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I Spy Wildlife on Captiva and Sanibel

Do your kids love animals? You just won’t believe all the wildlife you can see on Captiva and Sanibel, even right onsite at ‘Tween Waters Inn. Here are some of my family’s favorites along with a few tips on where you’re likely to see them:

Snowy Egrets

These snowy, white birds have bright yellow feet and love to walk the shoreline. You’ll also see them on fishing piers, docks, or anywhere they can steal a quick meal.

Manatees

Look for perfect swirls in the water from their wide, paddle tails, or spy their whiskered noses breathing above the waterline. Spy them at the onsite marina or while kayaking. In winter, hundreds gather at Manatee Park.

Ospreys

See that big bunch of sticks, high above the wooden pathway near the ‘Tween Waters front desk? It’s an osprey nest! Look for them along San-Cap Road, too. These birds of prey are skilled fisherman and carry off their catch in their talons. A pair lives at Sanibel Lighthouse, listen for their screechy chirps.

Gopher Tortoises

In Florida, gopher tortoises are a threatened species, so spotting one is exciting. They love walking near the road, so be alert. You can help one cross the street if you see that it’s in danger. Watch this video to learn more.

Marsh Rabbits

Believe it or not, these brown, cotton tail bunnies are good swimmers. Do the four-mile Wildlife Drive at J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge (by car or bike) in the morning or at sunset and you’ll see them roadside.

Alligators

Head to Wildlife Drive at Ding Darling to see this Florida must-see. Look for a dark snout (and some of their back) sticking out of the water, and swimming slowly. Gators love sunning themselves on the water’s edge; rangers will rope off this area with yellow tape. Keep your distance.

Dolphins

Frolicking and jumping, these mammals are magical! Look for them at the onsite marina or swimming right off the beach. Or, take a dolphin tour and see them up close.

Sea Turtles

Loggerheads are most common, and late spring to October, they come here to nest. Females crawl up the beach at night, lay eggs, cover them, and return to sea. In 60-75 days, hatchlings emerge. If you see a big turtle at night, observe from a distance and don’t shine a light. You can also spy tracks in the morning (see photo)! So far this year, 163 nests on Captiva and 504 on Sanibel have been recorded. Nests are marked with sticks and yellow tape. Please do not approach (but you can take photos)!

 

I hope you get to see all of these island favorites, and more. Oh, and look for bright pink Roseate Spoonbills while you’re here, too. (They hang out on Wildlife Drive at low tide.)

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Boys to Men, This One’s for You

Whether you’re in need of a mancation or seeking some quality time with your family, ‘Tween Waters Inn has just what you need.

We’ve Got Your Back

How does a Deep Tissue Massage sound? (The answer is AHHHHH.) There is nothing better to relieve soreness, and the trained masseuses at ‘Tween Waters Spa work magic. And, have you ever had a massage of your feet and calves, and some buffing and trimming on those manly toes? It’s called a pedicure, but no one has to know. My brother says that pedicures are the best kept secret – he loves them, and he’s 6’5” and 285lbs. You want to tell him he’s wrong?

For the Golfer

Tee it up at the 18-hole championship Sanibel Island Golf Club. You’ll even receive a 10% discount when you show your room key from ‘Tween Waters Inn.

Reel Fun

If you love fishing (and who doesn’t?), ‘Tween Waters Inn can hook you up. You can rent your own boat or book a trip with a captain who knows where the fish like to hang out.

Hot Tubs

It may not be a time machine but it can take you back to stress-free times. Ease on in and bubble your cares away. There are two hot tubs to choose from on the pool deck.

Game On

If there’s a game on TV, you can catch it at the Crow’s Nest, along with your favorite cold beverage.

Sharp Dressed Man

Clean shirt, new shoes…you know the song, but did you know The Pelican’s Roost is filled with top quality clothing? This onsite shop has all kinds of nautical clothes and accessories.

Pump You Up

You won’t have to miss a single workout, if that’s your thing. You’ll find your favorite equipment in the Fitness Center. Or, just chill by the pool (oh wait, that’s my thing)!

So, take a break from the bbq, the honey-do lists, and car repairs, and get yourself over here. And to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day.

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Summer’s Here, Get Packing!

