Aaand we’re off for a cruise to Useppa Island in Southwest Florida!
Captiva Cruises is a reliable and organized excursion boat company operating out of South Seas Plantation and McCarthy’s Marina in Captiva, Florida.
Check your GPS for drive times to Captiva Cruises— if your starting point is South Seas Plantation, add 20 minutes to get in the gate, park, walk to the ticket counter, get your ticket, and walk to the boat. There are no restrooms by the ticket office and it is about a 5 minute walk to a bathroom so plan accordingly. The boat does have restrooms, a full bar, and snacks for purchase.
You must reserve space by calling or going online—three weeks prior in season, a few days prior out of season. They will take your credit card number and charge that card for all people in your party.
Upon arrival at South Seas, you will first go to the guard gate and give them your name and Captiva Cruises. The guard will check you in and give you directions to a special parking lot.
Park and see the attendant who will give you walking instructions to the ticket counter.
Once at the counter you just give them your name and they will give you tickets.
Online you will find many choices for cruises.
We chose the cruise to Useppa. They begin boarding at 9:30 for a 10:00 departure. They do depart right on time!
Seating is air conditioned below deck—-there is all outside seating on the upper deck. You will find about 9 tables for four under an awning on upper deck—the rest of the upper deck seating will be in direct sun. Seating is first come, first serve.
This cruise carries passengers going to Cabbage Key and Useppa. On the way, there is a great guide who will tell stories about all the islands on the way over and for both destinations. Our guide was excellent. On board there is also a captain and a bartender.
The ride over is slower than on the way back. The first stop is Cabbage Key where passengers will disembark. Then you will go on to Useppa. Depart Captiva at 10 am and arrive Useppa at 11:35.
Upon arrival at Useppa, you will be told to look at your ticket. If you hold a ticket with an orange highlight, you will go with the guide and you will eat first. If you hold a ticket with a blue highlight, you will go with the museum curator and visit the museum first. This was how it was done May 16, 2017. Subject to change.
My group went to the museum first and on the way we had a small tour of the grounds and heard about landscaping, saw the lodging and dining areas, and viewed the pool, the outdoor life-sized chess game board, and one of the finest international croquet lawns in the country. Upon reaching the museum, you will be asked to pay $5. You will receive a self guided tour recording of the different rooms and displays. The tour takes 35 minutes.
After the museum you make your way back to the Barron Collier Dining Room. You can also make a stop for a fun cocktail in the Izaak Walton Bar “Cool Calm”. The dining room is very old school. The menu is creative and the food is outstanding. The homemade potato chips are wonderful. Be sure to save room for dessert. The Red Velvet Donuts are heavenly!
After lunch you have just about enough time to start walking back, look at the tranquil beach, and get to the boat for your return to Captiva.
The journey back is faster and about an hour. The guide will walk around and answer questions privately. It is very likely you will run into dolphins jumping out of water on the way home. We were entertained by five of them. The dolphins get extremely close to the boat and jump completely out of the water. Make noise. They love to entertain and know they are appreciated.
Arrival back to Captiva is 3 pm. If you are a boater, the boating experience may feel a little long and tedious to you. However, you will appreciate the experience of Useppa. We took a group of non-boaters and they loved it. The excursion is well done and the crew is fabulous.
Side Note: I suggest not taking the kiddos on this one. They will be bored to tears.
I hope you have a chance to take a Captiva Cruise, soon or someday!