View Full Version : Sanibel, Captiva, or stay w/ Don Cesar??

06-15-2006, 11:42 AM
Looks like our trip is back on, so now I'm considering changing it a bit.

We have 2 nts/3 days to spend beach side. Currently we have reserv at the Don Cesar in St. Pete. But, I'm considering driving further & going to Sanibel or Captiva as I think they would be MAYBE a bit less commercial, less crowded, better atmosphere.

Any suggestions?? I've looked at the HI Sanibel or the Sea Side on Captiva. Not the same caliber hotel as Don Cesar, but I wouldn't be there to be in the room(DH would, tho!)


A Mickeyfan
06-15-2006, 03:07 PM
Have you ever been to Sanibel/Captiva? I do not live that far from there. They are very beautiful islands but not much to do there except lay out on the beach. I do not like the beaches there. They are full of broken shells. The sand is not soft to walk in. You will need beach shoes to walk on them as well as in the water. While there are many resturants there, there are hardly any fast grab food places (they will not allow McDonald's onto their islands). I think Dairy Queen is about the only thing they have there. I have never stayed up in St Pete, but I have heard that the beaches up there are nicer than ours here (as far as the sand goes). While St Pete may be a little more commerical, there are things to do & see there. It will run you $6.00 to get onto the islands, so if you wanted to run to the McD's or somewhere else on the mainland, it will cost that $6 to get back to your resort. . Since Charley hit our area, there has been a lot of shut downs on the Sanibel Causeway too. It can get pretty backed up at times trying to get on/off the islands. As you can tell from my post, I am not a big Sanibel/Captiva fan. It may be because I live near them, I don't know. I would go to St Pete if it were me.

06-15-2006, 04:19 PM
I couldn't wait to visit Sanibel and got the chance several months ago. It took me a long time to make it over to the island because of traffic. Once I got there I wasn't impressed. I sure didn't see all the shells that everyone talks about.

I was going to stay an extra day and left. I was disappointed.

06-15-2006, 05:27 PM
the Sanibel/Captiva area is nice, but the beaches sure aren't. we had friends down last year and they only wanted to go to Sanibel. they called us a few hours later, wanting to find a beach that actually had sand on it.

06-15-2006, 06:00 PM
St. Pete Beach is really nice. I think you'll like it!

06-15-2006, 06:33 PM
We have been to both, Captiva in 2004, arrived on 8/10 and had to leave on Thursday morning because of Charley. We liked to Island, stayed in one of the cottages. We went to Ding wildlife perserve, took the boat ride and the bus trip. Saw a lot of wildlife it was a nice time. Also did the beach. Our shelling trip got cancelled because of Charley. It was very laid back, but that's what we wanted. Last year we went to Don Caesar, it is a beautiful hotel with a lovely beach and pool. There were convention people everywhere, also did not feel confortable walking thru the lobby in beach wear, even though we had cover ups on. Anything else you want to know please ask. Ths year, August we are going to Siesta Key, like to try different places. Usually spend 2 week in Florida, combination of cruise, Universal and beaches.

06-15-2006, 06:36 PM
I have been looking on TripAdvisor.com, and not too many are impressed with Don Cesar. They say it is expensive and not in the best shape.

06-15-2006, 11:08 PM
They are two completely different places. I have been to both. Live two miles form Sanibel. Sharon hates the beach, so ignore her ;)

I like Sanibel. Bowman's Beach is my favorite. It's further up and much nicer. There are shells everywhere. Love it. Wear water shoes. It's very natural.
I spent the day on Mother's Day and saw dolphins swim by all day. Very peaceful. Incredible sunset. Clean restrooms and picnic area too.

You will not find fast food on Sanibel. DQ is at the very beginning of the island. But, there are many little inexpensive type places like the Pink Flamingo, Cheeburger Cheeburger and many others.You won't go hungry.And, I really personally don't see the need to run over to FM's to get McDonalds. LOL

St. Pete's beaches are sandier, but it is very commercialized. The Don Ceasar is not up to par with Lowe's hotels if you ask me.
Maybe a happy median is Sarasota or Venice? If Sanibel doesn't sound appealing to you.

