Menu

Vacation Upgrades Worth Springing For

Whenever I’m planning our family vacations, I try to find a few things we can do to make them extra special. You know, those added little things that make the difference between ordinary and extraordinary. At ‘Tween Waters Inn, here are my top picks of extras and upgrades worth springing for:

Beach Cabanas

Sure, you can hang out on the beach and just sit on your towel, but imagine having your own beach cabana. It’s the ideal place for sitting, reading, relaxing, lounging, or napping. Rent one for the entire day for $15.

Souvenir Tervis Tumblers

Tervis tumblers keep your cold drinks cold, and your hot drinks hot. They’re also indestructible, making them the perfect souvenir. While onsite, purchase a customized ‘Tween Waters Inn Tervis for $19.95 +tax. As a bonus, each comes with a coupon for a free piña colada. (Innsider tip: avoid getting sunscreen on your Tervis; it will leave a cloudy mark.)

Upgraded WiFi

Yes, you get free WiFi when you stay at ‘Tween Waters Inn, which is great for browsing. But, if you’re a screen junkie, or you have kids with smart devices, you’ll want to upgrade. High speed Internet packages start at $7.95 a day. Multi-day packages are available.

Larger Accommodations

If you love extra space, a room upgrade is worth it. The suites are so roomy; they’re perfect for families. And, because they have a kitchen, you can actually save money. As a mom, I can tell you that having a separate living area and multiple bedrooms is priceless.

What’s your favorite extra worth springing for on vacation? Tell us on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Take a Walk, See the World

Orange Bird of Paradise from South Africa. Bougainvillea from Brazil. Yellow Trumpet from Paraguay. You can take a botanical trip around the world at ‘Tween Waters Inn and you don’t need a passport, just a comfy pair of shoes (or flip flops). 

Read more

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Coffees, Ice Cream, Smoothies & More at ‘Tween’s Beans Coffee Shop

This is Amin, one of the baristas at 'Tween's Beans Coffee Shop.
This is Amin, one of the baristas at ‘Tween’s Beans Coffee Shop.

Last weekend, I met my brother Jeff and his family at ‘Tween Waters Inn for a little rest and relaxation. We were catching up over cheeseburgers at the Oasis Pool Bar (sitting at that hidden high top table mentioned in Michele Anderson’s blog), enjoying the warm, March weather when the afternoon sleepies started to set in. The cure? A walk across the pool deck to ‘Tween’s Beans Coffee Shop.

Walk on over for daily happy hour and more at 'Tween's Beans Coffee Shop.
Walk on over for daily happy hour and more at ‘Tween’s Beans Coffee Shop.

This is so much more than the place to pick up and return your pool towels. Think of it as your window of great opportunity. The menu features about 40 choices of milkshakes, fruit smoothies, and illy Italian Gourmet Coffees and Teas. And for those of us adults who prefer a little mo in our Jo, your friendly barista can kick it up with a shot of your favorite top shelf liqueur. (Frangelica for me, please.)

My son Devon and his cousins get an afternoon pick-me-up at 'Tween's Beans.
The cousins get an afternoon pick-me-up at ‘Tween’s Beans.

For the kids or kids at heart, sip a frozen Banana Split, a Burst O’Berry or a Cookie Monster (made with ice cream, Oreos, and chocolate syrup). Baristas Chelsey and Amin will take great care of you and are more than happy to make you a custom creation – just ask.

Did someone say Happy Hour? You bet. Every day from 3:30-5:30, you’ll find ‘Tween’s Beans drink specials. You’ll also find an assortment of ice cream treats, along with shirts, hats, beach toys, and those Tervis tumblers that I love so much. (Seriously, they are the ideal souvenir – they’re indestructible and they’re guaranteed for life!) So, stop by ‘Tween’s Beans Coffee Shop, and see what fun you can stir up.

My brother Jeff and his family snagged the corner table at Oasis Pool Bar for lunch at 'Tween Waters Inn.
My brother Jeff snagged the corner table at Oasis Pool Bar.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Lighten Your Load: Baby Gear at ‘Tween Waters Inn

If you’ve ever thought, “We can’t go on vacation with the baby, how would we ever get all this stuff there?” The high chair, the crib, that vibrating bouncy seat, baby’s bath tub…how can such a small person need so many big things?

One of your options from Island Rental Services for baby gear rental.
One of your options from Island Rental Services for baby gear rental.

‘Tween Waters Inn understands your traveling dilemma, so they’re happy to offer items like complimentary cribs and Pack n Plays. They also have established relationships with local baby equipment rental companies, like Sanibel Rental Service and Island Rentals, so you won’t have to be without any of the conveniences that you have at home.

