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Fall Fun Around ‘Tween Waters

There is so much happening this month on Captiva and at ‘Tween Waters Inn. First of all, October is the start of the fall season and that brings great rates (like stay two or more nights Sunday through Thursday and get an additional free night)! October is also when the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge has its annual “Ding Darling Days.” It’s an entire week of FREE eco-activities like tram tours, kids crafts, hot dogs, life-size puppets with Heather Henson (Muppets’ creator Jim Henson’s daughter), scavenger hunts, wildlife encounters, and much, much more.

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2014 marks the 25th anniversary of Ding Darling Days at the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and ‘Tween Waters is proud to be a sponsor.

The ‘Tween Waters Inn is proud to be a “Great Egret Level” Sponsor of this event – celebrating its 25th anniversary this year! You won’t want to miss it.

Since the 2014 theme for Ding Darling Days is “Let’s Go Outside,” I wanted to share some of my favorite family things to do outside right here at ‘Tween Waters Inn. Of course, you know that you can hang out at the beach, swim in the Gulf, hunt for seashells and frolic at the pool. But here are a few things you might not know about that will get your kids excited to get outdoors, especially in this gorgeous fall weather.

Rentals like canoes, single and double kayaks, and even motorboats are available at the onsite marina. You can paddle in the bay and see all kinds of wildlife, including manatees, especially this time of year. These gentle giants will sometimes swim right alongside your watercraft! Keep your eyes open for dolphins, too. What a thrill!

Onsite rentals for canoes, kayaks, bike and motorboats are right onsite at 'Tween Waters Inn.
Onsite rentals for canoes, kayaks, bike and motorboats are right onsite at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

If you’d rather just sit back and let someone else do all the work, then Native Guides is for you (and me). Give them a call to schedule a few hours of fishing, snorkeling, shelling or a picnic on one of the out-islands—you just tell them what you’re interested in and they’ll make it happen. Best of all, it’s the same price for one person or six. It is truly an unforgettable way to spend time with your family—and oh that fall weather!

From my family to yours, we wish you a happy autumn and we hope to see you around Captiva soon.

 

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Today, Is Kickin’ Back At The Shack Time

The Oasis Bar at 'Tween Waters Inn

If it’s shady and comes with cool drinks it must be The Oasis pool bar. Your time spent at the ‘Tween Waters Inn will likely include a trip or two to the pool. While you’re at the pool be sure to enjoy the tasty, poolside menu items served in a casual style from the bar and at nearby tables. Spot the blue roof and you’ve made it to the right place.

On a recent visit, I enjoyed the best frozen Rum Runner drink I’ve had in many years. My husband and I also shared an order of Fish Tacos that were excellent. If you like Grouper, you’ll find this item a fresh way to serve up some yum. Another favorite item is the Cheeseburger, obviously in paradise, served here, too.

Favorite Spot at The Oasis pool bar

— Near the bar, look for the usually shady, hightop table in the corner. It may become your favorite spot just like it is mine. You see, a popular pastime for local residents in a tropical environment like this one, is simply spending lots of time outdoors soaking in the sunshine, and having a good time enjoying and also ‘shooting the breeze.’

— Before you return to the pool for another dip and some sun, take a short walk into the local area near this table… Do this because you’ll find a creatively crafted, swinging bench located between the cottages to just sit on and relax for awhile.

Bench Swing tucked away amongst the cottages and foliage.

 

Life at the ‘Tween Waters Inn doesn’t get much better than this when you’re spending time at the pool. If you try my recommendations or discover something even better, please be sure to let me know.

Enjoy!

 

 

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America’s Most Romantic Sunset – ‘Tween Waters Inn

Sunset on Captiva Island

Local rumor is, ‘Tween Waters Inn and Captiva Island have the “most romantic sunsets in America” and Travelocity backed up that claim in an article years ago.  Now recently, USA Today named the resort one of the 10 most romantic coastal destinations in the United States, citing the romantic sunsets, white sandy beaches, shops and dining. So, naturally, my husband and I needed to vet this buzz, and soak in the romantic evening rays for ourselves.

