Southwest Florida is the shelling capital of the world, and while there are so many types of shells to love, there is one that sparks my interest and flies with my heart — butterflies.
You may have noticed Conquina shells before — they litter the Captiva beaches and are often purple or pink in color. But if you take a closer look, you’ll find that many of them are still attached together. This is because they are very tiny clams, connected at the hinge. This gives them that beautiful butterfly look. There are a ton of colors to collect, and they are my favorite hidden gem on Captiva Island.
Innsider Tip: Stay silent by the surf, and you will hear these shells wash ashore. They help provide the tinkling sound as the waves wash the shells ashore — millions of little pieces of shells making music with the ocean!
Crouching on Captiva, you’ll find more than 250 species of shells, but if you’re not as lucky as me to have a local shell-educated friend, ‘Tween Waters, Captiva Island and Sanibel Island boast a variety of local experts willing to take guests on shelling expeditions in search of knowledge and the perfect souvenir (for a small fee of course).
With an abundance of shells to chose from, you’ll be sure to go home with a souvenir or two when you visit the beaches at ‘Tween Waters. PRO TIP: Don’t forget a container to keep your shells in as you search, so that these butterflies aren’t crushed or disconnected when you bring them home!
What’s on your favorite vacation playlist? If, like us, you vacation often at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island, the music playing in your head, sparking fond memories, comes from the live musicians who entertained you. Who got you moving out on the dance floor. Who turned your day at the pool into a songfest.
On top of the usual weekend jams at Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, ‘Tween Waters loves to throw a party with live music. Two such lively occasions are on the horizon and should be on your calendar right now.
The resort’s biggest party bash of the year happens on Oct. 27. Hallow’Tween invites you to “Eat, Drink & Be Scary” at two separate parties that require only one admission fee – a $10 wristband. After dinner at the Crow’s Nest or Canoe & Kayak, get ready for some scary fun. A total of $1,750 in prizes assure amazing costumes that range from frightening to creative to a little bit naughty.
The live music by a ‘Tweenie favorite, The Gatlin Show, kicks in and kicks up its heels at 9:30 p.m. at the Crow’s Nest. A little bit country, a little bit of everything else you want to hear: Darryl and Andrea of The Gatlin Show are sure crowd-pleasers. On-property in the Wakefield Room, a DJ Dance Party starts spinning the hits at 10 p.m.
If you’re still in the mood for live country music, mark Saturday, Nov. 3, for the next in ‘Tweenies monthly poolside songwriter series. Singer-songwriter Clint Daniels brings his brand of Americana music from 2 to 5 p.m.
In addition to charting two songs on the country singles chart himself, Clint has co-authored songs for other artists, including the hits “Brokenheartsville” by Joe Nichols and “Roll with Me” by Montgomery Gentry.
If blessings can come in disguise and good things in small packages, The Canoe & the Kayak club at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island ranks as both.
I consider it a blessing that the resort’s main kitchen and Old Captiva House are undergoing renovation, not only because it promises a new and exciting experience, but also because it gives me the opportunity to revisit this adorable little cottage marina-side.
And the good things? The temporary downsized space and menu somehow concentrate the charm of a ‘Tween Waters dinner experience.
Down Memory Lane
Dining there takes me back to the days when the club served lunch and dinner there on the bay, back in the late 80s to the early 2000s. Prior to that, the historic cottage served as guest accommodations, a house for visiting band members performing at the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, and a temporary home for next door’s Captiva Island Yacht Club.
In the here-and-now, Canoe & Kayak typically functions as a special event venue. It has been called back into regular dining service, however, until the new Old Captiva House reopens later this year. In the meantime, breakfast has moved to the Crow’s Nest. Dinner at Canoe & Kayak is a casual, intimate affair huddled around a fireplace with paddle fans overhead and views through the patio of Roosevelt Channel and Buck Key.
Simple Menu, Complex Dishes
Executive Chef Greg Nelson has simplified the menu to include some of this signature Old Captiva House dishes and others that I was seeing for the first time when I dined there recently with my husband.
