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Destination Advice Please

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Destination Advice Please

I'm hoping someone can help me. Our family is thinking of taking a "family" vacation next summer. 18-20 of us in all. We have looked at the Carolinas and are currently looking at Florida. We are looking for a non-crowded destination, on or near the beach, some activities (we don't need a lot) places to eat, small shopping venues, etc We want a quieter beachy town not a mecca tourist destination but we don't want total isolation either. We will have toddlers, teens, young and older adults. It would also need to be a place we could either rent multiple condo suites or better yet a large house with a little privacy.

Any advice would be wonderful!

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1. Re: Destination Advice Please

I would think Sanibel would fit your needs beautifully. I vacationed there this year with my 84 year old mom and my 16 year old son and each of us loved it and can not wait to go back. Sanibel has great beaches and shelling but also kayaking, fishing, biking, dolphin cruises, nature, golf, swimming and more. There are also lots of options for eating. It is also close enough to other places if you desire to leave the island (personally we were happy right on the island the whole time). I have actually been trying to convince my sister and her family we should all go and do what you are suggesting as it is just such a wonderful vacation spot. I have also been to Isle of Palm in SC and love it there -but loved Sanibel better. Once of things you will see if you look through threads on this forum is how uncrowded Sanibel feels. We were there in April and both the beaches and restaurants were a nonissue. Again that changes with time of year but from what I have read on here summer should be fine in that department. I don't know about houses but Ocean's Reach has one and two bedroom condos and was wonderful and right on beach. If you have specific questions throw them out and others will also be along…

Hell, Michigan
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2. Re: Destination Advice Please

I also think that Sanibel or Captiva would be a perfect place for a large family gathering. Last year (March 08), we stayed at Breakers West condos at Waterside Inn along side a very large family reunion. This family rented many of the 2 bedroom condos and had the most wonderful time - nice pool right outside the condos, several gas grills for evening bbq, very short stroll to to the beach. They even made tshirts with their family name for everyone to wear as beach coverups. They were fun to watch and to talk to - good luck with your plans!

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3. Re: Destination Advice Please

Check out Baywatch estate on Captiva - 3 seperate buildings in private grounds accomodating 8 6 & 4 people.

Google Baywatch Captiva or

www.captiva-island.com/amrc and go to their interactive map to locate property and information.

Columbus, OH
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4. Re: Destination Advice Please

I also give a big thumbs up to Sanibel Island. Not sure what your family wants to spend on lodging, but probably the condos would be your thing. You'd have to get several of course. Perhaps one of the more seasoned experts can comment on my next statement, but it appears to me that pretty much all the house rentals are for 28 days or more on Sanibel Island. That was my experience when considering renting a house there. I did not look at Captiva, so I don't have any advice there.

Since you mentioned The Carolinas, I have another suggestion for you...The Outer Banks, and very specifically The Lighthouse View Motel in Buxton. Don't let the name "motel" fool you. They have motel rooms yes, but also large houses and other accommodations for large groups. You'd still have to get at least two places though with 18-20 people.

Take a look at their site - http://www.lighthouseview.com

The Shell Castle is their largest house, and it sleeps 10, but depending on who is staying there, you can have more than 10 there. We had 11 on both of the different summers that we stayed there. The place has 4 bedrooms -- 2 with queen, 1 with a double bed and 1 with two twin beds. Those would sleep 8 of course. Then there is an out-of-the-way area that has a double-bed pull-out couch (out of the way in that you can send younger ones to bed there and then the main room with the television is open for adults staying up later; a picture of that main room for some reason is not on their website). That is how you get to 10. If someone in your group has a toddler that will sleep in a bedroom with their parents, then you can get more than 10 in there easily. It's a very large house, so even with 11 people it isn't cramped. We had three families there. Two pre-teen girls slept in the twin bed room. One toddler slept with his parents in their room, and two boys slept in the pull-out-couch room though they didn't use the pull out couch -- one slept on the couch and the other on a blow-up mattress on the floor (boys both age 6). There are two cable televisions there, 4 1/2 baths, a full kitchen, decks on two levels and a view of the ocean from the top deck. Just a short walk to the beach.

