Large property requires transportation via trolley or golf cart
Pool lounge chairs are often full
Some rooms have dated and somewhat worn decor
Heavy traffic across the toll bridge during peak seasons means reaching the resort can be tricky
Mandatory resort fee
The upper-mid-range South Seas Island Resort is a 471-room family getaway and the largest property on Captiva Island. A long list of amenities make this resort stand out, including wide private beaches with hammocks and volleyball courts, a scenic yacht harbor, a nine-hole golf course, and three outdoor pools with waterslides. On-site dining is equally varied with an ice cream shop, tiki bar, and three restaurants, including one overlooking the harbor with chic outdoor seating. The property is also home to a spa, gym, kids' activities, and boat charters. Pleasant rooms, villas, homes, and condos have flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges or kitchens, and scenic views from furnished balconies. However, the sprawling property requires commuting by golf cart rental or the resort’s trolley. Wi-Fi and parking are both free.
When Christie Brinkley appeared on Sports Illustrated’s cover in 1981 on Captiva Island, the South Seas Island Resort gained international attention. Today, the upper-mid-range resort is the largest on the island, and geared toward travelers willing to pay more for a peaceful beach vacation, with over 300 acres of wildlife preserve, a nine-hole golf course, and over two miles of beaches. Civil War veteran George Washington Carter and his family were the first to settle in the area when they did in 1898. Then came Clarence Chadwick, who started a key lime plantation in 1923.
In 1946, it became the South Seas Plantation, with 15 rooms and a restaurant. Mariner Properties bought the property in 1972, making it into a full-service family resort, which attracts couples, birders, and fishing enthusiasts. Dolphins and manatees are regularly spotted on the island. Antebellum-style buildings are charming and decorated in a cottage-chic style that sometimes feels a bit dated or homely. This large property is a great place to relax, though there is some noise from excited kids on the waterslide and playing beach volleyball.
With 300 acres, the resort offers a quiet retreat on Captiva Island’s north end. The property, with trolley stops throughout, is split into the South Village and North Pointe. A golf cart or the trolley is needed to get around. The South Village offers the most shops, the welcome center, a post office, a Hertz, an Ambu yoga studio, and the tennis academy. The North Pointe has the golf course, Ships Store, gym, water park, Ocean Discovery Center, Offshore Sailing School, Sanibel Sea School, water sports, Skully’s Family Interactive Center, the harbor, and most of the dining options. Directly outside the resort are shops, a bank, and the Chapel By the Sea. It’s a 10-minute drive to Santiva where visitors can find restaurants, a bait shop, and a general store. Sanibel is a 35-minute drive. The Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers is an hour away by car. The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club is a 35-minute drive from the resort.
Pleasant rooms, villas, homes, and condos with comfy beach cottage decor
Rooms, suites, villas, cottages, homes, and condos mimic the colors of the beach with pops of blue, sandy-colored accents, white cottage-style furniture, and seashell decor. Furnishings are sometimes shabby and a bit dated, though. Standard features include furnished balconies and/or decks with scenic views, ceiling fans, flat-screen TVs, irons/ironing boards, iPod docks, coffeemakers, safes, free Wi-Fi, and, in rooms, mini-fridges. Suites offer soaking tubs and sitting areas with sofa beds.
ADA rooms have roll-in showers and bathtubs with rails. All bathrooms have granite counters, shower/tub combos, and/or showers. Villas, cottages, homes, and condos -- with one to six bedrooms -- have washers/dryers and full kitchens. Eight types of villas offer different amenities, such as whirlpool tubs; one comes with a private pool, and some offer closer beach access. Homes and condos (depending on the individual property) offer private pools, hot tubs, grills, lofts, elevators, whirlpool tubs, parking spaces, and private fishing docks.
Three outdoor pools with waterslides, meeting rooms, children's activities, fitness facilities, on-site dining, and cocktails
The resort offers a staggering list of services and amenities. Swimtastics provides kids' mermaid adventures, swim lessons, and water pilates. Additional kids' activities include scavenger hunts, Skully's Arcade room, and Sanibel Sea School. There are three outdoor pools with waterslides that are surrounded by tall palm trees and lounge chairs. The 24-hour gym is equipped with modern spin bikes, cardio machines, kettlebells, and fresh towels. The tennis courts -- 11 in total -- are well-kept, with daily clinics for kids and adults. The Kay Casperson Boutique and Spa provides a pool, treatments, and hair salon services.
This large property is home to several dining options to suit a range of appetites. The Harbourside Bar and Grill has scenic harbour views and outdoor chic seating, while the Pointe is a convenient restaurant located poolside. Kids will love the Scoops and Slices candy parlor; other dining includes a Starbucks, a market, the Sunset Beach Bar, Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille, and the Crooked Snook Tiki Bar.
There are 26 meeting rooms, with wedding services also available. The homey 24-hour business center offers two printers, two PC computers, and an ATM machine. Wi-Fi is free throughout.
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