We found that Captiva is one of the few local places where visitors can experience a truly unobstructed view of the sunset. Times vary based on season — be prepared for a sunset as early as 5:00PM in the winter, and as late as 8:30PM in the summer. 

INNSIDER TIP: If you’re looking to plan your dinner accommodations around the sunset, be sure to check out the sunset times on weather website like weather.com or wunderground.com

Really, there’s no gear needed to enjoy the painted sky each evening on Captiva, but if you’re looking to pay homage to the sunset and desire to make it an “event,” a blanket to sit on, some bug spray and champagne on ice with some plastic flutes will do nicely. Mathew and I even opened our iTunes on our phones and found a few classics like “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” and “When the Sun Goes Down.”

Legend has it that right before the sun dips below the water line, there’s a green flash that appears, but when the sun made its descent, there were beautiful oranges, pinks and purples in the sky, but no green in sight for us. It’s no hardship having missed this — it gives us another chance to come back, watch another sunset and look for that legendary green flash again.

I’ve traveled many places, seen plenty of sunsets over water, fields and mountains, but rarely have I seen such an event as a Captiva sunset. Whether you’re struck by the beauty of the calm water and orange ball sinking into the earth, or the various people facing west in tribute to another day complete, there is no doubting Captiva’s claim to romance.

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Sunset on Captiva
Captiva Island Sunset
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Getting My Day in (Pool-Side) Court

If you want danger, Florida’s got plenty.

The late-summer heat and humidity can be enough to swallow a tourist whole, which is similar to the fate that can await those who traipse uninitiated into the area’s many bodies of fresh or salt water – where they might just meet face-to-face with a hungry alligator or snack-seeking shark.

Which is precisely why I chose to keep my latest outdoor adventure on good old terra firma.

Proving ground in paradise.
Proving ground in paradise.

Of course, what I lacked in carnivorous marine life I now more than make up for in middle-aged joint pain, thanks in no small way to the pool-side tennis courts at the ’Tween Waters Inn.

Fueled by the sort of early September U.S. Open zeal that used to let me get a three-setter in before my junior year Editorial Methods class, I called upon good friend and colleague Michael Korb to play Andre Agassi to my John McEnroe in a 40-something reenactment of hard-court glory days gone by.

Truth is, we were a lot closer to Brooke Shields and Tatum O’Neal even at our peaks, but the pristine, sun-soaked playing surface made it feel enough like Flushing Meadow to render the task worthwhile.

Indulging our inner John and Andre.
Indulging our inner John and Andre.

The courts are open free of charge to resort guests from dawn to dusk, and can be reserved via the sign-up sheet that’s tucked away at the front desk. “Andre” and I strolled in the office shortly after 9 on a recent Sunday morning, and we were exchanging serves, volleys and maniacal grunts well before 9:30.

The subsequent two hours featured pretty much more of the same, with the occasional skid, tumble and snarky comment mixed in for color – not to mention the groans, head shakes and cringing glances around the perimeter fence to make sure no one had seen us whiff on a would-be overhead smash.

By 12, we were passing the Icy Hot while drowning our soreness in cool drinks at the Oasis Pool Bar.

Which, when you think about it, is a lot easier than lugging a silly trophy back to the car anyway.

 

Need Gear?
Rackets can be rented at the marina for $6 (for a 2½-hour time block) between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Balls are included at no additional charge. A complimentary clinic is held every Saturday for adults and children, and lessons are available from a vendor who contracts with the resort.
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Family Dining at ‘Tween Waters Inn

If you have a picky eater in your group, we have something in common. My youngest son could live on chicken fingers and Cheerios, so that’s another reason why we love the ‘Tween Waters Inn.

For starters, breakfast is free for resort guests (score!) — just head to Captiva House for an all-you-can-eat buffet. Feast on homemade pastries (made onsite), bowls of whole and sliced fruit, assorted cold cereals, breads and bagels, yogurts, hot cereals and cheeses. A separate menu is available with omelets, huevos rancheros, pancakes and French toast, for a nominal fee. I happen to be a big fan of the oatmeal.

For lunch, no shirt, no shoes, no problem! The Oasis Pool Bar and Grill is open 11:30 am to 5 pm and the smoke from the grills will make your mouth water. Order at the counter or grab an open table. The menu offers sandwiches, wraps, gyros, hot dogs, burgers, and salads. The Char Broiled Grouper sandwich scores high marks with my teenager.

