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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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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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Get Your Pickleball Game On

Do you play pickleball? No need to let your skills fade while you’re on a beach vacation at ‘Tween Waters, you’ll find pickleball courts right on site. And if you haven’t tried this addictively fun sport, it’s time to get on the pickleball train and see where it can lead you.

Pickleball is older than Doritos. In fact, the game was created the same year that Spaghetti-O’s were introduced and the iconic movie, The Sound of Music, was released. The year was 1965. Crazy, right? If you’re late to the pickleball party, you needn’t worry. The game is easy to learn and easy to play. Maybe that’s why it’s the fastest growing sport in the United States.

So, what is pickleball? Country music singer and avid pickleball player, Jake Owen, describes it this way, “it’s a short version of tennis, but with a paddle and a wiffle ball.” It’s played on a badminton-sized court, using a net that’s two inches shorter than tennis, and an oversized ping pong paddle. Did I mention that he plays pickleball with Kid Rock, who installed a pickleball court at his house?

You have got to try it. No matter how young or young-at-heart you are, you can play pickleball. And it’s a very social game, especially playing doubles, since you stand so close to each other.

Prefer other sports? You can always play tennis on the lighted courts at ‘Tween Waters or beach volleyball across the street, right next to the sparkling Gulf of Mexico. But I hope to see you on the pickleball court – soon.

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Mark Your Calendar For Fun, Fun and More Fun at ‘Tween Waters Captiva.

It’s only August, but it’s time to start marking your calendar for all of the good times, family fun and (yes) occasional case of the sillies at the legendary ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, the Official Beach Resort of Captiva Island.
Got your Google Calendar ready? Here we go:
  • Saturday, August 18: 100,000 Facebook Followers Party. There’s still time to get in on all the fun this coming weekend, as we celebrate our 100,000 (and counting) Facebook followers by hosting a pool-and-beach party topped off with fireworks and $100 room nights! You’ll enjoy CJ the DJ rocking the pool deck all afternoon and into the evening, with mighty beverage specials and an over-the-top beach fireworks display at 9 PM. Call 800.223.5865 now to book your night (or even better, weekend!).
  • Friday-Monday, August 31- September 3: Labor Day Weekend. Most parts of the country call Labor Day the “unofficial end of summer.” Here at the Official Beach Resort of Captiva Island, we call Labor Day the official kickoff of four months of special events and fun! This is a weekend the whole family can enjoy, from pools and beach, to parasail and jetskis, to standup paddleboards of just relaxing poolside (either Family Pool or Serenity Pool). Plus, we’ll have our September Songwriter Jo Smith poolside on September 1. Book it at 800.223.5865 or online here.
  • Friday-Sunday, September 21-23: Island Hopper Songwriter Fest. It’s the Fifth Annual Songwriter Festival, and that means another chance for you to get up close and personal with a host of talented Nashville singer-songwriters, playing intimate settings throughout ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa. If you love music and hanging with the artists, book the weekend now at 800.223.5865 or online here.
  • Saturday, October 6: Songwriter Saturday at the Pool. This monthly, singer-songwriter Brinley Addington brings his chart-topping Nashville sounds to the poolside relaxation here on Captiva Island. Make it a weekend at 800.223.5865 or book online here.
  • Saturday, October 27: Hallo’Tween. Don’t be afraid, because this all-time classic party brings out the very best in our guests — be they locals or visitors. You’ll partake of an evening of fun with live music, DJ tunes, beverages specials and big-time, cash prizes for the best costumes. Book the weekend now at 800.223.5865!
  • Thursday-Friday, November 22-23: Thanksgiving Day Buffet and Annual Tree Lighting Celebration. Here come the holidays! Be sure to book your weekend stay now, so you can enjoy all that makes the holidays so very special on Captiva and at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa. Thursday’s Thanksgiving Buffet is a must-do, then relax and recharge Friday during the day — because come sunset Friday night, it’s the Annual Tree Lighting Celebration with live music, DJ tunes, hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights, a spectacular fireworks on the beach celebration and yes!, the only snowstorm in Southwest Florida. Hurry, only a few reservations remain so book the weekend now at 800.223.5865 or online here.
  • Tuesday, December 25: Christmas Day Buffet. Here’s one present you’ll want to find under your palm tree — a holiday vacation to ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, including the always delicious Christmas Day Buffet. Wow, this one’s got your name on it. Book it now at 800.223.5865 or online here.
  • Monday, December 31: New Year’s Eve Party. Ring in the new year in style, at the one and only Official Beach Resort of Captiva Island. This is the party to start all parties and kick off the new year with live music, laughter, fun and a beautiful sunset. Make it a weekend by booking now at 800.223.5865.
Remember: When you Book Direct you save with No Resort Fees plus a host of exclusive, VIP freebies and discounts no other travel site offers. So call our friendly on-site reservationists today at (what’s that number?) 800.223.5865 or online here. See you soon and, hopefully, see you often!
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Educational Family Fun

Want to sneak some education into your family’s summer vacation? There are lots of places just minutes from ‘Tween Waters Inn where you can take your family for a dose of knowledge – and fun!