We started with a Roasted Shrimp Cocktail. A refreshing twist on a classic, its five jumbo shrimp wear a seasoned coating that boosts the flavor and plays well with the tangy red horseradish sauce.
For his entrée, my husband went with the filet mignon small plate, one of three listed. He immediately pronounced it the best steak he has ever tasted. The 6-ounce cut (also available in full-sized portion) benefited from an experienced grill hand and the combination of gorgonzola cream and port glaze that struck complex but harmonious chords.
Meanwhile, I was expressing the same superlatives about my pomegranate glazed lamb chops, one of four Big Plates. The just-sweet-enough glaze stood up well to the richness of the meat, grilled perfectly to my rare-to-medium-rare specs.
Both came with garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes and a colorful mélange of sliced and shredded roasted veggies that overachieved in the side dish department. Glasses of Cab Sav and Malbec made the perfect complement.
A stack of three almond cookies sandwiching key lime mousse, the Key Lime Napoleon finished our dinner on a sweet note that, too, was a blessing. And, to say the least, a good thing.
Late summer on Captiva Island, Florida, can mean bouts of intense sunshine tempered with short afternoon showers. When avoiding the raindrops or taking a break from the sun, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa is perfectly poised with solutions.
My favorite get-out-of-the-weather strategy takes me shopping and spa-ing right on property. Maybe work a little fitness center time in there for good measure. Then, you can easily rationalize some retail therapy followed by massage therapy.
Other times I feel like exploring the islands – their intriguing ecology, their history, their culture. That’s when I plan a field trip. Some of my favorite stops?
Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum: You don’t have to love seashells as much as I do to appreciate the ecology, historic significance, and sheer beauty of the creatures and their homes. This one-of-a-kind museum brings a whole new appreciation.
BIG ARTS: Sanibel’s cultural nucleus always has a couple of changing art exhibitions going on in its galleries. You can also catch an art class, film, or live performance.
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!
For many years, guests have enjoyed and luxuriated in the ‘Tween Waters’ Olympic-sized pool, and now more than ever, that experience is to be celebrated. As a leader in green policies, Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts has partnered with Symbiont to install a GeoThermal heating units, which use the earth’s heat to warm or cool the pool — making these the greenest pools on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.
This time of year, with air temperatures in the 80s and 90s, keeping the pools at a refreshing temp actually comes from the earth’s heat! The GeoThermal unit can both warm and cool the pools at ‘Tween Waters. This works by utilizing the heat of the earth to transfer energy, rather than employing the heat of the earth as the heating source.
Utilizing two wells, one to bring the water from earth, and another that transfers to a heat pump, this geo-thermal process utilizes water in the ground and then returns back to the ground. This process is 30% more efficient than a traditional heat pump that uses air, and 80% more efficient than a heat pump that uses gas (what most hotels use to heat their pools). This all results in less energy being used, less waste and more use of our natural resources to provide an eco-friendly swimming experience. Plus with two pools to heat and cool at ‘Tween Waters, that’s double the energy savings!
Not only is geo-thermal heating more eco-friendly, but it’s also economical and reliable, meaning the hotel saves money on gas bills and can utilize that budget toward additional hotel improvements. This system also lasts 15-20 years (whereas a typical gas system lasts between 5-10 years) meaning less breakdowns and repairs, meaning guests will enjoy the pool all year round without issue!
This installment isn’t new — the ‘Tween Waters has been using GeoThermal energy for a few years, but the significance of how ‘Tween is staying green makes this newsworthy. For more information, visit https://symbiontservice.com Plus, visit our sister property, West Wind Inn, who has newly invested in this GeoThermal system on Sanibel Island.
Once upon a time, a small schoolhouse on Captiva Island welcomed its very first students to their very first day of learning. The year was 1908. If you’re a local historian (or maybe just an island fan), you know that this one-room schoolhouse remains a Captiva landmark — because today, elements of the school continue on as Old Captiva House restaurant, here at the legendary ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa.