Dinner is a toss up between Captiva House and Crow’s Nest. Both offer a kid’s menu, but Mondays and Thursdays, we choose the Crow so we can participate in their famous Crab Races. “It’s the stupidest thing you’ll ever see,” but the 6pm show is family friendly and has raised over $225,000 for the United Way. They serve a buffet on these nights; every other night they offer a large menu. Our fav is the chicken barbecue pizza and ice cream sundaes but their ‘Gulf Shrimp and Grits’ is SO good, with shrimp, chorizo sausage and cheese grits. Yum!

Your kids will love the sundaes at Crow's Nest.
Your kids will love the sundaes at Crow’s Nest.

Captiva House is the top rated restaurant on Captiva by TripAdvisor but don’t let that scare you from dining here with kids. By day’s end, my little one can be crabby, but we LOVE the food here, so we make reservations early, before the meltdown. Many times, there several other families dining right alongside us. Blue crab bisque, bouillabaisse, twin lobster tails…oh my. Instead of dessert, we have Devon (my youngest) throw a few dollars in the piano player’s tip jar. It’s a nice way to end the evening.

I hope you’ll try these onsite restaurants on your next visit. Let me know what your favorite dish was!

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Watching The Sunrise On The First Morning Of Your Stay

Soft serene sunrise at 'Tween Waters Inn overlooking Pine Island Sound, Captiva Island, FL

Sunrise Boating from 'Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Island, FL

Oh Happy Day!

While sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico from ‘Tween Waters Inn are spectacular and famous worldwide, a stay at the resort on Captiva Island offers guests something more that’s similar, and just as special. It offers you an insider’s view of the glorious sunrises every morning at the marina overlooking the Bay to the east.

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Begin your visit with a plan on the first night, to take in the sunrise when you wake up the next day. You may be ready for a good night’s sleep, so plan to sleep well and set an early alarm for when it’s still dark and dawn is on the horizon.

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After you’re up take a leisurely stroll down to the Marina. Aside from yourself, you’ll find the baitfish wake up first causing ripples in the smooth water. The birds begin to fly, and on our recent trip we saw a manatee bobbing to the surface at the water entrance to the marina.

We also noticed a couple on a nearby dock using equipment to view birds from a distance. Boaters moved around, dogs went for walks, people went fishing, and other guests appeared along the water’s edge, too. Bring your phone or camera; throw on your comfy clothes and go.

From the Observation deck on the dock at 'Tween Waters Inn the views are wonderful, especially in the morning.

 

 

You are going to be totally energized after watching the most serene sunrise around. The panoramic display above the trees and on the water lasts about twenty to thirty minutes. Look for the observation deck stairs, where the dock turns right. From up there you can relax and watch everything come to life.

After the sun rises, you’ll love having breakfast in the Captiva House dining room. Located on the beach side of the resort, it’s the place where there are always treasured views of the Gulf to take in, as guests come and go from the Gift Shop and Crow’s Nest restaurant, as well.

When you wake up, look forward to the Continental breakfast buffet that is complimentary for guests only. The morning buffet at ‘Tween Waters Inn features fresh fruits, pastries and more. Best of all, breakfast favorites served with the sunrise will be waiting for you every morning of your stay. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

A sunrise wonder viewed from the 'Tween Waters Inn marina overlooking Pine Island Sound

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Sweating it Out on the Tour de Captiva

OK, I’ve finally conceded that I’ll never be mistaken for Lance Armstrong.

But while a month on a bicycle in France isn’t viable for a 45-year-old who breaks a sweat taking out garbage, it’s lucky that Southwest Florida is not without more suitable two-wheeled options.

And if you’re seeking to get your pedal on, why not enjoy a little scenery along the way?

Some natural roadside scenery
Some natural roadside scenery

The quest for mild exertion amid world-class visuals begins conveniently at the Tween Waters Inn’s bayside marina, where a full complement of non-geared bikes are available for rental by resort guests. Rates start at $15 for the first two-and-a-half hours and $5 per hour thereafter, an outlay which provides instant access to a fleet of ready-to-roll machines stationed a turn or two from Captiva Drive.

