a place; it’s a state-of-mindlessness.

It conjures up images of sunset porch views and walking out your front door with bare feet. A beach cottage promises the ultimate island vacation, where your only work is on your tan and finding out who “dunnit” in a breezy mystery novel.

Cottage vacations are my favorite, especially a Sanibel or Captiva island beach cottage vacation. Through Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, I can pick from the historic cottages at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, the shore-hugging and casual cottages of Castaways Beach & Bay Cottages, the sweet little beach-bum accommodations at Beachview Cottages, or a stand-alone home-away-from-home out of  the inventory of Sanibel Captiva Island Vacation Rentals.

At Castaways on Sanibel Island, 15 cottages line the beach at Blind Pass with options from one to three bedrooms, each with its own personality. The rest of the property’s 22 units are pool-front, marina-side or bay-front — across the street, but still an easy shuffle to the beach. (You may want to don flip-flops for that walk.)

Castaways Beach & Bay Cottages

It feels like a return to old Florida, but with all the conveniences. You become part of the “Santiva” community here, with the convenience of a handful of restaurants and a small store, where you can buy the makings of a meal should you decide to take advantage of the cottages’ modern kitchen facilities.

The staff, too, become like family. The resort is known for its longtime employees, who get to know their guests by name.

Same goes for Beachview on Sanibel Island, a postcard property of 22 cottages painted brightly with the requisite screened porch and sandy trail to the beach and pool. The one- to three-bedroom cottages slump comfortably, like a pair of favorite shoes you’ve worn in. Newly refreshed with modern upgrades and easy-living furnishings, their board-and-bead wainscoting epitomizes cottage living.

‘Tween Waters Island Resort

At ‘Tween Waters, a few of the cottages pay honor to famous past guests such as Charles Lindbergh, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and “Ding” Darling. Some have Gulf of Mexico views, others look out onto the bay. None lie far from the beach.

Slightly more “dressed-up” than the other two properties, the cottages at ‘Tweenies appeal to a still-casual, inherently charming beach sensibility, where time seems frozen ‘neath toasty Southwest Florida sun.

And for me, that’s the main attraction to spending time in accommodations that effectively erase the boundaries between seaside and bedside.

Castaways
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The Top Instagram Locations at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa

Instagram 'Tween Waters

If you’re like me, Facebook is out, and Instagram is in. And if you’re looking to beef up your feed with some beautiful vacation pics to make your friends (and frenemies) totes jealous, then you’ll want to scope out these perfect ’Tween Waters locations on your next vacation:

Colorful Cottages: From their idyllic stoops to their tropic colors, the flat sides of our colorful cottages are a great color-blocking beauty to match your vacation outfit. Be sure to be courteous of the cottage guests when taking your photos (try mid-day, stay quiet, away from windows and respect privacy).

‘Tweenies Pass: On the way to pool, you may have noticed the sweet bridge, pond and colorful cottages. We call this ‘Tweenies Pass and it’s the needed zen for your insta feed.

Manatee Cove and Dolphin Lookout: It’s named Manatee Cove and Dolphin Lookout for a reason! Manatees, dolphins and wildlife love to hang by the marina, and the outlook over the docks in a great way to not only spot wildlife, but it’s also the perfect way to capture a wide-angle view of the Bay!

Beachview Balcony: Where’s the best view on property? Checkout the beachview balcony. It’s a hidden gem that many overlook, hidden between the end of the Crow’s Nest and the large Wakefield building. Those steps at the tail end of Crow’s Nest lead up to a stunning view of the Gulf. Because of its height, it’s a vantage point you don’t want to miss and a great way to capture the sunset, blues of the Gulf and wind-blown palms.

Sunset Row: Take a seat in the Adirondack chairs situated on the beach and enjoy the view of one of the top-rated sunsets in the world. No matter your seat, be it chairs, blanket or bum, the sunset is insta-worthy.

Pool Umbrellas: My personal favorite, I love to prop my perfect pedicure and drink from the Oasis and capture the edges of the classic yellow and white striped umbrellas at the pool for the iconic vacation pic.

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