Across the years, Old Captiva House has welcomed thousands of guests to hearty breakfasts and mouth-watering dinners, all served with a front-and-center view of the Gulf of Mexico and its breathtaking sunsets. Today, this tradition will carry on with an all new look — one that embraces the past grace and charm of Captiva Island, while welcoming the future — and an all new kitchen, from which tomorrow’s top-rated Captiva Island menu will be prepared and served.
“Our design team focused on bringing the light, bright, airy and cheerful feel of Captiva to the restaurant, while adding something of ‘southern island charm’ and a nautical feel to the interior,” notes Doug Babcock, Chief Operating Officer of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts. “In the end, we’ll have created a true ‘destination’ restaurant in look, style, experience and of course, taste. We’re very excited.”
The “new” Old Captiva House will feature a variety of guest amenities not previously available, including: a welcome area with lounge seating for conversation and libations; a cozy bar with comfortable seating and outstanding views; a new Sunset Lounge with its sunset vistas; plus a beautiful main dining room with walls of French doors, lots of natural lighting and soothing color combinations. Not to mention the best dining on the island.
As the new kitchen continues construction, an impressive surrogate kitchen has been erected on-property and is currently serving breakfast and dinner via your choice of Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, or a newly renovated Canoe & Kayak Club (with an abbreviated Old Captiva House menu), featuring both indoor and outdoor seating and a gorgeous view of Roosevelt Channel and Pine Island Sound.
While the dining renovation efforts represent a significant investment, the goal is to “continue to provide our guests the best hospitality experience in Southwest Florida,” says Tony Lapi, Chief Executive Officer. “After all, as the Official Beach Resorts of Sanibel and Captiva, nothing less than the best for our guests will do.” Estimates are that Old Captiva House will excitedly debut in a grand opening sometime later this fall.
In the meantime, make your Old Captiva House dinner reservations today by calling the Canoe & Kayak Club at 239.472.5161 X425.
“Sunrise, Sunset:” One of my favorite songs from my all-time favorite musical, Fiddler on the Roof.
Sunrise, sunset: One of my favorite reasons for staying at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island.
True to its name, it settles comfortably between the Gulf of Mexico and Pine Island Sound. For water lovers, that means the best of both worlds: beach and bayside scapes and endless water sports.
To me, it means sunrise, sunset.
In Fiddler, Tevye and Golde express, in song, a bittersweet emotion as they realize their daughter has grown. With a fled-the-nest son of my own, I get that. But nevertheless, the rising and setting of the sun are ever joyful, introspective happenstances in my life, especially given the beauty of the moments at ‘Tween Waters.
We like to book a bayside room, where coffee and sunrise go together. Sometimes, if my husband is sleeping in, I will sneak down to the marina docks, where all is silent but for the sounds of early birds and lapping water.
From there, I can do a simple sun salutation as I feel the day come alive. Fishermen head out to catch a good tide and manatees often poke their piggy whiskered snouts out of the water. Pelicans kamikaze-dive for breakfast and dolphins arch silently at the surface. It’s magic, with the promise that the day could bring anything at all. Like an unfilled journal page.
The beach, of course, is for sunset, and little can improve upon a sand-based farewell to the day. But at ‘Tween Waters, there’s more than one way to watch sun melt into sea. Charter a sail or motor boat ride, and toast the parfait sky with a bottle of bubbly. Paddle a kayak or board out to meet the sun. Book a seaplane cruise into the gilded clouds.
Meditate on the flow of the day, the swift flight of years. Relive the happiness and tears: the filled journal page.
Landscapes are changing at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, and for the better! The resort is always looking for ways to make the guest experience better, and some of us don’t love change, how could you not love an improved vacation experience?!
It started a few years ago with all new interiors on the main buildings. That includes gutting the kitchens, bathrooms and carpets, replacing them with granite counter tops, beautiful tile and glass showers and more. These room renovations have now included new mattresses for the whole resort, new furniture, updates to the cottages and a paved drive to cut down on the dirt and dust of this traditional “old Florida” property.
