Southwest Florida has been a traveler’s destination for centuries. The beauty of Southwest Florida is all around, all you need to do is open your eyes. Your journey off the beaten path begins where the road ends on Captiva Island at McCarthy’s Marina previously known as the city dock before the Sanibel Causeway was built. The mail boat and island ferry boat would pull up to this dock and bring supplies to the islands as well as islanders. It was a gathering place filled with excitement when boats would arrive. This is where the 24-hour getaway begins.
The time is 4 o’clock Friday afternoon. You board a private guided charter boat for a 45-minute trip over to the Tarpon Lodge at historic Pineland on Pine island. The boat ride is filled with salt air in your hair while you pass by historic fish houses and have the pure pleasure of winding down after the work week. Not long after viewing the fish houses, you see the narrow channel in view with pelicans as the welcoming committee upon our arrival at the Tarpon Lodge.
It’s now 5 o’clock. The boat is tied up and you are off to check into the room at the Tarpon Lodge. The room is located above the restaurant with a view of the water, bringing your heart rate down a few notches. The building itself has an old Florida feel with a sense of stepping back in time. You decide to take the short walk downstairs to the bar for a cocktail, followed by a walk out on the vast lawn to sit in the gazebo where you take it all in.
Around 6 o’clock you enjoy dinner with a view of the water on the screened lanai. The food is simply wonderful and fresh, and the staff even better. They make you feel like you are family staying in their home. After dinner, you head out to the dock to watch an amazing sunset. Actually, one of the best places to see a sunset in Southwest Florida. The cloud reflections on the water and the long rays of the sun have a way of making you feel like you are the only one on the planet.
After the sun dips down, you find yourself back at the quaint bar for a night cap. Conversations are overheard of local watermen talking about the weather and what tomorrow has in store. You head upstairs to the cozy room for a clear view of the night sky and a peaceful sleep.
You awake to fresh brewed coffee downstairs and prepare for a short boat ride to the breakfast destination, Cabbage Key. The breakfast at Cabbage Key is delightful. The French toast comes highly recommended and maybe even a Bloody Mary to top it off. After a fulfilling breakfast, you are off to take a stroll on the island’s nature trail. The Cabbage Key nature trail has an abundance of native plants and if you look close in the large oak trees you will see native butterfly orchids. To end the walk, climb the steps to the top of the Cabbage Key water tower and get a bird’s eye view of the next destination…Cayo Costa State Park.
Be sure to request a picnic lunch from the staff at Cabbage Key to take to the beach of Cayo Costa prior to departing by boat. The water is calm as you anchor up on the Gulf side of the island. Cayo Costa’s 8 miles of beach is mostly undisturbed and is a perfect place to relax for part of this getaway. The island is full of solitude, shells and a handful of shore birds. You walk the beach and with each step you seem to find yourself even more connected to the sounds of nature while finding an assortment of beautiful sea shells. You enjoy your picnic lunch on the beach and then regretfully start the journey back to Captiva Island before the day ends.
When you reach Captiva Island, things seem a little different as the boat pulls into the historic dock at McCarthy’s marina. Things have slowed down, the air smells fresher, the sounds of the birds in the distance and your mind is still in the islands. With memories of the sunset etched in your mind you set your bag up on the dock. You begin to make plans for another getaway to relax and enjoy the islands of Southwest Florida.
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