In fact, this might be a great time to try out that jogging stroller you’ve been thinking about, or that baby swing. Try it before you buy it. Car seats, booster seats, bounce seats, wash tubs, high chairs, baby swings, even beach wagons – all delivered to your room. (Note that choosing larger accommodations will benefit you greatly when traveling with little ones and will enable you to fit all the gear you need inside your room.)

For things like diapers, wipes, and formula, there are grocery stores on-island; there are even a few baby boutiques with adorable island wear.

Onsite, the shaded toddler wading pool is the place to hang out with your little one. You don’t even have to pack Swim Diapers; they’re sold onsite right next to the pool.

Traveling with little ones doesn’t have to stink. Ha ha. You just have to stay at the right family friendly place, like ‘Tween Waters Inn. I hope this gives you the courage to come visit.

Parents can rent all kinds of baby gear, including exersaucers, while at 'Tween Waters Inn.
Parents can rent all kinds of baby gear, including exersaucers, while at ‘Tween Waters Inn.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

‘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.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Fall Fun Around ‘Tween Waters

There is so much happening this month on Captiva and at ‘Tween Waters Inn. First of all, October is the start of the fall season and that brings great rates (like stay two or more nights Sunday through Thursday and get an additional free night)! October is also when the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge has its annual “Ding Darling Days.” It’s an entire week of FREE eco-activities like tram tours, kids crafts, hot dogs, life-size puppets with Heather Henson (Muppets’ creator Jim Henson’s daughter), scavenger hunts, wildlife encounters, and much, much more.

DDD_Silver_Logo
2014 marks the 25th anniversary of Ding Darling Days at the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and ‘Tween Waters is proud to be a sponsor.

The ‘Tween Waters Inn is proud to be a “Great Egret Level” Sponsor of this event – celebrating its 25th anniversary this year! You won’t want to miss it.

Since the 2014 theme for Ding Darling Days is “Let’s Go Outside,” I wanted to share some of my favorite family things to do outside right here at ‘Tween Waters Inn. Of course, you know that you can hang out at the beach, swim in the Gulf, hunt for seashells and frolic at the pool. But here are a few things you might not know about that will get your kids excited to get outdoors, especially in this gorgeous fall weather.

Rentals like canoes, single and double kayaks, and even motorboats are available at the onsite marina. You can paddle in the bay and see all kinds of wildlife, including manatees, especially this time of year. These gentle giants will sometimes swim right alongside your watercraft! Keep your eyes open for dolphins, too. What a thrill!

Onsite rentals for canoes, kayaks, bike and motorboats are right onsite at 'Tween Waters Inn.
Onsite rentals for canoes, kayaks, bike and motorboats are right onsite at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

If you’d rather just sit back and let someone else do all the work, then Native Guides is for you (and me). Give them a call to schedule a few hours of fishing, snorkeling, shelling or a picnic on one of the out-islands—you just tell them what you’re interested in and they’ll make it happen. Best of all, it’s the same price for one person or six. It is truly an unforgettable way to spend time with your family—and oh that fall weather!

From my family to yours, we wish you a happy autumn and we hope to see you around Captiva soon.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How to Keep Cool with Hot Family Fun at ‘Tween Waters Inn

'Tween Waters Inn Captiva Island Pool Hotel

It’s summertime! For our family, that means it’s time for Michael and I to pack up the kids, and several bottles of sunscreen, and head to the ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa. With its location on a barrier island that jets into the Gulf, the average high temperature is 85°F, but come June, July and August, that number creeps up to about 90°. Although the Gulf breezes keep things comfortable, there are plenty of ways to keep your cool around the resort.

Poolside, Gulf side, bay side – what’s your pleasure? After hitting the free breakfast buffet, my boys Dustin and Devon beg us to take them over to the beach to swim and hunt for shells. The Gulf of Mexico is warm and welcoming in summer and depending on the wind, you could find yourself jumping waves or floating on shimmering water as smooth as glass. Many times, we’ve seen dolphins right off shore. Love that!

If your gang is more adventurous, you can rent stand-up paddleboards and kayaks right onsite and paddle on the bayside. You might just find yourself alongside a manatee, or three.

Fresh water fans can head to the Olympic-sized pool that just happens to have a full-service pool bar and grill at the deep end. Here’s an Innsider tip: purchase a ‘Tween Waters Tervis tumbler at the resort and have it filled at the pool bar with your favorite frozen concoction for free. Devon prefers a strawberry daiquiri, virgin of course. Tervis tumblers (non-breakable, guaranteed-for-life drinkware) make the perfect souvenir. They’re easy to pack, lightweight and you’ll use them forever.

The newest addition to the pool deck is the shaded toddler wading pool. Your little ones can splash for hours without fear of sunburn. Now that’s a bright idea.

Sunny regards,

Jill~

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail