Insider Interview: Florida’s North Captiva & Boca Grande

3435492417_cd85059273_bIt’s no wonder Sarah Rapp loves what she does.  For the last 10 years she has worked as a Broker/Realtor and advertising agent for rental properties throughout Southwestern Florida.  As the owner of her own company, Beach Vacation4me, Sarah has worked for 8 years in North Captiva and 2 years in Boca Grande and owns a private residence in North Captiva…although she divides her time between Boca Grande and North Captiva.

And who wouldn’t love dividing their time between these gorgeous barrier islands?

Property ID#19623   Tropic Ten - Dunes Of Boca

Property ID#19623 Tropic Ten - Dunes Of Boca

Sarah recalls her first visit to North Captiva, “I loved the natural beauty – it’s still somewhat untouched and family oriented.”

And untouched they are – North Captiva is only accessible by boat and there are no cars on the island, vacationers instead opting to navigate around the island by golf cart, bicycle and boat.

Boca Grande has a land bridge making car travel an option, however many still choose to get around in golf carts or on bike.

“For some people, the fact that they have to be without their car in North Captiva is a bit too much,” says Sarah.  ”So Boca Grande is the next best fit.”

Peak season for both of these lush US islands runs from March through the first part of April.  However, both of these locals have great weather year-round, so go ahead and plan your trip for the off-season when you can enjoy warm weather and great rates on vacation rentals!  And if you’re concerned about hurricanes, they are no reason to miss out on a great tropical escape.  Sarah recommends getting travel insurance if you’re planning your trip anytime between August and November.

Once in Boca Grande, vacationers have many options of activities – one of Sarah’s favorites is to head out on one of the many bike paths that wind through the city.  Sarah has also found that Boca Grande has some of the best shelling of anywhere Sarah has been, saying  ”They’re magnificent”

Gasparilla Inn - photo courtest of Florida Trend

Gasparilla Inn - photo courtesy of Florida Trend

She also recommends stopping by the charming Gasparilla Inn & Club for dinner and drinks.  The club has a variety of dining options ranging from The Main Dining Room (open for breakfast and dinner daily), The Pink Elephant, or “The Pink” as many call it (a more casual option for lunch, dinner and drinks), or the popular BZ’s lounge where patrons can lounge on the sofas and chairs and sip one of the Inn’s signature drinks: Gaspartinis, Mojitos and Planter’s Punch.

North Captiva and Boca Grande are only about a 40 minute boat ride apart from eachother – close enough to plan a day trip from one to the other.

Sarah’s North Captiva Picks

A good catch on Dennis Realy's fishing charter!

A good catch on Dennis Realy's fishing charter!

Food:

  • The Boat House Restaurant and the Island Club – chef David Kivel serves up delicious surf & turf eats, making this a great restaurant to go for a romantic dinner or to celebrate a special occasion while on the island.
  • Mango’s Island Grill & General Store – a great place to stop by for breakfast or lunch, grab your food to go or enjoy it on Mango’s waterfront patio.
  • Andy’s Seafood Market – in Matlacha, an old fishing village on the mainland before you take a boat over to North Captiva Island, has great fresh fish for vacationers to buy and take with them to cook at their vacation rental house.

Activities:

  • Dennis Realy, owner of North Captiva Charters, is the island’s “Best Kept Secret” and a master fisherman.  According to Sarah, “He knows his stuff – red fish, tarpon, shark, whatever you want to catch, he will cast and then hand you the rod.  I’ve never fished and not caught something!”
  • Visit Boats and Fun run by father, Alberto Barbero, and son, Matias Barbero, who Sarah refers to as “Mr. Fun,” for jet ski, kayak, wakeboard and boat rentals, banana boat and inter-tube rides, and scuba & dolphin excursions.  ”Matias is always smiling, always happy,” says Sarah.  Boats and Fun “has really created a great shop – you can go by and ask them when the tide is, what’s going on around town, anything.”

Vacationers who stay at one of Sarah’s North Captiva rentals that is managed by the Island Club also get to enjoy a guest membership (and all of the amenities that come with it!) to the North Captiva Island Club Resort.  The club offers tennis courts, a huge pool, fitness equipment, day excursions, a pool bar that also serves up milkshakes for the kids and more.  The staff of the North Captiva Island Club will also help assist with groceries and luggage!

Guest Blog – Pass-Crabbing in Florida

Pass Crab Fishing, Boca Grande, Florida

Pass Crab Fishing, Boca Grande, Florida

On my most recent trip to North Captiva Island, I had the opportunity to go “pass – crabbing” with my friends Captain Dennis and Captain Gretchen. I must say it was a blast! While Dennis and my husband were fishing for the “big fish,” Gretchen and I had our nets out for the pass crabs. Crabs are great bait for many species in Florida waters.