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum– From 1pm-2pm every day, you’ll find a different adventure: Scavenger Hunt Sundays, Shell Collection Mondays, Fossil Dig Tuesdays…plus guided beach walks and live tank talks.

Big Arts– Explore their art galleries or see a live performance by local groups as well as first-class national touring events. ‘Tween Waters is a Platinum Club Co-Sponsor of Big Arts.

 Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife–  CROW is a unique place for older kids to learn about native and migratory animals in the area. Sign up for Wildlife Walks and much more.

 SCCF Nature Center– Learn about the snowy plover in their Education Center and meander along miles of trails that cut through the quiet heart of the island. Check out the SCCF calendar of events.

Visitor & Education Center at J.N. Ding Darling– Entry is free at this fantastic venue filled with interactive displays, programs, exhibits, and a Nature Gift Store. Kids of all ages will be entertained.

Wildlife Drive at J.N. Ding Darling– For only $5 a car, your family can look for roseate spoonbills and other colorful birds, manatees, alligators, raccoons, snakes, fish, and lots of other creatures on a four-mile drive through a gorgeous nature reserve. Note that Wildlife Drive is closed on Fridays.

I hope you love exploring these family friendly places as much as we have, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.

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Winter, Captiva-Style, at ‘Tween Waters Inn

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and I have to agree. Winter on Captiva is fantastic. The weather is delightful, the shells are plentiful, and there are lots of ways to celebrate the season.

Snow Party at ‘Tween Waters

Every Friday and Saturday at 6pm from Dec 1, 2017 – Jan 27, 2018, bring the family and enjoy our tropical version of a Snow Party – no coats or mittens required! Enjoy all of the snow, and none of the cold.

Frozen drinks poolside

In need of something cold? Head to the Oasis Pool Bar and order your favorite frozen concoction. There are also frozen treats for the kids, and if you purchase a Tervis tumbler while you’re here with the ‘Tween Waters logo, you’ll get a coupon for a free piña colada.

Snowy Egrets

The yellow feet of this small white heron make them easy to identify. Look for these slender and elegant white birds at the marina, dancing along the shore at the beach, and at J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.

Brightening Vitamin C Facial

Be merry and bright all season with this special vitamin rich facial at the Spa at ‘Tween Waters Inn. This 50-minute treatment can even out your skin tone and lighten discoloration.

Ice Cold Sushi

Tuesday through Saturday evenings, Captiva House Seafood Restaurant offers fresh, creative sushi. My son’s favorite is the “Sanibel Island” roll with tempura shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, crab, spicy mayo, and eel sauce. Yum!

Sand Angels

Ever tried making the Captiva version of a snow angel? It’s easy! Or, channel your inner “Frozen” characters and build a Frozen castle at the beach. (And try not to sing, “Let It Go” too many times – unless your kids ask you to.)

Cool Live Web Cam

This is so cool! Check out the live Beach Cam at ‘Tween Waters Inn! Log on and you’ll see Santa’s sleigh and other holiday decorations in the foreground – and the shimmering Gulf of Mexico in the background. What a sight!

From my family to yours, I wish you a joyous holiday season and a happy, healthy 2018.

Snowy egret by Vicki Hacker

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A Winter Wonderland for Manatees

One of my favorite things about a winter vacation at Tween Waters Inn, besides the beautiful weather, is the influx of manatees. When temperatures dip to the north, the manatees head south looking for warmer water. Here’s a quick guide of where to find them and what to look for.

 

How to spot manatees

Look for round swirl patterns in the water. The swirl is caused when their large paddle tail moves up and down.

Scan the water for dark masses. Manatees usually surface for air every 3-5 minutes, but can stay down as long as 20 minutes. You might also see their snout and whiskers poking above the water’s surface.