06-17-2006, 05:44 PM
We have stayed on Sand Key & visited St. Pete/Clearwater. We have also vacationed many years on Sanibel - however, we haven't been there since Hurricane Charley. St. Pete and Sanibel are totally different experiences. If you want less commercial - Sanibel/Captiva fits the bill! The island(s) are more focused on nature - and it's a wonderful island to visit - if you enjoy that sort of thing. We love to Bike on Sanibel - great biking paths all over the island. We actually like having a local flair to the shops and restaurants. Great shopping & great food. You can also take a dolphin watch cruise out of Captiva - that a bit of a nature boat ride also. One of my favorite memories is renting a boat for a 1/2 day and taking a ride to Cabbage Key for lunch. Ding Darling is interesting - lots of different birds and animals to see. Bowman's beach is great for shelling - and the sunsets from there are beautiful. My one word of caution, tho, is to take some bug spray. The no-seeums are really bad at nightfall. Don't wait until you start to feel bites, before you put some bug stuff on. The best places to stay are privately owned condos. Check out www.sanibel-captiva.org for loads of info.

06-17-2006, 09:06 PM
How about Siesta Key (it's in between)...St Pete beach is a bit nicer than Sanibel but really not all that pretty. The hotel though is very nice.

06-17-2006, 09:38 PM
lillygator, do you have any parking tips for Crescent beach? I can never find close access to Point of Rocks.

06-18-2006, 09:09 AM
I expected beautiful beaches at Sanibel, and boy was I shocked. It was just a little too natural for me. Dead sea things I couldn't even recognize sometimes washed up on the beach. There is no way I would have went out in the water there. Plus there was debris that washed in and that was before all the hurricanes. We did go to the one little Dairy Queen.Personally, I have seen the Don Cesar but have not stayed there. It looked beautiful. I don't care if I ever get back to Sanibel. I would go with the Don.

P.S Siesta Key is absolutely beautiful and I would definitely go in the water there.

06-19-2006, 06:41 AM
What about Naples? Beautiful!

Del :sunny:

06-19-2006, 11:39 AM
lillygator, do you have any parking tips for Crescent beach? I can never find close access to Point of Rocks.

there is an access diagonally across from Crescent Beach Grocery....park there and walk out - you'll see point of rocks is about a football field away.

06-19-2006, 11:41 AM

06-19-2006, 12:37 PM
I live near Sanibel and Captiva. We used to vacation there before moving to Fort Myers. Now we go all the time. The sand is made of crushed shells and there are many, many seashells on the beaches. The islands have a secluded almost remote feel to them. Mostly residential with very expensive homes.There are plenty of places to eat on both islands. On Captiva there are restaurants and an ice cream parlor at the main intersection. We have stayed at the South Seas resort that takes up most of Captiva. It just re-opened after extensive hurricane repairs.
I grew up in Tampa and very familiar with St Pete and Clearwater beaches. The fine white sand is great and there are lots of hotels and restaurants in the area. It's commercialized but the Don Cesar is away from the congested areas. Close to the hotel is Fort Desoto Beach which is consistently named one of the best beaches anywhere. The playground at Clearwater beach is wonderful for the kids.
My family's favorite beach is Sand Key near Sarasota.

06-19-2006, 12:43 PM
there is an access diagonally across from Crescent Beach Grocery....park there and walk out - you'll see point of rocks is about a football field away.

thanks for the info.

06-19-2006, 01:13 PM
Last year my family was trying to decide where to go for our little side trip before going to WDW. :confused3 This was in Sept. I posted a thread last year asking for beach suggetions and got some great info :disrocks: We didn't make any ressies. Which coast we picked would be based on any possible hurricanes. Luckily there weren't any so we went with our first choice, the gulf side. We visited Anna Marie island (the beach was lovely and very desserted) for a few hours. (no shells) My DD6 loved playing in the waves. It was later in the day so we didn't go swimming. We parked near some homes and walked out to the beach. In fact, it was so desserted that my DD took off her clothes and played in the water in her panties. We hadn't changed her into her suit as we didn't know what we would find at the beach. Since the sun was starting to set we didn't want to take time to go back to the car and get her suit-so panites only-she :lovestruc it and hated to leave when it got dark. We tried to find a place to stay nearby, but all the beachy places were booked. And if I remember correctly from checking online before we left, they ran about $170/night and up.

We drove around for a awhile and since we were heading to Sanibel the next day, we decided to stay in Sarasota (Country Inns & Suites off the I-75). We stayed there for 2 nights. I think we paid about $48/night and the room was nice and included a free breakfast.

