Plan A Relaxing Beach Vacation To This Beautiful Island Off The Coast Of Florida

Imagine a place where there are two main speeds: relaxed and slightly more relaxed. Where there are no cars on the streets, only golf carts, bikes, and friendly neighbors ambling by. Where you can relax on a white sandy beach all day, watching dolphins and pelicans do their rounds. The good news is, that island exists — and you don't have to travel internationally to get there.

North Captiva Island is a hidden gem off the coast of Fort Meyers, Florida. It used to be part of a larger island, but a hurricane separated the two in 1921, forming Captiva and North Captiva. Today, the only way to get around the channel for a tropical vacation is via ferry, private boat, or a small plane. North Captiva is the kind of place that you'll want to keep a secret. And many do. Perhaps that's why it remains so unspoiled, despite its natural beauty and laid-back charm.

Things to do on North Captiva Island

North Captiva is a small paradise. As in, 4.5 miles long and half a mile across amid 350 residences. The rest of the homes are beach rentals on AirBnb and VRBO. Naturally, much of the island's activities revolve around the beach. You can walk along the shores and collect seashells or rent a jet ski, kayak, or boat to explore the gulf waters. You can also fish from the beach or docks, as well as embark on guided fishing charters for $500. There are two clubs on the island, the Island Club and the Safety Harbor Club, each of which have their own amenities to offer, like cottage rentals, tennis courts, heated pools, clubhouses, and restaurants. Of course, you can also lounge around on the beach all day, too. That's perfectly okay.

If you want to get out and stretch your legs a bit more, Island Girl Charters offers boats for private charter to enjoy the surrounding areas and do a bit of island hopping. On the sightseeing tour, a captain will take you to find dolphins and manatees, along with sharing important historical information about the area. On an evening cruise, you can bring your own food and drinks to wind down with a view of the sunset from the Pine Island Sound.

What to know before you go

To get to North Captiva Island, first drive to the Guest Welcome Center on Pine Island. From there, your luggage will be loaded onto a ferry. The daily service is available for $29 per person with four crossings each way, taking about 30 minutes. If you decide to bring your own boat, you can make docking arrangements with the North Captiva Marina Association or request a boat slip, says the North Captiva website.

Since the island is a secluded destination, you'll need a game plan for food before you leave home. There are a few restaurants and shops to choose from, like Mango's Bar & Grill, which has an island market open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The restaurant is a popular choice for wraps, protein bowls, and cocktails by the pool. Over the Waterfront is a reservation-only restaurant for hearty seafood dinners and Nick B's at the North Cap offers catering services for platters and grilled veggies. But for everything else, you'll need to order groceries ahead of time via the Publix grocery store on the mainland, which you'll then haul onto the ferry. While this may be a bit different than you're used to, it'll be well worth it. A vacation on a remote island just hits different.