So, let's say you have 11 there. Now you need to get 7-9 in another place. Their Sunrise Cottage (it's a house) sleeps 8 (which means if there's a little one there that you could get 9 in there.

If you go there, you'll need to reserve those places as soon as you can.


For the second week of July in 2009, Shell Castle is listed at $2,295 for a week -- not bad at all for 10-11 people! The Sunrise Cottage is listed at $1,940 for the week. The total for both is $4,235. If that is split among 4 families, that's $1058.75 per family. If it's 5 families, then it's $847 per family. That is tough to beat at such a great place with such beautiful scenery there.

Just south of the motel is a frozen custard place that has miniature golf. There is also a pizza place also just south that has a large video game arcade -- both of those places should appeal to the teenagers. Two areas that sell fishing supplies are within a short walk of the motel. They also sell souvenirs there. Great seafood places just north in Avon and in Buxton and just south of Buxton. Hard to find a bad one. The Orange Blossom Bakery has a hopping business in the morning where you can get their famous Apple Uglies and other donuts and breakfast sandwiches. The teenagers will also enjoy playing in the rough surf; bring a boogie board or two. The motel has a nice pool with a hot tub, so the little ones can get a break from the surf, and the adults can relax in the hot tub. For those wanting to spend a half a day or more shopping, drive south of Buxton until you can't drive anymore (it's not far) and take the ferry to Ocracoke Island. Shops, shops, and more shops. Places to eat too.

Comparison -- Sanibel vs. Buxton in the Outer Banks:

1) Even though July is off season in Sanibel Island and The Outer Banks is Prime Season, you'll spend more on lodging 20 people on Sanibel Island.

2) The main reason summer is off season on Sanibel Island is that the sun is brutal that time of year. We went last month, and while it was awesome and we loved it, and I MUST go back, the sun was at a scorching level that I've never felt before. We all used SPF 50 and applied frequently and yet we all still got burned a little. Even without being burned though, the sun had a burning sensation that would only go away when it disappeared behind the clouds or when you got in the pool or ocean, which we did frequently. Fortunately there were clouds here and there. You need to be especially careful with little ones there or they will get burned.

3) The Outer Banks has rip tides, so especially the little ones need to be closely monitored at the shore. Even experienced swimmers can get caught up in a rip tide. Just need to make sure those in the water are watched pretty closely. The teens will love the rough surf though.

4) As you are from Ohio, Buxton, NC is also closer for you than Sanibel Island. Buxton is about 13 hours from Columbus. Sanibel Island is 18.5 hours by car from Columbus.

5) Sanibel Island is tropical and lush. The OBX is not.

6) Great shelling on Sanibel Island. Not at all in The OBX.

7) I love them both, and I cannot wait to go back to Sanibel Island (I've been to The Outer Banks 9 times), but if I were to schedule a first-time SUMMER visit and were taking that many people, I would go to Buxton, NC and stay in two places at The Lighthouse View Motel (cheaper, sun not as brutal, closer for you, yet still super fun).

Sanibel Island though is currently my favorite vacation spot and Buxton, NC is second.

Sanibel Island...
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5. Re: Destination Advice Please

Lots of good info already but I will confirm that house rentals on Sanibel are 28 day minimums. Captiva is very nice but there is more to do on Sanibel as far as shopping, dining, activities.

You would need four or five 2-bedroom condos, hopefully on the larger side. We own at Pointe Santo and it is naturally our favorite for families. Another good choice is Casa Ybel especially if there are a lot of toddlers as there is a kiddie pool there. Go for the I,J or K buildings as the units are larger and have washer/dryers.

Both Pointe Santo and Casa Ybel have children's programs.

Ocean's Reach is nice but the units are a bit smaller.

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6. Re: Destination Advice Please

You don't say how many people will be vacationing with you but if it's a large group you might want to check out the Beach House on Captiva. It is a 2-story beach front house with screened in porches on both floors and a sun deck on the the upper floor. Since it's beach front it's a little pricey but it's a great house. Here's a link to the AMRC rental listing.


7. Re: Destination Advice Please

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