Pass Crabs are almost identical to Blue Crabs in shape, but they only grow to approximately four to five inches in width. You can catch Pass Crabs in south Florida during the outgoing tide on the surface, usually floating along with grass as it flows toward the Gulf.

Tarpon Tales Beach House Vacation Rental, Boca Grande, Florida

Tarpon Tales Beach House Vacation Rental, Boca Grande, Florida

You simply take a long handled net and dip them out of the water. There are a few bait shops in south Florida that sell them, but they are few and far between. The primary use for pass crabs is for tarpon in the Boca Grande area, but they are just as good, maybe better, than blue crabs for a variety of fish. Hook them in the same way as blue crabs – through the back leg hole and out the top shell.

Restaurant Review – The Temptation, Boca Grande, FL

Boca Grande Florida Best Little Beach TownRestaurant: The Temptation
Location: 350 Park Avenue, Boca Grande, Florida
Cuisine: Fresh Seafood, etc.
Price Per Plate: Lunch – around $20; Dinner – around $50
Verdict: Thumbs Up!

On our recent trip to Boca Grande, we had the pleasure of enjoying lunch at the Temptation.  Located at 350 Park Avenue, this Boca Grande bistro says welcome the minute you walk in the door.  The staff greeted us like we were family.  They were very courteous and attentive to our needs.

I enjoyed the strawberry chicken salad which was extremely fresh, light and tasty.  Bronzed grouper was my daughter’s selection.  The menu summed this dish up correctly as they stated it was an “Island Sensation.”

Clearly my daughter enjoyed this immensely as she had the first clean plate in the group.  The grouper was prepared on a bed of sautéed Brussell Sprouts With Roasted Garlic, Shallots, Prosciutto, & Parmesan Cheese
Topped with an Orange Beurre Blanc.  My husband enjoyed the fried grouper fingers.  Typically he does not order fried food, but he described this being extremely light and some of the best fish he has ever tasted.

You can read more about the Temptation HERE.

The Heavenly Seven-Mile Long Community of Boca Grande

Boca Grande is a peaceful seven mile long community in Gasparilla Island, Southwest Florida.  This paradisiacal location is ideal for a get-away-from-it-all location as it offers a tranquilizing alternative to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Boca Grande does not have any high rises or traffic lights and the mode of transportation for most people is golf carts.  At Boca Grande, you can enjoy the pristine beaches, aquatic activities, fishing, golfing, dining, and shopping.  Luxurious beach vacation homes are very popular among tourists on this island as they capture the true essence of this serene destination!

Boca Grande is widely known for its gorgeous, white sand beaches; that is not surprising because the island has perpetually gorgeous weather averaging 75 degrees.  At the beach, you can enjoy the beautiful view, soak in the sun, people watch, talk a walk, and read.  In addition, you can indulge in more active ventures including swimming, shelling, surfing, and scuba diving.

If you stay at a beach vacation home, you can have access to the beach twenty-four seven!  Not only will you experience ultimate luxury, you will feel as if you are at home away from home.

At Boca Grande, you can also go for boating and sailing by tour or on your own.  Boating and sailing are enjoyable activities and you encounter some exotic species like dolphins, white pelicans, and ospreys.  Boca Grande is a haven for people that like to fish because Southwest Florida is globally acclaimed for its fishing.  In fact, fishing is an integral part of the culture of Gasparilla Island. The waters of Southwest Florida are replete with game and food fish.  Tarpoon in the spring is a key fishing season and between August and November, offshore fishing is excellent for grouper, snapper, and kingfish while inshore fishing is great for snook and redfish.  Nevertheless, recreational fishing is an exciting sport in Boca Grande throughout the year by means of your own boat, a rental boat, or one of the many local fishing guides.

Along with the aquatic activities and beaches, Boca Grande offers scenic beauty, great restaurants, unique shops, theatres, and art galleries.  One of the most special aspects of Boca Grande is that it seeks to protect its distinct atmosphere and its quality of life.  The art galleries have works of local artists that have admirably captured the spirit of Boca Grande.

All the restaurants in this community have a unique style and they all specialize in fresh, local seafood.  Moreover, the restaurants offer a vast variety of international cuisines with mouthwatering flavors and upscale ambiances.

Boca Grande has served as a backdrop in many movies including Denzel Washington’s Out of Time and the movie based on Carl Hiaasen’s book Hoot.

During your vacation at Boca Grande, you can also visit some of the beautiful islands that are very close to it including North Captiva, Cayo Costa, Cabbage Key, and Useppa Island - all are all beautiful, exciting and excluive.

Boca Grande is a community that is ideal for an unwinding, relaxing vacation. A trip to Boca Grande is a memorable one that will keep you coming back for more!