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Race In for Fun: Captiva Crab Races

Honestly, my kids are not enthusiastic about many things, but there is ONE thing in particular that gets them excited every time—the Captiva Crab Races.

Every Monday and Thursday at 6 pm at the onsite Crow’s Nest restaurant, you can join the silliness and help raise money for the United Way. (There is also a show at 9pm but it is for adults only.)

No reservations are required but you will need cash to choose a rental crab and you’ll have to give it a name. (Since ‘SpongeBob’ was already taken, my son named his, um, “Stinky Britches.”)

Choosing the right crab from the bowl is tricky! You want one that will leave the other hermits in the dust, so don’t let the sleepers fool you. After all, there are awesome prizes at stake. You can win goodies like a Captiva Crab Races t-shirt, the ever-popular kazoo, and cash.

Once everyone is signed up, the qualifying races begin. Your host, Commissioner Tim, sounds the kazoo, lifts the custom crab starting gate (a wire basket), fires his trusty squirt gun, and they’re off!! You will be on the edge of your seat cheering!

During the crab races, the full menu is not available, but you will find items like pizza, pasta and chicken fingers. There will be something to please most everyone.

The Crab Races at ‘Tween Waters Inn have been a tradition for 25 years and have raised over $180,000 for charity. Commissioner Tim will tell you, “It’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen,” but I bet you laugh. And Stinky Britches came in 3rd place –we donated the winnings and kept the t-shirt!

Innsider Tip: Arrive early! During season, get there at 5pm to secure a table and start the crab registration process.

A quick thank you to my friend, Lauren Tjaden and her husband Paul, for the video.

My kids LOVE the Captiva Crab Races. Come early for a seat.
My kids LOVE the Captiva Crab Races. Come early for a seat.

Host Your Special Events Confidently In Our Island Setting



As the new year begins in 2015, this is the perfect time to consider the upcoming holidays, birthdays, weddings or the monumental anniversaries on your calendar this year.

Whether you have either personal or a professional dates to plan, ‘Tween Waters Inn Resort & Spa has a variety of options to complement your most important occasions. On a property the size of ours located on a rare expanse between beach and bay, we assure you that your creative possibilities are many.

Overnight accommodations include cozy cottages, suites and rooms in upscale settings beside the Gulf of Mexico, on the bay near the Marina, and in close proximity to the Pool. Special event options for meals or mingling, held anywhere around the resort can be formal or casual, in both indoor and outdoor places suited for larger or more intimate gatherings. When your party calls for a luxurious Spa environment, remember we have that covered, too.

  • Our private beach on the Gulf of Mexico has a reputation for offering one of the most romantic sunsets in the world.
  • Your special events like a wedding on the beach or a special dinner are always possible, along with intimate picnics for two or more.
  • In the Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille entertainment and fun is a part of the menu, and there are many local artists who will perform music of all kinds, just for you and your party.
  • Gourmet food selections are expertly prepared and served by the chef and staff overseeing the elegant Captiva House restaurant everyday.
  • Private parties looking overlooking the peaceful, back bay waters and Marina are hosted in the more secluded, Ding Darling Boardroom.


Invite your immediate or extended family, a close group of friends, business colleagues, an entire destination wedding party, or just yourself and a significant other. Your special requests will be fulfilled in an exceptional fashion that you will remember in the fondest way. Allow us the opportunity to care for your most important guests and to see to the details and planning of your most important occasions when you call.

Throughout the new year ‘Tween Waters Inn will be here when the time is right and we are ready to make your event happen. Until then we hope you will simply consider the possibilities and smile, knowing you can relax when making plans must be the finest. Enjoy!




A Groom’s Guide to Beach Wedding Days

It’s the big beach wedding day! While your partner gets plucked, painted and fussed over for hours, while sipping mimosas, getting nails and hair done and dressing for the sunset ceremony. They’ve got their day planned out to the minute. But what’s a guy, whose wedding ritual is to shower and shake his hair dry, to do with his time — waiting eight hours or more until that perfectly timed sunset ceremony? I sat down with former General Manager, Jeff Shuff, to get the “innside scoop” on how a groom can enjoy his last unmarried moments:

FORE! ‘Tween Waters Inn has a partnership with Sanibel Island Golf Club — just a short drive away — which includes a 10% discount to our guests when you show your keycard. AND, as the lucky man of the hour, I’m certain your companions will give you a mulligan or too if you find yourself in a sand trap. Make your tee time at 239.472.2626.

GET MOVING! If you’re looking to burn off some excess energy, there’s a multitude of activities to keep your groomsmen and you active. Try beach volleyball (grab a volleyball from the front desk), bike the beach (check out fellow Innsider, Lyle Fitzsimmons tale of beach biking), or hit the courts and show off your best backhand (just try to keep from diving — your partner won’t be happy with a groom limping down the aisle).