 

Where manatees hang out

The marina at Tween Waters Inn is a fantastic place to see manatees (and dolphins)! They tend to hang out by the docks and by the mangroves to the right of the kayak rentals. <Innsider TIP: If you have a bayside room at Tween Waters Inn, you can often see manatees from your balcony/lanai!>

Manatee Park in Fort Myers is another great location. The power plant next door pumps out warm water so the manatees gather in droves. It’s quite a sight, and it’s a nice drive from the resort.

J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge is only a few minutes away and in addition to manatees, you can see all kinds of birds and an assortment of wildlife, including gators and otters.

 

Manatee laws

‘Look but don’t touch’ when it comes to manatees. If you’re kayaking or paddle boarding, try not to cruise over top of a submerged manatee; you never know when they’ll resurface. They might pop up right beside you though, and that’s ok! Just admire and enjoy your good fortune.

See you at the docks with fingers crossed!

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Stargazer the Seahorse

Have you met Stargazer? This five-foot tall beauty is always smiling, and greets everyone who enters the lobby at ‘Tween Waters Inn. Stargazer is actually a seahorse, maybe you’ve seen her (or him?), even taken a photo, but do you know its colorful history?

A seahorse on a mission

Starting out as a white fiberglass statue, Stargazer was one of 40 seahorses ‘born’ in Wisconsin and created for a fundraiser called “A Seahorse Dream,” to benefit the building of a new children’s hospital in Ft Myers.

Citizens and businesses ‘sponsored’ the seahorses, each hand-painted by a Florida artist. ‘Tween Waters Inn was a Gold sponsor, and the artist that brought their seahorse to life was Cathie Zurich-Wus.

 And breathe life into the seahorse, she did! Bright shades of pink and blue were chosen for their childlike vibrancy – and ability to promote joy – like the whimsical creatures on a carousel. To achieve such brilliancy, Cathie painted Stargazer three times, using house paint, which is very difficult to work with. Swarovsky crystals make her eyes sparkle and clear ornaments resemble bubbles from the sea. Once completed (in only two weeks!), it was clear-coated at an auto-body shop. Who knew?

Is Stargazer a boy or girl?

Cathie says the choice is in the eye of the beholder, and the pink and blue support whatever your choice. (I think she’s a girl, but my husband thinks he’s a boy.)

Where did the name come from?

Because Captiva is an ideal place to serenely gaze upon the stars, away from harsh city lights, in paradise, Cathie named him Stargazer. Stars can lead you through dark waters, and Stargazer is always there to calm fears.

Stargazer’s mission – complete

‘A Seahorse Dream’ raised more than $380,000 and the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida opened in May of this year. It took more than six years and $200 million to complete.

We hope you never need to go, but if you do, look for Stargazer’s royal brother and sister in the lobby – a King and Queen seahorse, complete with sparkling crowns, also painted by Cathie Zurich-Wus.

And next time you’re at ‘Tween Waters Inn, please come introduce your children to Stargazer!

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Summer Bucket List

Summer is here! If you’re like me, you’ve got a list of things you want to accomplish in the next few months, some for yourself, some for your family.  Luckily, ‘Tween Waters Inn can help, and what could be better than accomplishing goals while on vacation?

Try Something New

Rent a jet-ski and race across the water. Be brave and sing karaoke at Crow’s Nest. Ever tried yoga on the beach? You can here. Expand your horizons and get out of your comfort zone!

 

Be One with Nature

Set off on an eco-adventure by renting a kayak and paddling through the mangroves. Look for dolphins, manatees, beautiful birds…who knows what you’ll see! Maybe even an otter.

 

Expand Your Palate

Sushi? Scallops? Anything other than a chicken nugget? Try new foods at Captiva House Sushi. While younger ones may not want to try tuna sashimi (although it is SO good!), maybe a Dragon Roll could pique their interest. And, eating with chopsticks falls under the category, “Learn Something New!”

 

Be Adventurous

Get a bird’s eye view of Captiva when you try parasailing. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Or, how about sailing? It’s a bit lower key but still exciting as you cut through the waves with the wind in your hair.

 

Be Still

Take time to just do nothing and re-center yourself. I recommend spending a few hours at the brand new adult-only Serenity Pool with private cabanas (you’ll find it by the tennis courts). Of course, a visit to the Spa at ‘Tween Waters is always good for the soul.

 

Learn Something New

Just down the road is the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. Their Welcome Center is not only air-conditioned but has fantastic interactive displays about animals found on the island. It’s not only educational, it’s fun.  

 Enjoy your summer!

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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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