After our beautiful day on Sanibel Island, we thought we'd check out equally storied Captiva, the neighboring barrier island to the north. In short, don't bother. Stick with Sanibel, avoid the drive time, the parking fees and the current.
The beaches we experienced at Captiva were far more weather beaten, so the shell hunting wasn't that great. Most of the beach access here seemed dominated by the beautiful, shorefront luxury homes. There is no street parking, and there are, apparently, only two public parking lots (both paid, both with very limited space) on the island. For residents here, I'm sure it's lovely, but unless you're shelling for a resort here, it's not really worth the hassle. We read about longer hikes to better coves, but with parking meters placing deadlines on our otherwise leisurely adventure, we opted to head back to Sanibel's lighthouse point for some beachcombing. But first, an entertaining stop at a local tourist trap to check out the trinkets and the hats.
Then I put the camera away. It's fun to take photos, but I find myself too often playing the role of family history recorder rather than participant. I wanted to get in the water, hunt for shells, wander like my 9 and 11 year olds and not worry about electronics. So, sorry...no pictures of the great beachcombing at the lighthouse, but we'll have memories to spare (and have shells and stories to tell when we get home).
After an hour at the lighthouse, our paid parking time was up, and rather than pay the meter again, the girls wanted to head back to the known entity, so back to our hotel we went for a beautiful, wonderful day on the beach playing, resting and learning more about the creatures that crawl this shoreline.