From there, the options are only limited by the spring in your legs and the air in your lungs.

My Saturday adventure (rentals are available starting at 9 a.m. sharp) began alongside good friend and colleague Michael Korb, who joined me in the mid-morning scorch as we hung a left out of the parking lot with visions of a full 28-mile trek from resort to Sanibel lighthouse and back.

It only took a trickle of middle-aged perspiration – which arrived after barely 60 seconds – to get us rethinking those objectives. And by the time we’d rolled two miles to picturesque Blind Pass, we were content with the idea that a 15-mile ride with higher aspirations would substitute nicely for a nearly 30-mile version that was 50/50 to end with a next-of-kin notification.

Fortunately, there was enough eye candy in our midst to distract any battered 40-plus ego.

Picture break at Blind Pass
Picture break at Blind Pass

Our leisurely tour brought us past the familiar cadre of fishermen on the bridge, alongside the occasional white egret strolling the fence line of the sprawling “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge and face to face with a vagabond gopher tortoise happily munching grass in the linked video while cars whizzed past just feet away.

We used the refuge’s parking lot as a pit stop prior to a thankfully tail-winded return trip to the resort, and the jaunt was capped by a visit to the pristine beach across the street before the bikes were re-racked alongside the marina steps just a few minutes before noon.

It’s far more sand than Champs Elysees, but as finish lines go it’s pretty tough to beat.

The perfect finish line
The perfect finish line
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Wedding Reception Options to Fit Every Style of Sanibel and Captiva Beach Wedding

Wedding Reception at 'Tween Waters Inn

From formal to flip-flops, every wedding is different, and every bride and groom desires to make their wedding personal and perfectly tailored to his or her personal style.

I think that’s what I love most about weddings at ‘Tween Waters Inn — the variety of rehearsal and reception options to fit those individual styles makes for each and every wedding to be unique and personal. I had an opportunity to sit down with Christine Harrower, Sales Manager at ‘Tween Waters Inn, and she gave me the “low down” on the variety of reception options to fit a variety of wedding types:

Wakefield Banquet Room: If you’re looking for a more traditional banquet setting, the Wakefield Room is a perfect choice. Not only does this room boast 2,400 square feet of space, but it also has spectacular views of the resort’s gorgeous beach and sunset.

Captiva House: The resort converts this 100+ year old restaurant to a timeless banquet space that can accommodate small to large crowds, but in a little less conventional space.

INNSIDER TIP: If you’re looking to keep on a tight budget, ask the wedding sales team about weekday weddings! 

Sunset Room & Garden Terrace: The romantic sunset room opens to the beautiful garden terrace and is the perfect scene for a smaller wedding and more intimate and enchanted setting.

Canoe & Kayak Club: The Canoe and Kayak Club is the only option that faces the bay, and if you’re looking for an intimate setting that accommodates a medium-sized wedding, this is a great option for you. Think fairy lights reflecting off the bay.

The options are endless at ‘Tween Waters Inn, and perfectly tailored to a variety of styles. If none of these seem to suit, the resort is also willing to think outside of the box. They’ve hosting rehearsals on the beach or the Oasis Poolside Bar & Grille, and have options for a sunset cruise and if you want to take your party to the water. From intimate parties to groups of 160 or more, every wedding dream seems to be accomplishable at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

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Family Friendly Accommodations at ‘Tween Waters

Sleeping arrangements can make or break a family getaway. For my family, I prefer the boys to have their own space, and Michael and I have ours. Of course, there are times when budget doesn’t allow for more than a guest room, but I’m a firm believer that space is invaluable, especially for a mom’s sanity.

You have plenty of accommodation options at ‘Tween Waters including newly refurbished studios and guest rooms, but I’m going to focus on the roomier options, including the 19 sherbet-hued cottages and the luxurious, multi-bedroom suites.

Sit a spell on your private porch and enjoy the views.
Sit a spell on your private porch and enjoy the views.
Meals and snacks are easy with your own full size kitchen.
Meals and snacks are easy with your own full size kitchen.