Wondering what to pack for your summer vacation to ‘Tween Waters Inn & Resort? Here is a list of must-have beach essentials when visiting Captiva and Sanibel. You’ll also find ‘innsider’ advice as to what items you can buy/borrow/rent while you’re here, so you can lighten your load.

No matter if you’re packing for yourself or your entire family, here are the beach essentials:

  • Swimsuits
  • Sunscreen
  • Beach shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Bug spray
  • Shelling bag

If you’re traveling by plane and can only carry 3 ounces of liquids, I’d suggest getting your sunscreen once you arrive, same for the bug spray. If they don’t sell shelling bags where you are, any plastic bag will do, or you can get a good mesh one while you’re here.

Things you don’t need to pack:

  • Beach towels. ‘Tween Waters Inn has super plush pool towels for guests’ use. Just present your room key.
  • Beach equipment. Things like umbrellas and chairs can be rented onsite, plus volleyballs can be checked out at the front desk. Tennis equipment, too.
  • Books. Purchase a $5 annual membership to the Captiva Memorial Library and you can check out the latest beach reads.

Things you can purchase onsite:

If you forget any of your beach essentials, no worries! You can purchase most anything at ‘Tween Waters Inn. The onsite boutique, The Pelican’s Roost, has a fantastic array of swimwear, beach shoes, resort wear, cover ups, hats and more…for men, women and children. (I purchased my all-time favorite beach shoes here, called Fit Kicks!)

Poolside at ‘Tween’s Beans, you can purchase useful items including googlesswim diaperskids toys and sunscreen – all just steps from your chaise lounger.

Need an all-terrain wheelchair? You can borrow one at no charge, for up to four hours, from the Sanibel Police Department by calling 239-472-3111.

Now, get packing, and I’ll see you on the beach!

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Spoil Mom Every Day at ‘Tween Waters Inn

Hey moms! This blog’s for you. We all know you deserve to be celebrated more than one day a year, so I’d like to tell you all the ways you can be spoiled, every day, at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

For moms looking for true pampering, The Spa at ‘Tween Waters is the place to be. They’re open seven days a week and their menu of services has something for every body. Manicures, pedicures, amazing hair styling, body treatments, facials, massages…you deserve it all. One of my favorite services to recommend is an aromatherapy massage. Choose your essential oil and let the relaxation begin.

For moms looking to score incredible seashells, treat yourself to a private charter with one of the captains at the onsite marina. They can take you to one of the remote barrier islands where you can snorkel or beach-walk for shells, or just out for fun on the water. You can even do lunch at a unique off-island restaurant – it’s really a fun experience.

Take a break from cooking and let the chefs at ‘Tween Waters Inn fulfill your food fantasies. On Mother’s Day, you can enjoy a Surf & Turf Special, complete with a glass of bubbly for $39 (per mom) at Captiva House. Of course, any evening is special at this romantic restaurant, known for its sunset views. The live piano music is an added bonus.

Attention mommy shoppers, did you know you don’t have to leave the property to find that perfect outfit, adorable sandals, the hottest swimsuit, or even the coolest island jewelry? It’s all here – and more. Stroll over to Pelican’s Roost or the T.H. Osprey Gift Shop. While they have something for everyone, try to focus on yourself, for once!

I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day.

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Irish and Easter Fun at ‘Tween Waters Inn

March is a magical time at ‘Tween Waters Inn. In addition to a St. Patrick’s Day party at Crow’s Nest on the 17th, and a spectacular Easter buffet at Captiva House on the 27th, there are lots of ways to celebrate spring and ‘get lucky’ with fun happenings around the island all month long.

The Lions Club of Sanibel and Captiva has its annual arts and craft festival the weekend of March 17, 18 and 19. It takes place from 9am to 5pm at the island’s Community Center and the suggested entry donation is $5.

See the Easter Bunny and hunt for eggs at the Children’s Spring Festival, Saturday, March 26, 2016. Egg hunts, a giant slide, pony rides, games, crafts, face painting…all the things a kid would love. Hours are 10am to 1pm at the Community Park on Periwinkle. Activity armbands are $10.

