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Southwest/West Florida islands trip report

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Southwest/West Florida islands trip report

Postby Backtotheislands » Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:28 pm

We just returned from our first trip to the west and southwest coast of Florida. I wanted to return to St. John, but my husband wanted to try a new place with a shorter flight. :( We flew into Ft. Lauderdale on Southwest Airlines even though we needed to rent a car and drive further. We saved a lot of money and the flight out of Dallas Love Field was painless. We headed across I75. We were hungry, but there was nowhere to stop until we got over to Naples. We found USS Nemo on Yelp and it was the best food of our trip. Wonderful! Then we headed north to Anna Maria Island where we stayed at Harrington House. That was an awesome decision - Right on the beach, yummy breakfast each morning, complimentary bicycles! We loved riding around the island and the beach is very quiet in front of Harrington House. We ate at Waterfront Restaurant, Eat Here, Rod and Reel, and Blue Marlin Grill. Waterfront and Blue Marlin were definitely a cut above the others. Rod and Reel was not good at all. I had read they had a good grouper sandwich. Trust me, no comparison to Aqua Bistro's! We enjoyed the island, but the food was a big disappointment. I got to see cool birds, manatees and dolphins, but no fish, donkeys, goats or deer.
After 4 nights on AMI we headed south to Captiva, but we took the scenic route. We drove south through Long Boat Key and onto Siesta Key. Beautiful big beach and soft sand, but way too many people for my taste! We tried to go to Gasparilla Island but got lost and missed it! LOL! We finally made it to Captiva, stopping at George and Wendy's Sanibel Seafood Grille for a late lunch. The shrimp tacos were very good. Then we arrived at Tween Waters Inn with a room with a sunset beach view. The room was nice, but the beach here was a browner sand and the water wasn't very clear. I prefer clear water! There were also more bugs here. We have been home 2 weeks tomorrow and I just stopped itching! We went out to the beach for sunset and got drenched . . . with the sun shining! We tried to order room service, but they don't have it. After drying off we ate at Sunshine Seafood Cafe which was pretty good. The next day we took a guided kayak tour of the mangroves and sound. It was fun, but hot! We hung out at their really nice pool and enjoyed pina coladas with an extra rum floater. The prices on Sanibel were probably comparable to SJ.Our supper the next 2 nights was at Doc Ford's Rum Bar. Their Yucatan Shrimp is the bomb! Loved it! We had a lot of rain the next day and drove through Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. I got out and hiked all the little trails, but hubby wasn't into that. I didn't see as much wildlife as I would've liked. I really like to see my wildlife UNDER the water!
Of the 2 islands I preferred Anna Maria. I liked the whiter sand and clearer water. I preferred the restaurant options of Captiva, though. It was a fun trip, but it didn't fill my need to get to snorkel and wasn't nearly as laid back as "my" St. John. It gave me a beach and it's good to see new places, but I really missed my happy place!
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Re: Southwest/West Florida islands trip report

Postby shoemak38 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:04 pm

:D :D :D
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Re: Southwest/West Florida islands trip report

Postby AquaGirl » Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:11 pm

Thank you for sharing your trip report. My hubby and I enjoy the west coast of Florida, so I liked hearing about it. I've only driven through AMI and stopped at a little park overlooking the water. It was a pretty area. My parents who live in Venice have said "there's no good place to eat" on AMI, compared to Venice/Sarasota, but now I have a recommendation for 2 places there :)

We enjoy visiting Sanibel and Captiva, but we too are spoiled by the clarity of the water in the Caribbean. We haven't stayed there in years, but I know it has become very expensive. If you ever go back to Sanibel, there is a place at a marina called Grandma Dots. It has excellent grouper sandwiches.
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Re: Southwest/West Florida islands trip report

Postby Backtotheislands » Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:34 pm

Aqua Girl, I'm glad to hear your parents have said that. The reviews are really good for some of the restaurants in AMI. I thought I must've really gotten picky in my old age because the food choices were just not exciting. If you are ever in Naples, you should try USS Nemo. Some of the best seafood I have eaten! Their special Sea Bass was divine and melted in my mouth! I didn't order it even though it was recommended, but oh my was it good!! I didn't think it sounded good, but boy was I wrong! I think I had Volcano Grouper or another fish and it was good, too, but the sea bass was WOW! Anyway, back to dreaming of SJ! Hoping I can convince my husband soon that we NEED to go back! 8)
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Re: Southwest/West Florida islands trip report

Postby Connie » Sun Jul 05, 2015 10:07 am

Not a huge fan of Captiva. Too tiny for me and not a lot of options. Like driving over and looking at the multi million dollar mansions.

We lOVE Sanibel. We have gone with many of our friends and family. We usually rent 2 condos. Plenty of things to do and places to eat.

Love the idea of getting on the bikes and just going to the store, or lunch.

Going back nextMay and looking forward to it. It's the cleanest Island we have ever been on.
"Paradise...it's a state of mine"
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