 

About The Cottages

With their aesthetics and comfort, these freestanding cottages truly offer a slice of island life, like nothing else on the island. Each boasts its own inviting décor and each one has a unique name, symbolic of the island, like Hibiscus, Snook and Ding Darling. You can stay bayside, gulfside, or in the midst of everything with a courtyard view, and you can choose a one, two- or three-bedroom, with a full kitchen, even a fireplace. Reserve in advance for an authentic Captiva experience.

The Suite Life

These one, two- and three-bedroom suites are so spacious and offer so many extras, you won’t ever want to leave! The full kitchen is perfect for preparing your own snacks and meals; the enclosed patio brings the outside in and provides the perfect place to enjoy your morning paper, or a nightcap; and separate bedrooms with flat screens provide comfort and privacy. It’s a home-away-from-home setup that’s ideal for families. For a quieter stay, choose a bayside location.

Interactive Tools

To help find the type of accommodations that will suit your family the best, click the accommodations link. You can view photos of the décor, layout, and furnishings.

Innsider Tip

Be sure to ask about any Internet or seasonal specials (like stay five nights, get one free). Most of all, have fun!

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Unpack and Unwind: Take a Walk Around the Resort

Carefree Couples Innsider Walk on the Beach

You and your ‘other half’ have arrived and it’s finally time to relax. With hours of enjoyment ahead of you take off your watches because now is the time to chill and get familiar or reacquainted with the unique, ‘Tween Waters Inn you are delighted to call home while you spend time on Captiva Island.

Begin by taking a carefree stroll together around the property that stretches famously from the Gulf of Mexico to the Bay. Get some sun on your faces and a little wind in your hair while discovering the places you both want to locate and return to during your visit.

  • Head to the Oasis Pool Bar on the south side of the resort, meet the bartender, order a fruit drink, take a peak at the Bar’s restaurant menu, and spend a few moments taking in the sights.
  • Across the pool deck you’ll see the children’s area, hot tubs and the poolside Tween’s Beans shop where specialty coffee and frozen treats are served all day. Visit here also to pickup the most popular and necessary pool items ranging from cotton t-shirts to a new pair of water wings.
  • Look up to the 2nd floor to find the Spa At ’Tween Waters. Take the stairs to enter the Spa or the Resort’s Fitness Center. Make appointments if you like, and also look for the quiet lanai located beside the Spa. It’s an out of the way place where you can relax for a few minutes protected from the sun almost anytime during the day.
  • As you leave the Spa go west and you’ll be walking by the Shuffleboard and Bocce Courts, as well as directly toward the resort’s Private Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Go all the way to the beach now or save this promising adventure for another carefree walk.
  • From the entrance of the resort off Captiva Drive, look for Captiva House restaurant. This is where guests dine graciously for breakfast, and again during the evenings in gourmet-style. Step inside to make dinner reservations and browse the gift shop. Make a note of the outside seating area here that offers a place to share a meal or simply take it easy in the shade under cover. 
    INNSIDER TIP: Guests who stay two or more nights receive a $100-value resort coupon book, where they enjoy $5 off a $30 purchase or more at both T.H. Osprey Gift Shop and the Pelican’s Roost — ‘Tween Waters Inn’s on-property gift shops.
  • You have also arrived at the famous Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille located right next door. This is ‘the place’ for enjoying happy hour in the late afternoon or to take in early evening and late night entertainment along with lots of fun.
  • From the Crow’s Nest walk to the east side of the property to savor a view of the ‘Tween Waters Marina and the resort’s beautiful Bay view. Find the Canoe & Kayak Club near the Boat Ramp, then the bayside Snack Center and the Pelican’s Roost Boutique near the water offering the finest, tropical fashions you’ll want to wear.
  • The last thing to sight on this unwind tour is the picnic table with a thatched roof. This special spot overlooks the ’Tween Waters Inn view of the Bay, and is located near a charcoal grill guests may use during their visit.

You’ve now strolled past all the various buildings and secluded cottages on the property. It was a relaxing walk you will likely call on for quick reference during your ‘Tween Waters Inn visit. Best of all you are a short distance from the pool, again. This will work out great if one of you thinks it’s time for a snack or to take a carefree swim. Have fun!

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