Captivating Captiva

May/June 2002

On Captiva Island, you’ll be stunned by splendid vistas of the wide, turquoise expanse of the Gulf of Mexico, awed by the island’s increasingly impressive architecture, and amused by the colorful island culture.
    In this recurring section of Times of the Islands, we’ll celebrate the inns, marina shops, and galleries that collectively define Captiva’s one-of-a-kind character.
    Totally residential on its southern tip and wrapped up by the upscale South Seas Resort—which encompasses the top one-third of the 5-mile-long island—Captiva and its businesses are both limited and quaint. Within the business district you’ll find an amazing blend of sophisticated boutiques, eclectic shops, and intriguing galleries. Here and there, you’ll also discover some real laid-back locales that exude the vanishing spirit of old Florida. On Captiva you’ll experience the ecstasy of a true island paradise—a place that remains far from the mainland, mainstream way of life.
    Devoted islanders own most of the island businesses, so you’ll get a real feel for the relaxed but refined Captiva attitude. “Captivating Captiva” is where you’ll find a listing of the island’s best offerings and why we think it’s a place you wouldn’t want to miss.
– Barbara Linstrom-Arnold

Bubble Room Emporium: “Purveyors of fine & unusual gifts.” If you ever wondered where those crazy Bubble Scouts find all that wacky headgear, now you know. The array of headpieces in here immediately puts you in a Mardi Gras frame of mind. It’s also a great place to find those silly games that are perfect for real vacation attitude.

Captiva Cottage: This gift-and-garden shop on the side of the Island Store reflects both the refined and earthy nature of Captiva. Take time to sit on the bench in the garden and watch the butterflies go by. It’s the only place to find fresh flowers on the island, and owner Jesse, with her bright smile and down-to-earth Vermont style, keeps a great stock to choose from.

Captiva Island Inn: A historic bed-and-breakfast located smack dab in the middle of “downtown” Captiva. When eating your gourmet morning meal on the brick patio of neighboring Key Lime Bistro, you’ll experience flashes of Key West. Innkeeper Sandra Stilwell’s love of vibrant color and island style is obvious hereat this small, friendly inn.

Chico’s: The quintessential boutique for finding stylish, comfortable clothing, this shop in Chadwick’s Square will help you take a laid-back attitude back with you to the mainland. The washable silks and comfy cotton clothing here are great for maintaining an island mindset. This nationwide hit was, after all, crafted by islanders!

Confused Chameleon: Affordable and fun, this gift shop specializes in artwork, jewelry and eccentric items that are all about keeping a Caribbean twist alive on Captiva. Storekeeper Constantino Costa’s contagious happy-go-lucky personality will remind you to enjoy life. Ask for a sand dollar and you’ll get one.

Footloose of Captiva: This place makes “happy feet” possible. You’ll see some of the most daring and exotic displays of footwear at this spacious store in Chadwick’s Square. Sandals, moccasins, and water shoes never looked so inventive as they do here.

The Island Store: Don’t even try to be on Captiva and not experience this place. The unofficial town hall, this is where you can find out anything you’d care to know about the island—both on the record and off. Storekeeper Michael Gulnac knows well discriminating Captiva sensibilities. That’s why you’ll find the latest in organics as well as imported marmalades and chocolates. But don’t anticipate any pretentious attitude here: sit on the bench out front and get a dose of island character, not to mention characters.

Island Style Gallery & Cafe: A zany place to get a cappuccino and some biscotti while checking out some crazy artwork. Located in Chadwick’s Square, this place is another great stop for the vacation-minded. Tables on the wooden deck are brought to life with potted fuchsia impatiens. In the gallery, color abounds as well in all kinds of imaginative representations of life taken less seriously.

Jensen’s Twin Palm Resort & Marina: The epitome of the laid-back Captiva experience. Probably the only place in the world where you can kick back in an old dentist’s chair, gaze past the most bumper-stickered tugboat on the planet, and forget that anything else really mattered. Run by the three Jensen brothers—Dave, Jimmy, and John—and they’ll be glad to tell you that no shirts or shoes are required here. If you can’t laugh out loud here, you don’t stand a chance anywhere else.

Kelly’s Cocoons: You’d never believe the incredible array of colors and beautiful design their butterflies come in. Owner Kelly mounts the world’s most breathtaking butterflies from exotic locales in clear plastic displays. Located in Chadwick’s Square, this place will remind you to be truly awed by the wonders of nature. Another requisite stop along the way to clearing your head of any mainland worries.

Maddison Suites: A bed-and-breakfast created out of old island bungalows where locals used to live. Right in the heart of old Captiva—Maddison Suites (named after a real island girl) will make you feel quite at home on the island. With the beach at one end of the road and the bay at the opposite end of Andy Rosse Lane, here you’re at the epicenter of Captiva’s entertainment spots and scenic locations.

McCarthy’s Marina: The headquarters of Captiva Cruises, this quaint little office at the bayside end of Andy Rosse Lane also helps give Captiva its special character. Operated by Paul McCarthy, the cruises are a surefire way to relax and enjoy the delights of island waters. Take a sunset cruise aboard the charming Lady Chadwick and you’re guaranteed a better appreciation of what makes Captiva just so captivating.

Sbarra’s of Captiva: When on the island, indulge in relaxing pleasures; that’s the old Captiva spirit. Where better to let go and be refreshed and revitalized than a day spa? Owner Amy Sbarra shows her love of the ‘30s and ‘40s through period decor and stylized interior design. This is the place to go to be pampered—to get that manicure, pedicure, or massage. Located in the heart of old Captiva on Andy Rosse Lane, Sbarra’s reflects the refined Captiva attention to the integration of mind, body, and spirit.

Seaweed Gallery: No one ever did such a magical job of turning a closet into an inviting, whimsical display of fun, imaginative artwork. Owner Linda Boltrek, whose passion is creating miniature homes and period scenes, brought one of her pieces to life with this shop. In the little corner of the Captiva Island Inn, the Seaweed Gallery exudes a beautiful, even zany look on life—a great antidote for making that quick dive into the vacation frame of mind. Featured are furniture, paintings, prints, mobiles, and jewelry created by local artists who capture the playfulness of island living.

’Tween Waters Inn: To get a taste of the Truly Captiva, this historic landmark is a must-do. Since the early days of habitation of the islands around the turn of the last century, ‘Tweenies—which is perfectly situated between the bay and the gulf—has earned the reputation of being the quintessential island watering hole. Step into the Crow’s Nest bar at 5:05 p.m. and see for yourself. Or get the low-down on what’s biting at the No-See-Um pool bar, where the charter captains tip ‘em in the early afternoon.

Wildside Adventures: Looking to connect with the spirit of the indigenous Calusa Indians that once inhabited the island? Then, check this place out! Located at the bayside end of Andy Rosse Lane, these kicked-back outfitters can hook you up with the ultimate in on-the-water experience. With the widest array of kayaks and other low-impact vessels in the area, owners Barb and Greg will help you have an unforgettable paddling experience. Narrated trips take you into the Calusa story with a paddle through the magical trails of neighboring Buck Key.

YOLO (You Only Live Once): Located at the beach end of Andy Rosse Lane, this is the place to come if you want to take your island experience up a notch and zoom into the wild blue yonder on a jet ski. Owner Marcel Ventura embodies the independent and daring side of Captiva and he’ll help you remember to make life a real adventure. The slower-paced can