We drove to Sanibel the next day (Saturday) We stopped at a McD for lunch before we crossed the bridge(s). We were worried about parking, since it was a weekend, but it wasn't an issue. We went to the beach by the lighthouse. We loved that beach! Yes, the sand was made up of a lot of shells, but we enjoyed looking for whole ones. We brought home a ton of shells some of which my mom and DD surprised me with this Mother's Day and covered a keepsake box with some of the shells. :goodvibes And the water was just great! Coming from So Cal where our ocean water is always chilly, the water at Sanibel was a welcome surprise. :cool1: It was really nice just to swim and float around in it. People with boats anchor off shore and it reminded me of when my family used to go to the Colorado River-very laidback and relaxed. We had a great time there. :cloud9:

The next day the woman at the front desk rec. we check out Siesta Key as it was very close by. We did. The sand there was very nice. The beach was very wide. Quite a walk to the water. And no shells. My DD again, enjoyed jumping the small waves.

We drove :moped: from Sarasota towards WDW the last day looking for a Cracker Barrel restaurant the whole time. Why is it you can never find one when you want one? :confused3 My DD6 loves their chicken and dumplings-they're very similar to the ones we make at home.

Anyway, as far as what beach to pick would depend on how you want to spend your time. My family enjoys just relaxing, looking for shells, playing in the water, and making sandcastles. We don't like to lay out and get tan. And I think I would go crazy staying at the beach for more than a few days. I can only take so much relaxation :rotfl2: and sun :sunny:! We hope to go back to Sanibel this Sept. but the long drive might stop us. Maybe we'll check out St. Pete Beach this year.

06-19-2006, 11:01 PM
I still love Sanibel. And, never had a problem with the beaches or washed up sea stuff. ?? I'm sure it happens at times. It is a natural area, but beautiful.

Anyway, another great place to stay is the Hyatt Coconut Point in Bonita. I stayed there for a few days in April, it was a beautiful resort.

Teresa Pitman
06-20-2006, 06:24 AM
We've stayed on Sanibel Island twice and we really love it. (This was before the hurricane, though). It's nice to combine a visit there with a Disney trip because they are so different. We loved swimming in the ocean and saw dolphins coming in quite close to the beach. Our hotel (Best Western, and quite cheap) had breakfast included with the price, so we'd go down and eat and then head out to the beach to pick up shells - I have quite a nice collection! There are lots of little shops and some great restaurants - we enjoyed exploring them.

At the time we were there (don't know if it has changed), staying at the Best Western meant you could access the facilities at the big resort in Captiva (can't recall the name). So several times we went up there in the evening, had a drink and dessert at the beautiful restaurant, then went out to the beach for a swim and to watch the sun go down.


06-20-2006, 06:27 AM
Yes, 2 very different experiences!!

If you decided Sanibel/Captiva, stay at the Tween Waters Inn!!! Excellent!! You will not regret it!

S/C = laidback, relaxing, no high rises, etc. Beautiful in it's natural way. The beaches are shelly and bigger waves. But, the sunsets are to die for and there is some really great food there!!

TPA/St. Pete/Clearwater = commericalized, white sandy beaches, less waves, but also beautiful!!

Personally here's my pick, with just my hubby - Captiva, Tween Waters Inn all the way!! With my kids - Clearwater is a must!!!

06-20-2006, 07:02 AM
I agree with the poster above, Tween Waters Inn on Captiva is a great place to stay for a few days. The continental breakfast buffet included with the room is very good. The beach was nice also. We go to Sanibel almost every year and stay in a private condo near Bowman's Beach, which is our favorite part of the island. Sanibel is a very laid back vacation. It has become a favorite of our family. Then we cap it off with a few days at WDW at the end.

06-20-2006, 11:39 AM
The next day the woman at the front desk rec. we check out Siesta Key as it was very close by. We did. The sand there was very nice. The beach was very wide. Quite a walk to the water. And no shells. My DD again, enjoyed jumping the small waves.


We live here and I can tell you - we've been shelling 4 nights this past week...there are plenty of shells on Siesta. They aren't full along the beach like Sanibel (and not as broken as Sanibel)but there are plenty - have a garage full of buckets of them. Also TONS of sanddollars as well....

my mom goes to Tween Waters every year - they are going the first weekend in July...they love it.