WET AND WILD! The bachelor party’s over, so not “that kind” of wild. Think wild animals. Manatee bumping your SUP paddleboard. A kayak trip through the mangroves. A snorkel trip with the dolphins.  A wild morning fishing trip to catch the “big one.” Just keep those cigars dry!

Thinking of seeing your partner on the wedding day? Plan a couple’s massage at the Spa at ‘Tween Waters Inn, for the perfect chance to relax before a night full of dancing.

RELAX! Duh! You’re sandwiched between two bodies of beautiful water, hanging with your best buds, getting ready to commit yourself to a lifetime with your partner — of course you need a moment of peace. Sit back on the beach in a rented cabana, smoke a cigar, let the drinks flow lightly, and drift off to the sound of the waves. After all, you need your rest for a big night ahead.

If you’ve got time to spare, write a little message to your partner, check in with your parents, or meet up with the florist or photographer, all to take the pressure off your future spouse. And then take a deep breath. Everything is going to be perfect.


Getting in Touch with My Spa Day Side

I’m by no means a relaxation guru.

In fact, you’re far more likely to find me combatting pent-up stress by running a 5K, taking my bike for a spin or gloving-up to go a few rounds on the nearest heavy bag.

But I take my role as a Tween Waters INNsider very seriously.

Spa interior

So when the idea struck me to find a great way to dial things back after a particularly harrowing vacation adventure, I did what any red-blooded American male would do: I gave myself a spa day.

As luck would have it, The Spa at Tween Waters Inn is the very epicenter of all things harmonious on Captiva Island – with a staff of licensed professionals and massage therapists whose occupational mandate is to accompany guests on a tranquil journey from fatigue to bliss.

No, really… it says it right there on the business cards.

Or something like that.

I have to concede that it only took about 30 minutes for me to be reduced from professional communicator to babbling idiot, or roughly the duration of step one – the manicure – of the three-step relaxation gauntlet laid for my wife, our friend Hali and I on a Friday morning visit earlier this month.

I didn’t arrive with any nail polish to remove; but by the time I’d gone ahead and had my cuticles oiled, my nails filed and buffed and my hands massaged and lotioned to the brink of delirium, my most persistent thought instantly became “Why in the world did it take me 45 years to discover this?!?”

Spa bench

The query got louder and more persistent after step No. 2 – an 80-minute joyride aptly tagged the “Ultimate Pedicure” – which includes a procedure during which scoops of warm paraffin are ladled into plastic bags into which the feet are then inserted, creating a mold that traps moisture and treats skin.

The mold slides off in a single waxy piece to start the rinsing process, which is followed by yet another round of lotion/massage amid a sea of throw pillows, free coffee and a lovely view of coconut trees.

Poor me, it was all I could do to teeter down the hall for the final step – the “Relaxation Massage.”

As if the heated table and blankets weren’t enough, the masseuse began with an inquiry about particularly sensitive or needy areas, then went right to work on the intermittently achy back and knees that are evidence of my gig as father to a 6-year-old whose favorite game is inconveniently called “Tackle Daddy.”

But 50 minutes of kneading fingers and rolling forearms later, I was feeling ready for the Olympics.

And if it means another spa trip comes with it, I’ll even play the next one without a helmet.


Sunrise Walks at ‘Tween Waters Inn

Beautiful shells found on my morning walk on Captiva Island.
Beautiful shells found on my morning walk on Captiva Island.

It’s no secret that moms don’t get much time for themselves, so I wanted to share how to sneak in some free therapy while you’re staying at ‘Tween Waters Inn with your family. These magical moments of solidarity happen early in the morning but are so worth getting out of bed for. Before the sun rises, slip into your shorts and water shoes and head to the beach. Behold the beauty! Stars are still twinkling in the pre-dawn sky, the beach has no footprints but yours, and the seashells are waiting for you to scoop them up. You can walk left or right, it matters not. You could potentially walk for miles. (One morning, I walked two miles to Blind Pass and found a rare lion’s paw shell on the high tide line!

The early bird gets the lion's paw seashell!
The early bird gets the lion’s paw seashell!

Sunrise walks are not only an easy way to sneak in some exercise, but are simply good for the soul. And for those who are nature-lovers, keep your eyes and ears open! You can see all kinds of birds including ospreys, egrets and herons; dolphins hunting for their breakfast of baitfish; and the pink hues that paint the sky are spectacular.

You'll love having the beach to yourself in the early morning on Captiva.
You’ll love having the beach to yourself in the early morning on Captiva.