Easter Sunday, you’ll find a bountiful buffet at Captiva House from 11:30am to 6pm. The displays are a feast for the eyes and the carving station and buffet will please even the pickiest eaters.  Call for reservations, 239-472-5161, ext. 421.

The Sanibel Farmers Market happens every Sunday through April, but it’s far from typical. In addition to fruits and veggies, you’ll find a plethora of culinary delights, from brick-oven pizzas and BBQ to lobster rolls and German bratwurst. Hours are 8am to 1pm.

Consider yourself lucky? Here are two things even the locals wish for:

See the elusive green flash. Just as a rainbow is created under certain conditions, a green flash is an atmospheric event. It is caused when light refracts, usually in a cloudless and cool sky. It will only last a second or two so don’t blink as the sun’s last rays are setting into the water, right in front of the resort.

Find a Junonia. You’ll make everyone green with envy if you find one. This gorgeous seashell is on every sheller’s bucket list. You can even get your picture in the local paper if you find one.

I wish you the luck of the Irish this month and every month, and Easter blessings.

 

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Top 5 Reasons I Love ‘Tween Waters Inn

Since celebrating Valentine’s Day, I’ve been thinking about love. More specifically, how much I love spending time at ‘Tween Waters Inn. Sure, the miles of uncrowded beach (and gorgeous seashells) would top anyone’s list. But here are the Top 5 Things I Love About ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort.

The sunsets

It’s a nightly sunset celebration. Fellow guests gather on the shore and watch as the sun sinks into the Gulf. Sunsets here are spectacular! We bring towels and sit right by the water – front row. We always look for the famous green flash (we’ve yet to see it)!

 

Heated pool year-round

The pool at ‘Tween Waters Inn is thermo-heated so it’s the ideal temperature – winter, spring, summer or fall. While I enjoy just floating around on a pool noodle, I love watching enthusiastic families from places like New York and Chicago – they’re so happy to be swimming in the winter!

 

Hot stone massage

I love being pampered at The Spa at ‘Tween Waters and their hot stone massage is my absolute favorite treatment. It feels so darn good. It’s hard tell the difference between the hot stones and the masseuse’s hands. Ahhh.

 

Walk to dinner

I love being able to walk to the onsite restaurants. I especially love the shrimp and grits at Crow’s Nest for dinner. I order it every time we visit. The grits are so creamy and the chef piles on the shrimp and chorizo. Comfort food at its best.

 

The wildlife

Being able to walk over to the docks and see dolphins and manatees in the marina is amazing! The dolphins even chase fish and splash around like crazy. The pelicans, osprey, egrets and herons always make me happy, too. Listen for the osprey calling for their mates.

What do you love best about ‘Tween Waters Inn? Tweet us! And, register to win one of 85 vacations!

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Keeping Resolutions, Captiva Island-Style

I really don’t like making resolutions because I’m not very good at keeping them. This year however, I have a fool-proof plan. Yes, I want to lose a few pounds and be more active. I also want my kids to spend more time outdoors and less time in front of a screen. And alone-time with my spouse would be a miracle. I need a family vacation to fit with my New Year goals. The answer is ‘Tween Waters Inn.

A family vacation to ‘Tween Waters Inn makes keeping resolutions easy. For exercise, there is a fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment. The view is inspiring because it overlooks the pool (bikini bod encouragement?). But think outside of the box, and get your exercise in along the shore. Walk to the left and in two miles you’ll be at Blind Pass, where Sanibel and Captiva meet. It’s also a popular shelling spot. Round trip takes about 90 minutes. (Sometimes I call for a ride back!) Walk right, and you’ll end up at Redfish Pass. This is where Captiva and North Captiva go their separate ways. Again, 90 minutes round trip…and what a peaceful journey.

For the more active, there are tennis courts; rent a one- or two-person kayak and paddle the scenic back bay mangroves in search of wildlife like manatees or dolphin; the pool is heated so you can swim year-round in comfort; yoga on the beach is always a nice treat; and you can rent bikes onsite. I’d better make a reservation at The Spa at ‘Tween Waters to soothe my rarely used muscles. A couples’ massage would check off the last item on my list. Yes, I definitely resolve to vacation at ‘Tween Waters Inn. Come and join me, the weather is perfect.

