Living the top-rated life on Captiva Island at ‘Tween Waters Inn

Recently, Coastal Living magazine published its 2018 list of 20 Best Places to Live on the Coast. Captiva Island made the top 10. My only surprise at that was: It should have placed number one. But of course we’re talking about a board of “experts” who don’t know Captiva Island like I do. And the scope, after all, is worldwide.

IMHO opinion, Captiva Island tops out even if you can only live there for a week or three days. Especially if you are living it up at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa, with its prime location balanced between Gulf of Mexico sunsets and Roosevelt Channel sunrises.

In that way and place, the sun dictates how you live on Captiva Island. I like to start with a morning coffee on the marina docks, where I can watch the bustle of morning boaters raring to get out on the water. Ospreys squawk and scold at all the commotion. Manatees and dolphins play undisturbed around the mangroves. Captiva Island comes alive.

In between, there are two swimming pools, a pool bar, a spa, tennis courts, and dining to see you to the other side: the Gulf side, where long beach walks, seashell hunts, and sandy snoozes bring you to the magnificent, near-religious finale of solar adieu. Sunrise, sunset. If that isn’t the way to live life to its fullest, what, I ask you, is?


Captiva House Restaurant’s Secret Recipe

Captiva House Restaurant Recipe

I can’t cook. I don’t state this mildly or even humbly, I seriously can’t cook. We eat out a lot. A lot.

The closest thing I’ve made to an actual meal might be grilled cheese — and I’m not exaggerating. And while my partner Mathew is a Food Network junkie, I hate to have him cook for me every day, so we end up eating out quite a bit. But just because I don’t cook, doesn’t mean I don’t love to eat.

I have particular and wide tastes. I can’t stand cheap, generic food. Instead, I live for a spicy, exotic meal, a fantastically prepared seafood dish, a gooey handmade pasta or…an flakey wrap. And the only place on the islands to find any or all of the above, is Captiva House restaurant at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

Innsider Tip: You can now buy a $120 dining gift card for $100 (a $20 savings!) online! The card is sent to your house and then you can use it throughout the year! Buy yours now:

The island snapper wrap isn’t just any ‘ole wrap. The name sounds casual, but once you sink your teeth into delicately cooked asparagus, savory crimini mushrooms, perfectly roasted peppers and face-melting snapper, all wrapped in a flakey filo dough, you’ll basically be living in elegant ecstasy for the next hour. Oh! And I forgot to mention this dish comes with pesto cream and goat cheese polenta all drizzled with aged balsamic glaze. When I die, you can drizzle me with all of the above.

So what good would being an INNSIDER be, if I couldn’t get the super secret “innsider” recipe for the snapper wrap, and share it with you?! After a little begging and pleading, the amazing Jason Miller, Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Director at ‘Tween Waters Inn, was kind enough to share the recipe. So grab your apron and your best Emeril Lagasse (as he is a Florida native) mindset, and I’ll grab my wine so I can watch, and get cooking! Here are the deets:

For wrap:
1/6 One roasted red pepper, chopped
1 oz Red snapper
½ Stalk of asparagus
2 oz Sliced crimini mushrooms
Filo dough
A spoonful of pesto cream

For polenta:
2 Cups water
2 Cups milk
1 Cup medium polenta
1 Package of goat cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Begin with the Snapper:
1. Cut each snapper fillet in half crosswise. Season per taste.
2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until hot. Place snapper skin sides down, in skillet. Make certain to press on snapper with a spatula for occasionally to prevent curling. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip, and cook until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Prepare the vegatables:
1. Chop red pepper and roast sauce pan until beginning to soften. Use only 1/6 of full red pepper.
2. Sautee asparagus until “crunch” is gone. Chop into small pieces.
3. Chop crimini mushrooms and sauté until soft.

Combining the veggies and snapper:
1. Combine the snapper with roasted vegetables, and roll in one filo dough slice.
2. Place on nonstick baking sheet in oven. Cook for 25 minutes, or until filo dough is flakey.

While baking the wrap, prepare polenta:
1. In medium pot with high sides combine the water, milk and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Reduce the heat to low and slowly pour in the polenta while whisking constantly.
3. Cook the mixture for at least 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened and cooked.
4. Stir in goat cheese until thoroughly mixed.

Final plating:
1. Places pesto cream on plate, followed by a few spoonfuls of goat cheese polenta.
2. Bias cut snapper wrap and place on polenta.
3. Drizzle balsamic glaze over the top and garnish with micro pea shoots.
4. Devour!


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!


Dinner, Dancing and Date Night on Captiva Island

Crow's Nest Captiva Island Dinner Dancing Live Music

Friday night is date night. This means Mathew and I pick a great place to eat — casual or formal, it makes no difference — and something to keep us entertained for a few hours.

We’ve had some stressful weeks at work and with summer in full bloom, it seems there’s not a whole lot of time to prep and plan, make reservations or reseach. So when I found out that the Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille had us covered for this week’s “date night,” dining and entertainment included, I was thrilled to let go of the decision making and just let it happen!

Fun Fact: In 1982, the Crow’s Nest started the island’s first “happy hour,” called the 5.05 club.

‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa has two on-property restaurants open in the evening, Captiva House and Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille. The Crow’s Nest is a great casual dining option and also home to nightly specials and entertainment, which made our decisions easy for this date night.

The new menu boasts funny and quirky food descriptions that made me giggle and Mathew’s stomach growl, and settled on a Lobster Quesadilla to start, followed by two “Captiva Favorites” — the beach burger and drunken shrimp tacos (because really, who could resist a description like, “We never let drunken shrimp drive, so you’ll have to eat ‘em up!”?).

While we ate, the band started warming up for a fun night of live music. With a name like Bad Banditos and a quiet island like Captiva, I wasn’t certain what to expect — but was blown away by the talent brought to this location! The band covered everything from The Police to Sublime and had us out of our chairs and dancing all night.

After all that dancing, we needed refreshments to keep us going — so I sidled up to the bar and asked for bartender to “surprise me.” To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised by the drink, but not the least bit surprised the quality. Rumor has it that the Crow’s Nest has some of the best mixologists in the area.

Overall, date night at the Crow’s Nest was such a success, we’ll probably be back next week for another live band.