If you’re on the hunt for manatees, walk to the marina. They tend to hang out there, especially in the winter months. The winter months also bring in more seashells, if that’s possible! I recommend getting a mesh, shelling bag to hold all of your treasures. You can purchase one at the marina or any local grocery store. I hope you get to experience a sunrise walk at least once while you visit. If you do, post your photos to our Facebook page! I’d love to see your morning memories.

You never know what you'll see on your sunrise walk.
You never know what you’ll see on your sunrise walk.

Culinary Gladness Served With A Side Of Sparkling Gulf Beach



The Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille offers a setting to remember everyday and for every occasion.

In the late afternoon, it’s a warm and rich environment filled with scrumptious smells, light conversation and music. During the day, a wash of sunshine fills the room from the windows located next to the booths with a view of the beach.

At night when things get dark outside, the Crow’s Nest is dedicated to entertaining guests who come from near and far, ready to settle in and share some fun with old and new friends they make. Dinner the night we visited was intentionally before sunset, and the setting was quiet, relaxed and easygoing. The menu offered us all kinds of delightful options: See for yourself the array of choices… Our dinner included the Captiva Favorite: Gulf Shrimp ’N’ Grits, along with a Fresh Grouper Sandwich served on a homemade bun.

Did you see the creative, culinary madness on the menu for yourself? Our only care was to select ‘that one choice’ we wanted to enjoy from so many that sounded so good. From soups to salads, shrimp, grouper, and lobster, ahi tuna, bruschetta, mozzarella or wings, these are all available as appetizers and intended to get your party started.



All this and a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico.

Munch down on your favorite sandwich served the ‘Tweenie way. Get adventurous with choices like mahi mahi, roasted chicken, a pot pie, the fresh catch of the day, unique pizza, ribs or a ribeye. Then top it off with any of the unique options served by the Crow’s Nest bar.

If you prefer, come for just coffee and dessert because your options for both, we can report, are definitely worth it. Most importantly, take a stroll after you eat down to the beach and enjoy!


Yoga on the Beach at ‘Tween Waters Inn

I am not a “zen” person. My idea of a stress reliever is a bottle of wine all to my self. But I come to ‘Tween Waters Inn to relax. I unplug from my phone, my computer, my email, and I sit on the beach and soak in the sun.

Despite my tendency to remain as immobile as possible on vacation, my favorite relaxation activity is yoga on the beach. There’s something about the sound of the shells tinkling against the surf as they’re pulled back into the sea that intensifies my calming breath and detoxifies my body.

Instructor Yali Zawady IS “zen.” She’s a yogi at her core — beginning studying yoga as a young child. She instructs beach yoga at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort and Spa every Wednesday and Saturday from 8AM to 9:15AM. All you need is a towel, a little sunscreen and water, and an “open heart.”

Classes are every Wednesday and Saturday, at 8AM and cost $15 per session. Due to the outdoor location, class will be canceled if the temperature is below 55 degrees or in the event of thunder, lightning or rain.  

Young and old, experienced and novice, bendy and stiff, Yali accepts all students willing to try. I took a yoga class in college, so I like to pretend I know a little something about striking a sun salutation, but in reality I’m about as novice as they come. Still, I felt comfortable amongst the newbies and pros that joined me one Saturday morning at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

We began with a little meditation and breathing exercises, followed by some stretching and hatha-vinyasa-style yoga. Mid downward dog, I peeked to my left and witnessed an elderly gentleman try to stretch his booty in the air and I gave a little giggle. I imagine the person to my right was laughing at me too.

For more information about Yoga on the Beach at ‘Tween Waters Inn, visit


A Long Month’s Journey into Light

Oh sure, Nov. 28 will be a special occasion for the ‘Tween Waters Inn.

For 2014, it’s the date on which the resort’s tree lighting ceremony takes place, meaning thousands of locals and visitors will be on hand to witness the kickoff of what’s become annual must-see event.

But while all those folks are enjoying the splendor and walking off their Thanksgiving Day dinner table indulgences, don’t be surprised if Jeff Shuff, Angie Lapi and some of their pals are off somewhere trying to grab a nap.

Shuff, you see, is not just the resort’s chief financial officer; and Lapi isn’t just the wife of resort CEO Tony Lapi. The two also combine with maintenance and grounds personnel to work behind the twinkling scenes and make sure the 50,000 or so LED bulbs do what they’re supposed to do when the time comes to flick the switch.

It’s that blend of job and adventure that compelled ‘Tween Waters’ assistant general manager, Natasha Grass, to let me in on exactly what goes into the bash.