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Mysterious Sand Sculptures and a Championship Festival

You never know what you’re going to find when you wander down the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva. Case in point, while out looking for seashells, I have stumbled upon some amazing sand sculptures (see photos). I have found them all over the island, every month of the year, from the tip of Captiva to the Sanibel lighthouse.

I don’t know who builds them, or why, or what their motivation is, but I do know that these creations create quite a stir among beachgoers. After all, who wouldn’t want to just happen upon a smiling dragon? Or an octopus where every little suction cup on every leg has been created by the placement of a perfectly shaped seashell? Whoever you are, thank you for leaving these treasures!

While these sculptures are exciting to find when you find them, if you want to be guaranteed the chance the see sand art, plan to visit the Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship that’s held each November on Fort Myers Beach. (This year it’s Nov 20-29.) Talk about jaw-dropping. It’s the largest sand sculpting competition in the state and it draws hundreds of amateurs (and 25 master sculptors) from all over. In fact, USA Today and CNN Travel have named this is a ‘must see’ and one of the 10 best sand sculpting competitions in the world. And, ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort is a short ride away from all the excitement. Here’s a You Tube video that my friend Lauren and fellow VISIT FLORIDA insider made about her visit.

I hope these photos encourage you to come build your own sandcastles and other fun creatures. All you need is your imagination – we’ll supply the sand and water. If you do get creative, post your pics to our Facebook page. Build on!

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Never a Resort Fee and Other Free Treats

Since it’s fall and everyone’s thinking about trick or treating, that got me thinking about all the ‘treats’ that guests of ‘Tween Waters Inn get to enjoy. For starters, there is no resort fee at ‘Tween Waters Inn. Unlike other hotels in the area, you can use the pool, the beach, the luxury pool towels, and the onsite fitness center as much as you want – complimentary. You’ll even get a daily newspaper delivered right to your door, for free.

What about Wifi, you ask? No charge. You will get free Wi-fi during your entire stay. You’ll be given the pass codes at check in and you can access it from your room, or anywhere on the premises, without hassle. And it’s plenty fast.

How about parking? Yep, it’s free. You’ll be given a parking tag for your car upon check-in (just hang it on your rear view mirror). Some units even have covered parking (the Bay view suites for instance).

What’s more, guests of ‘Tween Waters Inn are treated to a complimentary continental breakfast buffet every day of the week. You’ll find a beautiful display of fresh fruit, hot and cold cereals, breads, pastries, muffins, even cheeses. My younger son is a picky eater and he loves the breakfast buffet.

And of course, don’t forget those nightly spectacular sunsets at the beach – which are without a doubt, priceless.

So, don’t be tricked into paying resort fees when you can treat your family to these complimentary goodies at ‘Tween Waters Inn – year round. Happy fall!

 

Volleyball on the beach all you want.
Volleyball on the beach all you want.
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Holiday Fun on Captiva Island

It’s the most wonderful time of the year on Captiva and Sanibel – yes, yes, fall IS wonderful but the winter holidays are right around the corner – and the time to book your stay is NOW. It is truly magical on the island around the holidays…palms trees are wrapped in twinkling lights, carolers sing the classics, there’s a perfect bit of chill in the air (average high is 76° and the average low is 55°) and then there’s Captiva Holiday Village.

Captiva Holiday Village is a holiday celebration, Captiva style. No matter what weekend you visit during the holidays, there is something tropically spectacular for you to enjoy. They’ll be things like fireworks, concerts, a decorated golf cart parade, street dancers, a lighted boat parade and the nearly famous Marching Mullet Band Parade. In all, it’s five weekends of holiday fun for all ages and it all kicks off on Thanksgiving weekend and runs through New Year’s.

Of course, one of the highlights of Captiva Holiday Village is ‘Tween Waters Inn and their holiday lights and decorations. The annual tree lighting event is the evening after Thanksgiving but you can see the lights nightly through the beginning of January 2016.

Captiva House and Crow’s Nest will be featuring special holiday menus and menu items for you and your family so you can have a true taste of the holidays as well.

(Please note that Thanksgiving is about sold out at ‘Tween Waters Inn already so make reservations for your December/winter break/holiday/New Year’s island vacation today!) I hope to see you there.

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