Be 'Tween the Beautiful Waters on Captiva

By: Ann Marie O'Phelan

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You'll find plenty of ways to entertain the whole family among the rich history and awe-inspiring nature of 'Tween Waters Inn.

As a fan of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book A Gift From the Sea, I was thrilled to discover that the author and wife of the famous aviator actually spent a great deal of time on Captiva Island, where I was visiting with my son and fiancé on a recent trip. We roomed at the tranquil 'Tween Waters Inn.

The grounds of this hideaway are peppered with 19 historic cottages. The inn and its surrounding natural beauty make quite the muse, so it's no wonder Lindbergh did some of her writings while vacationing on Captiva.

Located just west of Fort Myers, 'Tween Waters Inn boasts 13 beautiful acres fronting the Gulf of Mexico to the west and Pine Island Sound to the east, along with roughly 1,000 feet of pristine, white-sand beach. The resort has been named "Captiva Island's Must-Stay" by Florida Travel & Life. The location is exceptional to say the least, and the inspiration as endless as the sea surrounding it.

Inside, photos of other famous guests like Teddy Roosevelt hang on the walls. But even though this 80-year-old inn has a deep history and stands as a solid nod to days gone by, it still delivers what you'd expect from a modern luxury resort. There are contemporary guest rooms (housed in cottages as well as in studios and suites), a host of pampering amenities, the full-service Spa at 'Tween Waters Inn and the award-winning Old Captiva House with its New Florida menu of mouth-watering island favorites. My personal advice: Bring the family here and dig in.


Clear Waters and Colorful Wildlife

Even for those who aren't as fascinated by history, such as my 8-year-old son, the resort offers plenty of activities to catch and keep your attention. For instance, at the 'Tween Waters Marina, you can charter a boat or rent a kayak for island or deep sea fishing, shelling, touring or eco-adventures through nearby keys and channels. The waters here are known for their abundance of fish and sea creatures, so you can often spot snook and redfish jumping, dolphins diving and manatees surfacing for air.

Since the inn is just a short distance from J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge – which consists of more than 6,400 acres of mangrove forest, seagrass beds, marshes and more – the birdwatching is phenomenal. In fact, we spot Roseate Spoonbills, egrets and plenty of pelicans during our kayak excursion along the mangrove-lined shores.

When out on our bike ride along the 20 miles of groomed trails that weave their way through nearby Sanibel Island – yes, we get to explore that island, too – we “ooh” and “aah” at the osprey and eagles flying overhead.


Notorious Pirates and Notable Presidents

While I find it intriguing that Teddy Roosevelt fished in the nearby waters, and that Charles Lindbergh was known to land his plane on these sandy shores, both my son and fiancé seem to be more enchanted by the pirate tales.

Popular legend and modern historians hold that notorious pirate Jose Gaspar once used Captiva Island as one of his bases. He was said to capture his victims and hold them for ransom on the island. In fact, the name “Captiva” comes from “Isle de los Captivas” – island of the captives.

The whir of a plane engine brings us back to real time – at least for a moment. As we watch a private seaplane take off from the 'Tween Waters Marina, I can't help but imagine Charles and Anne Lindbergh in the cockpit, heading skyward for an unforgettable aerial view of the island.


Cheering Crowds and Champion Crabs

Although we saw our share of horseshoe crabs while kayaking through the shallow waters, those weren't the only crabs we enjoyed moving about. Lucky for us, our stay included a night on which the inn's celebrated NASCRAB Races were held.

The races take place at the casual, island-inspired Crow's Nest Restaurant (Mondays and Thursdays at 6 and 9 p.m., but 6 p.m. is the more kid-friendly time). To kick off the event, Tim the race announcer gets kids and families involved in cheering on their hermit crabs. It's crowd-pleasing, beachy family fun at its finest, and good to know that half the money raised during each event goes to the United Way. Plus, my son's favorite hermit crab just happened to find his own fame in winning the race.


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