“People might be amazed at how much goes into setting up the lighting ceremony as opposed to just how amazing the lighting ceremony is,” she said. “The team here works from now until then to get everything in place and it’s a really interesting thing to watch come together.”

50,000 bulbs later... it's a celebration
50,000 bulbs later… it’s a celebration

Indeed, it’s a cadre of about 15 resort employees whose work for the 2014 show began the day after last year’s event ended. They took down the lights and stored them on site, then retrieved them to restart the process on Nov. 1 – a day less than four weeks from show time.

Individual bulbs are replaced as needed throughout the run-up, and a single system test is run daily until the day of the event, when six run-throughs are executed to minimize the likelihood of malfunction.

This year’s show will begin at 5 p.m., though Grass suggested arrivals at or after that time will necessitate parking off property and having to take a trolley back to the resort grounds.

The lights will go on shortly after sunset—around 5:45 p.m.—and will be accompanied by a fireworks display that’ll last about 20 minutes. Free popcorn, hot chocolate and an outdoor bar service are among the visitor perks, along with a visit from Santa Claus and candy canes for the kids.

By all accounts, it’s an experience not to be missed. But if you do come out and you happen to notice a few tired folks catching a few winks somewhere on the property, try to tip-toe past them quietly.

After all, it’s been a busy month… and they surely could use a rest.


‘Tween Waters Inn Tree Lighting Ceremony

Christmas Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

Can we do this every year, Mama?” asked my youngest son as we stood on the beach with sand between our toes. It was 2012, the fiery sun had just set and the sky was turning dark — which meant it was finally time for the grand lighting of the ‘Tween Waters Inn Christmas tree! Families were cheering, live music was playing, and kids were dancing right out of their colorful Crocs. The excitement was contagious!

If you’ve never experienced the ‘Tween Waters Inn Tree Lighting Ceremony, it happens each year on the Friday night after Thanksgiving (and it’s not just the huge Christmas tree that officially lights up, it’s all the holiday lights at ‘Tween Waters Inn), you simply won’t ever want to be anywhere else on that evening. Ever.

The entire event has a Disney-like quality with the synchronization of music and lights, the festive atmosphere, stately palms wrapped in green twinkling lights, the jolly man himself (Santa in a golf cart!), and a sea of joyful faces. Oh, and the fireworks! This is why my answer was, “YES, son! We can definitely do this every year!”

Christmas Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
Be a part of the magic at the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

‘Tween Waters Inn annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will happen on Friday, November 28, 2014. The fun begins at 4pm and culminates at 7pm with their fantastic fireworks finale. This is a free event and it’s open to the public.

If you can’t make it to the Tree Lighting Ceremony, plan to visit any weekend in December to partake of Captiva Holiday Village. They’ll be golf cart parades, a lighted boat parade, sunset arias (live opera) on the beach, caroling, and much more.

‘Tis the season to experience all the sparkling wonders of Captiva and ‘Tween Waters Inn. Hope to see you there!


Tween Waters Inn Christmas Holiday
Don’t miss the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

Take A Relaxing, Getaway Bicycle Tour Of Captiva Island

It’s a beautiful sunshiny day ahead and you’ve got some time to enjoy the scenery.

So, now is a good time to head down to the ‘Tween Waters Marina and rent a bike for the day. Pack up your beach-life belongs, maybe a towel and a fresh t-shirt, wear tennis shoes and bring flip flops.


Check with the front desk, Oasis Pool Bar or Captiva House Restaurant and you can order a picnic lunch that’s ready to travel. Grab some bottled water and you’re off. When you leave, turn right out of the ‘Tween Water Inn driveway entrance. You’ll be on famous, Captiva Drive that runs parallel to the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico water.

The road will turn right again and you’ll be headed toward town… or let’s say, into the heart of the village. To your left you’ll find the Chapel By The Sea and the Captiva Island Historical Society Gallery. On the right you’ll begin to ride along the bay side of Captiva Island. A little further down the road you’ll find grocery shopping at the corner of Andy Rosse Lane, and see other retail storefronts where you may want to stop. Stay on Captiva Drive and you’ll eventually arrive at another beautiful stretch of beach.

The sun rises and sets here the same as everywhere on Captiva Island. Take your time and take it easy, and when you’re ready, head home riding back the way you came. You can’t get lost, and you’ll get just the right amount of exercise, no too much and not too little. There are longer bike tours to take and after this tour you may be ready, or not, to try one… if so, check with the front desk for good information.

It’s true that there’s no place like home… You’ll likely remember this no matter when you get back to the place you affectionately call home while you’re staying here with us. Aww thanks, we love having you at the ‘Tween Waters Resort, too. Enjoy!