But changing landscapes don’t stop in the rooms. This year, the resort added a second “serenity” pool to the mix. For those opposed to the more active, loud, family-friendly, Olympic-sized pool, now adults can relax at the quiet, calm serenity pool. Renovations around the pool also include new pool chairs, umbrellas and cabanas and a tent over the kiddie pool.
I’m most excited to reveal this year’s plans now include renovations to the kitchen and dining experience! A complete overhaul to the Old Captiva House and Crow’s Nest kitchen will begin June 11, and will be closed for a brief four days, with plans to return power back to Crow’s Nest on June 15. Lunch will be served at Oasis Pool Bar in the meantime. With renovations and décor redesign made to the Crow’s Nest last year, this restaurant will serve as the main dining experience until fall, when Old Captiva House will complete the full restaurant updates. You can expect a new, state-of-the-art kitchen, full reno to the dining room, chairs and tables, bar top area, and new décor all meant to provide a better, more efficient and relaxing dining experience.
What I love most about these renovations is that not a single one of them takes away from the charm, history or integrity of the resort you know and love. As National Historic Register property, there are a restrictions to décor, style and even paint color that you can use, so while the resort is adding comfort and style, they’re truly sticking to tradition.
Don’t get me started on the topic of plastic straws! Yes, I’m talking about that little plastic tube that gets used for an average of 10 minutes, but, because it is not recyclable, takes 100 years to decompose in the environment. In the meantime, it ends up in the stomachs of sea turtles and other marine creatures.
As it does decompose and turn into microplastic, it even gets into our own digestive systems.
Did you know that every day in the U.S. alone, consumers use an estimated 500 million straws – enough to circle the planet 2.5 times?
So I rejoiced, and not quietly, when ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island made the announcement. It will be discontinuing the use of plastic straws at its Oasis Bar & Grill in the weeks to come. (Plastic straws distributed at outdoor venues increase the likelihood and quickness with which the light straws get blown into waterways.)
“I think it is the right decision given the local ecosystem and our relationship with it,” said ‘Tween Waters General Manager Brett Gooch.
Bravo, Mr. Gooch! Let’s hope other Captiva Island establishments follow suit.
The outdoors plastic straw ban will add to a long list of measures ‘Tween Waters quietly has put into place to save the environment over the years.
Take its cool pools. They get cooled in the summer and heated in the winter using geothermal technology. For more than seven years, the resort has been employing this green system to keep the pools a consistent temperature of 84 to 86 degrees.
Like many resorts these days, ‘Tween Waters encourages guests to reuse bath towels and bed linens to reduce the resort’s carbon footprint. But ‘Tween Waters took it a step more committed via its luxury towel program.
The theory behind it? Buy plusher, bigger, more absorbent towels and you will diminish the need to a) provide guests with fresh towels daily, and b) buy new towels as often.
To further reduce the use and disposal of plastics into the environment, ‘Tween Waters introduced its Tervis Tumbler program. The resort sells a logo version of the definitive Florida brand of insulated drink ware, which recycles broken and damaged products to make new tumblers.
Buy one for $19.95 and get your 16-ounce frozen drink for free. Furthermore, bartenders at any property bar will make your drinks in your new Tervis instead of plastic to-go cups, thereby reducing waste.
Finally, ‘Tween Waters does its part, and then some, to protect the rampant wildlife that Sanibel and Captiva islands are famous for. Beyond requiring lights off for sea turtles this time of year, when they are nesting and hatching, it protects the manatees that love to congregate in the harbor with signage commanding boaters to cut their engines as they enter.
Kayak and canoe eco-tours teach guests about the manatees, birds, and other native creatures, many of them threatened or endangered.
The islands claim nearly 250 species of birds, and flocks of them frequent the marina and beaches of ‘Tween Waters. The resort has provided nesting poles for ospreys, whose shrill whistle, for many returning guests, sounds like a welcome-back call to this place so in sync with nature.